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Zero as a Grammatical Marker
1.       Abla
3647 posts
 18 Jul 2012 Wed 07:47 pm

If learners were asked what the present tense marking in Turkish is many would say it is –Iyor. That’s what beginner level lessons teach.

 

Well it’s not. Present tense has no marking. We recognize present tense from the missing past tense marking.

 

-Iyor only tells us that the action is continuing or progressive and it can as well occur together with the past tense –DI. It works very much the same way as BE + -ing in English.

 

Within every grammatical category there is usually an unmarked member. I guess this is a universal fact, part of the economy of language. The unmarked forms are those which are most frequently used and the most simple in meaning. There is no big surprise in the list of Turkish unmarked categories.

 

Singular is the unmarked NUMBER.

Present is the unmarked TENSE.

Imperative is the unmarked MODE.

Absolutive (Nominative) is the unmarked CASE.

Active is the unmarked VOICE.

 

In many languages Masculine is the unmarked GENDER but in Turkish fortunately we don’t have to worry about that.

 

I think markedness is such a foxy feature in human languages I just had to share my remarks about it. Feel free to correct me or to continue from where I finished.



Edited (7/18/2012) by Abla

2.       si++
3785 posts
 19 Jul 2012 Thu 10:33 am

 

Quoting Abla

If learners were asked what the present tense marking in Turkish is many would say it is –Iyor. That’s what beginner level lessons teach.

 

Well it’s not. Present tense has no marking. We recognize present tense from the missing past tense marking.

 

-Iyor only tells us that the action is continuing or progressive and it can as well occur together with the past tense –DI. It works very much the same way as BE + -ing in English.

 

Within every grammatical category there is usually an unmarked member. I guess this is a universal fact, part of the economy of language. The unmarked forms are those which are most frequently used and the most simple in meaning. There is no big surprise in the list of Turkish unmarked categories.

 

Singular is the unmarked NUMBER.

Present is the unmarked TENSE.

Imperative is the unmarked MODE.

Absolutive (Nominative) is the unmarked CASE.

Active is the unmarked VOICE.

 

In many languages Masculine is the unmarked GENDER but in Turkish fortunately we don’t have to worry about that.

 

I think markedness is such a foxy feature in human languages I just had to share my remarks about it. Feel free to correct me or to continue from where I finished.

 

Do you mean it has no suffix by unmarked? If not what do you mean? What do you mean by "missed past tense marking"?

 

We have present tense suffix -(a)r/-(e)r/-(i)r

We have no personal ending (suffix) for 3rd sing. person for present tense.

 

Imperative had a suffix in old Turkish for second person now it´s dropped but it´s still possible to use 2nd pl. person imperative suffix for sing. 2nd person in polite speech.

 

gel-in

gir-in

3.       Abla
3647 posts
 19 Jul 2012 Thu 01:01 pm

1. Unmarked means ´without suffix´, yes.

 

2. There is no marking of present tense in

 

                                 Mutfakta otur|uyor|um.

 

-Iyor- stands for progressive/continuous aspect.

 

How come we understand it is present then? Because obviously it is not past (there is no past tense marking).

 

3. -(A/I)r is not a present tense marking either. In present tense forms it denotes imperfective aspect. In past tense forms it is there to express habituality.

 

4. Yes, you are right, si++:

 

                                   3rd person sg is the unmarked PERSON.

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