possession in Northern Saami

chung
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possession in Northern Saami

Postby chung » 2012-10-11, 17:24

Hello / Buorre beaivi,

I've been struggling a little bit about something for a while when expressing possession in Northern Saami.

My set of Davvin books has quietly taught me that expressing possession is quite similar to colloquial Finnish and vaguely similar to most I-E languages in western Europe in it basically being something like pronoun + noun.

"my brother"
"mun veli" (Coll. Finnish)
"mu viellja" (N. Saami)

However I keep reading about there being possessive suffixes instead.

"(minun) veljeni" (Coll. Finnish)
"vieljan" (???) (N. Saami)

Could someone please provide a summary of how to attach these suffixes (e.g. are they attached to a stem that has undergone gradation?) as well as their listing in singular, dual and plural? I find it a little odd that none of the volumes of Davvin discusses them and I'm left suspecting that their use in Northern Saami is fading despite the descriptions in technical monographs (e.g. Sammallahti (1998)) implying that they're actively used. My suspicion is heightened by what Timothy Feist discovered recently in Skolt Saami:

Feist, Timothy (2010). “A Grammar of Skolt Saami”, p.169

As well as inflecting for number and case, nominals in Skolt Saami also optionally inflect for possession. This seems to be disappearing, however, despite the existence of the same grammatical feature in Finnish. Instead, speakers tend to show a preference for a possessive pronoun together with a noun unmarked for possession. Although possessive marking on the noun is clearly still in use to a certain extent it proved extremely difficult to elicit during field-work, even when presenting the consultant with the equivalent possessive-marked form in Finnish.


Regards,
Chung

guovssahas
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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby guovssahas » 2013-03-09, 19:08

Fernandez (2000) (Parlons lapon, L'Harmattan) deals very briefly with possessive suffixes:
La déclinaison des noms marqués par un suffixe possessif est relativement complexe et connaît de grandes variations d'un dialecte à l'autre : retenez-en la présence d'une voyelle de liason (-a- / -á- / ou -i-) entre le substantif décliné et le suffixe de possession (-n "mon, ma", -t "ton, ta", -s "son, sa" ; -me "notre", -de "votre", -ska "leur" (duel); -met "notre", -det "votre", -set "leur" (pluriel)). La tendance actuel, qui consiste à substituer au suffixe possessier, peut-être sous l'influence des langues avoisinantes, le pronom possessif (en fait, génitif du pronom personnel) placé avant le nom, facilite les choses : mu/du goahti "ma/ta tente" etc.17
17 Il peut aussi y avoir un marquage double : mu goahtán.


However, just by putting a noun into the paradigm generator at giellatekno (e.g. http://sami-cgi-bin.uit.no/cgi-bin/smi/smi.cgi?text=goahti&pos=Any&mode=full&action=paradigm&charset=utf-8&lang=sme&plang=eng) we can see that the description above is very simplified. For example, the acc./gen. seems to take the stem goaht- with 1st person possessive suffixes, while the comitative adds an ending -guin after the possessive suffixes.

Judging by dialogues in learning materials it seems that the possessive pronouns are used exclusively in colloquial speech (e.g. Mii du namma lea? etc.). I did see the form nieiddažan on Gulahalan, but the whole word is translated as "my little girl" in the word list so perhaps this is a formulaic use, especially as it is used in a greeting.

I would definitely appreciate some input from a native speaker or expert on this subject.

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Virankannos
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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby Virankannos » 2013-04-14, 10:12

I learned in my Northern Sámi class that the possessive suffixes are optional just like in Finnish most of the time, and mainly used in literature and not so much in colloquial speech. However, they have certain contexts where they are mandatory. For example, the pronoun ieš 'self; of one's own' requires a possessive suffix:

Mun oasttán alccesan biilla. = I will buy a car for myself.
Leago dus iežat dállu? = Do you have a house of your own?

Here's a listing of the suffixes (the first variant is added to a stem ending in a vowel and the second one to a stem that ends in a consonant):


singulardualplural
1st-n/-an-me/-eame-met/-eamet
2nd-t/-at-de/-eatte-det/-eattet
3rd-s/-is-ska/-easkka-set/-easet

However, adding the possessive suffix to a word is not that simple. Many case endings change when the suffix is attached:

biila > biilla-s > biilla-st-is
car > in the car > in his/her car

viellja > villji-i > viellja-s-an
brother > to the brother > to my brother

Unfortunately, copying the tables in my materials that show all the changes in different stem types would take hours :( I would suggest to try and experiment with the Giellatekno paradigm generator with different words to see how the stems change with possessive suffixes.

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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby wilsonsamm » 2013-12-02, 14:49

guovssahas wrote:I did see the form nieiddažan on Gulahalan, but the whole word is translated as "my little girl" in the word list so perhaps this is a formulaic use, especially as it is used in a greeting.


Mari Boine has a song called "Elle", which has the word "bieggabártnažan", which is translated as "My dearest son of the wind". I wonder if "-až" is non-productive diminuitive or maybe vocative suffix that has only survived in a few words denoting humans or terms of endearment. This is pure speculation, mind you :hmm:

(If you look at the lyrics on this page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3miUkzGCgE, it's written without "mu", but I think she might actually be pronouncing it a few times)

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Duiskanieida
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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby Duiskanieida » 2013-12-02, 15:44

For the possessive suffix in North Sámi, my impression is that it's indeed not used too much in the spoken language (maybe even less than in Finnish).

wilsonsamm wrote:[
Mari Boine has a song called "Elle", which has the word "bieggabártnažan", which is translated as "My dearest son of the wind". I wonder if "-až" is non-productive diminuitive


It's a diminutive. Without the possessive suffix the word would be bieggabártnáš. The š then changes into ž, when you want to add the suffix.
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Virankannos
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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby Virankannos » 2013-12-04, 11:35

wilsonsamm wrote:I wonder if "-až" is non-productive diminuitive or maybe vocative suffix that has only survived in a few words denoting humans or terms of endearment. This is pure speculation, mind you :hmm:
As far as I know, the deminutive suffix is still very much productive and can be attached to all kinds of human, animate and non-animate referents. It can even be obligatory in cases where there's an attributive adjective denoting smallness preceding the noun:

gilli 'village' > giláš 'a tiny village': unna giláš (not *unna gilli)
stohpu 'hut' > stoboš 'a small hut': uhca stoboš (not *uhca stohpu)
bihttá 'piece' > bihtáš 'a small piece': smávva bihtás (not *smávva bihttá)

Deminutives can be formed from comparative forms of adjectives, as well: stuorá|t (: -bu) 'bigger' > stuorábuš 'slightly, a little bigger'

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Re: possession in Northern Saami

Postby Torbjorn » 2016-02-26, 2:22

Possession suffix has recently (2011) gained a particular status. To master these possession suffixes is an indication of good "saminess".
Possession suffix is a feature that unifies the sami language with many other ugro finnic languages. However the mu áhčči way to express possession is influenced by scandinavian languages.


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