Laz grammar

Laz belongs to the South Caucasian or family. It is language with Mingrelian. Today, the area where Laz is spoken stretches from the village Sarpi of Khelvachauri district in Georgia to the village Kemer of Rize province in Turkey. Laz is spoken also in Western Turkey in the villages created by Laz muhajirs in 1877-1878. In Georgia, out of Sarpi, the Laz language islets were also in Abkhazia, but the fate of them is obscure at present.

Laz is divided into three dialects: Khopa-Chkhala, Vitze-Arkabe and Atina-Artasheni. Dialectical classification is mainly conditioned by the phonetic characteristics. More specifically the crucial point is the reflexes of the Kartvelian phoneme q', which is maintained only in Khopa-Chkhala dialect and has different reflections in Vitze-Arkabe and Atina-Artasheni dialects (see below).

Phonology and Writing system

Vowels

Laz vowel inventory consists of five sounds: a, e, i, o, u.

Laz vowel scheme
front back
nonlabial labial
high i [i] u [u]
mid e [ɛ] o [ɔ]
low a [ɑ]

Consonants

Consonant composition of Laz varies dialectically. Full set of sounds is present in Khopa-Chkhala dialect, while Vitze-Arkabe and Atina-Artasheni dialects lost glottalized uvular q.

Consolidated table of Laz consonants
stops affricates sibilants nasals liquids glides
voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless
glottalized aspirated glottalized aspirated
labial b [b] [pʼ] p [p] v [v] f [f] m [m]
dental d [d] [tʼ] t [t] ʒ [d͡z] ċ [t͡sʼ] c [t͡s] z [z] s [s] n [n] l [l]
alveolar ǯ [d͡ʒ] čʼ [t͡ʃʼ] č [t͡ʃ] ž [ʒ] š [ʃ] r [r] y [j]
velar g [ɡ] [kʼ] k [k] ɣ [ɣ] x [x]
uvular [qʼ]
laryngeal h [h]

Phonetic processes

Uvular q' sound change

Glottalized uvular q' is preserved only in Khopa-Chkhala dialect before the vowels and the consonants v and l. This sound is also evidenced after glottalized stops and affricates in several words, such as ṗq'orop (I love smb./sth.); ḳq'orop (I love you); ṭq'ubi (twins), ċq'v-/ċq'vin- (to reconcile); č'q'inṭi (fresh-soft and unripe). But in the most of cases *ṭq' → ṭḳ; *ċq' → ċḳ; *č'q' → č'ḳ.

In the Vitze-Arkabe dialect, in the neighborhood of consonants *q' → ḳ (exception is the verb ovapu ← *oq'vapu "to be"). In the word-initial prevocalic and in the intervocalic positions *q' → ∅.

In Atina-Artasheni dialect:

  • in word-initial prevocalic position q' → ∅. E.g. *q'oropa → oropa "love", *q'ona → ona "cornfield" etc.
  • in intervocalic position *q' → y/∅. E.g. *loq'a → *loʔa → loya/loa "sweet", *luq'u → *luʔu → luu "cabbage" etc.
  • word-initial q'v → ḳv/v. E.g. q'vali → ḳvali/vali "cheese, *q'vaǯi → ḳvaǯi/vaǯi "testicle" etc.
  • intervocaliq q'v → y. E.g. *oq'vapu → oyapu "to be/become", *iq'ven → iyen "s/he will be/become" etc.
  • in all other cases q' → ∅

Regressive assimilation

The most common types are:

  • regressive voicing:
    • s → z
    • t → d
    • k → g
    • š → ž
    • č → ǯ
    • p → b
  • regressive devoicing:
    • b → p
    • g → k
  • regressive glottalization
    • b → ṗ
    • p → ṗ
    • g → ḳ

Dissimilative deletion of consonant

In some morphological contexts featuring two consonants n split only with a vowel, the former can be deleted. miq'onun → miq'oun (I have {an animate object}), iq'vasinon → iq'vasion (s/he will be), mulunan → *muluan → mulvan (they are coming).

Another dissimilation, presumably sporadic, occurs in deḳiḳe → deiḳe (minute); note also that the Arabic source of this word دقيقة daqīqa contains a uvular [q], and as above uvulars are unstable in Laz.

Intervocalic reduction of r

This process is evidenced in Khopa-Chkhala and Vitze-Arkabe dialects, where in intervocalic position facultatively r → y → ∅.

Palatalization of velars

In the Atina-Artasheni dialect, the velars followed by the front vowels e and i and the glide y transform to alveolar affricates:

  • g → ǯ
  • ḳ → č'
  • k → č

Alphabet

Laz is written in Georgian alphabet or in the Altaic version of the Latin alphabet (as used in Turkish, but with specific Laz extensions).

Georgian (Mkhedruli) Latin (Altaic) Latin (rare) IPA
Orthographic alphabets Transcriptions
a a ɑ
b b b
g g ɡ
d d d
e e ɛ
v v v
z z z
t t t
i i i
k’
l l l
m m m
n n n
y y j
o o ɔ
p’
j ž ʒ
r r r
s s s
t’
u u u
p p p
k k k
ǧ ɣ ɣ
q q’
ş š ʃ
ç č t͡ʃ
ts, or з [1] c t͡s
z’ ʒ d͡z
ts’, or з’ [1] ċ t͡sʼ
ç’ č’ t͡ʃʼ
x x x
c ǯ d͡ʒ
h h h
f f f

Grammatical cases

Laz has eight grammatical cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, lative, ablative and almost extinct adverbial.

  Marker
Nominative -i/-e
Ergative -k
Dative -s
Genitive -
Lative -iša
Ablative -iše
Instrumental -ite
Adverbial -ot

Example of adjective declension

  Marker Stem: mǯveš- ("old")
Nominative -i mǯveš-i
Ergative -k mǯveš-i-k
Dative -s mǯveš-i-s
Genitive - mǯveš-
Lative -iša mǯveš-iša
Ablative -iše mǯveš-iše
Instrumental -ite mǯveš-ite
Adverbial -ot mǯveš-ot

Example of noun declension

  Marker Stem: ḳoč- ("man")
Nominative -i ḳoč-i
Ergative -k ḳoč-i-k
Dative -s ḳoč-i-s
Genitive - ḳoč-
Lative -iša ḳoč-iša
Ablative -iše ḳoč-iše
Instrumental -ite ḳoč-ite
Adverbial -ot n/a

Nouns

As in other sister languages Laz distinguishes two classes of nouns and classifies objects as:

  • Animate entities. Respective interrogative is mi? (who?)
  • Inanimate entities. Respective interrogative is mu? (what?)

Noun classification scheme

Concrete Abstract
Animate Inanimate
Human and "human-like" beings (e.g. God, deities, angels) Animals Inanimate physical entities Abstract objects
Intelligent Unintelligent
mi? ("who?") mu? ("what?")

Numerals

The Laz numerals are near identical to Megrelian with minor phonetic differences. The number system is Vigesimal like in Georgian.

Cardinal numbers

Almost all basic Laz cardinal numbers stem from Proto-Kartvelian language, except ar(t) (one) and eči (twenty), which are reconstructed only for Karto-Zan chronological level having regular phonetical reflexes in Zan (Megrelo-Laz) and Georgian. The numeral šilya (thousand) is a Pontic Greek loanword and is more commonly used than original Laz vitoši.

Laz cardinal numbers compared to Megrelian, Georgian and Svan

  Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
1 ar(t) arti erti ešxu
2 žur/ǯur žiri/žəri ori yori
3 sum sumi sami semi
4 otxo otxi otxi oštxw
5 xut xuti xuti woxušd
6 anši amšvi ekvsi usgwa
7 škvit škviti švidi išgwid
8 ovro ruo rva ara
9 čxoro čxoro cxra čxara
10 vit viti ati ešd
11 vitoar vitaarti tertmeṭi ešdešxu
12 vitožur vitožiri tormeṭi ešdori
13 vitosum vitosumi cameṭi ešdsemi
14 vitotxo vitaantxi totxmeṭi ešdoštx
15 vitoxut vitoxuti txutmeṭi ešdoxušd
20 eči eči oci yerwešd
21 ečidoar ečdoarti ocdaerti yerwešdiešxu
30 ečidovit ečdoviti ocdaati semešd
40 žurneči žaarneči ormoci woštxuešd
50 žurnečidovit žaarnečdoviti ormocdaati woxušdešd
60 sumeneči sumoneči samoci usgwašd
70 sumenečidovit sumonečdoviti samocdaati išgvidašd
80 otxoneči otxoneči otxmoci arašd
90 otxonečidovit otxonečdoviti otxmocdaati chxarašd
100 oši oši asi ašir
101 oši do ar ošarti aserti ašir i ešxu
102 oši do žur ošžiri asori ašir i yori
110 oši do vit ošviti asati ašir i ešd
200 žuroši žiroši orasi yori ašir
500 xutoši xutoši xutasi woxušd aršir
1000 šilya/vitoši antasi atasi atas
1999 šilya čxoroš

otxonečdoviṭočxoro

antas čxoroš

otxonečdovitočxoro

atas cxraas

otxmocdacxrameṭi

atas čxara ašir

chxarašd chxara

2000 žuršilya žiri antasi ori atasi yori atas
10000 vit šilya viti antasi ati atasi ešd atas

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers in Laz are produced with the circumfix ma-...-a, which, in contrast with Megrelian, may be extended with suffix -n. The circumfix ma-...-a originates from Proto-Kartvelian and has regular phonetical equivalents in Georgian (me-...-e) and Svan (me-...-e)

Ordinal numbers' derivation rule

Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
ma-NUMBER-a(ni) ma-NUMBER-a me-NUMBER-e me-NUMBER-e

Laz ordinal numbers compared to Megrelian, Georgian and Svan

  Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
1st maartani ṗirveli ṗirveli manḳwi
2nd mažura(ni) mažira meore merme
3rd masuma(ni) masuma mesame meseme
4th maotxa(ni) maotxa/mantxa meotxe meuštxwe
5th maxuta(ni) maxuta mexute meuxušde
6th maanša(ni) maamšva meekvse meusgwe
7th maškvita(ni) maškvita mešvide meyšgwide
8th maovra(ni) maruo merve meare
9th mačxora(ni) mačxora mecxre meyčxre
10th mavita(ni) mavita meate meyšde
11th mavitoarta(ni) mavitaarta metertmeṭe meyšdešxue
12th mavitožura(ni) mavitožira metormeṭe meyšdore
13th mavitosuma(ni) mavitosuma mecameṭe meyšdseme
14th mavitotxa(ni) mavitaantxa metotxmeṭe meyšdoštxe
15th mavitoxuta(ni) mavitoxuta metxutmeṭe meyšdoxušde
20th maeča(ni) maeča meoce meyerwešde
21st ečidomaarta(ni) ečdomaarta ocdameerte
30th ečidomavita(ni) ečdomavita ocdameate mesemešde
40th mažurneča(ni) mažaarneča meormoce meuštxuešde
50th žurnečidomavita(ni) žaarnečdomavita ormocdameate meuxušdešde
60th masumeneča(ni) masumoneča mesamoce meusgwešde
70th sumenečidomavita(ni) sumonečdomavita samocdameate meyšgwidešde
80th maotxoneča(ni) maotxoneča meotxmoce mearašde
90th otxonečidomavita(ni) otxonečdomavita otxmocdameate mečxarašde
100th maoša(ni) maoša mease meašire
101st ošmaarta(ni) ošmaarta asmeerte
102nd ošmažura(ni) ošmažira asmeore
110th ošmavita(ni) ošmavita asmeate
200th mažuroša(ni) mažiroša meorase meyorašire
500th maxutoša(ni) maxutoša mexutase meuxušdašire
1000th mašilya(ni)/mavitoša(ni) maantasa meatase meatase

Fractional numbers

The fractional numbers' derivation rule in Laz and Megrelian is akin to Old Georgian and Svan.

Fractional numbers' derivation rule

Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
Old New
na-NUMBER-al/or na-NUMBER-al/or na-NUMBER-al me-NUMBER-ed na-NUMBER-al/ul

Laz fractional numbers compared to Megrelian, Georgian and Svan

  Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
Old New
whole mteli teli mrteli mteli tel
half gverdi gverdi naxevari naxevari xənsga
1/3 nasumori nasumori nasamali mesamedi nasemal
1/4 naotxali naotxali/naantxali naotxali meotxedi naoštxul
1/5 naxutali naxutali naxutali mexutedi naxušdal
1/6 naanšali naamšvali naekvsali meekvsedi nausgwul
1/7 naškvitali naškvitali našvidali mešvidedi nayšgwidal
1/8 naovrali naruali narvali mervedi naaral
1/9 načxorali načxorali nacxrali mecxredi načxaral
1/10 navitali navitali naatali meatedi naešdal
1/11 navitoartali navitaartali natertmeṭali metertmeṭedi naešdešxul
1/12 navitožurali navitožirali natormeṭali metormeṭedi naešdoral
1/20 naečali naečali naocali meocedi nayerwešdal
1/100 naošali naošali naasali measedi naaširal
1/1000 našilyali/navitošali naantasali naatasali meatasedi naatasal

Pronouns

Personal pronouns

Laz Megrelian Georgian
Khopa-Chkhala Vitze-Arkabe Atina-Artasheni
I ma(n) ma ma ma me
You (sing.) si(n) si si si šen
That (close to speaker) aya haya ham ena esa
This ia heya him ina isa
We čki čku šḳu čki/čkə čven
You (pl.) tkvan tkvan ṭḳva tkva tkven
Those antepe hamtepe hani enepi eseni
These entepe hemtepe hini inepi isini

Possessive pronouns

Laz Megrelian Georgian
Khopa-Chkhala Vitze-Arkabe Atina-Artasheni
My čkimi čkimi šḳimi čkimi/čkəmi čemi
Your (sing.) skani skani sḳani skani šeni
His/her/its muši muši himuši muši misi
Our čkini čkuni šḳuni čkini/čkəni čveni
Your (pl.) tkvani tkvani ṭḳvani tkvani tkveni
Their mutepeši hemtepeši niši inepiš mati

Verbs

Laz verb has the person, number, version, tense, mood, aspect and voice categories.

Person and Number

In Laz, like Megrelian, Georgian and Svan the verbs can be unipersonal, bipersonal and tripersonal

  • Monovalent verbs have only subjective person and are intransitive.
  • Bivalent verbs have one subject and one object (direct or indirect). They are:
    • transitive if the object is direct
    • intransitive if the object is indirect
  • Trivalent verbs have one subject and two objects (one direct and the other indirect) and are ditransitive.
Verb personality table
Unipersonal Bipersonal Tripersonal
intransitive transitive intransitive ditransitive
Subject + + + +
Direct Object + +
Indirect Object + +

The person may be singular or plural.

Subject and object markers in Laz are the same as in Megrelian

Subject markers

  Singular Plural
S1 v- v-...-t
S2 ∅- ∅-...-t
S3 ∅-...-n/-s/-u ∅-...-an/-es

Object markers

  Singular Plural
O1 m- m-...-an/-es/-t
O2 g- g-...-an/-es/-t
O3 ∅- ∅-...-an/-es

In pre-consonant position the markers v- and g- change phonetically:

  • Before the voiced consonats: v- → b-
  • Before the voiceless (nonglottalized) consonats:
    • v- → b- → p-
    • g- → k-
  • Before the glottalized consonats:
    • v- → b- → ṗ-
    • g- → ḳ-

Version

Like Megrelian, Georgian and Svan in Laz there are the four types of version marking:

  • subjective - shows that the action is intended for oneself,
  • objective - action is intended for another person,
  • objective-passive - the action is intended for another person and at the same time indicating the passiveness of subject,
  • neutral - neutral with respect to intention.

Laz version markers compared to Megrelian, Georgian and Svan

Version Laz Megrelian Georgian Svan
Subjective -i- -i- -i- -i-
Objective -u- -u- -u- -o-
Objective-passive -a- -a- -e- -e-
Neutral -o- -o-/-a- -a- -a-

Tenses

The maximum number of screeves in Laz is 22. They are grouped in three series. Two screeves (future I and past of future I) exist only for the verb r-, which serves as a 1st series root for oqopumu/ovapu/oyapu (to be).

Paradigm of verb conjugation

stems: č'ar- (to write) and r- (to be: just for future I and past of future I)

I Series
Khopa-Chkhala Vitze-Arkabe Atina-Artasheni Artzad
present č'arups č'arums
imperfect č'arupṭu č'arumṭu
imperfective optative č'arupṭas č'arumṭas
imperfective inferential č'arupṭ-eren č'arumṭu-doren č'arumṭu-donu
present conditional č'arupṭu-ḳon č'arumṭu-ḳo(n)
future I (r)ṭas-unon (r)ṭasen orṭas-en
past of future I (r)ṭas-unṭu ṭasṭu orṭas-ereṭu
II Series
Khopa-Chkhala Vitze-Arkabe Atina-Artasheni
aorist č'aru
aoristic optative č'aras
aoristic inferential I č'ar-eleren

/č'ar-een /č'ar-elen

č'aru-doren č'aru-donu
aoristic inferential II č'ar-elereṭu

/č'ar-eeṭu /č'ar-eleṭu

č'aru-dorṭu
aoristic inferential optative č'ar-elereṭas

/č'ar-eeṭas /č'ar-eleṭas

n/a
aoristic conditional č'aru-ḳon
future II č'aras-unon č'aras-en
past of future II č'aras-unṭu

/č'ara-ṭu

č'ara-ṭu č'aras-erṭu
conditional of aoristic inferential II č'ar-elereṭu-ḳon

/č'ar-eeṭu-ḳon

n/a
inferential of the past of future II č'aras-unṭ-eren č'ara-ṭu-doren n/a
conditional of the past of future II č'ara-ṭu-ḳon n/a
III Series
Khopa-Chkhala Vitze-Arkabe Atina-Artasheni
inversive inferential I uč'arun
inversive inferential II uč'aruṭu
inferential optative uč'aruṭas
inferential conditional uč'aruṭu-ḳo(n)

According to oldness these screeves can be grouped in two sets:

  • old (primary) (common with Megrelian).
  • new (secondary) derived from the basic screeves (specific Laz).

Classification of screeves according to oldness

Old (common with Megrelian) New (specific Laz)
present imperfective inferential
imperfect future I
imperfective optative past of future I
present conditional aoristic inferential I
aorist aoristic inferential II
aoristic optative aoristic inferential optative
aoristic conditional future II
inversive inferential I past of future II
inversive inferential II Conditional of aoristic inferential II
inferential optative inferential of the past of future II
inferential conditional conditional of the past of future II

Mood

Indicative

Indicative statement claims that the proposition should be taken as an apparent fact.

Interrogative

There are two ways to transform an indicative statement into a question:

  • by means of interrogative words. E.g. mi? (who?), mu? (what?), so? (where?), mundes? (when?), muč'o? (how?) etc. This rule is valid for Megrelian, Georgian and Svan as well.
  • by adding an interrogative particle -i to the end of a verb. It has the same function as Megrelian -o, Old Georgian -a and Svan -ma/-mo/-mu.

Imperative

Indicates a command or request. The aorist form is used when addressing 2nd person (singular/plural) and aoristic optative in all other cases.

Subjunctive

Expresses possibility, wish, desire.

Conditional

Indicates condition in contrary to a fact. For this reason a verbal suffix -ḳo (At.-Arsh, Vtz.-Ark.) / -ḳon/-ḳoni (Khop.-Chkh.) is used.

Aspect

Voice

See also

Notes

References

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