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Tsekob Akhvakh: morphology and grammatical semantics

2019
Department: Laboratory of the Caucasian Languages
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research

The goal of the project was to collect in the field and analyze data on the morphology of the Tsekob dialect of Southern Akhvakh (Nakh-Dagestanian) (elicitation of grammatical information on traditional topics included in language descriptions; a detailed study of a number of grammatical topics that have typological or theoretical significance: valency classes, agreement on the nominal class and face, infinitive constructions, constructions of the transmission of someone else's speech / thought). In addition, we continued working on documentation of the languages ​​of the Dargwa group, development and uprading corpus resources, as well as a theoretical analysis of the structure of the Nakh-Dagestan languages.

Methodology

The project is carried out in accordance with current standards for documentation and description of languages ​​adopted, in particular, in the ELDP (Endangered Languages ​​Documentation Program; SOAS, University of London). Grammatical elicitation is carried out according to the standard plan for grammatical descriptions using available typological and theoretical work on individual linguistic phenomena and taking into account the fieldwork experience the PI of the project has had in Dagestan. The materials collected during the project will be used to write the grammar of the Tsekob dialect in the framework of a typologically oriented descriptive approach, not limited to any specific linguistic theory. When writing various sections, typological and theoretical work dealing with the phenomenon in question will be used. Elicitation work sessions are recorded using a ZoomH4n recorder with the built-in microphone. The recorder saves the audio recording in digital format, with the following technical parameters: uncompressed .wav file format, sampling frequency 44100 Hz, quantization 16 bits. The elicitation of language material is mainly done by translating sentence stimuli from Russian into the Tsekob dialect, and in some cases also by transforming of the translations and the subsequent judgments on their acceptability by a native speaker of the dialect.

In order to document Dargwa dialects / languages, the project records spontaneous and semi-spontaneous (retelling of video stimuli) texts of various genres. Spontaneous texts are also recorded using the technical parameters indicated above.

The theoretical part of the project uses the current version of the Minimalist theory as a methodological base.

Empirical base of research

The Tsekob dialect of Southern Akhvakh is an endangered language of the Andic branch of Nakh-Daghestanian. Originally spoken in the village of Tsekob (Shamilskij district, Republic of Daghestan), the dialect has never been a lect with a large number of speakers. Since the 19t0s, a massive migration from the village to the lowlands has begun (primarily to Makhachkala), resulting in less than one hundred speakers remaining in the original location, all in their fifties or older. Young people leave the village right after their graduation from high school, which means that the majority of Tsekob speakers live in a multi-ethnic environment where Russian is used as lingua franca of everyday communication. The transmission of the language to children is severely compromised.

Documentation of Dargwa languages ​​is carried out in places of original residence of native speakers of the documented languages: Kubachi in the Dakhadaevsky district of the Republic of Dagestan (Kubachi Dargwa), Djavgat in the Kaitag district of the Republic of Dagestan (Kaytag Dargwa), Tsudakhar, Khadjalmakhi, Karekadani, Upper Arshi of the Levashinsky district of the Republic of Dagestan (Tsudaqar Dargwa).

Theoretical work on the morphosyntax of Nakh-Dagestanian languages ​​is based on the emprirical data collected from native speakers, as well as on data collected from existing corpora of Nakh-Dagestanian languages ​​(in particular, the corpus of Standard Dargwa).

Results of research

In order to describe the morphology of the Tsekob dialect, 17 elicitation sessions were conducted with a native speaker of Tsekob living in Makhachkala, the duration of each one is between 45 and 90 minutes. The total duration of the sessions is 19 hours 33 minutes. As a result of this work in 2019, a significant amount of primary data was collected on the morphology and semantics of grammatical categories in the Tsekob dialect. A short grammar sketch of this dialect is in preparation.

In 2019, a field trip was organized to document Tsudaqar Dargwa, spoken in the Levashinsky district of the Republic of Dagestan (Russia). The PI of the project was accompanied by student assistants Sofia Durneva, Anna Mokhova, and Anna Petukhova. During the fieldtrip, 122 respondents from four villages were interviewed (Khadjalmakhi, Tsudakhar, Karekadani, and Upper Arshi, Levashinsky district of the Republic of Dagestan). As a result, we recorded 59.5 hours of oral conversations in this language. Also in 2019, one more fieldtrip was organized to document Kubachi Dargwa and Kaitag Dargwa, spoken in Kubachi (Dakhadaevsky district, Republic of Dagestan, Russia) and Javgat (Kaitagsky district, Dagestan, Russia), respectively. As a result, 58 hours of spontaneous speech were recorded in Kubachi, whereas in Djavgat we documented 63 hours of naturalistic speech.

Projects on Kaytag Dargwa and Kubachi Dargwa ​have been created in Fieldworks Language Explorer, containing available pieces published in these languages; we also continued morphological analysis of texts included in the existing project on Chirag Dargwa.

In addition, we prepared and submitted for review the following manuscripts: an article on person agreement in embedded clauses, an article on the interaction between agreement shift and hierarchical agreement in Aqusha Dargwa, and an article on the place of Tabasaran in typology and theory of ergativity; grammatical sketches on Chirag Dargwa and Khuduts Dargwa were accepted for publication.