E. Burgherr, in Master Programme for Linguistics of the University of Gloucestershire, Great Britain

Research supervisor V.G. Byelolyobskaya,

M.K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University
           Institute for Languages and Culture of the People of the North-East of Russian Federation, 
Chair in Northern Philology

When looking at personal and possessive pronouns in Even stories one notices how rarely they are used. In this one way in which the Even language differs from other languages. Each language has its own rules for the use of personal and possessive pronouns and what role they play. This is as well dependant on the genre of a text [10]. Have a look at the following passages from a German and an Even fairy tales. Both passages are mainly about one person and his action.

  • «Dem Ding ist zu helfen» dachte Hans, «jetzt will ich meine Kuh melken und mich an der Milch laben.» Er band sie an einen dürren Baum, und da er keinen Eimer hatte, so stellte er seine Ledermütze unter, aber wie er sich auch bemühte, es kam kein Tropfen Milch zum Vorschein [1]. «This thing can be fixed», – thought Hans, – «now I want to milk my cow and get refreshed by the milk.» He bound it to a dry tree, and as he did not have a bucket, he put his leader hat under it, but how every hard he tried, no single drop of milk appeared.
  • Эрэк кэлмэ нонап инэӈу орам көсчирин аич. Тимина, бөдэлу энсэн гөникэн эч орардула хөррэ. Тимина хөрэннэллэй хо гору хуклэрин, мялриди хо гору дэбэддын, мэнкэн эӈэе дюлан ириди. Эӈэе эрэв, анӈамта кэлмэв эч аялвалра тарич кэлмэткий гөнни ([6], Эӈэе нян хиланӈа, с. 130): This worker on the first day herdered the reindeers well. The next day, saying «my leg hurts», did not go to the reindeers. The next day he slept very long before his departure, after waking up ate a long time, himself entered the house of the rich man. The rich man did not like his new worker and said to his new worker:

In the German text (1) personal pronouns in third person singular can be found 5 times (er — masculine, sie — feminine). There is one possessive pronoun (seine — masculine). In the Even text (2) neither personal nor possessive pronouns are used. This difference can be explained by the fact that in German each sentence needs to have a separate subject and mostly a personal pronoun is used for that. In Even a sentence can be without separate subject. The actor is then only remembered in the suffix of the verb. For example: the suffix рин in the verb хуклэрин stands for third person singular past tense. As the verb suffix agrees with the subject, a personal pronoun would not provide any additional information.

The Even language also has a different way to express possession. For example бөдэлу in (2) needs to be translated as my leg, the suffix -у stands for first person singular possession. In German in such a case there is no other way to express possession than by a possessive pronoun.

This article therefore discusses the question in which role personal and possessive pronouns are used in Even. Different examples will be used to get a better understanding. Pronouns in Even are only distinguished by person and number. There is no distinction by gender. Therefore there is only one personal pronoun for third person singular.

  • «Тураки, би хин аммус, эньмус-тэ харив. Ноӈартан аил биситэн!» ([8], Тураки, эрикидэ (Нимкан), сс. 198-199) «Crow, I knew your mother and father. They were nice!»

The personal pronoun in first person singular би in example (3) underlines the subjective importance of the speaking person. Without the pronoun би it would still be clear, that the first person singular is speaking, because of the verb suffix
рив. At this point in the fairy tale the crow wants to eat the frog. That’s why the frog makes an effort to get the crow‘s attention to prevent it from eating the frog.

The words аммус, эньмус in this example already mean your father, your mother in the accusative case. Additionally the possessive pronoun in second person singular хин is used to stress the fact that frog is comparing the crow with his father and mother. The use of the third person plural pronoun ноӈартан underlines the role of the parents and the fact that they were nice. The frog tries to put them as an example which should be followed by their child.

  • Дӫр хилри аканур бэил биддытэн. Өмнэкэн акадмар нөткий гөнни: ‒ «Мут эдэвур хилра, өмэм-дэ анӈану би эӈэе орман кэлмэч көсчинэдэку» ([6], Эӈэе нян хиланӈа, с. 129). Two poor brothers lived. Once the older says to the younger: «For us not to suffer, one year I will go as a worker to a rich man to herd his reindeers.»

In example (4) the verb эдэвур is an impersonal adverbial participle plural [9]. The first person plural pronoun мут therefore specifies the person of the subject. The pronouns мут and би at the same time underline the contrast between we and I. The older brother not only wants to work for his sake, but for the sake of his younger brother as well.

  • Ун даран хэтэкэникэн, атикан этикэм бөдэлди хивсэмкэнни. Этикэн тикрэн, эмэптэн. Хину хуклэрив-тэ хөручилрэ. Хи ноӈардитан ӈэлэлэнри. Ноӈартан хинду нэкэргэвур нэкчичэл, дёридюр. Хептукур нугаснидюр, хинду бочилрэ: атикан ‒ ирчэв имсэв, этикэн ‒ умам. Хи таракаммак ноӈартакитан ининэлрис ([7], Эньму тэлэӈрэн). Unexpectedly running close, the grandmother triped the grandfather up. The grandfather fell, stayed behind. You, the sleeping, they woke up. You got frightened by them. They saved presents for you, both. They took it out of their pockets and started to give: grandmother – cooked fat, grandfather You then smiled at them.

The subject in example (5) often changes. The first two sentences are about the grandmother and grandfather. Therefore in the third sentence only the third person plural suffix рэ of the verb хөручилрэ refers to them. For the complement the second person plural pronoun хину provides enough information, because from the context it is clear that this refers to the boy, to which the mother is telling about his early childhood. In the fourth sentence the subject changes to second person singular. It is expressed with the personal pronoun хи, even though the suffix нри of the verb ӈэлэлэнри already indicates person and number. The same can be observed in sentences five and seven, where the subject also changes. From this example it can be assumed that personal pronouns are used for the subject, when it changes. This makes it easier for the reader to understand the course of the story.

In this passage it is clear that the third person plural pronoun ноӈартан speaks about the grandmother and grandfather and the second person singular about the boy. When talking separately about grandmother or grandfather, it is not possible to use a pronoun, because there is only one third person singular pronoun ноӈан which could refer to either of them.

References to participants other than the subject are not contained in the verb. They are therefore usually needed as separate words. In passage (5) personal pronouns are often used as object or complement. They exist in different cases: Хину second person singular accusative case, ноӈардитан third person plural instrumental case, хинду second person singular dative case, ноӈартакитан third person plural directional case.