Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- A Brief Intro to Avar Cyrillic
- Class Markers
- Question Words
- Sentence Structures
- Other Notes
- A slow translation of that one Avar video
This grammar, like the rest of the site, is a slow moving work in progress. There are bound to be mistakes or dialetical differences – if there is anything you would like to add, correct, or clarify, please send me an email at hello [@] avar.rocks or open a post on GitHub, where the project is maintained. I hope you enjoy or get something useful out of this page!
A Brief Intro to Avar Cyrillic
Avar, written in Cyrillic, as most material is, uses one novel letter not found in the standard Russian alphabet, the
palochka:Ӏ (or stick). It is known as a çubuq by Azeri-speaking Avars. The palochka, along with ъ and ь modify other letters, forming digraphs.
The digraphs are as follows:
Additionally, like in Russian, the letters ю and я represent two sounds, ю = йу, and я = йа. This is important to remember when reading further down in the grammar, as female class markers will use й, which may not be written explicitly in the word (as it is part of ю or я).
Note that the palochka only has one form (i.e. no lower or upper-case distinction). In casual text, it is often written as a 1 (one), or more rarely, as an uppercase latin I.
Class markers are an important concept in Avar. There are 4 class markers that correspond generally to the "real" gender of the noun or subject.
- в - males
- й - females
- б - things and animals
- р/л - plural
You can see examples of this in
Since the location of these do not change, they will be represented with a capital Б if a grammatical property varies with respect to class. This type of marking varies wildly across published literature. You may see CM (for class marker), w (transliteration of в), among others.
As with most languages that do not have a large body of literature aimed at lay people, there is not a common set of vocabulary used to describe phenomenon in the language. This section aims to be as consistent as possible, but more formal linguistic publications may differ in how different forms are referred.
Each noun has two stems for singular and for plural: a absolutive stem (ABS) and an ergative stem (ERG). While Rudnev (p. 20) describes some rules to derive these stems, the variability means that it is likely easier for a learner to simply memorize all four variations of the noun: singular absolutive, singular ergative, plural absolutive, and plural ergative.
Note that the absolutive stem is also referred to as direct (DIR) and the ergative stem as oblique (OBL). Indeed, for class 3 nouns below, you'll see that there is variation in the ERG stem when used with locatives that is not seen in Class 1 or Class 2 nouns.
There are four main cases, ABS, ERG, DAT, and GEN, plus a very large number of locative cases, as described in its own section below.
Nouns are divided into 3 declension classes:
- Class 1: mostly masculine human nouns
- Class 2: all female human nouns and many neuter nouns
- Class 3: everything else
- ABS (absolutive)
- the default dictionary form; the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of transitive verbs
- ERG (ergative)
- the subject of transitive verbs, the instrument with which something is done, reason (e.g. "because of"), time an action is done. Palancar 2009 in Rudnev 2015 says "Avar displays an ERG/INST syncretism".
- DAT (dative) -е
- "marks the experiencer with a restricted set of affective predicates, and it expresses goals and goal-like functions, recipients, and beneficiaries"Forker 6
- GEN (genitive) -у/ул
- marks possession
The plural form must be learned along with the singular form.
Example plural suffixes: ал/(а)би/заби (for people and professions)/зал/дул (appears to cause vowel change)/ул (appears to cause vowel change).
Examples below are taken from Forker. See Table 4 on page 5 for more details.
Class 1 nouns are mostly masculine human nouns. The LOC forms use ERG as the stem. The ERG stem is formed by suffixing one of с/ас/яс to the ABS stem.
Class 2 nouns are all female human nouns and many neuter nouns. The LOC forms use ERG as the stem. The ERG stem is formed by suffixing one of лъ/алъ/ялъ to the ABS stem.
Class 3 nouns are every other noun not found in classes 1 and 2. The LOC forms does not use ERG as the stem, but has a completely different stem which must be memorized independently. The ERG stem is formed by suffixing one of са/аса to the ABS stem.
Unfortunately, avar.me does not show the LOC stem.
Location is a combination of where the direction is occurring (e.g. under something) and the directon in which it is occurring (e.g. away). Thus, combinatorially, there are 20 different LOC suffixes.
The 5 locational suffixes:
- SPR (super-) -да
- APUD (apud-) -хъ
- at, by, close to
- INTER (inter-) -лъ
- in a substance
- SUB (sub-) -кь
- IN (in-) -Б/с
The 4 directional markers that are appended to the locative suffixes:
- Essive) ø
- at/no movement
- Lative -е
- to (if the locative suffix has a vowel, it is dropped)
- Ablative -а/са
- Translative -an/san
Thus, you can combine the two, giving forms like the superessive (-да), superlative (-де), superablative (-даса), supertranlative (-дасан). Are these titles actually used? No idea.
Some of these locative tenses have grammatical meanings as well and may also be required as the case of some indirect objects of intransitive verbs. Ex.
балагьизе:look at has an indirect object in APUD-essive case or SPR-essive.
Unfortunately, the declension information from avar.me is not always ordered the same way or represents the same information. See, for instance, the difference between вас and офицер – since an officer can be either gender, it goes ERG M, ERG F, GEN M, GEN F, ABS PL.
I'm not sure what it means when there are only two responses. It seems like it may mean there is no plural? e.g. just ERG and GEN. They all seem to end the same:
хІамиохцер apparently means "two-year-old donkey." AKA, the common evening primrose.
къватІасохцер is actually called the squiriting cucumber. Which is kind of gross tbh.
There are no distinct personal pronouns for 3SG or 3PL – they are the same as the demonstratives, see that section for more information on how to form in the different cases.
1PL has two forms, exclusive (not including the speaker) and inclusive (including the speaker). Dialects may vary between муж (southern dialects) and нуж (northern) for 2PL.Authier, YouTube, ~44:00
|3SG||дов (m), дой (f), доб (n)|
- Павел буго дир цӏар.
Pavel is my name
These agree with the modified noun.
- гьаБ - this, close to speaker
- гьеБ - that, far from speaker, close to listener
- доБ - distant to speaker and listener
доБ also can vary with respect to height, with доБ implying the same level:
- льоБ - distant to speaker and listener and above them
- гоБ - distant to speaker and listener and below them
Similarly, you can see this variation in:
- гьаниБ - here, close to speaker
- гьениБ - here, far from speaker, close to listener
- доБа - there, distant to speaker and listener
In additional cases:
See Forker, pg 8, table 7 for another declension table.
"Determiners, although possessing full declension paradigms in both singular and plural, always appear in their absolutive form when modifying a noun phrase regardless of the case marking on the noun, their [non-absolutive] forms being reserved for standalone uses."Rudnev 22
See Forker pg8, table 7 for more declension examples.
Adjectives preceed the noun and agree with the noun's class marker. This class marker is prefixed (? Forker 17) and suffixed to the word.
льикав вас:the good boy and
льикай яс:the good girl.
Rudnev Apx B has a lot of nice diagrams
Rudnev 36, "in the overwhelming majority of cases, verbs with consonant initial stems systematically fail to display agreement" except for ha- to do. Most stems that begin with a vowel will contain an agreement marker
Zhiguli says there are about 8 conjugation paradigms
Some verbs (Rudnev translit)
ha-CM to do
CM-oł' to like
CM-ix to see
ła to know
3 differt Opt
Perfect - converb + to be
Progressive - present participle + to be (PRS/PST)
Masdar (CM)-root-thematic vowel
Verbs on Avar.me are given in the INF form, with the neutral class marker (б).
Avar does not have person agreement, only gender and number agreement. Forker 9
-ula/ola/la/una, NEG -ro
-ila/ela/la/ina, NEG -ro
-ana/una/na, NEG č'o/ič'o/inč'o
some verbs from Forker
c'alize:read/study, masdar c'ali
Bač'ine:come, masdar Bač'in
łaze:know, masdar łaj
PERF Conv. + PRS copula
c'alun bugo oxumuşam
PERF conv. + AOR copula
Compound PRS (ongoing situations/activities) (PRS Progressive)
PRS part + PRS copula
Compound AOR (ongoing situations but... in the past) (Imperfect?)
PRS part + AOR copula
Compound FUT (ongoing situations but... in the future)
PRS part + FUT copula
Prospective FUT (things about to happen)
INF + PRS copula
PERF conv. is -un/n (dep. ending in C or V)
IMPF. conv. PRS + go
PRS part. is ule/une/le + CM? the table in Forker doesn't match the list on Forker 13.
AOR part. ara/ra + CM
Intransitive = -a, transitive = -e, end in V = -j
-ja-CM (matches with addressee)
ani/uni/ni NEG č'oni/ič'oni/inč'oni
Unreal COND (if he would/would have x'd)
PRS/PST part. + ani
Concessive (although x, y; even if x, y)
ani/uni/ni + gi NEG č'oni/ič'oni/inč'oni + gi
Things with Conv (Forker 13, 14)
immediately when PST part. + go
before/until FUT + lde
until/when INF + ?an
when/while Masdar + dal
after/since PST part (no CM) + ldas:a
at the same time Masdar + gun
because PRS/PST part. + łuq/łul/łidal
To Be (PRS)
Stem, rudnev CM-uk'
Irregular in the present tense.
гуро or heč'o NEG PRS (???)
Other tenses (zhiguli)
вукIана, йикIана, букIана, рукIана
вукIина, йикIина, букIина, рукIина
-чӏо PST, but attached to the masdar form. (Rudnev 44)
guro/heč'o are also PRS copula/auxiliary NEG
Charachidzé and avar.me give the infinitive as лъазе, which is /ɬ/ rather than /ʃ/. My transcription, could reasonably be that, based likely on mishearing. I'm not sure what the transcription errors in the ending mean, since there shouldn't be changes based on person. Or what the 2nd person plural is.
şane guru:I don't know
şana gura:you don't know
Little boy also said something like
I go, dūn k'ola ma'ardi, I am going to the mountain.
the class markers in the words щиб and киб)
щиВ - who?
щиб - what? (sing.)
щал - what? (pl.)
киВ - where? (can be delined in DAT and ABL)
щай - why?
кида - when?
кин - how?
čan how many
ki?an how much
kiBe to where
kisa from where
Question words cause the verbal forms to change: (Zhig.)
Дов кив вугев? Where is he?
Дой кий йигей? Where is she?
Доб киб бугеб? Where is it?
Дол кир ругел? Where are they?
- who (m. or f.)
Rudnev 48, verbs of questions should be in participle form
t’ad ‘on, above, up’, ʁortƛʼ ‘down, under’, ask’o-b ‘near, close’, žani-b ‘inside’ (also inter-series), ce-b-e ‘before, in front’, naqa ‘behind, after’, xadu-b ‘behind, after, back’, req’on ‘according to’, and cadaq ‘together with’
basic: Subj > IO > DO > Verb
Possession is indicated by the possessor in GEN and the verb "to be".
"the standard of comparison in comparative constructions takes the SPR-ablative" (Forker p6), thus -da+sa
The object of a comparison is marked with ELL. wacasdasa jac łik'aj jigo -- sister is better than brother-ELL
kansa vugu?:how are you?
X k'sa bu ge?:where is X?
şot şe?:how much for the bill? (şot:azeri)
a ha nu:yes
turtsa şe:what's your name? (şe may be 'how'?) Ramil says lit. "whose son are you?" (-sa == -са ABL)
xar şi baat hheekee:whatever
avar.me - dictionary
лъимер is (n) class
ль is either laternal affricate or lateral fricative, which is not distinguished in writing (Rudnev)
A slow translation of that one Avar video
йу = ю
йа = я
a capital В equals в/й/р based on noun class of subject.
ВорчӀами: good morning
лъикI щвараВ: welcome home
лъикI ВуссараВ/ЮссараЙ: welcome back
лъикI ВатараВ/ЯтараЙ: "glad to be in good health"
хІал: state, mood, well-being
Щиб хӀал бугеб?: How do you feel?
бугеб Char. 118, pres. part. of to be
Баркала, квеш гьечIо: Thanks, not bad
квеш:bad, гьечІо:is not (see 6.3 for more declensions of гьечІо )
лъикI руго: It's well
руго - Вуго:to be
Нуж(го) кин ругел?: How are you? (the го is not said in the audio)
Нужго: Нуж:2pl + -го:REFL (d'ipséité), yourself (4.3)
ругел:pretty sure this is the neutral version of бугеб, that is the pres. part.