Case in Yukaghir Languages

Elena Maslova

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Case in Yukaghir Languages

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Language Families


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This article describes case marking of core arguments in two extant Yukaghir languages, the Tundra Yukaghir language spoken in the Lower-Kolyma region of Saha (Russia) and the Kolyma Yukaghir language of the Upper-Kolyma region. The Yukaghir languages have rich, predominantly agglutinating morphology, which serves as the primary means of expressing syntactic information. The canonical word order is head-final, but it is very flexible at the clause level and cannot be used as a guide for discrimination of core participants. With minor exceptions irrelevant in the present context, verbs fall into two grammatical classes, intransitive and transitive, characterised by different inflectional paradigms. Intransitive verbs have a single core argument (S), which controls verb agreement and switch-reference in non-finite clauses. Transitive verbs have two core arguments (A and P), of which only A controls verb agreement and switch-reference. The core arguments formally differ from peripheral nominal constituents in that they can be represented by morphologically unmarked noun phrases (NPs). The case marking system is sensitive to person hierarchy and a cross-linguistically unusual grammatical classification of lexical NPs.

Keywords: Yukaghir languages; Tundra Yukaghir; Kolyma Yukaghir; case marking; core arguments; word order; transitive verbs; intransitive verbs; person hierarchy; noun phrases

Article.  2852 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Language Families

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