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Pronouns

No indefinite or negative pronouns.

Personal pronouns:

Number

Singular: ni I, čʰi you (sg.), jaŋ, if/i he.

Dual: me, megi we two, both of us.

Plural: nin, nyŋ we (exclusive), miřn, min, mer we (inclusive), čʰin, čʰiŋ you (pl.), iřn, in, imŋ they.

The 3rd p. plural and singular have respectful, polite, courteous forms: avŋ, yf he, avgun they.

The syntactic role of personal pronouns is conveyed through suffixes.

Demonstrative pronouns are divided into two groups: those that indicate visible objects, and those that indicate invisible ones.

Demonstrative pronouns for visible objects have five degrees of distance from the viewer:

1) tynt, tunt, tud, tydʲ this (one) (so close one can take it into one’s hands)

2) hynt, hunt, hud, hydʲ  that (one) (slightly further away)

3) ehynt, ehyd, аhuд, adʲ  that (one) (further away)

4) exnt, ehyd, ahydʲ  that (one) (even further away)

5) aixnt, aehydʲ  that (one) (the furthest one)

Other demonstrative pronouns are used for persons or objects situated outside the speakers’ field of vision, but is known to one or more of them: kunt, kud, kudʲ  that (one), the one that used to be visible or was spoken about, but unknown and indefinite

There are special pronouns indicating an object that has been found, which may be derived from the base of any demonstrative pronoun: tun, tuni, tunira, tyn, tyni, tynda, tynira, tyninda here he is

Interrogative pronouns

1) used only for human beings: tʰaunt? nar? aŋ? who?

2) may be used for any animate beings or inanimate objects, sometimes for humans: nunt? nud? what? (complete uncertainty), runt? rud? what? (a small degree of certainty), řut? sidʲ? что?

3) used for several definite objects or persons situated within the speaker’s field of vision řad? řadʲ? who (which of several)? what (which of several)? which one?

4) used for locations: tʰas? řar? where?

5) used for directions: tʰakr? řakr? where, in which direction?

6) used for quantities: tʰaŋks? tʰags?, řаŋs? how many?

7) used for lost objects: tʰaniara? tʰanina? řaniŋa? janku? jaka? jajka? where (has an object gone)?

8) used for time: aɣr? yɣr? когда?

9) used for qualities, properties, characteristics: tʰamtʰint? what? which? like/as what? (neutral) tʰamrant? what? which? like/as what? (respectful/polite form), řаprак? jaɣodʲ? what? which? like/as what?

10) used for actions: jannt? jand? jaɣdʲ? jadʲ? what (has) happened? what is going on?

11) used for states: tʰamtʲint? to be like/as what? (neutral), tʰarant? to be like/as what? (sublime, poetic style)

Reflexive pronouns:

- pʰ i self, oneself, (one’s) own; by oneself, on one’s own,

hat uxmunt, čxyf kʰura, pʰ i mura  so he fought, killed the bear, died himself

the reduplicated form pʰifi means “each (does something to/with) himself”

pʰ mu one’s own boat, pʰsud, pʰsudʲ  to wash/bathe oneself

- park, pyrk only oneself, only by oneself

či pyrk wija! (you) go yourself!

Possessive pronouns are derived from personal pronouns using the words ny thing, item, object, nʲiny my thing, item, object, nʲiraf my home/dwelling. Have a free and bound attributive form.

The equivalents of indefinite and negative pronouns are formed with the help of several particles, which are attached to pronouns, such as аŋlu someone, anyone, whoever, аŋyvr whoever it/he might be (аŋ is the interrogative pronoun used for humans and human-like beings, -lu is an indefinite particle, -yvr is a concessive particle).

sidʲhagin (sidʲ “who? what?” + emphatic particle hagin) may mean “no-one, nothing” or “everyone, everything” depending on whether or not the sentence is a statement or a negation

nʲi sidʲhagin kʰaudʲ i have nothing, i do not have anything

vs.

nʲi sidʲhagin jivdʲ i have everything (i desire/one could wish for)

the first sentence, the auxiliary verb kʰaudʲ “is not, is not there, does not exist, is absent, is lacking, is not present” gives the word sidʲhagin the meaning of “nothing”; in the second sentence, the same word acquires the meaning of “everything, all” owing to the verb jivdʲ.

Numerals

Nivkh has a unique concrete, object-oriented system of qualitative numerals. There are about 30 different categories of pronouns which may be used to denote specific quantities of objects, but none for abstract numbers. All of them are intended for counting single objects or groups  of objects that share certain extraneous characteristics.

Numerals from all the groups share the same stems:

1 n-, nʲe-, nʲa-, nʲi-

2 m-, me-, mi-

3 tʲ-, tʲe-, tʲa-

4  ny-, nʲ-

5  thо-

The endings, on the other hand, are different and some may be traced back to independent words. In all probability, the Nivkh used to have a base-5 numerical system. This is confirmed by the behavior of the numerals: the first five are placed after the nouns they modify, like postpositions.

Numerals for numbers greater than five appeared at a later point:

6 ŋax

7 ŋaɱ;

8 minr

9 nʲaŋdorŋ, nʲynʲben

10 mxoŋ

These numerals precede the noun.

All numerals take the singular when they modify a noun, regardless of the actual number of countable units.

I. Different groups of pronouns are used for inanimate objects of distinct shapes:

1. Small round objects: nik one, mik two, tex three, nyx four, tʰox five (arrow-heads, arrows, bullets, pellets, axes, teeth, tubers, plant bulbs, pine nuts, berries, eggs, fish eggs (caviar), fingers, fists, jewelry on women's dresses, pebbles, stars, coins, money, buttons, beads, holes in the ice of a lake or river, balls, tobacco pouches, bottles, seal stomachs, etc.);

2. Elongated objects: nex one, mex two, tex three, nyx four, tʰox five (trees, sticks, poles, shrubs, plants, stems, blades of grass, roots, yukola, seaweed, roads, paths, mountain ridges, streams, ribs, intestines, hair, needles, nails, threads, belts, matches, etc.);

3. Flat objects: nʲrax one, mrax two, tʲrax three, nryx four, tʰorax five (tobacco leaves, paper, tree bark, leaves of trees and other plants, blankets, bedspreads, sails, shirts, robes and other thin and flat items);

4. Objects that come in pairs: nʲvask one, mevsk two, tʲfask three, nvysk four, tʰovsk five (eyes, ears, faces, hands/arms, feet/legs, skis, paddles, vessels for water made from birch bark, tools for spinning ropes, brake sticks, footprints, sledges, mittens, pants, greaves, shoes, earrings, river banks, fins or flippers, etc.).

II. Living creatures, families, degerations

Human beings, forest-people (spirits), sea-people (spirits): nʲenŋ one, menŋ 'два', tʲaqr three, nyrŋ four, tʰorŋ five;

Families: nʲiřŋk one, miřŋk two, tʲeřŋk three, nyřŋk four, tʰоřŋk five;

Generations: nʲesvax one, mesvax two, tʲesvax three, nysvax four, thosvax five;

Animals, fish, birds, snakes, insects, evil spirits: nʲan one, mar two, tʲaqr three, nyr four, tʰor  five.

III. Fishing tackles, seal-hunting implements:

1. Nets, fishing toils: neo one, meo two, teo three, nyo four, thou five;

2. Dragnets, sweep-nets: nʲvor one, mevor two, tʲfor three, nvyr four, thofr five;

3. Trammel stripes: nʲeřqi one, meřqi two, tʲeřqi three, nyřqi four, tʰоřqi 'пять";

4. Cells of a fishing net: niu one, miu two, teu three, nyu four, tʰоu five;

5. Poles for harpoon shafts: nʲla one, mel two, tʲla three, nly four, tʰоla 'пять″

6. Tackles used to catch seals and kaluga: nʲfat one, mefat two, tʲfat three, nfyt four, thofat five;

7. Locations for traps or nets: nʲavr one,  mevr two, tʲavr three, nyvr four, thovr five.

IV. Fish stocks, poles used to thread yukola:

1. Bundles of yukola (salted-dried fish) for human consumption: nʲar one, mer two, tʲar three, nyr four, tʰоr five;

2. Bundles of smelt for human consumption: nʲŋaq one, meŋaq two, tʲŋaq three, nyrŋaq four, tʰоrŋaq five;

3. Bunches of dog-food: nʲxuvi one, miɣvi two, tʲxovi three, nyɣvi four, tʰuɣvi five;

4. Drying poles: nesk one, mesk two, tʲesk three, nysk four, tʰosk five.

 

V. Means of transportation:

 

1: Boats: nim one, mim two, tem three, nym four, thom five;

2. Sledges: niř one, miř two, teř three, nyř four, thоř five.

VI. Materials, substances:

1. Boards: netʲ one, metʲ two, tetʲ three, nytʲ four, tʰotʲ five;

2. Knots or woven lengths of rope: nʲlaj one, melaj two, tʲlaj three, nylaj four, tʰolaj five;

3. Bunches of grass to be used for footwear: nʲarvs one, mervs two, tʲarvs, three, nyrvs four, tʰorvs five.

VII. Numerals used for measurement:

1. fathoms: nʲa one, me two, tʲa three, ny 'четыре, tʰoa five;

2. ручные четверти: nʲma one, mema two, tʲma three, nmy four, tʰoma five;

3. the thickness and length of bear or seal fat: niux one, miux two, teux three, nyux four, čʰalmavazř  “palm-size”;

4. days spent travelling: nix one, mix two, tex three, nyx four, tʰox five.

The presence of an ax among small round objects indicates that the original meaning of the word for “axe” was not the modern iron ax, but the oval stone ax of the Stone Age (called kʰy on Sakhalin or tux on the Amur river). Since the endings of the numerals originated from independent words, the ending -k in this group was probably derived by means of contraction from the name of the ax (kʰy), so that, for example, kʰy nʲik originally meant “ax – one ax”, whereas unʲɣr nʲik " originally meant something like “star – one ax”.

There are no ordinal numbers. The reason for this is the lack of abstract numbers, which, in turn, is caused by the fact that numbers are always specific and most other abstract concepts do not exist. Order or sequence are expressed though spatial arrangement or positioning. Therefore, instead of “the third house”, a Nivkh would say: keqryxpʰidyf tʲyj erqpʰidyf tʲyj erqpʰidyf at the upper end of the village there is a house, behind it there is a house, behind that house there is another house. If one must use a case suffix, it will be taken by the final member of the word chain, as in, for example, čurka keqryxpʰidyf tʲyj erqpʰidyf tʲyj erqpʰidyftox juɣt Churka entered the house situated after (behind) the house at the upper end of the village and that house (juɣt used to mean “to come down, to descend”, as the Nivkh lived in dugouts that had to entered, or, if one will, dived into from above).

Nivkh numerals are closer to quantitative verbs than to nouns, unlike numerals in most other languages, which are classified as nominal parts of speech and are more similar to nouns. This is one of the reasons why their correlative role in a sentence is more akin to that of postpositions, which are less closely linked to nouns than the numerals we are used to.

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