Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."

New from Oxford University Press!


Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: Conjugation in Tundra Nenets Add Dissertation
Author: Erika Kortvely Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Szeged, Graduate school in linguistics, Finno-Ugric studies
Completed in: 2003
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Documentation; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Nenets
Director(s): Eugene Helimski

Abstract: The aim of my dissertation is to provide a comprehensive analysis and overview of Tundra Nenets verb conjugation both from a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. The synchronic investigation aims to describe the verb conjugation types of Tundra Nenets and their use as well as to briefly outline the pragmatic functions of the choice of verb conjugation types. The diachronic part of my dissertation describes the development of Tundra Nenets verb conjugations, their origins in the Uralic proto-language, and the history of the inflectional affixes.

Even though in the case of Uralic languages it is obvious that we can speak about conjugation or even conjugations, among the world's languages it is not at all obvious that the subject (and sometimes the object) of the sentence can be referred to with verb inflections. Thus, besides providing a detailed discussion of Tundra Nenets conjugation, I also discuss conjugation as a linguistic phenomenon as well as describe the origin of the inflections in a brief typological overview.

The Tundra Nenets verb conjugation system is, of course, not an independent phenomenon and thus cannot be discussed without reference to the verb conjugation systems of other Uralic languages or of the Siberian languages which surround Nenets and which are typologically very similar to it. This makes it necessary to outline the verb conjugation systems of Uralic languages and of the languages of the same linguistic area which might have affected Tundra Nenets, and to show and analyze their similarities and differences. Besides tracing the origin of Tundra Nenets verb inflections, one of the main goals of this dissertation is to discuss and critique the theories regarding the source language origin of the three types of verb conjugations of Uralic languages (the indeterminative, the determinative, and the reflexive-medial conjugations).

In Tundra Nenets, verbs can be grouped into four classes on the basis of their conjugations: the intransitive, the transitive, the transitive-reflexive, and the reflexive-medial. Depending on which one of the four classes the verb belongs to, its conjugation can be bound or free. The use and function of Tundra Nenets verb conjugations can be best shown through an investigation of the conjugation of verbs that do not belong to one paradigm only. Contrary to opinions voiced in previous literature on the subject, I want to demonstrate that the speaker's choice between the determinative and indeterminative conjugation is not connected with the expression of syntactic focus.

Since the results of an investigation of individual sentences do not provide a satisfactory explanation for the use of conjugations, an examination of Tundra Nenets conjugation in texts is indispensable. In this dissertation I will show the anaphoric use of Tundra Nenets determinative conjugation as a basic function of this conjugation and will examine a possible connection between and influence of topic–comment relations on the choice of conjugations. As, unlike in the Ob-Ugric language, in the latter there does not seem to be a clear connection, I want to underline the role of the extent of transitivity manifested in the linguistic situations and of the different intents of the speakers. Thus, the use of the reflexive-medial conjugation can most likely be explained with the logical or, sometimes, emotional, connection between the starting point of the action expressed in the sentence and its result or process.

My investigations of Tundra Nenets verb conjugations are based on the Tundra Nenets literary language and are aimed to describe this variety. My dissertation, thus, does not contain data on regional dialects of Tundra Nenets, and I do not aim to study any possible regional dialectal differences in the use of conjugations.