Property words in Archi: Inflection and part-of-speech status.

2018. №4, 114-132

Michael Daniel
National Research Institute Higher School of Economics, Moscow, 105066, Russian Federation;


In this article, I consider the inflection of property words in Archi (Lezgic, East Caucasian). While property words show some similarities with verbs (and are indeed classified as a sybtype of verbs in Kibrik et al.’s 1977 grammar of Archi), I argue that this similarity is too superficial to categorize them as verbs. I first consider inflectional morphology of true verbs and show that it includes several layers of morphological markers distinguished by the degree of their morphological boundedness, from true suffixes to cross-categorial clitics. I then show that all similarities between property words and verbs are limited to the external layers of verb inflection, while the suffixes belonging to the internal, more bound layers cannot attach to property words. I conclude that while both verbs and property words are predicative, they do not belong to the same morphosyntactic class but form clearly distinct parts of speech.

From the typological perspective on the adjective as a cross-linguistic category, I suggest the following interpretation. While Archi property words are not adjectives under the morphosyntactic approach to the typology of adjectives (as proposed by Hengeveld and Schachter, among others), because they are obligatorily marked in adnominal position and may remain unmarked in predicative position, they conform to the expectations of the semantic approach (advocated by Dixon and Aikhenvald), which predicts that no human language completely assimilates verbs and property verbs in terms of their morphosyntax.