semantic and morphological partitives in the uralic languages n.
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Semantic and morphological partitives in the Uralic languages. Anne Tamm SLE 43RD ANNUAL MEETING, VILNIUS, 2 - 5 SEPTEMBER 2010 SLE workshop Partitives , Vilnius , September 4th, 2010. What is special about the Uralic partitives ?.

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semantic and morphological partitives in the uralic languages

Semantic and morphologicalpartitivesintheUraliclanguages

Anne Tamm


SLE workshopPartitives,

Vilnius, September 4th, 2010

what is special about the uralic partitives
What is specialabouttheUralicpartitives?
  • Havingmanylanguageswiththepartitive: thevariationacrosstheFinniclanguagesin ”whatthepartitive is usedfor” – thesemanticpartitive > partitive TAM semanticsdistinction
  • Embeddednessinrichcasesystems: themultitude of Source (separative) cases and a mismatchbetweenpartitivesemantics and semanticpartitives
  • Theinteractionbetween TAM and thepartitive
    • Aspectual DOM, DSM, DAM
    • Definitenesseffects, telicity, and partitivearguments
    • Caseonnon-finites and verbstems
semantics and morphology a partitive mismatch
Semantics and morphology: a ”partitive” mismatch
  • SeveralUraliclanguageshavecasesthatarereferredtoas ”partitive”.
  • The semantics of thesecasesdivergesfromthegenerallyassumednotionof ”partitive”.
  • It is usefultodistinguishbetween ”semanticpartitives” (and casesthatexpressit) and ”morphologicalpartitives” (andthesemanticstheyexpress).


Morphological PTV


The partitivesemanticscorrespondsto "part/amount-of-N", referringto a part orquantity out of a grouporamount of substance.

language specific morphological partitives
  • Whilethesemanticpartitive has fixed semanticproperties, themorphologicalpartitivecaseshavedevelopedtheirownspecificsemanticsand pragmaticsineachUraliclanguagewherethecaseappears.
    • Karelian: thecausepartitive ”infinitives”
    • Inari Sami: afternumbers 7+
    • Inari Sami: withcomparatives (thansomeone/something)
karelian partitive infinitives
Karelian ”partitiveinfinitives”


cook-M_NMLZ_PTV pot[NOM]


’Cookingcausedthepotturnblack.’ (Karelian)

sami comparative constructions
Sami comparativeconstructions

(Inari Sami, Toivonen 2003: 65)

sami number phrases 7
Sami numberphrases 7+

(Inari Sami, Toivonen 2003: 66)

r ich case systems
  • Uraliclanguagesaretypicallycharacterizedbyrichcasesystemswithapproximately 10 members, and manyhavecasesystems of approximately 15 or 20 cases.
  • Accordingtothe WALS map of Iggesen(2008), thereare 24 languageswith more than 10 cases.
    • The followinglanguageshave more than 10 casesin WALS: Awa Pit, Basque, Brahui, Chukchi, EpenaPedee, Estonian, Evenki, Finnish, Gooniyandi, Hamtai, Hungarian, Hunzib, Ingush, Kayardild, Ket, Lak, Lezgian, Martuthunira, Mordvin (Erzya), Nez Perce, Nunggubuyu, Pitjantjatjara, Toda, Udmurt.
  • Fiveof thoselistedareUralic (Erzya Mordvin, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, and Udmurt).
partitive in the case paradigm



Skolt and Inari Sami



Almost allUraliccaseshaveoneor more casesfor ”separation”

partitive and source cases est
Partitive and sourcecases: Est

Nominative book raamat

Genitive of a book raamatu

Partitive(of) a book raamatu-t

Illative into the book raamatu-sse

Inessivein a book raamatu-s

Elative from (inside) a book raamatu-st

Allative onto a book raamatu-le

Adessiveon a book raamatu-l

Ablative from the book raamatu-lt

Translative in(to), as a book raamatu-ks

Terminative until a book raamatu-ni

Essive as a book raamatu-na

Abessivewithout a book raamatu-ta

Comitative with a book raamatu-ga

no partitive source cases u
No partitive, Sourcecases (U)

1. Nominative s’ik

2. Genitives’ik-len

3. Accusatives’ik/s’ik-ez

4. Ablative s’ik-les’

5. Dative s’ik-ly

6. Adessives’ik-len

7. Instrumentals’ik-en

8. Abessives’ik-tek

9. Inessives’ik-yn

10. Illative s’ik-e

11. Elative s’ik-ys’(t)

12. Terminative s’ik-oz’

13. Egressives’ik-ys’en

14. Prolatives’ik-eti

15. Approximatives’ik-lan’

Source: SvetlanaEdygarova, p.c.

source cases in rich paradigms
  • Komi has 18 cases (Riese 1998: 268), nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, approximative, genitive/ablative, inessive, elative, ablative, terminative, instrumental, egressive, caritive, adverbial, prolative 1 and 2, consecutive, comitative.
source cases in poor paradigms
  • Tundra Nenets 7 (Salminen 1998: 537), nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, ablative, prosecutive. (thesuggestedProto-Samoyedicinventory, Janhunen 1998: 469)
  • Kamas 7 (Szimoncsics 1998: 585-586), nominative, accusative, genitive, lative, locative, ablative, instrumental
  • Selkup 13 (Helimski 1998: 560-561), nominative, accusative, genitive, instrumental, co-ordinative, caritive, translative, dative/allative, illative, locative, elative, prolative, vocative
  • Nganasan 8-11 (Helimski 1998: 496), nominative (= absoluteform), accusative, genitive, lative (= dative, ordative-lative), locative (=locative/instructive), elative (=ablative), prolative (=prosecutive)
source cases ablative elative delative egressive and exessive
Sourcecases: ablative, elative, delative, egressive, and exessive
  • Ablative(Erzya, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Mansi, Vepsian, Votic, etc)denotesmovementawayfromsomething (e.g., awayfromthe house)
  • Elative (Erzya, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Lule Sámi, Pite Sámi, Votic, etc) denotes "out of something" (e.g., out of the house).
  • Delative (Hungarian) denotesmovementfromthesurface (e.g., from (the top of) the house)
  • Egressive (Veps, Udmurt) marking thebeginning of a movementortime (e.g., beginningfromthe house)
  • Exessive (Karelian, Ingrian, Livonian, Votic, Estonian, etc ) transitionawayfrom a state (froma house)
  • Genitive-ablative (Komi) source of information, resource
uralic semantic partitive elative ablative
Uralicsemanticpartitive: elative, ablative
  • IntheUraliclanguages, thesemanticpartitive is generallyexpressedbytheelativecase.
  • Ifthere is no dedicatedelativecase, thenthesemanticpartitive is expressedbytheablative.
  • The morphologicalpartitiveis more characteristic of pseudopartitiveconstructions.
  • Pseudopartitiveconstructionsareexpressedpredominantlyviajuxtaposition.
  • It is notclearatthisstageifallUraliclanguageshaveanypartitiveconstructionswiththestructure
    • N-measure – N-substance
semp elative
SemP, elative
  • Elativedenotesmovementfrom a container, ablative - movementawayfromsomething, delative – movementfromasurface.

gyerekeimből a legfiatalabb

child-PL.1PX-ELA theyoungest

’theyoungest of mychildren’ (Hungarian)

juxtaposition pseudo partitives
Juxtaposition (pseudo-partitives)

ManyUraliclanguagesexpresspseudo-partitiveswithjuxtaposition (N and W Sami, Hungarian, Mari, Mordvinian, Komi, Udmurt (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001:555)).

egy pohár bor


’a glass of wine’ (Hungarian)

semp elative morphp partitive
SemP: elative, MorphP: partitive
  • Estoniansemanticpartitive is typicallyrealizedbyelative; onlythepseudo-partitive is realizedwiththepartitivecase-marking.



’theyoungest of mychildren’


glass[nom] wine.PTV

’a glass of wine’ (Estonian)

true semp and aspect
TrueSemP and aspect

Evett a pizzá-ból.

eat.3sdef pizza-ela

‘She ate some of the pizza.’

Meg-ettea pizzá-t.

TELIC-eat.3sdef pizza-acc

‘She ate up the pizza.’

*Meg-ettea pizzá-ból.

TELIC-eat.3sdef pizza-ela

(‘She ate up of the pizza.’) (Hungarian)


Mari sõi (seda) pitsa-t.

Mari ate this.ptvpizza-PTV

‘Mary waseating (this) pizza.’ (Est unbounded)

Marisõipitsa / ??pitsa-t(ära).

Mari ate pizza.ACC pizza-PTVup

‘Mary ate a pizza (up).’ (Est bounded)

Pizzá-t evett.

pizza-acc eat.3s

‘She waseating pizza.’ (Hu unbounded)

The Hungarianelative is a realsemanticpartitive.


udm acc semp unmarked acc
Udm.: acc. SemP, unmarked/acc

n'an' s'i-i (odigjudes)

bread[ACC]eat-INF (one[ACC] piece[ACC])

‘toeat (a piece of) bread.’


bread-ACCpiece[ACC] eat-INF

‘toeat a piece of thisbread.’



‘toeat (a piece of) thisbreadup.’

(SvetlanaEdygarova, p.c.)

komi elative semp unmarked acc
Komi, elativeSemP, unmarked/acc

Курчч-и нянь-сьыс тор.

bite-1s.pastbread-ela piece[acc]

’I havebittensomebread.’

Нянь сёй-и.

bread [acc] eat-1sg/past

‘I waseatingbread, Iatesomebread.’


eat-1sg/past bread-acc.def

‘I atethebread (some of thebread).’

(NikolayKuznetsov, p.c.)

c ase marked non finite verb forms
Case-marked non-finite verb forms
  • Partitives and sourcecasesappearonnon-finites.
  • Non-finite forms frequently originate from case-marked non-finite verb forms, which are complements originally but develop further into base predicates of larger predicate complexes.
  • Thesecomplexes develop case-related semantics and TAM meanings.
udmurt case on n nominalizations

1. Nominative s’ikmyn-on(verb+n+case)

2. Genitives’ik-lenmyn-on-len(verb+n+len)

3. Accusatives’ik/s’ik-ez myn-on-ez

4. Ablative s’ik-les’ myn-on-les’

5. Dative s’ik-ly myn-on-ly

6. Adessives’ik-len

7. Instrumentals’ik-enmyn-on-en

8. Abessives’ik-tek

9. Inessives’ik-ynmyn-on-yn

10. Illative s’ik-emyn-on-e

11. Elatives’ik-ys’(t)

12. Terminative s’ik-oz’myn-on-oz’

13. Egressives’ik-ys’en

14. Prolatives’ik-eti

15. Approximatives’ik-lan’

Source: SvetlanaEdygarova, p.c.

case on m nominalizations

1. Nominative s’ikmyn-em(verb+m+case)

2. Genitives’ik-lenmyn-em-len (verb+m+len)

3. Accusatives’ik/s’ik-ez myn-em-ez

4. Ablative s’ik-les’ myn-em-les’

5. Dative s’ik-ly myn-em-ly

6. Adessives’ik-len

7. Instrumentals’ik-enmyn-em-en

8. Abessives’ik-tek

9. Inessives’ik-ynmyn-em-yn

10. Illative s’ik-emyn-em-e

11. Elative s’ik-ys’(t)myn-em-ys’

12. Terminative s’ik-oz’myn-em-oz’

13. Egressives’ik-ys’en

14. Prolatives’ik-eti

15. Approximatives’ik-lan’

Source: SvetlanaEdygarova, p.c.

spatial prepositions infinitives

(1) Je viens de manger.

‘I have just eaten.’

(2) I go to eat.

(3) Jan is aan het eten.

‘John is eating.’

(4) *I come from eat.

(5) Je vais manger.

‘I am going to eat.’

the participle becomes an object a uditory evidence is partial
The participlebecomes an object - auditoryevidence is partial

Mari kuulis Jürit

Mary heardG.ptv

koju tulevat.


‘Mary heard Georgecome home.’ (Est)

visual evidence is not partial
Visual evidence is notpartial

Mari nägi Jürit

Mary sawJ.part



‘Mary saw Georgecominghome.’ (Est)

  • TherearemanySource (separative) cases.
  • There is a mismatchbetweensemantic and morphologicalpartitives.
  • The interactionbetween TAM, definiteness, and thepartitivecan be observedinmanyareas.
    • Aspectual DOM
    • Definitenesseffects, telicity, and partitivearguments
    • Caseonnon-finites and verbstems