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Южный Федеральный Университет, Россия
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In the present article the author presents the analysis of the sentential units of the Salishan language Bella Coola as far as the expression of nouns in them is concerned. She concludes that the archaic language Bella Coola gives source to trace that the verbals were diachronically prior to the nominals in the development of parts-of-speech system.
Keywords: Bella Coola language, nominal, intransitive verb, lexical suffix, diachrony.
Nuxálk, also known as Bella Coola is a Salishan language spoken in the vicinity of the Canadian town Bella Coola, British Columbia by approximately 20–30 elderly people. We consider this language to be archaic according to the criteria defining the archaic language type [Ikonnikova]. We suppose that archaic languages can throw light on the pre-grammatical stage of the language, mainly on the genesis of the parts-of-speech system.
One of the controversial problems in the parts-of-speech diachrony is the genesis of the nouns and verbs. The formation of opposition between the major word classes nominals and verbals has been the subject of speculation throughout the history of linguistics. To this day linguists haven’t been able to establish the relative chronology in the emergence of nominal and verbal categories with some degree of certainty, mainly because of the absence of sufficient diachronic evidence. The analysis of the nominal forms in Bella Coola is to the point and the main aim of the paper.
H. Nater presents the parts-of –speech system of Bella Coola in the following way: there are verbo-nominal stems that fall into 2 classes of stems: transitive and intransitive ones. The intransitive stems are subdivided into intransitive verbals and nouns, the verbals comprise intransitive verbs, adjectives, numerals [Nater, p. 33].
A Bella Coola sentence consists of a predicate followed by relata. For the latter, nominal forms are used, in which case it is usually accompanied by an article, and often also by one or more deictic elements. Marked nouns typically contain one or more nominalizing affixes. [Nater, p. 52]. There are restrictions to the nominal use of verbal forms: not all passives can be used nominally, nominally used intransitive verbs do not allow pronominal suffixation [Nater. p. 54]. Moreover a great number of suffixes have a semantically additive, rather than grammatically modifying, character. These are the lexical suffixes, most of each are translated into English as nouns.
We’ve analyzed the nominals extracted from the Bella Coola text that describes the roles of Bella Coola men and women in obtaining and preparing food fish, and more in particular the process of smoke-drying salmon. The text consists of 50 sentential units. In the paper we’ll present the sentential units or parts of the sentential units as far as the expression of nouns in them is concerned.
1) First, we get the net ready so that they can use it when they will be drifting down the river.
Nacliwa + tu + lh + lu:
Ready + causative suffix + causative ending + yet, still
ti + kw'puts + t'ayc
Non-female article + fishing net + non-female deictic
kasi + 7ay + ak + aw
in order that + to manifest oneself, be thus + work (manual, hand) + 3pl. intransitive-possessive
tc + s + ka + 7uqw + aw
non-female pronoun + co-referential embedder + to drift downriver + 3pl intransitive possessive
7ala + tmcw + 7ats
Plural article + river + pl. deictic
The notion of ‘net’ is expressed by kw'puts / cf. ˇkw'p – straight, -uts – orifice → mesh, net, where -kw'p and –uts are lexical suffixes.
The word ‘river’ is expressed by the nominal stem ‘tmcw’.
2) They keep casting out the net, these two (men) on this one boat.
qtsamtsamk+ a + naw + ts'
to cast out net + intransitivizer + 3 pl. intransitive-possessive + now, then
a + nulhnu:s + 7ats
pl. particle + two persons + pl. deictic
7alh + ti + mawah
Preposition static-centripetal + non-female article + one boat
ti + lhalas + t'ayc
non-female article + boat + non-female deictic
The notion of ‘net’ is expressed by the adjunct-incorporative in the verbal ‘qtsamtsamk’ – to cast out net < qtsamt – to extend, - amk –adjunct-incorporative.
The combination ‘two persons’ nulhnus is expressed by a prefix and an intransitive, as cardinal numerals are stative intransitive verbs: < nu – prefix meaning ‘human’ found in combination with numerals – lhnus – ‘two’.
The word combination ‘one boat’ mawah is expressed by the intransitive stative verb – numeral maw ‘one’ and a lexical suffix -ah ‘boat’, while the notion of the ‘boat’ as a kind is expressed by the nominal stem lhalas ‘boat’.
3) Well, when their catch is plentiful, somebody picks them up again in a car….
kamalh + slax + 7its'ik + wa + tl'apamk
if, when + much / many + and, subsequently + pl. article + a catch
s + kwn+tim + tuts
embedder non-co-referential + to take, bring something + 3 pl. passive ending + again
c+ ti + qw'xwmtimut + t'ayc
Preposition static – centrifugal + non-female article + car + non-female deictic
The notion ‘catch’ tl'apamk goes back to the intransitive base tl'ap ‘to go’ + - amk - adjunct incorporative.
The word qw'xwmttimut ‘car’ is formed from qw'xwm ‘to be moving’ (qw'xw ‘to move something’ – m – ‘medium’) and – timut ‘causative reflexive suffix’. We can discern that the noun ‘car’ is expressed by an intransitive stem ‘to be moving’ and two suffixes and means something that is caused to move by itself.
4) ‘in old tubs’
7ula + nuscuuksta + lhn + 7ats
Preposition static centripetal + bath tube + ‘ex, dead’ + pl. deictic
‘Nuscuuksta’: cf. nu ‘inside’, s – nominalizer, cuk / ˇ cuuk ‘to bathe somebody, something’ and –sta – ‘implement’ → bathtube
5) The notion ‘dawn, morning’ximis expressed by the lexical suffixˇxi ‘light, bright’ and a grammatical suffix -m – ‘medium’.
6) ‘Fridge, freezer’ - nusk'liik
The notion of a freezer, container is expressed with the help of the intransitive verbal stem skl ‘cold’ and the instrumental prefix-suffix frame: nu ----iik – ‘container’.
7) We fix our food in many ways, take the fish stew (for instance).
7ays7ay + s + ti + 7umatakm + ilh
any+ 3sg. transitive-possessive + non-female article + where one takes the result of one’s work + transitive ending
ti + snknic + ilh + ti + sliixw + t'ayc
non-female article + food + 1pl. intransitive–possessive + non-female article + fish stew + non-female deictic
In the first example the notion of ‘food’ is expressed by the lexical suffix – ak ‘finished product’. In the second example the word ‘food’ snknic is formed from knic – ‘to eat something’ and –s- nominalizer.
The word ‘fish stew’sliixw is formed from sl- ‘to slice something’ and the lexical suffix –iixw ‘head, fish head’.
8) That is all about the fish…. about the smoked fish.
cwplxs+ tax + 7ala + smlhk + 7ats
the end of a story + non-female pronoun + preposition static-centripetal + fish salmon + pl. deictic
7ala + knum + 7ats
Preposition static – centripetal + smoke-dried fish + pl. deictic
The phrase ‘The end of the story’ cwplxs is formed from ˇcwp ‘ to be dropped off, left’ and a lexical suffix –lxs- ‘terminus, end’.
So we can infer that most nominal forms are intransitive verbals with lexical suffixes attached to them or nominalized lexical suffixes. The deictic elements and articles are the markers of the nominal character of the stem. It is a productive way of forming the nominal forms.
There are, however, some nominal roots which etymology is not traced. These are the words that are often used in discourse and are connected with everyday activities of the Bella Coola natives: ‘woman’ cnas, ‘salmon fillets’slaq'k, ‘person’ tl'msta, ‘fishbone’ sqwh, ‘children’ qipqip, ‘smoke-dried fish’ knum, ‘dog salmon’ ti'li , ‘dinghy’ lhalhlaas. Such nominal constitute a rather closed class.
S. Katsnelson states that ‘the first operation accomplished by thinking is to single out the event or a course of events which are actual and with the help of successive segmentations sequentially reveal the participants with the help of special actualizators [Katsnelson, p. 377, 405]. We consider that Bella Coola gives source to trace the diachronic development of the nominal: from the ‘event’ expressed by the predicative verbal → to the participants of the event – arguments. The verbals serving predicative function were diachronically prior to nominals.
1. Ikonnikova O.N. The Salishan Language Group as a Representative of the Archaic Language Type // Verbal Culture of the Humanity through the Prism of Ages: Materials digest of the LVIII International Research and Practice Conference and II Stage of the Championship in Philological Sciences. London: IASHE, 2013. P. 35-37.
2. Katsnelson S.D. Kategorii jazyka I myshleniya: Iz nauchnogo naslediya. Moskva: Jazyki slavyanskoi kultury, 2001. – 864 p.
3. Nater H.F. The Bella Coola language. Ottawa: National museum of Canada, 1984. – 170 p.