Prof. George Hewitt

Non-finite Verbal Functions in Abkhaz (North West Caucasian)

Non-finite Verbal Functions in Abkhaz (North West Caucasian), in Franck Floricic (ed.) Essais de Typologie et de Linguistique Générale. Mélanges Offerts à Denis Creissels, 269-286, 2010. Paris: ENS Editions.

One of the comforts for linguists as they move from one language to another within  the  Indo-European  (IE)  family  is  the  discovery  that  general  structural patterns familiarin one tend to be recapitulated, albeit with localvariation in point of detail, in another. And so, it comes as no surprise to find utilisation of regularly conjugated finite forms of indicative, subjunctive or even, as in Ancient Greek, optative moods filling, as appropriate, the verbal slot in subordinate clauses for IE family-members. As other families are investigated, this comfort-zone is frequently left behind. The North Caucasian languages on the whole resort to other means to represent their equivalents to IE's adverbial, adʒectival and nominal dependent clauses. Whether one wishes to characterise the relevant non-finite structures as 'clauses', when the classical definition of a clauseis 'a sequence of words containing a finite verb-form' is a question left open in what follows. Below, then, is presented a survey of subordinate clausal-equivalents in Abkhaz, the member of the small North West Caucasian family (the other members being Circassian and the now extinct  Ubykh)  in  which  the  finite  vs  non-finite  distinction  is  most  clearly delineated morphologically.

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