Dzvada Vezhua Dlin

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Introduction

The Vezhuan language, referred to by its speakers as the Dzvada Vezhua Dlin, "true humans speak this way", is a language isolate spoken in pockets of the Caucasus Mountains. The language is better known as Dezvadian given to it by the 18th century British explorer Sir Edward James Hampton; this name is actually the exonym of the Dzvada people, whereas the word vezhua from which Vezhuan comes, actually means "We speak."

The language is highly endangered, as decreasing numbers learn it as a first language, being increasingly supplanted by Nogai, a language from the unrelated Turkic family.


Phonology

Orthography

Consonants

Vowels

Prosody

Stress

Intonation

Phonotactics

Morphophonology

Morphology

Nouns

Determiners

There are three types of determiners in Vezhuan that occur either as suffixes, such as the definite and demonstrative suffixes, or as quantifiers that precede their noun heads, e.g. Vadzini dulach nodorzhi uzanio pepak "Many of the barbarian slaves revolted that day".

The definite marker refers not only to specific or highly referential nouns, but may also refer to an abstract noun class that would normally be considered concrete e.g. gazhda < *gal-gda "the (class of animals known as) horse". The definite marker is also used to nominalize verbs, e.g. lozha < loz-sha "singing". The definite marker, which occurs as a suffix, has different forms that agree in number and gender with their noun heads; however, it does not mark for case. The forms for the definite marker are as follows:

  Singular Plural
Masculine -g- -gda-
Neuter I -n- -vda-
Feminine
Neuter II
Collective
-sh-


The definite marker suffixes directly to the noun root before case markers are applied. In the following example, the masculine plural form of the definite marker -vda- is attached to the noun root gal ("horse") before the comitative case suffix is applied

galvdanda
/gav'dandʌ/
gal-vda-nda
horse-DEF.MP-COM

with the horses

Cases

  Masculine Neuter I Feminine
Neuter II
Collective
  Sg Pl Sg Pl Sg Pl
Nominative -∅ -za -da -nda ri
Accusative -ri -tari
Dative -ska -task -ka -nka
Ablative -vi -mva
Allative -rini -drina
Comitive -dan -nda
Locative -mi -ma
Genitive -za -zada
Oblique -∅ -za

Postpositions

Numbers

Verbs

Vezhuan verbs mark for tense and aspect. Verbs fall in three broad classes, based on how they mark the past vs. the non-past tenses: the zu-/vu- class, the etymologically related z-/v- class, and the u-/u- class. Another feature of the verb is that plural verb stems get truncated, e.g.zeganuadzh "I spoke", from the stem -egan-; vs. zegzua "We spoke", from the stem -eg-.


Syntax

Constituent order

Texts dating to the Middle Ages, especially from Georgian, Armenian, and Adyghe sources, show that Old Vezhuan originally was a VSO language, but its syntax changed to a SOV word order, an areal feature of the Caucasus Sprachbund. Because the nominative and accusative cases have merged into the direct case, word order is strict.

Noun phrase

Verb phrase

Sentence phrase

Dependent clauses

Example texts

Vadzini dulach nodorzhi uzanio pepak
/va.'dzini 'dulatʃ nodoɚʒi u'zanjo 'pepak/
vadzini 'dulat-sh nodor-sh-ri u-zan-io pepak
many infestation-DENON-DEF.CL2.P slave-DEF.CL2.P PST-create.chaos-CL2.P that.day

Many of the barbarian slaves revolted that day.

Other resources