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SINCE 1965
Linguistica Uralica cover
Linguistica Uralica
ISSN 1736-7506 (Electronic)
ISSN 0868-4731 (Print)

The Morphosyntactic Manifestations of the Copula in Erzya; pp. 191-204

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Niina Aasmäe


Mordvin and several distantly related, prevalently Samoyedic and Ugric, languages can encode nonverbal predication with adnominal phrases supported by the markers of tense, number, and person. In Mordvin, the indicative present and second past tense are formed by using this strategy, e.g. Erzya od-at/-o-l'-it' young-prs/pst2.2sg ’(you) are/were young’. The agreement markers in the two sets of forms, with the exception of the zero third person markers, are common to the core present and past tense paradigms. According to a point of view, discussed in a series of recent publications, the person markers used with adnominal phrases are suffixes taken over from the verbal paradigms. Overlap between the markers of the adnominal and verbal forms is the general argument in favor of the approach. Defined as ”nominal conjugation”, the strategy has been viewed as a phenomenon of morphology that functions apart from the copular verb ul'ems ’be’ and the ”zero copula”. In the earlier literature, the adnominal phrases supported by the agreement markers have been considered copular ­constructions.
The author of this article finds it consistent to define the markers in question as the enclitic manifestations of the copula, rather than affixes directly taken over from the verbal paradigms. Nonverbal predication in Erzya, on this premise, is analysable as a morphosyntactic system realized through the stand-alone forms of the copula as well as the enclitic, comparatively transparent, forms of the copula ul'ems, including the covert counterparts of the third person. The suggested approach allows for greater precision in the description of nonverbal predication in Erzya as well as in a broader context.


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