Dynamics Of The Future In Avar Language


The paper studies finite verb forms of one of the Dagestan languages – Avar, through a uniform form expressing the semantics of the present simple and future simple tenses. The exact quantity of these verbs is identified and relations of these verbal lexemes with their structural organization is described. The forms habitualis and futurum coincide only in terms of verbs with vowel auslaut (phonosyllabic structures [CV] and [CVCV]). There are only 17 units of verbs with structure [CV] in Avar language (10 with vowels in auslaut and 7 with vowels in auslaut). There are only 20 units of verbs with structure [CVCV]: 9 verbs with vowels in auslaut (structure [СОСО]) and 11 verbs with vowels in auslaut (structure [САСА]). Regarding the categorial formants of present and future simple tenses the verbs of other structural types also have similarities and differences from aorist formants. Based on the analysis of material similarity of synthetic finite forms of a verb in Avar language representing semantics of present and future tenses the paper considers the dynamics of the futurum form formation. The origin of the futurum form on the basis of habitaulis form is proved through the combination of methods of internal and external reconstruction. Synthetic forms of present and future simple tenses of a verb in Avar language have material similarity, semantic unity. The meanings realized by these forms have some common features since the form of the present simple tense naturally covers a certain period of the future.

Keywords: Avar languagetemporal oppositionfuture


The differentiated system of tense forms of a verb consisting of three spheres (past, present and future) functioning in modern languages represents the result of historical development of initial binary opposition: past ~ non-past. In classic German languages (Old High German, Old English) the binary opposition past ~ non-past resulted from reinterpretation of aspectual correlation presented in Indo-European parent language.

In the course of formation of the tense category based on ancient aspectual correlations the deletion of old aspectual differences is observed. In Slavic language there are new aspectual relations based not on the correlation of duration ~ compression, effectiveness ~ ineffectiveness as in Indo-European parent language, but on the opposition of perfective and imperfective aspect. Along with the formation of new aspectual relations, there is the process of formation of a system of tense forms. In different languages various categorial forms of temporal opposition develop gradually, unequally and not simultaneously. In temporal systems of all languages the forms of futurum are considered as the latest link. The existence of written sources allows tracking the entire process of grammaticalization of various analytical combinations of modal verbs with an infinitive and reconsidering the modal semantics into temporal or even futural. The situation is different with Dagestan languages, which do not have ancient written sources and hence, it seems impossible to track the formation of a temporal system.

Problem Statement

In the structural organization of simple tense forms of a verb in Avar language the obvious similarity of forms of habitualis (present simple tense) and futurum (future simple tense) and their difference from aorist form (past perfect tense) is observed. A task of this paper is to provide system description of similar features in structural organization and in semantic potential of forms of futurum and habitualis in Avar language.

Based on structural-semantic and functional analysis of synthetic finite forms of a verb with materials of Avar dialects, especially relic Antsukh and Zakatal dialects and material of related languages it is necessary to prove the development of a futurum form on the basis of a habitualis.

Research Questions

The dynamics belongs to permanent properties of a language. Based on the material of one of the Dagestan languages – Avar – the paper studies the dynamics of formation of future simple tense of a futurum on the basis of a habitualis form.

Besides it studies the issue of synonymy of futurum and habitualis as means of representation of semantics of the future in Avar language.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this paper is to study the process of development and formation of a futurum form in Avar language based on the material of relic dialects of Avar language and closely related Andi languages.

Research Methods

The main method of the study is multidimensional complex analysis. The study also covered the inductive method allowing shifting from detailed observations over language facts to their systematization and generalization and the method of structural-semantic analysis to study semantics, structural organization and functioning of finite forms of a verb. Descriptive-analytical and historical-comparative methods were applied to describe and analyze language means of expression of temporal semantics. The results of synchronic analysis of finite forms were exposed to diachronic interpretation using methods of internal and external reconstruction. Internal reconstruction is based on data of Avar dialects, external reconstruction – on material of closely related Andi languages.


The linguistic literature repeatedly refers to the assumption on initial absence of verbal tense forms in classic Indo-European languages and their subsequent appearance on the basis of aspectual distinctions (Espersen, 1958; Paducheva, 2001; Nübling, 2008). The action was traditionally represented as complete and incomplete. The first was reconsidered into the past tense, and the second – into the present. Thus, initially the system of tenses represented the correlation past ~ present. Then in the course of historical development of languages the future tense was developed on the basis of the present (MacCarty, 2002).

Regarding the verbal systems of Avar-Andi languages there is evidence confirming the same way of development of tenses in their grammatical system. The finite form of synthetic formation expressing semantics of the future tense is still not present in some languages of the Andi subgroup. Thus, for example, the special finite form of the future tense is not present in the Tindi language. To express the temporal semantics of action, which will happen after the speech moment the Tindi language uses the form of the present simple tense (habitualis), which combines the meaning of the future indefinite tense (Gudava, 1967), for example: бах-ā “takes” and “will take”, волI-ā “goes” and “will go”, рих-āн “takes offence” and “will take offence”, бас-āн “tells” and “will tell”.

In Akhvakh language the future and the present are formally different only in the speech of the northern dialect. In all speeches of the southern dialect of Akhvakh language the semantics of the future tense is expressed by the form of the present simple tense (habitualis). Neither of three speeches of southern Akhvakh dialect has special forms of the future tense (Magomedbekova, 1967).

But some verbs of the northern dialect of Akhvakh language are characterized by formal coincidence of the present and future tenses. In such cases to specify temporal semantics the scholars resort to lexical specifiers – adverbs of time. For example, the sentence Деде хъвариде кагьа can mean both “I write a letter” and “I will write a letter”, and the sentence Деде къиниде к1ази can mean both “I embroider a scarf” and “I will embroider a scarf”. Not the verbal form, but the context defines temporal characteristic of the action: Деде даинда хъвариде кагьа “I always write a letter”; Деде хада хъвариде кагьа “I will write a letter tomorrow”, Деде зама-замалълъиге къиниде к1ази “I sometimes embroider a scarf”, Деде хада къиниде к1ази “I will embroider a scarf tomorrow”.

The same refers to the dialects of Avar language. Optional use of forms of the present and future tenses is typical for some dialects of the southern adverb of Avar language to characterize the future action or event.

In dialects of Antsukh dialect – one of relic dialects of Avar language – the semantics of the future and the present simple tense is not formally differentiated at the level of finite forms of a verb. Here the same form of a verb is applied both to express the future action and to express the habitualis, for example: гьубуна “will do” and “does”, щвана “will come” and “comes”, хьона “plows” and “will plow”. Thus, in Tlyanadin speech of Antsukh dialect of Avar language Isaev (1975) establishes only 1 verb, which forms of the present simple and future tenses do not coincide. It is the verb энзи “to go”, which form for the present tense is ъване “goes” and for the future tense – уна “will go”. All other verbal vocabulary of Tlyanadin speech expresses the same semantics of the present and future tenses.

In another relic dialect of Avar language – Zakatal – the semantics of the present and future tenses is also expressed by the same finite form of a verb.

In Avar literary language some verbs express the same semantics of habitualis and futurum. These are the verbs of the 1st conjugation with the stem on vowel auslaut. Non-derivative, unclassed verbs of Avar literary language the root coincides with the stem and is presented by the following phonosyllabic structures: [C], [CV], [CVC], [CVCC], [VCC], [CVCV]. Of them only two structures have vowels in auslaut: [CV] and [CVCV].

The structural type [CV] has vowels -а- and -у- in auslaut. Verbal stems of the structure [CV] with vowel -а- in auslaut are presented by lexemes in the number of 10 units, namely: ба-зе “to scatter”, хьа-зе “to sow”, “to disperse”, хIа-зе “to play”, щва-зе “to pour”, хъва-зе “to touch”, “to write”, къа - зе “to close”, чIва-зе “to kill”, лъа-зе “to know”, кІкІва-зе “to rumple”, “to shave”, цIцIа-зе “to pull”, “to weigh”.

Verbal stems of the structure [CV] with vowel -у- in auslaut are presented by lexemes in the number of 7 units, namely: пу-зе “to blow”, ту-зе “to spit”, ччу-зе “to dip”, хху-зе “to drink”, ссу-зе “to cut”, цІцІу-зе “to filter”, цу-зе “to push”.

The structural type [CVCV] is presented by nine verbs with stem -о- : гьоро-зе “to swell”, кьоло-зе “to saddle up”, понцІо-зе “to blow”, собо-зе “to grow dumb”, соро-зе “to shiver”, толо-зе “to bare”, хохо-зе “to spoil”, хьордо-зе “to pick”, цIцIоро-зе “to cool down” and 11 verbs with stem -а- : къачIа-зе “to dress up”, “to repair”, гьакІкІá-зе “to open” (a mouth, a wound), жужа-зе “to smear”, квана-зе “to eat”, квача-зе “to be cooled”, “to freeze”, “to feel chilly”, “to catch a cold”, ккала-зе “to grow mouldy”, “to become covered with mold”; куца-зе “to educate”, “to domesticate”; кІалъа-зе “to speak”, “to talk”, лъалъа-зе “to irrigate”, “to water”, лъулъа-зе “to rub”, “to pound”, “to wipe”.

The forms of the present and simple future tenses coincide for all these verbs, for example: хъвала “writes” and “will write”, чIвала “kills” and “will kill”, t ц1ц1орола “freezes” and “will freeze”, пула “blows” and “will blow”. Thus, the sentence дица нежер ах лъалъала has two meanings: 1) “I water our garden”, 2) “I will water our garden (I will water)”. The context (or consituation) allows differentiating these two meanings. The most widespread language means to specify the temporal meaning of such verbal lexemes are adverbs of time, which perform the function of lexical specifiers of verbal tense. For example: Дица кидаго нежер ах лъалъала “I always water our garden”. Дица зама-заманалдаса нежер ах лъалъала “I water our garden from time to time”. Дица метер нежер ах лъалъала “I will water our garden tomorrow”. Дица, рес ккарабго, нежер ах лъалъала “As soon as I have an opportunity I will water our garden”.

The Avar language has several forms to define action, which will happen in the future after the moment of speech: one synthetic form with categorial formants - ина, -ила, -ела, -ла and several forms of analytical formation (Mallaeva, 2007). All forms of the future tense express temporal semantics conjugate to modal. The future inherently cannot be modeless since it exists only in the consciousness of a subject, and hence, bears the imprint of his subjective perception and judgment of reality (Bybee, Perkins, & Pagliuca 1994; Selivanova, 2001). The least modal of all forms of a futurum is synthetic form. In analytical forms of a futurum the process of grammaticalization is not complete, and the semantics of modality is clearly presented in auxiliary verbs – components of the analytical form of the future tense, including modal (Dahl, 2000; Maysak, 2005).

From our point of view, the verb of Avar language passed the same steps of development of a temporal system as the Indo-European languages (Okamura, 1996; Tatevosov, 2004). The structure of a verbal lexeme allows confirming the assumption of initial distinction of the past tense presented by a formant- and non-past tense presented by a formant -л- . Then, the present tense – formant -ул - and the future tense – formant -ил- were developed the sphere of “non-past”. As we see, the formants of the present and future tenses differ only by vowel elements: -у- represents the present; - и- – the future tense. It is possible to assume that the following thematic vowels were originally presented: -а- connecting the root consonant with the formant of the past tense, -у- connecting the root consonant with the formant of “non-past” tense, which semantics coincided with the present. Since the semantics of the future tense separates from the present tense, it is a new growth and requires thematic vowel -и-, which was already presented in the structure of an infinitive to connect the root consonant with the formant of infinitive - зе , -не , for example: бос-и-зе “to take”. This was obviously caused by semantic similarity of an infinitive and the future tense. As we know the infinitive in Avar language has clearly expressed target ( босизе “to take”), and the form of the future tense also contains somehow expressed semantics of the purpose, intention. The hypothetical character of the future action constitutes external modality of a synthetic futurum (Grenoble, 1989). The futurum also has internal (epistemic) modality realized depending on the type of futural semantic function (Haspelmath, 1995; Cutting, 2001).

The similarity of forms of the present and future tenses regarding verbs with the vowel stem is explained by the lack of thematic vowel in the structure of these verbs. Therefore, the only differentiating feature of the present and future tenses is the thematic vowel serving as a structural element of temporal suffixes: - ил-, -ин - (future tense), - ул-, -ун - (present tense).


The analysis showed that the form of synthetic futurum is rather new in the grammatical system of Avar language. This is confirmed by the need for contextual support for realization of semantics of the future and material community with the form of the present simple tense.


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28 December 2019

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Aligadzhieva, A., Magomedova, D., Kadachieva, K., & Mallaeva*, Z. (2019). Dynamics Of The Future In Avar Language. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2098-2103). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.12.04.281