III. Some Aspects of Syntax
III.1. On the Use of Tenses and Moods
a) The System ofTenses:
The "temporal system" of the Fergiartic
is characterized by two principles: Aspect und Tense.
The tense is actually the secondary; that is the principle introduced at a later stage of the language.
The initial difference is that between present - aorist - perfect (aspect). Here the present denotes the action in its course, by which a special vividness of the expression is attained (e.g. moret: he is dying, through which the death throes are expressed). The aorist on the other hand denotes the punctual aspect of the action or the action as an objective fact resp. a historic fact; therefore marèt (he is dying [at the moment]) stresses, for example, the occurrence of death or the dying of the subject as such.
Note: In a certain way it is just the opposite of the English tense system, where the present progressive denotes the death throes, whereas the present states the fact as such. We used the -ing form in the treating of tenses and the verb because it partially denotes the punctual aspect while actually stressing the course of the action in the temporal ordering of the tenses in English.
The perfect, finally, denotes the
result of an action, in a certain degree also the conclusion of
the same; thus one can translate memare as well with "he
has died" as with "he is dead".
From these present tense forms past tense forms can be built by the help of the augment and the secondary endings. The difference between the three aspects is principally preserved; thus: emòret (he died, was dying), emrèt (he died), emèmart (he has died). In conjunction with other subordinate clauses an anteriority can be expressed by the past tenses, where the choice of aspect carries more delicate distinctions. Compare: nî egimme, hite emèmart vs. nî egimme, hite emrèt vs. nî egimme, hite emòret (we didn't know, that he had died/was dying/died). Often such subordinate clauses of a temporal character are denoted by participle constructions.
The last "tense", the future, emerged from the desiderative aspect. Therefore it can have a future character as well as denote a declaration of intent; thus we can translate mossu as well by "I will die" as by "I want to die". The future II (following II.6.8.) must be built by the synthetic form: eyeni (fut. I) + part. perfect (proper verb); e.g.: esti mèmarvus (he will have died).
b) The Modal System
In the functional perspective the moods subjunctive and optative generally distinguish the independant use and the use in subordinate clauses while the imperative has only the independant usage.
i) The use of the subjunctive:
In principle the subjunctive describes an action with respect to its realization. Here two groups are to be distinguished: The prospektive subjunctive indicates that the fulfilment of the described action is expected resp. held to be possible by the speaker. Thus, for example, gaiyet can be translated as "I guess he will come". Therefore the prospective subjunctive is introduced most of the time by an (thus, in the example used above, an gaiyet). The second case, the voluntative subjunctive, normally denotes an intentional action (e.g. gâssan: I want to come). But in this function the future can also be used, although here the meaning can include a relation of the action to a remote future. The voluntative subjunctive can also adress several persons: adhortative (demand in the fourth person: e.g. gâssam: let's go!) and iussive (demand in the third and sixth person; e.g. kîske manît (ad) ihve: everybody for himself!). Combined with this is the polite paraphrase of an order; e.g.: gâssant: (please) go. Of course both kinds of the independant subjunctive (as well as the subjunctive in subordinate clauses) can be negated; for this the verbal negation nî is used.
The subordinate subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses, again with a prospective and voluntative meaning. In this case the voluntative subjunctive cannot be replaced by the future. Depending on the temporal relationship subjunctive present, aorist or perfect is used. In contrast the independant voluntative subjunctive is almost exclusively used in the subjunctive aorist. The prospective subjunctive in subordinate clauses denotes mainly an action which is expected for the present or the future, thus in interrogative, relative, temporal, conditional (if it is held to be probable by the speaker) and final subordinate clauses (after verbs of fear). The voluntative subjunctive is used in final clauses (if the subject of the subordinate clause is not the same as in the main clause), in dependant demands and prohibitions.
ii) The Use of the Optative:
Originally the optative denotes a wish, later it was also used to denote a possibility (potentialis).
The proper optative (or: Cupitive) in all persons denotes a wish of the speaker; in connection with hise (thus, therefore) it can also denote a curse. Of course it can also denote a negative wish; compare: gaiyut (would, that he came!) nî gaiyut ([I hope] he doesn't come!). The positive wish is introduced by i, if its fulfilment is doubted, thus e.g.: i gaiyut: if he but came! (but he won't/can't come).
The potential optative expresses the possibility that the action described by the verb is realized, but in contrast to the prospective subjunctive mainly without an indication of the opinion of the speaker.
Possible candidates for the subordinate optative are especially relative, final and conditional clauses. If condition and conclusion are to be made out to be possible, both times the optative is used; e.g.: san gâssye, iyen: if you came, I would go.
The imperative (of the second and fifth person) is only used in main clauses. It does not know aspectual or temporal differences even in forms of the past tense in direct speech; e.g.: evêt : "isi!" (He said: "Go!").
The negated imperative or prohibitive is formed by nî (resp. n- with verbs beginning with a vowel); e.g. nî gaite (Don't come!), nisi (Don't go!).
For commands to other persons, see the voluntative subjunctive.
iv) Modally used indicatives:
Some past tense forms of the indicative can be used to denote irreal or potential acts.
On the one hand imperfect and aorist II can denote a unrealizable wish, normally by adding a modal particle. Example: i ebrèt sarêtu (o, if he had brought troops!), mî emrèt (if he hadn't died!). On the other hand the tenses can express the potentiality of a past act; e.g. an ebrèt sarêtu: he will have brought troops. The imperfect is only seldom used in both cases: e.g. i nemorèt (roughly: 'If he hadn't had such a painful death', or: 'If he hadn't be dying').
III.2. The Voices of the Verb
While the active of the verb denotes the action of the subject with an object, the medium (better: medio-passive) expresses an action which is going on within the subject resp. which acts on the subject from without. In the first case one can also speak of the reflexive use. Thus e.g. îsstu can mean 'he is setting into motion for himself' as well as 'he is being set in motion'. With a purely reflexive use the accusative of the reflexive pronoun is mainly used, thus hvî îsstu.
Depending on the nature of the verb restrictions of active or medial use can occur:
i) Purely active verbs:
Especially intransitive verbs like gendîmeni (have), tasîmeni (be silent), letîmeni (be hidden), sêni (stand) etc. normally possess no medial voice. Further verbs of this group are verbs of motion, excretion, instinct and others. Examples: ini (go), gaiyenni (come), mênenni (brood), blûkenni (bloom), lêkkenni (start to go), gini (live).
For some verbs which used to be purely active verbs a medium has been formed later so that differences in meaning can occur. Examples: egìtu opi hvî (he was living [by himself]), mênsu (he remembers) of meneni (think), hvêmme (I sleep late) of hvèpenni (sleep).
ii) Purely Medial Verbs:
Purely medial verbs are rather rare, but there are some verbs with active forms built later and a shift of meaning. To the first group belong affective verbs like ininu (to think over, reflect), môranu (hurt), geyanu (wake up), yusanu (get excited), hankanu (obey, comply with), and some isolated verbs like hêrnu (move oneself; in contrast with gègnenni, move), hênnu (to lack sth.) or soyanu (to rage).
Verbs which only later added secondary active forms shift their meaning in the active; a passive use is mostly excluded here. Examples: laishanu (to be delighted, pleased) - laishenni (to please), koinu (to cover oneself) - koini (to cover), goinu (to find disgusting) - goini (to scandalise, to nauseate), mehyanu (to dive) - mèhyenni (to duck sb.), usanu (become used to) - ùsenni (to grow fond of), anzobanu (to control oneself) - anzòbenni (to calm, soothe).
iii) Purely Reflexive Verbs:
A third class of verbs has a purely active form but reflexive meaning! Examples: noivenni (to surrender to sb., to abandon oneself), antîni (to part, to break up), essàni (to take part in, to contribute to), arkenni (to shut oneself off), gàstenni (to latch onto, to follow), sîneni (to occupy oneself with), etc.
These verbs use no reflexive pronoun in a sentence; e.g.: essînt settevan: they contributed to the work.
Note: essînt: verbal form + vocalic beginning and plural reduplication of the vowel, where ess- is the prefix.
III.3.1. Use of the Infinitive
The Fergiartic infinitive goes back to locative verbal nouns on -men- and -en-. Therefore the infinitive is not declined but can occur in other cases then the locative (often after prepositions). Other cases can be dependant on the infinitive (a.c.i., n.c.i.).
i) Infinitives in case-functions:
Besides the nominative, the infinitive can be used with prepositions in the form of an indirect object or an adverbial, as well as as a direct object in the accusative.
Examples: ad ini (while going; locative object), pru êreni (before the plowing; dative object), inter sêni (while standing; genitive object), gên hèngenni (I love to sing; accusative object), èrrenni gòmmbente esi (To err is to be human; nominate).
The infinitive is also important as a final-consecutive verbal complement with verbs of motion. Examples: êt blêtenni (he went in order to sacrifice), êt eyan sàlenni (he went to fetch him), ellikkèt eyan pàllyenni (he started to understand him) - ellikkèt with haplology of the reduplication syllable -, ki esi sûsenni? (What is to be done?).
ii) Infinitival Constructions:
The Fergiartic language has constructions in which a nominal object is dependant on an Infinitive.
These infinitival constructions have the status of a Subordinate Clause. The construction itself is in most cases dependant on verbs of speech, perception and feeling; furthermore affective verbs, verbs of wishing and impersonal verbs occur.
Depending on wether the verbs of the main clause are active or medio-passive the nominal phrase which is dependant on the infinitive is in the accusative or the nominative case. With a medio-passive use the nominative can also be the person of the verb of the main clause.
Examples: haipyu (main verb) genin (acc.) gaiyenni (infinitive): I see the friend coming; eyebyèt mî yaiyenni (he ordered me to throw), môrame matran tevan memreni (it hurts me that your mother has died) Þ Accusativus cum Infinitivus (a.c.i.).
nû (nom.) yebyomese (med.) ini (inf.): We are told to go Þ Nominativus cum Infinitivus (n.c.i.).
With impersonal verbs the a.c.i. is only used when the infinitive has its own subject. This is also true for geleni. Examples: tî èrrenni gòmmbente esi (It is human that you are erring); gime ess varge ini (We want to leave the town).
III.3.2. Use of
The participles can be used in the Fergiartic as attributes and adverbials, as well as in constructions functioning as a sentence; e.g.: the laughing man (attribute), he said, laughing (adverbial), heartened by manyfold attempts (participal constructions).
i) Participles in attributive function:
Used purely as an attribute, the participle has gender, number and case of the nominal referential; compare: nera morant (the dying man) vs. neran mòrantan (to the dying man) vs. genay yìgnante (of the woman giving birth).
Of course, the participium necessitatis (gerundive) can be also used in this function; e.g.: mûra tòlnetva (agonies which have to be born).
ii) Participle in adverbial function:
In adverbial use the particle acts as an adverbial qualification to a finite verb. It agrees with the subject of the finite verb in case, number and (when given) gender; e.g. eblatèt gônant: he sacrificed while praying.
The adverbial participle is mainly simultaneous to the action of the finite verb. But other temporal relations are also possible (e.g. apa sarêtava angegavus, eridèt ini vargan: After seperating from the troops he rode into town).
It is crucial for the adverbial participle that it has the same subject as the finite verb. But the participle can perfectly well be accompanied by another participle (with the same subject); e.g.: gollan sona tartan rirmmènan hêyantan pèpanttu: The gold stolen by the thieves has been found by searching (while searching).
Note: Here rirmènan is the attribute of gollan.
In principle the adverbial role of the participle
can include all shadings, temporal,
Out of the adverbial use of the participle in participal constructions certain regular idioms emerged, where the participle can also occur in oblique cases. Here the finite verb often has lost its full meaning. Examples: essi derant (incessant = "it is running"), sona blêtanto zegant (godfearing), ûrant dìknenni (prove, with dìknenni conjugated in all persons; e.g.: ûrant ediknet, hite: he proved, that ...), eyeni sûsant ("doing", with conjugated eyeni), magnan ûrant (boastful = "talking of big things").
iii) Participal Constructions:
In contrast to the adverbial use the participle in participal constructions is not dependant on a finite verb but takes the part of a predicate itself. Therefore we also speak of the absolute participle.
In contrast to the adverbial participle the absolute participle has mainly the form of an oblique case. It agrees with its referential subject in gender and number. In longer participle constructions the content is resumed in the main clause by yod (approximately 'which one does/did', relative reference) or pronouns etc. Most frequent is the (especially temporal) dativus absolutus, but other contructions can also occur.
- dativus absolutus: This construction, as said above, has mainly - and probably originally - temporal meaning; e.g.: deyèmena, enavèt eye (after she had made up herself, she surrendered to him); varge diskimmèna, sarêta atedasèt (After the destruction of the town the troops moved on).
In modal function: tesûvabba hoitro, emmomese (by keeping silent/because they kept silent, they were punished).
- accusativus absolutus: This construction is mainly used causally; e.g. gottantan meyan, yod ess bino meyo esasètu, guse tartan antêyanta (Because of my screaming, which happened out of fear, the thieves were driven away). Pure accusative: vevamènan eyan, angòme egùtt (Nobody knew what they had been told).
- genitivus absolutus: In the genitive the participle only occurs in the function of an object, e.g. in the set phrase menanta: bearing in mind/remembering (e.g.: lliyasha menanta: in rememberance of the guilt). Furthermore the gen.abs. occurs in verbs of rememberance and of the language of the courts; e.g. anggàtanta tâmasha, angòme mege anno esassèta (Because I had been accused of theft nobody believed me anymore).
- nominativus absolutus: Especially rhethoric anticipations of sections, which are taken up again in the main clause by a pronouns or something similar, belong here; e.g. varg diskimmèna, hans novud andemmasi (The destroyed town, we will build it up again).
Besides conjunctions like akken, hite, on, etc. the Fergiartic has a small goup of undeclined words which above all have syntactic uses. The so-called particles are used for the intellectual modification of words, phrases and sentences; interjections also belong to this group. We will talk about them in alphabetical order:
i) an (possibly, likely)
This modal particle is used on the one hand
to introduce the prospective subjunctive
(an gaiyet) or to accompany the potential
optative, on the other hand it can accompany questions in the
subjunctive; e.g.: ki sûset an?: What will he be
In the first function an stands before, in the latter after the verb.
ii) ar (or, but):
Ar is used to introduce the second or third parts of double questions. Here it can also appear together with -ne in the first part. It can also stand in front of nî (no, not) in double questions. Examples: gàyamme ar menêyam? (Do we want to stay, or should we go?); gàyamme ar nî? (Do we go or not?).
iii) bê (indeed, actually):
Bê is an interjection which can occur on its own as well as inserted into the sentence.
iv) dî (certainly, indeed):
Like -gi, dî highlights a word or a clause, but stronger and proclitic - therefore its position before a clause. Now and then it also has an ironical connotation.
Examples: gese nera dî kon esi (This man is indeed beautiful); anggàtanta tâmasha, dî angòme mege anno esassèta (Indeed, because I was being accused of theft, nobody did believe me).
v) ge (but, however):
Ge is a particle which announces a predicate which modifies a reference; e.g. yûsa yevun ge varti voit: Fate, however, is the trial of the gods.
-Gi is the enclitic counterpart of dî. But it only serves to highlight words. Example: anggàtanta tâmasha, dî angòme mege anno esassèta. hved eyugi anllugna evoin: Because I was being accused of theft nobody did believe me indeed. But I was innocent!
vii) i (would that!, if but!):
This interjection is used for the introduction of cupitive optatives if the possibility of fulfillment is in doubt (compare IV.1., b ii).
viii) î (yes):
Î is the affirmative interjection of the Fergiartic. Its counterpart is nî.
ix) în (lo behold!):
On the one hand în is a demonstrative particle; e.g. în nera!: Look, the man! Furthermore în is of an inviting and questioning character. Examples: în, gâssam! (Come on, lets go!), în gîna voiyi? (You aren't alone, are you?).
x) mî (no; don't do it!):
As a counterpart of nî mî is a sentential negation on the one hand, on the other hand a negatively affirmative interjection. It can also occur in connection with nî; e.g. llugna voiyi? - mî! (Are you guilty? - No!), mî, nî gaite! (No, don't go!).
xi) mîs (in truth, really; but):
Mîs can either be used as a sentential adverb or as a particle to emphasize words. In the second case the emphasized word is in a comparative sentence or it is the counterpart of the complete statement. Here it stands behind its referential word. Compare to the above: eyu mîs anllugna evoin (But I was innocent). As well: neru mîs ani ailyo strêtve rimena...: The men on the other side of the river, however...
xii) ne/n' (no):
The negation ne is used to negate nouns, pronouns, etc., but with the exception of verbs (see nî). With vocals in intitial position n- is used. Example: n'eyu llugna voin (Not I am guilty) vs. eyu nî llugna voin (I am not guilty).
-Ne is attached to the emphasized word. This stands at the beginning of the sentence; e.g. gayamne? (Do we go?). In dependant sentences the same holds true; e.g. rîy mî epîrtt, tartanne epyan: The judge asked me if I had seen the thief.
xiv) nî/n- (no, not):
nî (n- with vocals in initial position) is used to negate verbs. The particle also stands in front of verbally used participles as well as in idioms with a personally conjugated verb (e.g. nesi derant).
xv) prot! (forward (march)!):
Like în prot is an inviting interjection. Originally prot will have arisen as a military order.
xvi) sîn (indeed, certainly; namely):
Like mîs and dî sîn
is an intensifying modal particle but also an affirmative interjection
like î, because in an attached position it means
xvii) yod (which, what):
Although yod originally is a relative adverb it is to be named here together with the particles because of its syntactical functions. Yod resumes the content of a preceding clause for the descriptions of circumstances, causes etc. Mostly it is used together with secondary conjunctions; e.g. yod, hite... (Which he did, so that...); yod, akken... (Which happened although...). In part it is elucidated by adjunct verbs; e.g. yod ess bino meyo esasètu (it happened out of fear/because I was afraid)
Yod can also be used for a paratactic reversion; e.g. yod, kai ebìma: It happened because I was fearful (medium).
In the following we shall have to make some remarks as regards adverbial clauses and their conjunctions in the Fergiartic.
i) Final Clauses:
Final clauses indicate the aim and reason of the facts which are described in the main clause. In the function of clauses which express a fear (where the final clause often provides the subjective reason for the demand of the main clause) final clauses require the voluntative subjunctive (especially of the aorist). Here most often the verbal negation nî or a negative adverb or adjective like angòme (nobody) or nerel (nothing) in connection with the conjunction hite (that, so that) are used. For a simple negation the conjunctions anite (that not) is used; but it can also be emphasized by nerel etc. (double negation = stronger negation!).
But even in extended usage the conjunctions hite and anite are used in initial position to indicate aim and reason, in part also the final-consecutive infinitive without conjunction. In this function also the potential Optative or the dependant subjunctive in connection with past tenses can be used instead of the voluntative subjunctive.
Examples: gin, hite gâsset (I want you to come); bin, nî gâsset (I fear (that) he doesn't come); bin, hite angòme gâsset (I fear that nobody comes); inebrûss sarêtu, hite vargan anddîmenan pranant (He sent troops so that they could liberate/to liberate the besieged city).
ii) Consecutive Clauses:
Consecutive clauses desribe the facts which result from the action of the main clause. They can be in the indicative, but also in other moods (for example with consequences which are expected or held possible). They are introduced by anite, hite, kote (with which, by which) or itake (therefore). Here the final-consecutive infinitive can also be used.
Examples: ita straiya voit, hite menêyu ini demallo (It's so cold that I will stay in the house); ita hekin evoit ovi hevai anze, êt blêtenni (He was so happy because of his rescue that he went to make a sacrifice).
iii) Temporal Clauses:
We have already mentioned the temporal subordinate clauses in connection with Participal Constructions. In this case the participle indicates the temporal relation: Pres. Part. or Aorist with simultaneous, past participle with anterior, gerundive with posterior actions in the subordinate clause. Because the gerundive has also a medial function, an active usage can only be circumscribed with the gerundive occuring in the accusative; e.g. elissa pûser sortevan atînasha rimena (He decided to try to cross the river later on/the crossing of the river later on). In this example atînasha (gen. of atînan) is subordinate to the gerundive. If the temporal relation is to be expressed by a finite verb, the subordinate clause is introduced by yon (when), don (during, while), prûn (before), essiyan (after) or pûser (later).
iv) Causal Clauses:
Causal clauses indicate the reason for the facts depicted in the main clause. They are introduced by kai (therefore, because). Example: inebrûss sarêtu, kai varg ambisîta (He sent troops because the city was besieged).
v) Conditional Clauses:
Conditional subordinate clauses explain the conditions for which the facts of the main clause hold true or they indicate a hypothetical requirements for a statement of the main clause (of the type if ... then).
Conditional clauses are introduced by san (if), anken (if not) or paraphrases in the subjunctive or optative mood.
Depending on the relation of the indicated conditions with reality, different types are to be distinguished which are characterized by the respective use of the verbal mood.
- "real" case:
The requirement is put forth as a mere assumption without specifiying the subjective attitude of the speaker. The verb of the subordinate clause is in a form of the indicative; in the conclusion other moods or modally used indicatives can be employed.
- "eventual" case: The realization of the assumption is merely possible. The verb is in the subjunctive present or aorist. The future is often used in the conclusion.
- "potential" case: The condition of the subordinate clause is put forth as a subjective assumption; the verb is mainly in the potential optative; but modally used indicatives or the prospective subjunctive can be also used (if the realization of the condition is held possible). In contrast to the prospective the optative indicates that the realization of the assumption is more or less unimportant.
- "Irreal" Case: The conditions are depicted as unreal or unfulfillable. The verb is in a indicative form of the past. In the main clause a form of the past tense or a potential optative is used.
san gok vê, errè: If you say that ["real"], you are mistaken.
san eyan pîntan, dûyu eye dûtin: If I should find him ["eventual], I will give him the present.
an imbrausset sarêtu, varg praiyeta: If he had sent troops ["potential", prospective], the city could be liberated.
san gok mege evêt, gâssyen: If he would tell me ["irreal"], I'd come [simultaneous].
san gok mege evèvat, gâssyen: If he had told it to me [irrealis of the past], I would have come.
vi) Concessive Clauses:
Concessive clauses describe a requirement or a condition whose expected realization resp. consequence are not fulfilled. They are introduced by akken (although) or he (even if) and are in the indicative or optative. They can also be introduced by adverbial participles. Examples: gok nî yègnakant, tan sassame: Although I do not understand it, I still believe it. Akken brêter meya in sarêta egìt, pater nehêt: Although my brother wanted to join the army, my father didn't allow it [nehêt = nî ehêt].
vii) Adversative Clauses:
Adversative subordinate clauses express a contrast to the action of the main clause. The adversative clause is introduced by yon o (while[adversativum]). Example: ailya maka vidra esi, yon o ailya sotter yotta esi: The first son is patient while the other is easily excited.