Doctoral defence: Triin Todesk “Ogdžyk töd ‘I do not know that well’: džyk as a degree expression with verbs in Komi”

On 9 December at 14:00 Triin Todesk will defend her doctoral thesis Ogdžyk töd ‘I do not know that well’: džyk as a degree expression with verbs in Komi” .

Professor Gerson Klumpp, University of Tartu

Professor Rogier Blokland, Uppsala University (Sweden)

In the majority of Uralic languages, the comparative degree of adjectives and adverbs if formed with the help of a comparative suffix. In Estonian, this suffix comes in the form of -m, e.g. kiire ’fast’ > kiirem ’faster’, while in Komi, the comparative suffix is -džyk, e.g. ödjö ’fast’ > ödjödžyk ’faster’. If in Estonian, the comparative suffix is restricted to adjectives and adverbs, then in Komi, -džyk may also attach to nouns, pronouns, and verbs. In such instances, džyk does not only express comparison, but also strengthens or intensifies the meaning expressed by the modified verb. For example with tödny ‘to know’, džyk strengthens the quality of knowing (tödnydžyk ‘to know better’). The aim of this dissertation was to establish the meanings or reading types that džyk may have, when modifying verb phrases, and also to find out, which kinds of verbs and verb phrases may combine with džyk and which may not. For this purpose, qualitative methods are applied in analysing the morphosyntactic and semantic composition of almost 1100 examples from literature and media containing verb phrases modified by džyk. The second part of the thesis consists of an assessment test carried out among speakers of Komi which aimed to assess the acceptability of džyk. The analysis of the example sentences shows that džyk is first and foremost an intensifier that refers to the high degree of the activity or state (e.g. radejtnydžyk ’to love more’), or the high extent of some achieved result (e.g. smelmynydžyk ’become more brave’). In addition to that, džyk may also refer to the manner of the situation, be it either quality-wise (e.g. kyvtydžyk ‘to swim better’) or tempo-wise (e.g. sjurnydžyk ‘to find faster’). With negated verb phrases, džyk may refer to moderation, which expresses the fact that some situation has not succeeded as intended, or that the ongoing state is not as desired (e.g. èzdžyk skodit ‘does not quite suit’). Besides intensity and moderation, džyk can also quantify verb phrases and express higher frequency or quantity of the activity (e.g. vetlynydžyk ‘go more/more often’). The second important result for this dissertation was that džyk behaves very similarly to other degree expressions that modify verb phrases, i.e. adverbials like more, a lot, etc. According to this finding, džyk combines with change-of-state verbs (raz's'ynydžyk ‘loosen up more’), experiencer verbs (dozmöčynydžyk ‘to annoy more’), gradable actions udžavnydžyk ‘to work more’), but also with verbs of perception and cognition (tödčynydžyk ‘notice more’). The results of the assessment test showed that for Komi speakers, džyk is most natural with a simple negated verb that appears in a context that allows for multiple interpretations to džyk’s meaning.

The defence can be also followed in Zoom: (Meeting ID: 992 0000 8062; Password: 329308).


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