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Tue May 20 20:38:57 UTC 2003

(Moderator's note: My most honest apologies for deleting Michael Riessler's
first query by accident, obviously while destroying the daily dozen of spam
messages that happened to surround this one in my INBOX listing... )
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Dear Johanna Laakso,

on Friday I tried to submitt a query to the Ura-List. Obviously I did
not succeed. That's why I would like to ask you to forward my query to
the list.

Thank you very much!


Dear all,

I'm a PhD student at the University of Leipzig currently working on the
typology of attribution markers. Looking at the structure of NPs in
Uralic languages I have possibly found examples of Px3sg. as marker of
attributive adjectives.

Collinder (1957:432, quoting Castrén) gives an example from Nenets:
tiici-da jææle
cold-Px3sg. day
'the cold day'.
However, I did not find other descriptions of Nenets that mention the
Px as attribution marker. On the contrary, the grammars (cf. Salminen
1997, Décsy 1966) give examples of attributive adjectives that are
simply juxtaposed to its head (without case agreement, and with number
agreement only in the nominative case.)

In Udmurt, too, I found examples with the Px3sg. on attributive
sõd-ez kyset
black-Px3sg. cloth
'the black cloth' (Serebrennikov 1963:133; The original translation is
'(imenno) tchernyj platok (a ne kakoj-libo drygoj)' '(a really) black
cloth (and not of a different color)', compared with the (unmarked?)
construction sõd kyset 'black cloth').

I'm aware of the use of the Px3sg. in demonstrative-emphatic contexts
(somehow comparable to a definite article) in the languages of the
Volgaic, Permic, Ob-Ugric and Samoyedic branches of Uralic. The
above-mentioned Udmurt and Nenets examples could then just be instances
of NPs marked for demonstrative-emphasis (definiteness). However, one
should suspect the DEF-marker on the head noun, as e.g. in Khanty
(where the attributive adjective does not agree with the head):
man-s?-??n kat amp wul amp parem-?s-li aj amp-?l
go-PART-3DU two dog big dog bite-PART-3SG small dog-3SG
'Two dogs were walking. The big dog bit the small dog (lit. 'its small
dog')' (Nikolaeva 1999:84)
or on both constituents, if the adjective does agree with the head noun
as in Udmurt (where there is agreement - at least in NPs with the Px).
In Udmurt, however, the Px shows up only on the attributive adjective:
jegit-jos-ïn-ïz nïl-jos-ïn
young-Pl-INSTR-Px3sg girl-Pl-INSTR
'with the young girls' (Csúcs 1988:138)
Thus, the modifying adjective agreeing with the head in number and
case, but only the adjective is marked for demonstrative-emphasis

Collinder. 1957. Yurak. In: Survey of the Uralic languages, Stockholm.
Csúcs. 1998. Udmurt. In: Abondolo (ed.) The Uralic languages, London.
Décsy. 1966. Yurak chrestomathy, Bloomington.
Nikolaeva. 1999. Ostyak, München.
Salminen. 1998. Tundra Nenets. In: Abondolo (ed.) The Uralic languages,
Serebrennikov. 1963. Istoriceskaja morfologija permskix jazykax, Moskva.

In order to find out whether the Px is in fact an attribution marker, I
want to examine the agreement patterns of NPs with a Px in Nenets and
Udmurt - and maybe even in other Volgaic, Permic, Ob-Ugric and
Samoyedic languages. Can you please tell me which of the following four
constructions are possible in the Uralic languages you know of
(A=Adjective, N=head noun):
a) A N
b) A N-Px
c) A-Px N
d) A-Px N-Px

What are the differences in meaning (if more than one construction is

If there are more than one adjective ("the beautiful red dress"), does
the Px show up on all of them?

Are the same agreement rules applicable both for NPs marked for
demonstrative-emphasis (= "the beautiful red dress") and for NPs marked
as possessed (= "her/his beautiful red dress")?

I'd also like to send a questionnaire to native speakers of Uralic
languages. Do you know of institutions or single persons I could

I will post a summary.

Thank you in advance!

Michael Rießler

Michael Riessler
Institut fuer Linguistik, Universitaet Leipzig
Beethovenstrasse 15
D-04107 Leipzig

email riessler at
tel   49+(0)341 9737626
fax   49+(0)341 9737609

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