Lesson Three: Nouns!
Section One: the Urghgative. Urgh. Cause no one likes it.
This title embodies my hatred and bad spirits towards the making of this lesson.
What language lessons would be complete without mention of nominal morphology? That's right. None of them. Yo.
Greenlandic, as you may know already, is a (split) ergative-absolutive language, and the absolutive is the case that is unmarked. Every noun introduced thus so far have been in the absolutive case.
Now I'm sure most of you know how ergative alignments work, but just in case, here's a quick summary:
(1) The absolutive case marks direct objects and the subjects of intransitive verbs.
(2) The ergative marks the subjects of transitive verbs.
The ergative is actually used in possessive structures (it marks the possessor), but that's two lessons ahead. Patience!
So you are probably wondering, how do I mark the ergative case in Greenlandic?
Well, the postbase for it is p
in the singular. Let's take a look at some nouns in the ergative:kuup
"die" + niq
"nominalizer" = toquneq
As you can see, there are quite a few patterns to the ergative case; indeed, I believe it's the most unpredictable of all Greenlandic morphology. Here are observations about the ergative case:
(1) When a noun ending in a vowel is in the ergative, <p> /p/ is added to the noun without difficulty.
(2) When a noun ending in niq
is in the ergative, the <q> /q/ morphs into a <r> /R/, and the ergative ending is realized as up
(3) When a noun ending in <q> /q/ (but not in the case of niq
), the <q> /q/ is removed, and the ergative ending <p> /p/ is added to the vocalic stem of the noun.
(4) When a noun ending in <k> /k/ is in the ergative, the <k> + <p> morphs into up
. Remember, the vocalic sequence <iu> /iu/ [iju] exists (see footnote 1 at the end of this post), but *<au> /au/ does not. Can you figure out what /au/ changes to by looking at the example ergative words?
(5) When a noun ending in <t> /t/ is in the ergative, the ergative realization ip
is tacked on to the consonantal stem.
There is a couple of words that go irregular (le gasp) when in the ergative case: the only one that I know of is qajaq
Here are several useful transitive verbs:tuni
"give to" uqalup
"travel along (lit. have as a road)"
Now you can say things! Translate these sentences.
"The Greenlander killed the seal."
"The man wrote a book."
"The kayak traveled along the river."
"The person cooked a seal."
"The reindeer killed the seal."
"The inukshuk saw you."
Kalaallip puisi toquppaa.
Angutip atuagaq allappaa.
Qannaap kuuk aqqutigaa.
Inuup puisi igavaa.
Tuttup puisi toquppaa.
Now, here comes the part when I ask readers for advice. What should I cover next? Greenlandic's split-ergativity or the absolutive and ergative plurals?
Actually, I've decided already.