LINGUIST List 25.4546

Wed Nov 12 2014

Diss: Middle Mongolian, Peripheral Mongolian, Oirat; Historical Ling, Lang Documentation, Semantics, Syntax, Text/Corpus Ling: Brosig: 'Aspect, Evidentiality and Tense in Mongolian...'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <>

Date: 11-Nov-2014
From: Benjamin Brosig <>
Subject: Aspect, Evidentiality and Tense in Mongolian: From Middle Mongol to Khalkha and Khorchin
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Institution: Stockholm University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Benjamin Brosig

Dissertation Title: Aspect, Evidentiality and Tense in Mongolian: From Middle Mongol to Khalkha and Khorchin

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
                            Language Documentation
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Mongolian, Middle (xng)
                            Mongolian, Peripheral (mvf)
                            Oirat (xal)

Dissertation Director:
Östen Dahl
Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm

Dissertation Abstract:

This doctoral thesis consists of an introduction and four separately published papers. The papers, detailed below, are synchronic descriptions of aspect, evidentiality and tense in three Mongolic varieties. In the introduction, a first attempt is made to track the diachronic development of these varieties plus Kalmyk in their respective areal contexts.

1. The aspect-evidentiality system of Middle Mongol. Ural-Altaic Studies, 13. (forthc.)
Middle Mongol has a fairly complex aspectual system, consisting of mostly periphrastic constructions built up from converbal, participial and final suffixes and two different stative copular auxiliaries. These express progressivity, habituality, genericity, perfectivity, perfect and resultativity for present and past. Present progressivity and resultativity are expressed by two constructions each that differ in aspectual scope and/or actional properties. The three past tense suffixes mark factual, firsthand and secondhand information. This evidential trichotomy is restricted to the perfective aspect, while other aspect forms only receive firsthand or secondhand marking.

2. The tense-aspect system of Khorchin Mongolian. In: P. Suihkonen & L. Whaley (eds.), Typology of Languages of Europe and Northern and Central Asia. Benjamins. (forthc.)
Khorchin, a Mongolian dialect of eastern Inner Mongolia, has a tense-aspect system slightly simpler than Middle Mongol and considerably simpler than Khalkha. While it can express the time stability of ongoing events with many nuances, present habitual and generic events are not distinguished. The existence of a present perfect category is doubtful, but in any case it does not extend to the past as participle-auxiliary-combinations do not occur. Grammaticalized evidentiality was lost. These developments can be understood in their areal context.

3. Aspect and epistemic notions in the present tense system of Khalkha Mongolian. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. (forthc.)
Spoken Khalkha Mongolian has five non-finite aspect markers, the Progressive, Continuative, Habitual, Perfect, and Prospective. They mainly combine with the three suffixes n, aa and dag. On its own, n expresses an instantiated potential or neutral future and aa combines epistemic possibility and resultativity. When combined with aspect markers, though, they express the evidential values of direct vs. indirect perception. The suffix dag expresses habitual and generic meaning. It can take other aspect markers into its scope. Next to its main use, it can refer to unique past events that surprise by diverging from the normal course of events. Finite uses of the converbal and participial suffixes -aad and -h are discussed as well.

4. Factual vs. evidential? - The past tense forms of spoken Khalkha Mongolian. In: A. Foolen, H. de Hoop, & G. Mulder (eds.), Empirical Approaches to Evidentiality. Benjamins. (under review)
The basic past tense suffixes in spoken Khalkha are the highly frequent -sang, the frequent -laa, -jee and the peripheral -v. The basic opposition is between established knowledge (-sang) and non-established (mostly new) knowledge, which is differentiated into firsthand (-laa) and non-firsthand sources (-jee). This adds the factor “time of acquisition” to “source of information.” Due to its paradigmatic role, -sang seems to connotate factual, reliable information. In declaratives, -w is used for events that surprised the speaker in the past. All past markers have interrogative and future uses that reflect their evidential properties.

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