Perfects of Yaghnobi

2023. №6, 138-164

Arseniy P. Vydrin
Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia;
Julia V. Mazurova
Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;


The article describes the semantics of four verb forms in the Yaghnobi language, which are formed from the Past Participle of the lexical verb and the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ or a copula — namely, the Perfect, Pluperfect, Past Perfect, and Past Subjunctive. The data for the study was taken from the Corpus of Yaghnobi oral texts from the 1920s–1960s, containing more than 40 000 tokens. As a result, we established that the Perfect is not a specialized form for expressing the result. The Perfect has the following meanings: experiential, inclusive, immediate, evidential (inferential and reportative), epistemic, mirative, and discursive. The Perfect is also used to express situations that have not yet taken place, but are considered by the speaker as having just happened. The main meaning of the Pluperfect is the discursive emphasis of the situation in the past. The typical meaning of antecedence in the past has been lost by the Yaghnobi Pluperfect. There are also cases of using the Pluperfect to express discontinuous past, avertive, and a failed attempt in the past. The Past Perfect expresses antecedence in the past, inferential evidentiality in the past, and is also used in situations related to the recent past, present, or near future which are thought by the speaker as having happened a long time ago. All meanings of this form are also attested for the Perfect. The main difference between the Past Perfect and the basic Perfect is that the former shifts the situation into the past. The Subjunctive mood of the Past tense is used in sentences with a general question and in subordinate affirmative clauses. The semantics of the mood is not completely clear. Semantically, this form is closest to the Subjunctive mood of the Present-Future tense. The Subjunctive of the Past tense can express the taxis meaning of the antecedence of the situation expressed by the Subjunctive mood of the Present-Future tense, which brings this form closer to the Past Perfect. In addition to a detailed description of the forms with the Past Participle, a significant result of the study is the discovery of the Pluperfect’s discursive function , as well as the use of the Perfect and the Past Perfect to express a situation of the recent past, present, or near future which is thought by the speaker as having already taken place.

For citation:

Vydrin A. P., Mazurova J. V. Perfects of Yaghnobi. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2023, 6: 138–164.