Leiho berri batean UPV/EHUren hasierako orria zabalduko da

Euskara Institutua
5. THE VERB AND ITS MORPHOLOGY

1. The verb and its morphology: a quick overview.

In this introduction, we will provide a quick overview of the verb and its morphology in Euskara, distinguishing some basic components that will be described in more detail in the following sections. We will use a few examples as guides. Consider first a rather simple sentence:

(1)

emakumea heldu da
woman-det arrived is
'the woman has arrived'

The sentence in (1) contains an intransitive verb heldu 'to arrive'. As an intransitive, it takes one argument, emakumea 'the woman'. The verb is accompanied by a third person singular form of the verb izan 'to be', which is da 'is'.

Let us focus on the verb heldu 'to arrive'. You can see that, out of the two, this is the most relevant one as far as the meaning of the sentence is concerned: the sentence in (1) talks about an arrival, not about being. Therefore, we will say that heldu in (1) is the 'main verb', and we will refer to the accompanying da verb as the 'auxiliary verb'. When talking about all the verbal material, including main and auxiliary verb, we will often use the term 'verbal complex'. The main verb determines what event the sentence refers to, whether one of arriving, loving, or writing. Now compare (1) and (2):

(2)

emakumea heltzen da
woman-det arriving is
'the woman arrives'

The only difference between the two sentences is the ending of the main verb. Whereas in (1) the ending was du (hel+du), in (2) the ending is tzen (hel+tzen). The reader should be warned that the glosses and translations we have provided in these initial examplesdo not cover exactly the semantic range of the examples, but from them it can already be inferred that (1) expresses an event of arriving that has already taken place, whereas (2) expresses and event of arriving that is under way but not completed. These differences in meaning are due to the aspect of the verb; the endings du and tzen on the main verb are aspectual morphemes. Aspectual morphemes in Euskara are attached to the end of the main verb.

Let us now focus on the auxiliary verb da 'is'. The auxiliary verb carries information about the arguments in the sentence, whether the sentence is present or past, etc... The form da in particular, says that there is only one argument in the sentence, that this argument is a third person, and that the sentence is present tense. We will now see a couple of examples where the information the auxiliary must convey is different, and you will see that the form of the auxiliary changes accordingly:

(3)
  1. zu heldu zara
    you arrived are
    'you have arrived'

  2. emakumea heldu zen
    woman-det arrived was
    'the woman arrived'

In (3a), the sentence does not contain a third person subject; this time the subject is a second person singular pronoun. The auxiliary reflects this change, by inflecting for the form of the verb izan 'to be' that corresponds to second person singular: zara. In (3b), the time of the event denoted by the sentence is not present, but past. Accordingly, the auxiliary takes the form of the verb izan 'to be' that corresponds to a third person singular, past tense: zen. As we will see throughout the chapter, the information that the verbal complex is capable of encoding in Euskara can be very elaborate: it encodes the nature of the subject, and also of the object and the indirect object, if there are any; it encodes modality variations, and it can even encode the gender of the person we talk to. We will consider all these issues under the name of Inflection.

Sometimes, we find sentences that have a single verb, as the ones in (4), which do not display a main verb and an auxiliary:

(4)

  1. Zuk asko dakizu
    You-E much it-know-you
    'you know a lot'

  2. nire gurarien kontra naramazue zuek ni hara
    I-gen desire-genpl against me-take-youpl youpl-E I-A there
    'You are taking me there against my will'

In (4a), we find a form of the verb jakin 'to know'. You can see the root of this verb, aki, inside the form in the example: d-aki-zu 'you-know-it'. The surrounding morphemes are indications of the type of arguments this verb takes in this sentence: first, an indication that the object of the verb is a third person d, then, an indication that the subject of the verb is a second person singular zu 'you'. From the form of the morpheme corresponding to the third person object d, plus lack of any other specification regarding tense, we conclude that it is present.

In (4b), we find a form of the verb eraman 'to take (away)'. You can find the root of this verb (rama) inside the form in the example: na-rama-zue 'me-take-you(plural)'. The surrounding morphemes tell us how many and what kind of arguments the verb takes: the morpheme na indicates that the object is first person singular, and the morpheme zue indicates that the subject is a second person plural. Since there is no manifest indication for tense, we conclude that it is present.

These verbs that bring together the main verb and the inflection are called synthetic verbs in the Basque grammatical tradition, and the complex ones illustrated in (1), (2), (3) are called periphrastic verbs.

Regarding word order in the verbal complex, see section 1 in chapter 1.

2. The verb.

We will start out with the verb, leaving for later considerations concerning aspect and inflection. Here, we will look at different types of verbs, regarding two parameters: transitivity on the one hand, and the way in which they inflect on the other. As you will see, causative verbs have been included in the transitivity parameter, given the fact that they add one more actant to the array of actants of the base verb.

Verbs in Euskara are named in their perfective form. That is, when we refer to a verb such as heldu 'to arrive', the form we quote is not the bare verbal root, which, as we saw in examples (1) and (2) above, is actually hel. The form quoted is the combination of the verbal root and the perfective aspectual morpheme, which together form a perfective participle. As we will see throughout the chapter, some verbal inflections make use of the root alone, for instance the formation of causatives, or inflected forms containing modals, as in hel daiteke 's/he can arrive'. Nevertheless, in referring to verbs we will use the standard usage of quoting the perfective participle, despite the fact that it is morphologically complex.

2.1. Transitives and intransitives. Verbs can be transitive or intransitive: transitive verbs are those that have a subject and an object, intransitive verbs lack an object. In general, transitive and intransitive verbs in Euskara behave differently: transitives display a subject marked with ergative case, and an object marked with absolutive case (5a). Intransitives display a subject marked with absolutive case (5b):

(5)

  1. txakurrak katua ikusi du
    dog-det-E cat-det-A see-prf has
    'the dog has seen the cat'

  2. katua joan da
    cat-det-A gone is
    'the cat has left'

Another property that distinguishes transitive verbs from intransitives is the auxiliary verb they display: transitive predicates take forms of the verb ukan 'to have' for auxiliaries (5a), whereas intransitives take forms of the verb izan 'to be' for auxiliaries (5b).

As for the verbs themselves, however, there is no special morpheme signaling whether a given verb is transitive or intransitive. Transitivity is manifested in the number of arguments, the cases they bear, and the auxiliary selected.

2.1.1. Weather predicates. Weather predicates constitute a special class of transitives: they do not express their ergative argument. Consider (6):

(6)
gaur euria egin du
today rain-det made has
'it has rained today'

The sentence in (6) contains an absolutive Noun phrase, euria 'the rain', and a transitive verb egin 'make, do'. The auxiliary selected is a form of ukan 'to have', inflected for present tense, third person object and third person subject. However, there is no expressed ergative Noun phrase, nor can there be. Other weather predicates are illustrated in (7):

(7)
  1. Gorbeian elurra egiten du neguan
    Gorbea-in snow-det make-hab has winter-in
    'In Gorbea, it snows in the winter'
    (literally: 'In Gorbea, (it) makes (a) snow in winter')

  2. haize handia egingo du bihar
    wind big-det make-irr has tomorrow
    'tomorrow there will be big winds'
    (literally: 'tomorrow (it) will make a big wind')

As you can see in the examples, there are no weather verbs in Euskara, strictly speaking. Rather, weather predicates are composed of the verb egin 'to make, do', and the corresponding meteorological phenomenon in a determined Noun phrase, inflected for absolutive case.

2.1.2. Borderline transitive verbs: unergatives. There are some verbs that are intransitive in English (and other languages), but take subjects marked with ergative case, and 'have' auxiliaries in Euskara. Out of these, we can distinguish two groups. The smaller one has been considered in section 1.2. of chapter 3. The larger group is constituted by unergative predicates. Examples are given in (8):

(8)
  1. umeak barre egin du
    child-det-E laugh made has
    'the child has laughed'

  2. irakasleak hitz egin du
    teacher-det-E word made has
    'the teacher has spoken'

These predicates have certain similarities with the weather predicates reviewed above: what translates in English as a single verb appears to be rendered in Euskara by the combination of the verb egin and a direct object. In the case of weather verbs, the direct object is the meteorological phenomenon; in the case of these unergative predicates, the direct object is the Noun referring to the activity: barre egin 'make laugh(ter)'. However, there is an important difference between objects of weather predicates and objects of these unergative predicates: whereas the former carry a determiner a, the latter do not. For this reason, there is no shared agreement among linguists as to whether the predicates in (8) are a special class of transitive predicates with determinerless objects, or whether they are a special class of intransitives that mark their subject with ergative case (Levin (1983)).

Favoring the first view is the fact that the relation between the activity Noun and the verb egin is not one of compounding. The Noun and the verb can be separated (9a), and the Noun can receive the partitive marker (9b):

(9)
  1. nork egin du barre?
    who-E made has laugh
    'who has laughed?'

  2. nik ez dut barrerik egiten
    I-E not have laugh-prt made-hab
    'I don't laugh'

Favoring the second view is the fact that not all predicates of the type in (8) permit operations like (9). The best known case is alde egin 'to leave' (literally, 'side make'), which we illustrate in (10):

(10)
  1. umeak alde egin du
    child-det-E side made has
    'the child has left'

  2. nork alde egin du
    who side made has
    'who has left?'

  3. *nork egin du alde?
    who made has side

  4. nik ez dut alde egin
    I-E not have side made
    'I have not left'

  5. *nik ez dut alderik egin
    I-E not have side-prt made

Many of the unergative predicates in this class behave like the one in (9), while others are closer to the examples in (10).

Other predicates in this general unergative class include: amets egin 'to dream', dantza egin 'to dance', dehadar egin 'to scream', eztul egin 'to cough', izerdi egin 'to sweat', kaka egin 'to shit', lan egin 'to work', lo egin 'to sleep', negar egin 'to cry' so egin 'to look at' txiza egin 'to pee', zintz egin 'to blow the nose'.

A second fact that favors the view of these unergatives as a special kind of transitives is that they do not allow for the presence of another, so-called 'cognate' object in the sentence:

(11)
  1. *amets eder bat amets egin dut
    dream beautiful one dream made have-I
    ('I have dreamt a beautiful dream')

  2. *ezpatadantza dantza egin dute
    sword dance dance made have-they
    ('they have danced the sword dance')

Some of the unergatives in this group have variants that consist of a verb, not of a complex predicate:

(12)
dantzariek berehala dantzatuko dute
dancer-detpl-E immediately dance-irr have-they
'the dancers will dance immediately'

in these variants, the presence of an object is allowed. Compare (11b) and (13):

(13)
dantzariek ezpatadantza dantzatuko dute orain
dancer-detpl-E sword dance-det dance-irr have-they now
'the dancers will dance the sword dance now'

However, there are a few unergative predicates, such as funtzionatu 'to function', dimititu 'to resign', frenatu 'to brake', that consist of a simple verb, which assign ergative to the subject and still do not allow for the presence of an object:

(14)
  1. makina honek ez du funtzionatzen
    machine this-E not has function-hab
    'this machine does not work'

  2. parlamentariak dimititu du azkenik
    parlament-member-det-E resigned has finally
    'the parliament member has finally resigned'

Finally, some unergative verbs display different behaviors depending on dialectal variation. Thus, for instance, verbs like bazkaldu 'to lunch', or afaldu 'to dine', mark their subjects with ergative case in western varieties (15a), but with absolutive case in eastern varieties (15b). Accordingly, they select auxiliary 'have' in western usage, but auxiliary 'be' in eastern usage:

(15)
  1. neba-arrebek elkarrekin bazkaldu dute
    brother-sister-detpl-E each-other-with lunched have-they
    'the brothers and sisters have lunched together'

  2. senide guztiak elkarrekin bazkaldu dira
    relative all-detpl each-other-with lunched are
    'all the relatives have lunched together'

2.1.3. Unaccusatives. The group of true intransitive verbs in Euskara is mostly constituted of unaccusative verbs. That is, most verbs that mark their subjects with absolutive case and select 'be' auxiliaries fall naturally in the class of unaccusatives. Some examples are provided in (16):

(16)
  1. astoa erori da
    donkey-det fallen is
    'the donkey has fallen'

  2. umea jaio da
    child-det be-born is
    'the child has been born'

  3. ikasleok azken iladetan jezartzen gara
    student-detpl last row-detpl-in sit-hab are
    '(we) students sit in the last rows'

To this big group, a few other must be added, which do not fall in the unaccusative class. One of them is the group of unergative predicates in eastern usage, discussed regarding example (15b) immediately before this section.

A second important group is constituted by impersonal sentences, which involve in Euskara a ditransitivization process, out of which an intransitive emerges, formally identical to the ones in (16). Consider the pair in (17):

(17)
  1. norbaitek etxea saldu du
    someone-E house-det sold has
    'someone has sold the house'

  2. etxea saldu da
    house sold is
    'the house has been sold'

(17a) is a standard transitive sentence with an indefinite subject. In (17b) we have an impersonal sentence, where the subject of the verb saldu 'to sell' has been taken out of the sentence. As a result, the auxiliary becomes a form of 'be', and the only argument of the sentence is marked absolutive, as it was in the transitive version.

2.1.4. Inchoatives. Inchoatives, or causative alternations as they are also called, involve contrasts that are formally identical to the one illustrated in (17). Thus, consider a verb like apurtu 'to break', which has an inchoative form (18a) and an unaccusative form (18b):

(18)
  1. umeak jostailua apurtu du
    child-det-E toy-det broken has
    'the child has broken the toy'

  2. jostailua apurtu da
    toy-det broken is
    'the toy has broken'

As you can judge from the example given, there is no specific inchoative morphology on the verb, and the pair involves simply the addition (or subtraction, depending on your point of view) of one argument to the sentence.

2.1.5. Causatives. Causative verbs are constructed by adding the causative verb arazi 'to cause' to the root of base verb, as illustrated in (19):

(19)
  1. arazo hau ikuserazi digute
    problem this see-cause it-have-us-they
    'they have made us see this problem'

  2. himnoa kantaerazten diete umeei
    anthem-det sing-cause-hab it-have-them-they child-detpl-D
    'They make children sing the anthem'


2.2. Synthetic and periphrastic. The distinction between synthetic and periphrastic verbs has been briefly illustrated in examples (3) and (4) in the introductory section to this chapter. The distinction concerns the manner in which verbs inflect:

(I) a synthetic verb is a verb that inflects without the help of an auxiliary verb

(II) a periphrastic verb is a verb that must inflect with the help of an auxiliary verb.

This said, it must be noted that the terms synthetic and periphrastic are used ambiguously to refer either to:

(a) verbs that can inflect synthetically, such as jakin 'to know', versus verbs that can only inflect periphrastically, such as tolostu 'to fold', or

(b) particular verbal forms that are synthetic, such as dakizu 'it-know-you' (you know), versus particular verbal forms that are periphrastic, such as jakin dezakezu 'know it-have-pot-you' (you can know).

We will start by considering the opposition in (a), and will then focus on the opposition in (b), which will become a natural introduction to the category aspect, to be discussed in the next section.

(a) Verbs that can inflect synthetically: The number of verbs that can inflect some of their forms synthetically is very small, compared to the entire set of verbs in Euskara. The overwhelming majority of verbs can only inflect with the help of an auxiliary verb. Older stages of the language had a much larger set of synthetic verbs (see Lafon (1944)). The grammar of the Royal Academy of Basque Language (EGLU) estimates that in modern spoken Basque there are only about ten verbs where synthetic form are used: egon 'stay', joan 'go', etorri 'arrive', ibili 'walk', izan 'to be', jakin 'know', eduki 'have', ekarri 'bring', eraman 'take', ihardun 'engage'. Some other verbs, like jarin 'to ooze, to flow', erabili 'to use', irudi 'to look like', esan 'to say' are used synthetically only in a few forms, and finally there is a third set of verbs, like atxeki 'attach', jarraiki 'follow', esan 'say', eman 'give' or entzun 'hear', which are occasionally used in synthetic fashion in literary language.

It is not at all clear what syntactic or semantic feature, if any, defines the set of synthetic verbs; as far as modern Euskara is concerned, it appears to be a lexical idiosyncracy of the verbs listed above. It must be noted, however, that all synthetic verbs have the older participial endings (n, I), not the nowadays productive one (tu), which was borrowed from Latin. Hence, all synthetic verbs are 'old verbs' in this sense, but not all the 'old verbs' belong in the synthetic class. In general, both the number of verbs that can inflect synthetically, and the number of forms that are used synthetically within the paradigms of those verbs appears to be getting progressively smaller, some forms become more and more literary as they are used less often in spoken language.

(b) Synthetically inflected forms: synthetic forms have the same morphological markers as periphrastic forms with one exception: they contain no visible aspect marker. Let us see this by comparing a periphrastic and a synthetic form of the verb ekarri 'to bring':

(20)
  1. Mikelek katakume bat ekarri du
    Mikel-E kitten one bring-prf has
    'Mikel has brought a kitten'

  2. Mikelek katakume bat dakar
    Mikel-E kitten one brings
    'Mikel brings a kitten'

Let us first consider the morphology of the two verb forms. In (20a), the root of the verb, ekar takes a perfective aspectual morpheme i and forms the perfective participial. Following it we find the auxiliary verb du, which contains a morpheme d, which appears in present tense forms when the absolutive phrase is third person, and a morpheme u, the root of the verb ukan. Lack of any other visible specification entails that the ergative phrase is third person singular. In (20b), the only morphemes missing are the perfective marker i and the root of the auxiliary u. Thus, the form dakar contains the root of the verb, kar, and the morpheme d for present tense and third person absolutive. Comparing the perfective participle in (20a) and the synthetic form in (20b), you have probably noticed that the initial e in (20a) is also missing in (20b). This initial vowel does not appear to be a morpheme, but rather, a superficial phonological addition to the root.

Thus, the relevant differences between (20a) and (20b) are the perfective marker, and the root of the auxiliary. The very name of 'auxiliary' indicates that these types of verbs are thought to appear when for some reason the verb is not capable of carrying the verbal morphology on itself. Put differently, it is probably the case that the auxiliary is contingent on the presence of the perfective marker, a consequence of it. If this is the case, then the only relevant difference between (20a) and (20b) is the presence of the perfective marker in (20a), and its absence in (20b).

Considering the meaning of the examples, whereas (20a) has a perfective meaning (it talks about a completed event of bringing), (20b) does not. The meaning of (20b), is that 'Mikel is now bringing a kitten'. Hence, the sentence talks about an imperfective event, one that is talked about as it is happening. Put more technically, (20b) has a punctual aspect.

Synthetic forms are only possible when the aspectual specification is punctual. Synthetic forms can be specified for either present (20b) or past tense (21a). They can also be specified for modality (21b) (even though this usage is almost exclusively literary), and they can carry as many agreement morphemes as periphrastic forms do (21c):

(21)
  1. Mikelek katakume bat zekarren
    Mikel-E kitten one brought
    'Mikel was bringing a kitten'

  2. Mikelek katakume bat dakarke
    Mikel-E kitten one bring-can
    'Mikel can bring a kitten'

  3. Zuek ni nakarzue
    You-E I me-bring-you
    'You(guys) (are) bring(ing) me'

Once a given verb belongs to the synthetic group, the relevant issue that determines whether it will display a synthetic or a periphrastic form is verbal aspect. Synthetic forms can never convey perfective, habitual or future events. These distinctions depend crucially on the aspectual category in Euskara. The place of aspect in the verbal morphology of Euskara is discussed in the next section.

3. Aspect.

Many different phenomena are classified under the name tag 'aspect' in linguistics, and everyone agrees that this is a still rather poorly understood area of human language. In order to clarify matters in this description, we will approach the discussion on aspect from a strictly formal pont of view. That is, the criteria that guides this section rests on the morphological distinctions found in Euskara, and the various phenomena they give raise to. The expert on aspect will find that many issues related to aspect in a broader sense, are not touched upon here.

We group under the category 'aspect' the morphemes that appear attached to the verbal root in periphrastic forms. These are basically three:

1. The perfective, which denotes a completed event.

2. The imperfective, which denotes an ongoing, non-completed event.

3. The unrealized, which denotes an event that has not even started taking place.

It must be noted that no overt aspect marker surfaces when the inflected auxiliary is a potential form, involving the modal morpheme ke. In those cases, the root of the verb is used, as shown in the examples provided when discussing those forms.

3.1. The perfective. The perfective morpheme can have three forms, depending on the verb: tu, i, n. The morpheme tu is the most frequent one. It was borrowed from Latin (dictum). All verbs of new creation must take this morpheme in their perfective form; that is, it is the unmarked one of the set. After the sounds n and l, it becomes du, for instance in lagundu 'to help'. The morphemes i and n are the older perfective markers. The perfective morpheme indicates a completed action, either in the present (22a) or in the past (22b):

(22)
  1. Olatz poztu da
    Olatz rejoice-perf is
    'Olatz has rejoiced'

  2. Olatz poztu zen
    Olatz rejoice-prf was
    'Olatz rejoiced'

In (22a), the perfective participle poztu takes a present tense auxiliary da 'is'. The result is a present tense perfective form. In (22b), the same participle takes a past tense auxiliary zen 'was', and the result is a past tense perfective form.Perfective forms must always carry an auxiliary verb; they can never inflect synthetically.

As mentioned in the beginning of section 1 of this chapter, the perfective participle is the form used for naming verbs. Regarding perfective participials in adjective function, see 3.1.1. of chapter 2.

3.2. The imperfective. The imperfective morpheme is tzen, sometimes surfacing as ten. In the case of verbs that do not inflect synthetically, the imperfective aspect marker is used both for denoting a punctual, ongoing event, that is, something that is happening right now, and for denoting a habitual event, that is, something that happens with a certain frequency. Consider the examples in (23):

(23)
  1. Paulek liburua irakurtzen du
    Paul-E book-det read-impf has
    'Paul reads the book'

  2. Olatz etxean gelditzen da
    Olatz house-in stay-impf is
    'Olatz stays home'

The sentence in (23a) can be used to refer to an event that is taking place as the sentence is uttered. What is meant to say is that Paul is reading the book. The example can also refer to an event that takes place with a certain frequency, for instance, if Paul were in the habit of reading the book every morning. The same is true of (23b): it can refer to the event of Olatz staying home right now, as the rest of us leave, for instance, or it can be a statement about a habitual event.

In the case of synthetic forms, as we pointed out above, matters are slightly different. A synthetic form denotes a punctual aspect; in order to convey habituality, the marker tzen and an auxiliary verb must be used. Consider the pair in (24):

(24)
  1. Mikelek katakumea dakar
    Mikel-E kitten-det brings
    'Mikel brings/is bringing the kitten'

  2. Mikelek katakumea ekartzen du
    Mikel-E kitten-det bring-impf has
    'Mikel brings the kitten'

In (24a), since ekarri 'to bring' is a synthetic verb, punctuality is conveyed by means of the synthetic form. That is, (24a) means that Mikel is bringing the kitten as we speak. The sentence in (24b), where the verb ekarri takes the imperfective morpheme, yielding ekartzen, denotes a habitual event. It could be used if, for instance, Mikel brought the kitten every time we went on a hike to the mountains, and we wanted to talk about his habit of his.

3.2.1. The progressive ari construction. There is a progressive construction, used mostly in central varieties of the language. It involves the aspectual verb ari, which is inserted between the imperfective participle and the auxiliary, as illustrated in (25):

(25)
Josune aspertzen ari da
Josune bore-impf prog is
'Josune is getting bored'

The progressive verb ari alters the case pattern of a transitive sentence. The ergative Noun phrase surfaces in absolutive, and the auxiliary becomes a form of izan 'to be', as if the sentence were now intransitive. The object remains marked for absolutive as well. This is illustrated in (26), which can be compared to (23a):

(26)
Paul liburua irakurtzen ari da
Paul book-det read-impf prog is
'Paul is reading the/a book'

There are a few exceptions to this change in the case pattern. In eastern varieties, it is reported (EGLU) that transitive sentences using the progressive ari may keep ergative marking, but it is not clear under what conditions. In central varieties, weather predicates constitute a clearer exception. In weather predicates, ari is used to denote punctuality, with or without the help of a participle. The auxiliary remains a form of ukan 'to have'. Examples of weather predicates constructed upon ari are provided in (27):

(27)
euria ari du orain
rain-det prog has now
'it is raining now'

Occasionally, the ari construction can also be used with verbs that inflect synthetically as the examples in (28), (from EGLU and Euskaltzaindia (1993)) show:

(28)
  1. liburu honi kolorea joaten ari zaio
    book this-D color-det go-impf prog is-to it
    'This book is losing its color'
    (literally: 'to this book color is leaving')

  2. jendea uholdeka etortzen ari da
    people flooding-by come-impf prog is
    'People are flooding in'
    (literally: 'people are coming by floodings')

In (28a), the synthetic verb joan 'to go, to leave' takes the periphrastic progressive ari form, and denotes an event that is taking place as we speak. It is probably the fact that the fading of the color takes such a long period of time what makes the use of ari better suited than the synthetic form of the verb. In (28b), the verb etorri 'to come' is used in the ari construction, despite it being a synthetic verb. In this case, it is probably the fact that the event described is more episodic than punctual what makes the use of a periphrastic form more adequate.

The aspectual element ari can be used without a participle if there is a locational phrase that denotes an activity:

(29)
  1. lanean ari naiz
    work-in prog am
    'I am working'

  2. bertsotan ari gara
    verses-in prog are-we
    'we are making verses'

Finally, ari itself can be inflected for aspect, which indicates that it is probably best thought of as a verb, whose meaning is akin to 'to engage'.

(30)
  1. gaur goizean umeak jolasean aritu dira
    today morning-in child-detpl play-in engage-perf are
    'Today in the morning the children have been playing'

  2. bihar goizean umeak jolasean arituko dira
    tomorrow morning-in child-detpl play-in engage-irr are
    'tomorrow morning the children will be playing'


3.3. The unrealized. The third aspectual morpheme is tuko, iko or ngo, depending on the participial form. That is, verbs that make participials with the ending tu will make the unrealized as tuko, whereas verbs that make participials in i make the unrealized as iko, and verbs whose participials end in n make their unrealized forms as ngo. The unrealized is built by adding the morpheme ko to the perfective participial form. In eastern varieties, the morpheme added to the participial form is en instead of ko.

In most descriptive grammars, this aspect is commonly referred to as a 'future' marker, but here we will take it to be an aspectual marker indicating that an event has not started happening. As we will see, the marker tuko can yield verbal forms that are not future, even if the future is one of the verbal forms it may yield. The unrealized morpheme will be glossed as irr, for the grammatical term 'irrealis'. Let us consider a few examples in (31):

(31)
  1. idazle honek eleberri bi idatziko ditu
    writer this-E novel two write-irr has
    'This writer will write two novels'

  2. hegoak ebaki banizkio, nirea izango zen
    wing-detpl cut if-had-I, I-gen-det be-irr was
    'If I cut its wings, it would be mine'

In (31a), we can see a future verbal form. It is built by combining a main verb with the unrealized aspect marker, in this case idatziko, and an auxiliary in present tense, in this case ditu a form of ukan 'to have'. Thus, the future requires an auxiliary in present tense and the unrealized aspect marker. In (31b), we see another use of the unrealized aspect morpheme, which does not yield a future tense. In this case, we have a conditional sentence, 'if I cut its wings', followed by the consequence, which is the one we focus on. It combines the main verb izan 'to be', to which the unrealized aspect has been attached, izango, and this main verb combines now with a past tense auxiliary verb, zen, a form of the auxiliary izan, 'to be'.

These examples illustrate the two main uses of this aspectual marker: with present tense forms it yields the future, and with past tense or modal forms it yields conditionals. A few more forms are given in (32), now using other kinds of conditionals:

(32)
  1. Miren etorriko balitz, Mikel joango litzateke
    Miren come-irr if-were, Mikel leave-irr would
    'If Miren came, Mikel would leave'

  2. Miren etorri balitz, Mikel joango zatekeen
    Miren come if-were, Mikel leave-irr would-have
    'Had Miren come, Mikel would have left'

As we can see in the examples, the unrealized aspect marker is used in the first part of the conditional in (32a), and in the consequence as well. In this example, the verbal form of the consequence, litzateke, includes a modal marker ke. If you consider (32b), which illustrates a counterfactual conditional, the unrealized aspect marker surfaces only in the consequence, joango.

Fecha de la última modificación: 15/11/2010