Leiho berri batean UPV/EHUren hasierako orria zabalduko da

Euskara Institutua
2. THE SENTENCE

0. Basic elements of the sentence: a few examples.

A declarative sentence in Euskara contains: a verb and its arguments, an aspect marker attached to the verb, and the verbal inflection, which contains the agreement morphemes, tense, and modality. It can also contain other phrases, such as adverbials or postpositional phrases. Examples are provided in (1):

(1)

a. umea kalean erori da
child-the street-in fall-asp is
'the child fell in the street'

b. emakumeak gizona ikusi du
woman-the-E man-the seen has
'the woman has seen the man'

c. gizonak umeari liburua eman dio
man-the-E child-the-D book-the given has
'the man has given the book to the child'

In (1a), there is a sentence constructed with the intransitive verb erori 'fall'. The verb is marked for perfective aspect with the morpheme i; it denotes a completed event. The auxiliary verb is da, a form of izan 'be', which is inflected for present tense, third person singular. The subject umea 'the child' is marked with absolutive case, which bears a zero morpheme, that is, no manifest ending for the case. There is also a locative postpositional phrase kalean 'in the street'. The word order in (1a) is said to be neutral, that is, the sentence in (1a) is a natural answer to a question such as zer gertatu da? 'what happened?'. In other words, the entire sentence is informationally relevant.

In (1b), the sentence is constructed with a transitive verb, ikusi 'to see', which has the perfective aspectual morpheme i attached. The auxiliary verb is a form of ukan 'have', inflected for present tense, third person subject, and third person object. The subject emakumea 'the woman' is marked for ergative case (morpheme k), and the object gizona is case marked absolutive (morpheme zero). The word order in (1b) is neutral.

In (1c), the sentence contains a transitive verb, eman 'give', which has a variant of the perfective aspectual morpheme, namely, the final -n on the ver

b. The auxiliary verb carries the inflection, which in this case is specified for present tense, third person object, third person dative and third person subject. The subject gizona is marked for ergative case (morpheme k), the dative phrase is marked for dative case (morpheme i) and the object is marked for absolutive case (morpheme zero). The word order in (1c) is neutral.

1. Order of phrases in the sentence.

1.0. Neutral word order.

The neutral order of elements in the sentence is the one illustrated in the examples above (1a,b,c), and schematized in (2):

(2) [Ergative] [Dative] [Absolutive] [verb + inflection]

That is, given the language typology proposed by Greenberg, it is standardly assumed that Euskara is a Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) type language (de Rijk (1969)). Regarding phrases that do not agree with the verbal inflection, such as adverbs and postpositional phrases, it is not so clear what the neutral word order is. For instance, the EGLU grammar provides examples like (3) as neutral word orders:

(3)
duela bi ordu sekulako istripua izan da San Martin kalean
ago two hours huge accident been is Saint Martin street-in
'there has been a huge accident in Saint Martin street two hours ago'

where the locative phrase San Martin kalean 'in San Martin street', follows the ver

b. This is a possible word order if, as noted by the EGLU grammar, we get home and want to provide this information, which is entirely new to our listeners. In this case, we would be implicitely answering the question zer gertatu da? 'what happened?', which triggers neutral word order in the sentence, because the entire sentence is informationally relevant in this case.

1.1. Euskara is a free word order language.

Euskara is known to be a 'free word order' language; this means that the order of the phrases in the sentence can vary. The variations yield different informational patterns, as discussed further in section 1.2. Consider sentence (1a) above. The variations on the order of phrases of (1a) shown in (4) are all possible:

(4)
a. kalean umea erori da
street-in child-the-A fallen is

b. umea erori da kalean

c. kalean erori da umea

Sentences with initial verb and auxiliary are also possible, as shown in (5a, b). The order of the phrases following the verbal complex allows for variation, as shown in (5b).

(5)
a. erori da umea kalean
fallen is child-the-A street-in

b. erori da kalean umea

Sentences where the inflected auxiliary precedes the participle are possible if at least one phrase precedes the auxiliary, as illustrated in examples (6a,b). This type of word order is used mostly in eastern varieties of Euskara.

(6)
a. emakumeak du kalean gizona ikusi
woman-the-E has street-in man-the-A seen
'It is the woman who has seen the man in the street'

b. kalean du emakumeak gizona ikusiko
'It is in the street that the woman will see the man'

c. *du emakumeak kalean gizona ikusiko

The phrase immediately preceding the auxiliary is emphasized (see the section about galdegaia). More than one phrase can precede the auxiliary (6b), but the variation where the auxiliary is initial is not possible (6c) (The asterisk in front of the sentence indicates its ungrammaticality). When the inflected auxiliary precedes the main verb, any number of phrases can intervene between the auxiliary and the main verb (6a,b).

There is one more restriction in word order in declarative sentences: If the auxiliary follows the participle, no element can appear between them (7):

(7)

b. *erori umea da kalean
fallen child-the-A is street-in

c. *erori kalean da umea

d. *erori umea kalean da

In general, this is the only restriction in the variation of the order of phrases in matrix declarative sentences. There are a number of further word order restrictions in negative sentences.

1.2. Galdegaia: The informationally relevant phrase.

As mentioned above, the various word orders in the sentence yield different informational patterns. In particular, and leaving aside cases of neutral word orderds discussed previously, the position immediately preceding the verb is occupied by the phrase that provides the relevant information in the sentence. Consider the sentence in (8), which is (1c) repeated under a new number:

(8)
gizonak umeari liburua eman dio
man-the-E child-the-D book-the given has
'the man has given the book to the child'

By means of (8) we can provide information about the entire event, that is, we can answer the question zer gertatu da? 'what happened?'. In that case, the entire sentence constitutes relevant information. But suppose we knew the man had given something to the child, and yet we were not certain as to what was given. Then we could ask the question in (9):

(9)
zer eman dio gizonak umeari?
what given has man-the-E child-the-D
'what has the man given to the child?'

and all the word order variations in (10) would be felicitous answers to the question asked:

(10)
a. liburua eman dio gizonak umeari

b. liburua eman dio umeari gizonak -

c. gizonak umeari, liburua eman dio

d. umeari gizonak, liburua eman dio

e. gizonak liburua eman dio umeari

f. umeari liburua eman dio gizonak

All the sentences in (10) have two common properties:

(I) The element providing the information requested in the question immediately precedes the verbal complex.

(II) The element providing the information requested is pronounced in the same phonological phrase as the verbal complex, without a break.

This preverbal position is called galdegaia in the Basque grammatical tradition (Altube (1929)). The word galdegaia means 'the questioned element', that is, the element asked about. In other words, we can say that the galdegaia is the informationally relevant phrase in the sentence.

In eastern dialects, and occasionally in literary western usage, the galdegaia position precedes the inflected auxiliary, where the main verb appears left behind. Examples have been provided in (6).

Sometimes, the relevant information in the sentence is not a phrase, but the verb itself. In that case, the verbal complex, that is, the main verb and the auxiliary are stressed, separating all other phrases that might precede with a break:

(11) liburua, eman dio gizonak umeari

An example like (11) may be used to emphasize either the verb itself, or the fact that the event has indeed taken place. In the first case, what is emphasized is that what the man has done with the book is give it to the child, as opposed to, say, read it. In the second case, what is emphasized is that the man has indeed given the book to the child, in case someone was doubting or denying that the event might have happened.

In western dialects, the dummy verb egin 'to do, to make' is inserted between the main verb and the auxiliary, as in (12):

(12) gizonak umeari, eman egin dio liburua

Sentences like this unambiguously emphasize the verb itself. That is, (12) means that what the man has done with the book is give it to the child, and not buy it or burn it or throw it, for instance. In order to emphasize the actuality of the event, western dialects unambiguously use the strategy in (11).

2. Absent phrases.

The phrases that agree with the verb need not be overtly manifest in the sentence: Ergative, dative and absolutive noun phrases or pronouns can be absent and understood. In (13), we repeat example (1c), a sentence with ergative, dative and and absolutive phrases, which will be used to illustrate the absence of verbal arguments:

(13)
gizonak umeari liburua eman dio
man-the-E child-the-D book-the given has
'the man has given the book to the child'

This sentence has been described in section 0 above. In example (14a) below, we see the same sentence, but now the ergative argument has been omitted. It is understood that someone gave a book to the child. In (14b), the dative argument is omitted. It is understood that the man gave a book to someone. In (14c), the absolutive argument is omitted. It is understood that the man gave something to the child.

(14)
a. umeari liburua eman dio
child-the-D book-the given has
'(someone) gave a book to the child'

b. gizonak liburua eman dio
man-the-E book-the given has
'the man gave a book (to someone)'

c. gizonak umeari eman dio
man-the-E man-the-D given has
'the man gave (something) to the child'

More than one of these arguments can be omitted, as shown in (15), where all three are absent.

(15)
eman dio
given has
'(someone) gave (something) (to someone)'

2.1. In infinitival sentences.

It is generally assumed that the agreement morphemes carried by verbal inflection make these omissions possible. It must be noted, however, that arguments can also be omitted in infinitival sentences, where there is no visible agreement morphology, as shown in the examples in (16):

(16)
a. [emakumeak gizonari liburua ematea] nahi du umeak
woman-the-E man-the-D book-the give-inf want has child-the-E
'The child wants [the woman to give a book to the man]'

b. [gizonari liburua ematea] nahi du umeak
man-the-D book-the give-inf want has child-the-E
'The child wants [(someone) to give the book to the man]'

c. [liburua ematea] nahi du umeak
book-the give-inf want has child-the-E
'The child wants [(someone) to give the book (to someone)]'

d. [ematea] nahi du umeak
give-inf want has child-the-E
'The child wants [(someone) to give (something)(to someone)]'

The sentence in (16a) contains an infinitival sentence, the object of nahi 'want'. The infinitival sentence does not contain any visible agreement morphology. As shown in (16b), the ergative argument can be omitted and understood. As shown in (16c) both the ergative and dative arguments can be omitted and understood. As shown by (16d), all three arguments can be omitted and understood.

2.2. Absent phrases and galdegaia.

Only phrases that are not informationally relevant can be absent. In particular, if an argument is the galdegaia of the sentence, it cannot be absent, even if it is understood or unambiguously represented in the verbal morphology. Consider for instance the example in (17):

(17)
zuk umea ikusi duzu kalean
you-E child-the-A seen have-you street-in
'you have seen the child in the street'

this sentence contains a second person singular pronoun zuk 'you' as subject. The pronoun agrees with the auxiliary, by means of the morpheme zu 'second person' that appears at the end of the inflected auxiliary. Now, if the relevant information of the sentence were the place where the event took place, we would be implicitely answering the question in (18a), and thus (18b) would be a felicitous answer, because the phrase kalean 'in the street' occupies the preverbal position, the galdegaia position:

(18)
a. non ikusi duzu umea?
where seen have-you child-the-A
'where have you seen the child?'

b. kalean ikusi duzu umea
street-in seen have-you child-the-A
'you have seen the child in the street'

in (18b), the subject pronoun need not be manifest. It can be omitted. The object umea 'the child' need not be manifest either, although the example has chosen to express it. The relevant piece of information in (18b), the answer to (18a), is the phrase kalean 'in the street'. Now suppose we were asking who saw the child, as all the possible questions illustrated in (19) do:

(19)
a. nork ikusi du umea kalean?
who-E seen has child-the-A street-in
'who has seen the child in the street?'

b. nork ikusi du kalean umea?

c. umea kalean nork ikusi du?

d. kalean umea nork ikusi du?

e. nork ikusi du kalean?

f. kalean nork ikusi du?

the last two examples, (19e, f) would be felicitous if we knew that we were talking about a certain child. The answers to (19) must include an overtly expressed phrase corresponding to the entity that saw the child. In the case we are considering, the felicitous answers must include the second person pronoun zu 'you', as the examples in (20) show:

(20)
a. zuk ikusi duzu umea kalean
you-E seen have-you child-the-A street-in
'you have seen the child in the street'

b. zuk ikusi duzu kalean umea

c. umea kalean zuk ikusi duzu

d. kalean umea zuk ikusi duzu

e. zuk ikusi duzu kalean

f. kalean zuk ikusi duzu

it would be totally unfelicitous to reply with sentences such as the ones in (21). The symbol # indicates that the sentence is a possible one in other situations, but is not felicitous as an answer to (21):

(21)
a. #ikusi duzu kalean umea

b. #ikusi duzu umea kalean

c. #umea kalean ikusi duzu

d. #kalean umea ikusi duzu

e. #umea ikusi duzu kalean

f. #kalean ikusi duzu umea

g. #ikusi duzu umea

h. #ikusi duzu kalean

i. #umea ikusi duzu

j. #kalean ikusi duzu

k. #ikusi duzu

That is, even though all the sentences in (21) unambiguously provide the information that 'you saw...', none of them can be used when the relevant information, or the galdegaia, is precisely 'you'. Phrases that are the galdegaia of the sentence cannot be omitted even if they are unambiguously understood. Phrases that are not informationally relevant and can be understood when omitted, are usually not expressed in actual discourse.

2.3. Absent pronouns.

Pronouns tend to be absent. Exceptions to this rule are (a) pronouns that are the galdegaia of the sentence, as shown immediately above in examples (19) to (21), and (b) pronouns that are used contrastively in the discourse (see discussion of example (19-21)).

If the entire sentence is informationally relevant, that is, if the sentence implicitely or explicitely answers the question zer gertatu da? 'what happened?', pronouns are absent. Consider the example in (22):

(22)
opari bat ekarri dizut
present one brought it-have-you-I
'I have brought you a present'

there are two absent pronouns in this sentence: the first person pronoun that is the subject of the sentence, and the second person pronoun that is the recipient of the present. They are manifest in the agreement morphology, as noted in the glosses: the morpheme t stands for the first person pronoun 'I', and the morpheme zu stands for the second person pronoun 'you'. The sentence in (22) is felicitous used as the beggining of a conversation, for example if I were entering your appartment for a visit. In this context, the entire sentence is informationally relevant, and the appropriate form is the one with the absent pronouns.

There are cases when pronouns are not absent even though they are not the galdegaia of the sentence. In this case, they are used in contrast to some other entity that has been mentioned or is in the minds of the participants in the discourse. To see this, consider the example in (23):

(23)
nik opari bat ekarri dizut
I-E present one brought it-have-you-I
'I have brought you a present'

the only difference between (22) and (23) is the presence of the first person pronoun ni 'I' in the second example. Note that the pronoun could not be the galdegaia of the sentence, since it does not appear immediately preceding the ver

b. This sentence would be felicitous if, for example, there were other people who had come or would come to visit, and I wanted to say something like 'as for me, I have brought you a present', in a situation where someone else might have just shown up to wish you good luck, or to do your groceries, or to tidy up your place... what (23) conveys in that case is that what I am doing is bringing you a present.

3.Types of sentences.

Sentences can be of various types, and different descriptions provide different taxonomies of sentences. Here, we will consider declaratives, negatives and interrogatives.

3.1. Declarative sentences.

So far, we have illustrated our discussion of word order, galdegaia and absent phrases using simple declarative sentences. Thus, we take it that the main properties of declarative sentences have been described. Here, other types of sentences will be described, against the background of the standard properties of declarative sentences.

3.2. Negative sentences.

Negative sentences in Basque display the negation word ez 'not' immediately preceding the inflected auxiliary if there is one (22a), or the inflected verb if there is no auxiliary (22b):

(22)
a. emakumea ez da etorri
woman-the not is arrived
'the woman has not arrived' >

b. emakumea ez dator
woman-the not come
'the woman is not coming'

The negation word ez is written separate from the inflected auxiliary or verb, but it is phonologically part of it and they cannot be separated by any other phrase. The only other elements that can appear between the negation word and the inflected verb are certain particles, such as omen, bide 'uncertain truth value' and ohi 'habituality', or the interrogative particles ote and al, as shown in (23):

(23)
a. emakumea ez omen da etorri
'apparently, the woman has not arrived'

b. emakumea ez bide da etorri
'apparently, the woman has not arrived'

c. emakumea ez ohi da etortzen
'the woman does not usually arrive'

d. ez ote dator emakumea?
'is the woman perhaps not coming?

e. emakumea ez al dator?
'is the woman not coming?'

3.2.1. Negation and word order.

Negative sentences present a different word order from declaratives. This different word order is manifest when there is an inflected auxiliary and the sentence is not an embedded one. In main negative sentences, the inflected auxiliary must precede the main verb, as already shown in (22a). Main negative sentences where the inflected auxiliary follows the main verb are not possible, as shown in the paradigm in (24):

(24)
a. emakumea etorri da
woman-the arrived is
'the woman has arrived'

b. emakumea ez da etorri
woman-the not is arrived
'the woman hasn't arrived'

c. *emakumea etorri ez da

The paradigm shows a declarative sentence, where the main verb precedes the inflected auxiliary (24a). In (24b), the negative sentence displays the reverse order, where the negated auxiliary precedes the main ver

b. Finally, the ungrammatical example in (24c) shows that the order available ind eclarative sentences is not available in negative ones. Word orders like the one in (24c) are possible and sometimes obligatory in embedded negative sentences, and exclamative negative sentences, as the examples in (25) illustrate:

(25)
a. [etorri ez den] emakumea
arrived not is-that woman-the
'the woman [that has not arrived]'

b. emakumea etorri ez bada
woman-the arrived not if-is
'if the woman has not arrived'

c. etorriko ez da ba!
arrive-irr not is indeed
'will (she) not come!'
(of course she will come!)

In (25a), we find a relative clause, which precedes its head noun in Basque; in (25b) a conditional sentence, and in (25c) and exclamative sentence. All three display a word order where the negated auxiliary follows the main ver

b.

Finally, regarding the example in (24c), it must be said that although it is ungrammatical in modern Euskara, we find exactly this word order in the first Basque written sentence that we know about. It is a negative sentence, written on the corner of a latin text: guec ajutu ez dugu where the main verb ajutu, precedes the negation word ez and the inflected auxiliary dugu 'we have it'. It is not certain what the meaning of the verb ajutu might have been. This word order is not too unfrequent inolder written texts, and it also appears occasionally in songs, such as this children's rhyme:

a, e, i, o, u,
a, e, i, o, u,

ama meriendea biogu
mommy a snack we need

txokolatea eta opiltxu
chocolate and bread

bestelan eskolan ikasiko ez dogu
otherwise in school learn not will we

A second property of main negative sentences and their word order, is that any number of phrases can appear, in any order, between the negated auxiliary and the main ver

b. This is illustrated in the examples in (26), where we use the negative version of sentence (1b) for illustration:

(26)
a. emakumeak ez du gizona ikusi
woman-the-E not has man-the seen
'the woman has not seen the man'

b. ez du emakumeak gizona ikusi

c. ez du gizona emakumeak ikusi

d. ez du emakumeak ikusi gizona

e. ez du gizona ikusi emakumeak

f. gizona ez du emakumeak ikusi

g. emakumeak gizona ez du ikusi

h. gizona emakumeak ez du ikusi

i. ez du ikusi emakumeak gizona

j. ez du ikusi gizona emakumeak

As the permutations of phrases in (26) illustrate, all orders of phrases are possible, as long as the negated auxiliary precedes the main ver

b. Any number of phrases can intervene between the negated auxiliary and the main verb, in any order (26a, b, c, d). Any number of phrases can precede the negated auxiliary, in any order (26a, f, g, h). Any number of phrases can follow the negated auxiliary, in any order (26d, e, i, j).

3.2.2. Negation and galdegaia.

As it is usually the case with word-order permutations, not all variations are identical from an informational point of view. In negative sentences, the word order indicates which one is the relevant part of the sentence that is negated. Before we enter into considerations about the relation between the galdegaia phrase and negation, the reader must be cautioned that this is a complex area, where some facts are still not very well understood even at a descriptive level.

There appear to be two galdegaia sites in negative sentences:

(I) one site follows the negated auxiliary or verb,

(II) the other one immediately precedes it. Let us consider them one at a time.

(I) The phrase following the negated verb or auxiliary receives a contrastive interpretation. In the case of a negated auxiliary, this position must precede the main verb, as in example (27):

(27)
emakumeak ez du gizona ikusi
woman-the-E not has man-the seen
'the woman hasn't seen the man'

in this example, what is conveyed is that 'it is not the man that the woman has seen', and thus it is very naturally followed by an explanation that states what the woman has seen, as in (28):

(28)
emakumeak ez du gizona ikusi, umea baino
woman-the-E not has man-the seen, child-the but
'the woman hasn't seen the man, but the child'

in this position, the phrase is under the scope of negation, and negation and focus can be associated, yielding a contrastive reading.

(II) The position immediately preceding the negated verb or auxiliary can also behave as a galdegaia, in the sense that it is the natural position for a phrase that answers a question. Consider the question in (29):

(29)
nor ez duzu ikusi?
who not have-you seen
'who did you not see?'

a natural answer to this question is the sentence in (30):

(30)
Irune ez dut ikusi
Irune not have-I seen
'I haven't seen Irune'

where the phrase answering the question immediately precedes the negated auxiliary. This phrase must be pronounced with some stress and within the same phonological phrase as the negated auxiliary, as in the case of galdegaia in declarative sentences. In (30), there is no contrastive reading; what the sentence conveys is akin to 'it is Irune that I have not seen'. We may therefore say that this second galdegaia position is outside the scope of negation.

3.3. Interrogative sentences.

Interrogative sentences, or questions, can be of various kinds: (I) yes/no questions, and (II) partial questions.

3.3.1. Yes/no questions.

Yes/no questions do not present a distinctive word order from declarative sentences. They must however have an interrogative intonation, raising at the end. Consider the examples in (31):

(31)
a. emakumea etorri da?
woman-the arrived is
'has the woman arrived?'

b. etorri da emakumea?

both interrogatives are possible yes/no questions.

There are two particles that are used in certain varieties of Euskara in yes/no questions, and they are illustrated in (32):

(32)
a. emakumea etorri dea?

b. emakumea etorri al da?

In (32a), the yes/no interrogative particle a is illustrated, attached to the auxiliary da 'is'. The combination of da+a yields the form dea in the example. This interrogative particle is used in eastern dialects. In (32b), we see the yes/no interrogative particle al, which is used in central dialects.

3.3.2. Partial questions.

Partial questions contain a question phrase. The question phrase is the informationally relevant part of these sentences, and therefore it occupies the galdegaia position. Consider the examples in (33):

(33)
a. Nor erori da kalean?
Who fallen is street-in
'Who fell in the street?'

b. Nork ikusi du gizona?
Who-E seen has man-the
'who has seen the man?'

c. Gizonak nori eman dio liburua?
man-the-E who-D given has book-the
'to whom has the man given the book?'

Considerations made previously regarding word order and galdegaia apply therefore to these sentences. Any number of phrases can precede or follow the phonological phrase containing the galdegaia and the verb with its inflection, in any order.

In eastern dialects and literary western usage, partial questions can be formed where the main verb follows the question phrase and auxiliary, as shown in (34):

(34)
zer dio gizonak umeari eman?
what has man-the-E child-the-D given
'what has the man given to the child?'

these question parallel the examples provided in (6) above.

3.4. Causative sentences are formed with the causative verb arazi (or eragin, in western varieties of the language), which is attached to the caused verb, as illustrated in the pair in (35):

(35)
a. emakumeak liburua irakurri du
woman-det-E book-det read has
'The woman has read the book

b. irakasleak emakumeari liburua irakurrarazi dio
teacher-det-E woman-det-D book-det read-cause has
'The teacher has made the woman read the book'

In example (35a), a simple transitive sentence is illustrated. In (35b), the causative version of the sentence is provided: the causative verb arazi has been attached to the verb irakurri 'to read'. The causer phrase irakaslea 'the teacher' is marked with ergative case (k). The causee phrase, emakumea 'the woman', receives dative case (ri). The example in (35) involves a causative sentence (35b) built on a transitive sentence (35a). In these cases, the causee always receives dative case.

In the case of causative sentences built on intransitive sentences, two possibilities arise: either the causee is marked with absolutive case, or it is marked with dative case. The later choice is only possible in western varieties of the language, with animate and preferably human noun phrases. Examples are given in (36):

(36)
a. umea etorri da
child-det arrived is
'The child has come'

b. emakumeak umea etorrarazi du
woman-det-E child-det come-made has
'The woman has made the child come'

c. emakumeak umeari etorrarazi dio
woman-det-E child-det come-made has
'The woman has made the child come'

The example in (36a) illustrates a simple intransitive sentence. In (36b), a causative version is provided, where the causee umea 'the child' receives absolutive case. The example in (36b) illustrates the western variety, where the causee, it being human, receives dative case, umeari 'to the child'. Note that the agreement pattern of the auxiliary verb changes accordingly, to reflect the presence of a dative phrase.

3.5. Impersonal sentences in euskara are constructed by simply elliminating the ergative subject argument of a transitive sentence. The resulting sentence contains only the absolutive object phrase. This is illustrated in the pair in (37):

(37)
a. jabeek etxeak saltzen dituzte
owners-detpl-E house-detpl sell-impf them- have-they
'The owners sell houses'

b. etxeak saltzen dira
house-detpl sell-impf are
'Houses are sold'

As you can see from the examples, the only difference between the transitive sentence in (37a) and the impersonal sentence in (37b) is the absence of the ergative phrase jabeek 'the owners'. The absence of this phrase in (37b) carries a change of auxiliary verb as well: whereas in (37a) the auxiliary contains agreement markers for both the ergative phrase and the absolutive prhase, and it is therefore a form of ukan 'to have', the auxiliary in (37b) contains onaly an agreement marker for the absolutive phrase etxeak, and it is therefore a form of izan 'to be'.

Fecha de la última modificación: 15/11/2010