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The status of the non-finite -OmstO morpheme in Erzya.


Grammars of Erzya lack consistency in the description of the morphology of gerunds, deverbal nouns and infinitives. Let us therefore introduce ourselves to a concatenationalmorphological perspective of: verb stem types; the deverbal noun in OmA, and the locativecase infinitive in OmO (elsewhere known as the nominative or even lative infinitive).

The tradition of verb-stem analysis varies, whereas vowel loss and retention in different cells of verbal inflection has been the target of research in most traditions of Erzya grammar (cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1963 : 193-198). More recent presentations of the language have discerned a subset of stems relevant to the morphological correlation observed between finite conjugation forms and non-finite forms. In the modern Erzya literary language the illative infinitive in ms is attested in three vowel contexts, e.g. a+ms, e+ms and o+ms (Cyrillic a+MC, [??]+mc, eMC, [??]+mc o+mc [no instances of e+MC attested]). The general consensus advocates a system of two verb types, which, in an almost over-simplified way, can be established by the parameter [[+ or -]VOWEL RETENTION] before the formative s IND.PRETI.PRED-3DG, (see Pall 1996 : 20; Zaicz 1998 : 188-189; Bartens 1999 : 122; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 2000 : 146; Trosterud 2006 : 250-251).

When we apply the two-way split directly to the three stem vowels (a, e and o), it will be noted that all verbs ending in -ams retain the stem-final -a before the indicative preterit I 3SG formative s. The infinitives ending in the mid vowels (o and e), however, cannot be associated with such a straight-forward system. Verbs ending in ems and oms must be learned separately; some retain their mid vowel before the s formative and others lose it; a general rule of thumb is that deverbal verbs in the so-called frequentative formatives se, ne and ksnO retain their stem vowels, (cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1963 : 198; Pall 1996 : 20; Trosterud 2006 : 250-251).

On method of indicating stem-vowel retention of loss in dictionaries is to insert a pipe "|" at the appropriate break point. This is precisely what the most recent Erzya-Russian dictionary ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], henceforth [??]PC 1993) does. Providing no specifics, the [??]PC 1993 gives forms, such as maks | oms, s ' to give ' and soda | ms, s 'to know; to recognize', whereby the reader is readily aware of the appropriate IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG forms maks and soda, respectively. Hence [??]PC 1993 provides readers and language learners with ready access to the workings of the Erzya verb stems. The verb sato | ms, -ts 'to suffice', however, takes us be surprise, i.e. in addition to the two types demonstrated above, there is a small subset of verbs ending in t'ems and toms that insert a T before the IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG s formative, something reminiscent of the inessive-case forms attested in the Kozlovka variety of Erzya kastomo 'oven' [right arrow] kastot+so 'in the oven' (cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1930 : 22). For a three-way split in the Erzya verb-stem types, see Table 1, analogous information on noun-stem types is available in Rueter 2010.

In observing the three verb types illustrated in Table 1, we will note that the archiphone O has reflexes in zero ([empty set]) with vowel-final and T-stem types, and mid vowels (o or e) depending on the front-back harmony triggered by the adjacent vowels or palatalized/non-palatalized consonants of the preceding stem, e.g. sod+Om+s [right arrow] sodoms 'to bind', and mol'+Om+s [right arrow] mol'ems 'to go'.

The deverbal noun in OmA and infinitive in OmO present us with a second variety of vowel harmony; mid-low dissimilatory vowel harmony. Thus, while the archiphone O, as indicated above, has three reflexes at the surface level according to assimilatory vowel harmony, ([empty set], o, e), the archiphone A has a reflex in a when the preceding surface vowel is a mid vowel, and an o when the preceding surface vowel is a low vowel, see

It should be noted that although the modern standard attests a distinction between deverbal nouns and locative-case infinitives in all but a-stem verbs, this has not always been the situation. One need only consult a publication of Pjotr Kirillov: ez cidardt kunsolomanzo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1987 : 40) he didn t have the patience to listen to him to observe deverbal-type forms in -oma- where -omo- would be expected. Here the word form kunsolo+ma+nzo 'to listen to him' appears to have a ma segment before the 3SG formative OnzO, something which occurs in some forms of Erzya spoken in the Atjasevo raion. Therefore it cannot be taken for granted that even speakers of Erzya would be in full agreement upon the distinction between deverbal nouns and infinitive forms.

In this treatise of Erzya, I annotate the Om+O infinitive as locative-case, a matter which by no means is unproblematic. Other annotations call it a nominative or a lative, they have their morphological short-comings. It is most likely the notion of ZERO marking that has been deemed sufficient when designating this infinitive as a nominative. Raija Bartens (1970 : 247ff.; 1979 : 25-26), however, indicates the problems of a nominative-case interpretation and points out the semantic and pattern-based criteria for a lative or locative interpretation. An additional morphological criterion can be cited in opposition to the nominative designation, namely, the formative OzO used in marking a nominative singular subject-function possessum of a 3SG possessor never occurs with the deverbal Om+O formative sequence; instead it is the formative OnzO the one that co-occurs with all other cases and the nominative plural that is attested. Hence the transitive verb forms, e.g. saj+eme+nze 'to take it/him/her', the only ones that are compatible with possessor indexing, cannot be glossed as nominative singular. A nominative singular gloss would require an ungrammatical form *saj+eme+ze. Morphologically, we are presented with two choices: we can interpret the OmO infinitive form as one with syntactic functions used in appositive expressions such as what is found in associative-collective numerals (kolmo+ ne+nze 'him/her/it and two others' (literally: 'the three of him/ her/it')), with no case designation, or we can appropriate a case name, such as locative, which would set the non-finite verbal case patterns in parallel with those of some adverb/adposition case patterns, see Tables 3a-b.

In Table 3a the literary illative infinitive is presented adjacent to its translative counterpart, familiar from some of the Erzya dialects. Functions attributed to the literary illative form include those, which in the case of common nouns would be readily associated with the translative, e.g. predicate complement. The ablative case presents a morphological conflict where the consonant-final stem type associated with non-finite inflection tends to occur in the literary language with an intermediate vowel. This intermediate vowel, however, should not be passed off as a direct indication of deverbal noun morphology, namely, the verb mol'ems 'to go' attests to three variants in published Erzya literature: molemado, mol'emed'e and mol'emd'e. The consonant-final stem of the ablative and the inessive forms is quite infrequent in the written language of the Erzya majority corpus (, described in Rueter 2010). The non-finite elative form has functions attributed to the elative form of other common nouns, i.e. source and temporal setting, and therefore provides no arguments for an explicit illative s + ablative DO concatenation in a synchronic treatise of the language, although a theoretical diachronic treatise of the language would.

In Table 3b the translative-case form or its homonym with the formative ks is used in noun derivation of spatial adverbs/adpositions with four-case declination patterns (lative, locative, ablative and prolative).

Thus we can observe an affinity between the two tables (3a-b): the non-finite patterns although preferring an illative formative in the literary language, demonstrate a dialect translative counterpart to parallel the noun-derivation practice attested for adpositions, and the local cases locative, ablative and prolative are attested in both the non-finite morphology and the four-case pattern of this adverb/adposition type. Differences can be observed in the two case patterns. The spatial adverb/adposition, it would seem, is incompatible with the temporal-function cases of the illative and elative as well as the instructive-function case, the inessive, whereas the spatial notion attributed to the inessive would provide no additional information to the locative, already present. The absence of the lative formative Ov in the non-finites, however, appears problematic. In fact, the OmO infinitive is generally used where a target function would be expected, that is, in combinations with verbs of motion, e.g. the construction tujems (tikse) l'ed'eme to-go_V.INF.ILL hay_N.ABS to-mow_V.INF.LOC 'to go make hay' is much more common than the deverbal-noun construction with the explicit lative case tujems l'ed'ma+v to-go_V.INF.ILL to-mow_V.N+LAT 'to go make hay' (Ky-[TEXT NOT REPODUCIBLE IN ASCCI.] 1976 : 82).

In a description of the case pattern encountered in consonant-stem non-finite morphology, we can assume a 7-slot paradigm, lacking the three core cases (nominative, genitive and dative), see enumeration.

+Om+s +Om+O +Om+dO +Om+sO +Om+stO +Om+ga +Om+ks +INF+ILL +INF+LOC +INF+ABL +INF+INE +INF+ELA +INF+PROL +INF+TRANSL

The 7-slot non-finite pattern can be contrasted with the 12-slot pattern of the deverbal noun in OmA, which attests to core-case functions not available to the non-finite derivations.

+OmA+[??] +OmA+n +OmA+nen +OmA+dO +DV-N+NOM.SG +DV-N+GEN +DV-N+DAT +DV-N+ABL

+OmA+sO +OmA+stO +OmA+va +OmA+ska +INF+INE +INF+ELA +INF+PROL +DV-N+COMP

+OmA+s +OmA+v +OmA+ks +OmA+vtomo +DV-N+ILL +DV-N+LAT +DV-N+TRANSL +INF+ABE

Earlier (Bartens 1979 : 45) it has been assumed that Mordvin possessor indices affixed onto infinitives indicate the patient as opposed to the agent. This would mean that the notion of a distinction [[+ or -]INFINITIVE] would appear manifest in transitive but not intransitive verbs. The Erzya language, however, appears to follow a possessor-index strategy where the primary argument of the verb is the possessor, and this strategy holds for non-finite in Om- and deverbal nouns in OmA, alike, see (1), where the possessor indexed in (1a) is the S and that in (1b) the P. Thus the nominative-case deverbal noun can be demonstrated to operate according to the non-finite argument structure.

(1a) Zar'ija ska+n juta+Z, okojmki, some_PRO-Q.ABS time_N+GEN to-pass_v+PTC-Z, finally_ADV, marav+s bus+ont to-be-heard_v+iND.PRETI.PRED-3sG sa+mo+zo to-arrive_v+DV-N+POSS-3sG.NOM.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCCI.] 1997 : 147)

After some time passed, finally, the arrival of the bus was heard

(1b) paro+nt' t'ej+ema+zo good_N+GEN.DEF.SG to-make_V+DV-N+POSS-3SG.NOM.SG avol' sozdIne, 'se+n not_PRT-NEG-CONTRAST easy_A.NOM.SG, that_PRO-DEM-DISTAL+GEN kis pitne-ze pek poks for_POP.ILL price_N+POSS-3SG.NOM.SG very_AD-A big_A.NOM.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1969 : 79)

'Doing something good isn't easy, [and] for that reason its value is very high'

Studies of the Erzya language often speak of an (elative-case) gerund derived regularly from verb stems in much the same way as the -ms illative infinitive is. Most recently the OmstO formative (moramsto to sing', oznomsto 'to pray', vel'memste 'to come back to life') has been recognized as one of the three gerund-forming morphemes: -OZ, -OmstO and -do, (cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 2000 : 222-227), contrast Bartens 1979. The OmstO formative, according to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 2000, is used in the deverbal derivation of clausal adjuncts, indicating the temporal frame of a non-matrix event/action/state entity, see (2).

(2) ci+nt' valg+omsto cokSne+n sun_N+GEN.DEF.SG to-set_V+INF.ELA evening_N+GEN zora+s vese redness-in-the-sky_N+NOM.DEF.SG the-whole_PRO-Q olakad+s to-turn-pale_v+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 2000 : 223)

'As the sun set the redness in the evening sky became entirely pale'

As discussed above, Erzya also has a deverbal-noun formative OmA which, when declined in the indefinite elative formative stO, has varied reflexes in deverbal-noun formative, whereas the actual elative form is constantly represented by a back-vowel form in sto. Contrast the deverbal noun (DV-N) forms and their non-finite counter parts in table (4).

Since the phonological difference between these two forms hinges upon three notions: (1) the presence of a mid/low vowel-harmony oriented vowel; (2) the semantic functions held by the elative for expressing temporal space, and (3) deverbal nouns attest to the same argument-marking strategies as the non-finite derivation, the question arises as to what extent the two elative-case derivations actually differ from one another. Are there any semantic or syntactic criteria for claiming that the so-called gerund in Om+stO is anything other than an elative-case word form that is regularly derived from verb stems, and functions as a temporal clausal adjunct as would other elative-case nouns with temporal-reference. The distinction between non-finite and deverbal-noun forms might, in fact, be arbitrary.


The elative gerund morpheme OmstO will be segmented into a hypothetical non-finite formative -Om and a subsequent elative marker stO. This segmentation will set it in contrast with that of the deverbal-noun elative affix sequence OmA+stO, and thus render the elative form for inspection morphological, semantic and syntactic:

A) On the basis of the majority Erzya text corpus (, as defined in Rueter 2010, a brief list of morphological hits will be given to illustrate the relative frequency of the most widely attested elative forms of non-finite and deverbal-noun derivations.

B) The elative forms will be inspected for compatibility with the three Erzya declination types, indefinite, possessive and determiner, whereas determiner declination is not attested for adverbs and adpositions.

C) The functions of the elative case most prominently the temporal function of the OmstO adjunct will be illustrated by means of representative examples.

D) Cross-referential adnominal-person marking on the two sets of word forms will be inspected for argument reference, whereas possessor indexing indicating anything other than P-argument reference has previously been cited as a criterion by which to distinguish Om non-finites from infinitives, (cf. Bartens 1979 : 45).


In a UNIX environment we can extract all words of pertinent form by means of the tool "egrep" and the regular expression "M(lalo)cT(o|[??])". This will render three types of word forms: Hits: (1) non-finite forms in OmstO (eramsto 'while living', turemste 'while fighting'); (2) deverbal nouns in OmA+sto (eramosto 'from [the] life', turemasto 'from [the] fight'), and misses (selmste 'from (the) eye(s)', kastomsto 'out of (the) oven'). In Tables 5-6 we will observe the sheer frequency with which non-finite elative forms surpass the deverbalnoun elative forms, on the one hand, and the fact that both word types attest to three declination types, i.e. unlike adverbs and adpositions, word forms with the Om+stO formative can take definite singular declination, which indicates a notion of reference, something associated with nouns. The hits column group in Table 5 has been divided into indefinite declination, possessive declination and definite declination to provide the reader an idea of co-occurrence frequency for each of the declination types, e.g. 'to go' mol'emste; mol'emsten, mol'emstet', mol'emstenze, mol'emstenek, mol'emsteyk, molemstest; mol'emstent'.

The minimal attestation of co-occurrence with definite-declination forms in Table 5 is only slightly smaller than that of co-occurrence with second-person possessor indexing, such that 2SG shares the same level of attestation as the definite-declination forms. First person possessor indexing comprises over twice the attestations found for that of second person, and the attestation for third person possessor indexing is again approximately five times of that attributed to first person possessor indexing. All in all, however, attestation of deictic declination (possessive and definite combined) comprises only about one tenth of all non-finite elative word forms. While both OmstO and OmA+stO word types prefer indefinite elative declination forms, it will be observed that definite marking exceeds that of possessor indexing in the OmA+stO deverbal noun forms, where indefinite and definite forms contribute to the bulk of all attestations, see Table 6.

Of the 42 verb forms shown in tables 5-6 only 11 are consistently representative of frequent non-finites and deverbal nouns. These eleven do not include the three most frequent verbs of the non-finite forms, which also means that the verbs jutams to pass and tujems to leave with complete possessive paradigms are not represented. The verbs represented in Table 7 have deverbal nouns that can be characterized as [+COUNT], but they are by no means consistent in their other semantic characteristics, i.e. some indicate events (samo 'arrival', t'urema 'fight') while others might be seen as the product of the action (kortamo 'talk, [what was said]', arsema 'thought') indicated by the verb.

Typical misses include elative-case nouns, such as, those found in Table 8.

The elative case represented by the formative -stO has two basic meanings--source and location. While source is primarily associated with notions of space (3), material (4), spatio-temporal starting point (5) and separation (6), capacity (7) and temporal setting(8) appear to convey the meaning of location.

(3) kudo+sto+nt' house_N+ELA+DEF.SG

'out of the house'

(4) sija+sto silver_N+ELA

'out of silver'

(5a) vel'e+ste vel'e+s village_N+ELA village_N+ILI

'from village to village'

(6) ava+sto+nzo mother_N+ELA+POSS-3SG

'from its/his/her mother'

(8) erva ci+ste every_Q.ABS day_N+ELA

'every day'

(5b) sokse+ste tundo+s autumn_N+ELA spring_N+ILL

'from autumn to spring'

(7) pravt+sto boss_N+ELA

'from the position of boss'/ 'in the position of boss'

The notion of temporal setting conveyed in (8) is, in fact, parallel to that observed in (2), above. Temporality, it would seem, is determined by the referent itself, i.e. the word ci 'day ' is a quantity of time, a duration. Since the adjunct in (2) ci+nt valg+om+sto 'as the sun set' indicates an activity simultaneous to that of the main predicate verb, one might readily draw a parallel between these two temporal entities. Speaking of temporal entities, naturally, brings us back to deverbal nouns, which should also bear temporal meaning. The verb p^adoms 'to finish, to complete' provides us with a near minimal pair in pradomsto (the non-finite) and pradomasto (the deverbal noun). In two examples from the same collection of short stories, we can observe both word forms in the same function. In (9) a notion of durative temporal space might be entertained as a setting for a meeting (vast ems '[to happen] to meet; to meet repeatedly'), indicating that the non-finite form conveys a notion of continuous or ongoing action.

(9) mejel'se+de sin vastne+st' last_PRO-DET+ABL they_PRO-PERS-3PL.NOM to-meet_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3PL kize+n prad+om+sto+nt', Zardo summer_N+GEN to-end_V+INF+ELA+DEF.SG when_PRO-REL.ABL son uskse+s gruzovoj he_PRO-PERS-3SG.NOM to-haul_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG freight_A.ABS avtomasina+so stancija+v suro automobile_N+INE station_N+LAT grain_N.NOM.SG (A[??]paMoB 1974 : 85)

'The last time they had met at the end of summer when he was hauling grain to the station in a dump-truck'

The deverbal noun in (10), on the other hand, could be construed to indicate a point in time, which would lead to a dichotomy, duration versus reference point. This dichotomy, however, could also be attributed to the time frames implicated by the predicate verbs; the verb vast ems 'to meet' in (9) entails a durative time frame, whereas the verb sams 'to arrive' in (10) indicates a point in time.

(10) juta+z t'el'e+n prad+oma+sto+nt' to-pass_V+PTC-Z winter_N+GEN to-end_V+DV-N+ELA+DEF.SG vele+nten_sa+s geolog+on village_N+DAT.DEF.SG to-arrive_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG geologist_N+GEN apokske gruppa--kolmo cora+t small_A.ABS group_N.NOM.SG--three_NUM-CARD.ABS man_N+PL.NOM di vejke ava and_CONJ one_NUM-CARD.ABS woman_N.NOM.SG (A[??]paMoB 1974 : 26)

'At the end of last winter, a group of geologists came to the village--three men and one woman'

Another verb kortams 'to talk' also provides us with examples of non-finite versus deverbal noun variation in kortamsto and kortamosto respectively. Here the non-finite or short form is consistently associated with the speech act, whereas the longer or deverbal noun indicates the product, see (11-12).

(11) korta+m+sto+nt' psti+ste van+s, to-talk_V+INF+ELA+DEF.SG sharp_A+ELA to-look_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG tonavtne-s, meze-nt' to-study_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG, what_PRO-N-INTER+GEN.DEF.SG kona kedd-se di koda which_PR0-DEM-INTER.ABS hand_N+INE and_CONJ how_PRO-ADV-INTER kund-i sonze to-hold_V+IND.PRES.PRED-3SG he_PR0-PERS-3SG.GEN.P0SS-3SG veckeviks+es jarsa+m+sto+nzo beloved_N+NOM.DEF.SG to-eat_V+INF+ELA+P0SS-3SG (KyTop[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBL IN ASCII.] 1987 : 253)

'While talking he [Miko] watched attentively, studied, what, how and with which hand his beloved held onto things when she ate'

(12) no kirillov+nen korta+mo+sto+nt' but_CONJ Kirillov_PRP+DAT to-talk_V+N+ELA+DEF.SG vejke+jak val one_NUM-CARD.ABS+CLT word_N.NOM.SG a carkod'ev+i not_PRT-NEG to-understand_v+IND.PRES-PRED-3SG (III[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1968 : 29)

'But Kirillov cannot comprehend a single word from what is said'

Although activity versus product might be attested in some instances, there appears to be free variation in some publications between short and long forms. It seems that the short forms cannot be used for expression of product entities. If, however, the short form indicates a duration and not a point in time, then it can be attested as with verbs, such as, sirgozems 'to wake up', see (13). Hence it is conceivable that the short Om+stO form can be associated with source functions, as well.

(13) kastom+ost udal+o cirk oven_N+POSS-3PL behind_POP+LOC chirp_IDEOPHONE merev+s t'el'e+n to-suddenly-say_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG winter_N+GEN udo+m+sto+nzo sirgoz+ica cirkun to-sleep_V+INF+ELA+POSS-3SG to-awaken_V+PTC-CA cricket_N.NOM.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1976 : 236)

'Behind the stove a cricket awakening from its winter sleep gave a chirp'

Cross-referential adnominal-person marking, possessor indexing, is, as illustrated in tables (5-6), compatible with both non-finite and deverbal-noun forms. Possessor indexing, in Erzya, is primary-argument oriented, i.e. with the non-finite elative forms of intransitive verbs the personal affix indicates the S argument possessor, but with transitive verbs there are further stipulations to be dealt with, see (14-16).

(14) Baska-baska t'ev+t'+m+ste, separate_ADV-separate_ADV thing_N+PL+DEF.PL+ELA, vejke-vejke mel'ga one_NUM-CARD.ABS-one_NUM-CARD.ABS after_POP mol'e+ma+sto+st marav+i to-go_V+N+ELA+POSS-3PL to-be-heard_V+IND.PRES.PRED-3SG son+s+enze ska+nt' ikel'e+v it_PRO-PERS-3SG+REFL+POSS-3SG.OBL time_N+GEN.DEF.SG forward_ADV+LAT sasto+ma+s, koso, to-move_V+N+NOM.DEF.SG, where_PR0-SPAT-INTER+INE, meze di zardo what_PRO-N-INTER.NOM.SG and_CONJ when_PRO-ADV-TEMP.ABL mol'+i, t'e+n lang+s to-go_V+IND.PRES.PRED-3SG, this_PRO-DET+GEN on_POP+ILL jav+i baska to-share_V+IND.PRES-PRED-3SG separate_ADV mel' avtor+os thought_N.NOM.SG author_N.NOM.DEF.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1993 : 14)

'From separate things, from their succession you can feel the progression of time itself, where, what and when it happens, this is something the author addresses explicitly'

(15) irina pavlovna carkod'+s: Irina_PRP.N0M.SG Pavlovna_PRP.NOM.SG to-understand_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG: t'et'a+zo di ava+zo, father_N+POSS-3SG.NOM.SG and_CONJ mother_N+POSS-3SG.NOM.SG, nat', lamo+kst' merne+st' apparently_ADV, many_Q+ITER to-say_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3PL vejke+nen-vejke+nen maks+om+sto+nzo one_NUM-CARD+DAT-one_NUM-CARD+DAT to-give_V+INF+ELA+POSS-3SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1987: 105)

'Irina Pavlovna understood: Apparently, his [Dina] father and mother had said [that] several times when they gave/passed him [Dina] to each other'

While (14-15) illustrate the indication of primary-argument relations of s and P, (16) would appear to indicate an AGENT relation for the possessor-index, in as far as the verb ecems 'to stuff' is understood as a transitive verb with the patient/theme indicated by the genitive-form attribute penge 'firewood'. In (17) we can observe yet another instance of an agent relation for possessor-indexing.

(16) ton bednnak+t+ne+n you_PRO-PERS-2SG.GEN pauper_N+PL+DEF.PL+GEN mezejak a mu+sinze, anything_PRO-N-INDEF.NOM.SG not_PRT-NEG to-find_V+IND.PRES.PRED-3SG>3PL,--karma+s muzgord+em+e kastom+s --to-begin_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG to-mutter_v+INF+LOC oven_N+ILL penge+n ece+m+ste+nze matra firewood_N+GEN to-stuff-full_V+INF+ELA+POSS-3SG Matra_PRP.NOM.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1976 : 343)

'There is nothing that will get to those paupers of yours [is there?]--Matra began to mutter as she stoked the oven with firewood'

(17) t'e paro.--meze+s? that_PRO-DET.NOM.SG good_A.NOM.SG.--what_PRO-N-INTER+NOM.DEF.SG? kevkst+ize, selme+nze to-ask_V+IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG>3SG, eye_N+POSS-3SG.OBL kona+m+sto+nzo, Merkulovna to-close:eyes_V+INF+ELA+POSS-3SG, Merkulovna_PRP.NOM.SG ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 1976 : 22)

'That [is] good.--What is? Merkulovna asked him as she closed her eyes'

No instances of deverbal nouns (OmA+sto) were detected in the Erzya majority corpus ( that were both (1) derived from transitive stems, and (2) had possessor-indexing indicating a P-argument relation.


Non-finite and deverbal forms in the elative are attested with 3 declination types (indefinite, possessive and definite), an indication that both forms refer to entities, and are not mere relation-words such as adverbs and adpositions might be conceived to be, see tables 5-6 for specific data.

The Elative functions of temporal location and source can be discerned for the short form Om+stO, which indicates that these relation words are durative in nature, and might be distinguished from point-in-time referent deverbal nouns OmA+stO, see (9-11, 13).

Possessor indexing on non-finite targets is associated with the primary-argument relations s with verbs[-TRANS] (13-14), p with verbs[+TRANS] (15) when no competing indication of possessor is present, e.g. a genitive attribute may render an AGENT reading of possessor indices when a genitive-form attribute/P is present, (16-17).

doi: 10.3176/lu.2011.1.03


1--First person, 2--Second person, 3--Third person, 2SG--Second person singular, 3PL--Third person plural, 3SG--Third person singular, A--Adjective, ABE--Abessive, ABL--Ablative, ABS--Absolutive, AD-A--Ad-adjective, ADV--Adverb, CLT--Clitic, COMP--Comparative, CONJ--Conjunction, DAT--Dative, DEF--Definite, DEM--Demonstrative, DV-N--Deverbal noun, ELA--Elative, GEN--Genitive, ILL--Illative, IND--Indicative, INDEF--Indefinite, INE--Inessive, INF--Infinitive, INTER--Interrogative, ITER--Iteration, LAT--Lative, LOC--Locative, N--Noun, NOM--Nominative, NUM-CARD--Cardinal numeral, OBL--Oblique, P--Patient, PL--Plural, POP--Adposition, POSS--Possessor index, POSS-3PL--Third person plural possessor index, POSS-3SG--Third person singular possessor index, pred--Predication marker, PRED-3PL--Third person plural subject, PRED-3SG--Third person singular subject, PRED-3SG>3PL--Third person singular subject and third person plural object, PRED-3SG>3SG--Third person singular subject and third person singular object, PRES--Present, PRETI--Preterit I, PRO-ADV--Pro-adverb, PRO-ADV-INTER--Pro-adverb interrogative, PRO-ADV-TEMP--Pro-adverb temporal, PRO-DEM--Pro-demonstrative, PRO-DEB-DISTAL--Pro-demonstrative distal, PRO-DEM-INTER--Pro-demonstrative interrogative, PRO-DET--Pro-determiner, PRO-N--Pro-noun, PRO-N-INDEF--Pro-noun indefinite, PRO-N-INTER--Pro-noun interrogative, PRO-PERS--Personal pronoun, PRO-Q--Pro-quantifier, PRO-REL--Relative pronoun, PRO-SPAT-INTER--Interrogative spatial pronoun, PROL--Prolative, PRP--Proper noun, PRT-NEG--Negative particle, PTC-CA--Past participle in ca, PTC-Z--Past participle in Z, Q--Quantifier, refl--Reflexive/Intensive, s--Subject, sg--Singular, trans--Transitive, TRANSL--Translative, V--Verb.




Bartens, R. 1970, On the Temporal Forms in Mordvin.--FUF XXXVIII, 247-256.

--1979, Mordvan, tseremissin ja votjakin konjugaation infiniittisten muotojen syntaksi, Helsinki (MSFOu 170).

--1999, Mordvalaiskielten rakenne ja kehitys, Helsinki (MSFOu 232).

Pall, V. 1996, Ersa keel. Opiku konspekt ja sOnaloend, Tallinn.

Rueter, J. 2010, Adnominal Person in the Morphological System of Erzya, Helsinki (MSFOu 261).

Trosterud, T. 2006, Homonymy in the Uralic Two-Argument Agreement Paradigms, Helsinki (MSFOu 251).

Zaicz, G. 1998, Mordva.--The Uralic Languages, London, 184-218.



Jack Rueter

University of Helsinki


JACK RUETER (Helsinki)
Table 1
Erzya verb-stem system attests to a three-way split

Verb stem         Gloss          +INF+ILL

Consonant-final   'to give        maks+Om+s         maksoms
                  'to bind        sod+Om+s          sodoms
                  'to go          mol+Om+s          mol'ems
                  'to scold;      sudo+Om+s         sudoms
Vowel-final       'to curse
                  'to carve'      lakse+Om+s        laksems
                  'to know;       soda+Om+s         sodams
                  'to recognize
                  'to repeat      polaksa+Om+s      polaksams
T-stem            'to suffice     satoT+Om+s        satoms
                  'to become      kundsetteT+Om+s   kundsettems

Verb stem         Gloss           +IND.PRETI.PRED-3SG

Consonant-final   'to give        maks+s                makss
                  'to bind        sod+s                 sods
                  'to go          mol+s                 mols
                  'to scold;      sudo+s                sudos
Vowel-final       'to curse
                  'to carve'      lakse+s               lakses
                  'to know;       soda+s                sodas
                  'to recognize
                  'to repeat      polaksa+s             polaksas
T-stem            'to suffice     satoT+s               satots
                  'to become      kundset'eT+s          kundset'et's

Table 2
Deverbal nouns and locative-case infinitives in the verb-stem system
of Erzya

Verb stem         Gloss           +DV-N

Consonant-final   'to give        maks+OmA        maksoma
                  'to bind        sod+OmA         sodoma
                  'to go          mol+OmA         molema
                  'to scold;      sudo+OmA        sudoma
Vowel-final       'to curse
                  'to carve'      lakse+OmA       laksema
                  'to know;       soda+OmA        sodamo
                  'to recognize
                  'to repeat      polaksa+OmA     polaksamo
T-stem            'to suffice     satoT+OmA       satoma
                  'to become      kundseteT+OmA   kundsetema

Verb stem         Gloss           +INF+LOC

Consonant-final   'to give        maks+Om+O         maksomo
                  'to bind        sod+Om+O          sodomo
                  'to go          mol+Om+O          moleme
                  'to scold;      sudo+Om+O         sudomo
Vowel-final       'to curse
                  'to carve'      lakse+Om+O        lakseme
                  'to know;       soda+Om+O         sodamo
                  'to recognize
                  'to repeat      polaksa+Om+O      polaksamo
T-stem            'to suffice     satoT+Om+O        satomo
                  'to become      kundsete T+Om+O   kundseteme

Table 3a
Non-finite case patterns

Gloss       ILL       (TRANSI)     LOC       ABL           INE

'to sing'   moram+s   (moram+ks)   moram+o   moram(o)+do   moram+so

Gloss       ELA         PROL

'to sing'   moram+sto   moram+ga

Table 3b
Spatial adverb/adposition case patterns for the Erzya word alo
'under; below'

                        TRANSL   LAT     LOC    ABL     PROL

Adverb/Postposition 1   al+ks    al+ov   al+o   al+do   al+ga

Table 4
Deverbal nouns and non-finites in the elative

Gloss          DV-N+ELA        DV-N.ELA     INF+ELA        INF.ELA

to give        maks+OmA+stO    maksomasto   maks+Om+stO    maksomsto
'to go '       mol+OmA+stO     molemasto    mol+Om+stO     mol emste
'to scold '    sudo+OmA+stO    sudomasto    sudo+Om+stO    sudomsto
'to suffice'   satoT+OmA+stO   satomasto    satoT+Om+stO   satomsto
'to touch'     toka+OmA+stO    tokamosto    toka+Om+stO    tokamsto

Table 5
21 most frequent non-finite elative Om+stO in Erzya majority corpus

Gloss           Word form       INDEF      1         2           3
                                        SG   PL   SG   PL    SG   PL

'to go'         mol +emste        688    0    5    0    0    54    22
'to pass        juta+msto         608    6    2    3    1    45    15
'to depart;     tuj+emste         406   16    4   10    1    82    16
'to bring
'to arrive      sa+msto           316   14    0    5    1    24     4
'to come out;   lis+emste         251    5    0    2    0    27     8
'to go out
'to watch       van+omsto         254    2    0    0    0    10     0
'to sleep       udo+msto          221    3    0    1    0    13     1
'to live        era+msto          205    9    0    5    0    24     8
'to enter       sova+msto         195    2    1    1    0    23     4
'to talk'       korta+msto        201    1    2    0    3     7     5
'to ride        ard+omsto         195    0    0    0    0     6     2
'to stay        ast'e+mste        185    2    1    0    0    11     0
'to study       tonavtne+mste     184    1    0    2    0     4     1
'to make        t'ej+emste        126    0    0    1    0     9     0
'to walk;       jaka+msto         106    4    1    2    0     0     2
'to visit
'to fight       t'r+emste         111    0    1    0    0     0     1
'to meet        vast+omsto         81    0    3    2    0     6     5
'to fall'       pra+msto           51    3    0    1    0    13    10
'to think       arse+mste          68    0    0    0    0     6     0
'to finish      prad+omsto         46    0    0    0    0     0     0
'to tell        jovtne+mste        35    2    0    1    0     8     0
(in detail)
Total                           4533    70   20   36    6   372   104

Gloss           Word form       DEF   Total

                mol'+emste       6     775
'to pass        juta+msto        2     682
'to depart;     tuj+emste        2     537
'to bring
'to arrive      sa+msto          3     367
'to come out;   lis+emste        0     293
'to go out
'to watch       van+omsto        3     269
'to sleep       udo+msto         0     239
'to live        era+msto         3     254
'to enter       sova+msto        1     227
'to talk'       korta+msto       3     222
'to ride        ard+omsto        3     206
'to stay        ast'e+mste       1     200
'to study       tonavtne+mste    1     193
'to make        t'ej+emste       0     136
'to walk;       jaka+msto        0     115
'to visit
'to fight       t'r+emste        1     114
'to meet        vast+omsto       4     101
'to fall'       pra+msto         0      78
'to think       arse+mste        0      74
'to finish      prad+omsto       3      49
'to tell        jovtne+mste      0      46
(in detail)
Total                           36    5177

Table 6
21 most frequent deverbal nouns in elative OmA+stO from Erzya majority
corpus (

Gloss                   Word form      INDEF       1           2
                                               1SG   1PL   2SG   2PL

'to live'               eramosto         138     9     2     2     0
'to arrive'             samosto           41     1     0     1     0
'to tell (in detail)'   jovtnemasto       16     1     0     0     0
'to begin'              usodomasto         0     0     0     0     0
'to talk'               kortamosto         7     0     0     0     0
'to think'              arsemasto          8     0     0     0     0
'to standup'            st amosto          4     0     0     5     0
'to meet'               vastomasto         1     0     0     0     0
'to meet (recipr)'      vastovomasto       3     0     0     0     0
'to sleep'              udomasto           4     0     0     0     0
'to strive'             bazamosto          0     1     0     0     0
'to fall'               pramosto           5     0     0     0     0
'to fight'              turemasto          1     0     0     0     0
'to finish'             pradomasto         1     0     0     0     0
'to write'              sormadomasto       4     0     0     0     0
'to love'               veckemasto         1     0     0     0     0
'to sit down'           ozamosto           0     0     0     0     0
'to lance'              salgomasto         0     0     0     0     0
'to walk; to visit'     jakamosto          0     0     0     0     0
'to pray'               oznomasto          3     0     0     0     0
'to turn'               purdamosto         0     0     0     0     0
Total                                    237    12     2     8     0


Gloss                   Word form           3      DEF   Total
                                       3SG   3PL

'to live'               eramosto        11     2    96     260
'to arrive'             samosto          1     0     7      51
'to tell (in detail)'   jovtnemasto      0     0     7      24
'to begin'              usodomasto       0     0    17      17
'to talk'               kortamosto       1     1     4      13
'to think'              arsemasto        2     0     1      11
'to standup'            st amosto        0     0     2      11
'to meet'               vastomasto       3     1     6      11
'to meet (recipr)'      vastovomasto     0     0     8      11
'to sleep'              udomasto         1     0     3       8
'to strive'             bazamosto        1     0     4       6
'to fall'               pramosto         0     0     1       6
'to fight'              turemasto        0     0     5       6
'to finish'             pradomasto       0     0     4       5
'to write'              sormadomasto     0     0     1       5
'to love'               veckemasto       0     0     4       5
'to sit down'           ozamosto         0     0     4       4
'to lance'              salgomasto       0     0     4       4
'to walk; to visit'     jakamosto        0     0     3       3
'to pray'               oznomasto        0     0     0       3
'to turn'               purdamosto       0     0     3       3
Total                                   20     4    184    467

Table 7
Verbs with high frequency non-finite versus deverbal noun

Gloss          Non-finite ELA   Attestation   Gloss

'to live'      era+msto                254    'life'
'to arrive'    sa+msto                 367    'arrival'
'to sleep'     udo+msto                239    'sleep'
'to talk'      korta+msto              222    'talk'
'to walk;      jaka+msto               115    'visit'
'to visit'
'to fight'     t'r+emste               114    'fight'
'to meet'      vast+omsto              101    'encounter,
                                              ' meeting'
'to think'     arse+mste                74    'thought'
'to fall'      pra+msto                 78    'fall'
'to tell       jovtne+mste              46    'story'
(in detail)'
'to finish'    prad+omsto               49    'end'
Total                                 1659

Gloss          Deverbal ela   Attestation   Total

'to live'      era+mosto          260         514
'to arrive'    sa+mosto            51         418
'to sleep'     udo+masto            8         247
'to talk'      korta+mosto         13         235
'to walk;      jaka+mosto           3         118
'to visit'
'to fight'     t'r+emasto           6         120
'to meet'      vvast+omasto        11         112

'to think      arse+masto          11          85
'to fall'      pra+mosto            6          84
'to tell'      jovtne+masto        24          70
(in detail)'
'to finish'    prad+omasto          5          54
Total                             398        2057

Table 8
Common misses generated by "M(lalo)CT(ol[??])" expression

Word form   Elative-case gloss   Word form    Elative-case gloss

sel m+ste   'eye'                kastom+sto   'oven'
cama+sto    'face'               val ma+sto   'window'
eZem+ste    'bench'              utom+sto     'grainery'
turma+sto   'jail'               rajkom+sto   'raioncommittee'
ferma+sto   'farm'               pojma+sto    'floodplain'
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Author:Rueter, Jack
Publication:Linguistica Uralica
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXES
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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