Patient marking on the verb (Northern Mansi)

PatNum: Transitive verbs show agreement with the patient in terms of number (e.g., singular, plural).

PatElse: Transitive verbs show agreement with the patient in terms of some other (or uncleared) grammatical criterion.

(1) am taw-e nomi-l-ǝm.
I he/she-acc know-obj- prs.1sg
‘I know him/her.’ (S. D.)

(2) mān taw-e nomi-l-uw.
we he/she-acc know-obj- prs.1pl
‘We know him/her.’ (S. D.)

(3) am tān-anǝl nomi-jan-ǝm.
I they-acc know-pl.obj- prs.1sg
‘I know them.’ (S. D.)

(4) mān tān-anǝl nomi-jan-uw.
we they-acc know-pl.obj- prs.1pl
‘We know them.’ (S. D.)

In Northern Mansi, the determinate conjugation reflects the number and person of the subject, and the number of the objects (but not its person) (cf. (1) (2) (3) (4)). The features determining the use of determinate and indeterminate verb forms require further research.

The relationship between the determinate conjugation and the information structure was already studied by Rombandeeva, a Mansi linguist (cf. Rombandeeva 1979: 104­–111). Skribnik’s corpus study in 2001 also showed that the use of the determinate conjugation is determined by the topicality of the object. She found that if the object is in focus position, the indeterminate conjugation is used, but when the object is the topic, the verb takes the determinate suffix (Skribnik 2001: 233). In the study, 77.4 % of objects were paragraph topics, 14.4 % were discourse topics, and 8.2% were in the focus position, next to determinate verb forms (Skribnik 2001: 234). She also argued that the topic appearing next to a determinate verb is the middle element of a topic chain (Skribnik 2001: 233), which means that it is not introduced by the clause is question.

Additionally, the determinate conjugation might play a role in the aspectual interpretation of the clause too. However, the question requires further research.


Szilvia Németh