Chechen And German Languages In Comparative Paradigm (Temporality And Grammatical Aspect)


The article presents the description of the features of the temporal and aspectual system in such unrelated languages as Chechen and German. Some instructional techniques are also being studied in a typological examination of multi-structured languages. The article draws attention to both the historical aspect and the current state of comparative and typological studies of the native and German languages. The Nakh languages and Romance and Germanic languages are differently structured languages. It was the latter circumstance that caused the growing interest of linguists in comparative studies of the native and studied foreign languages. As for the comparative study of the Chechen language and its contrast with other languages, there are very few such works. This state of affairs is apparently explained by the fact that the Chechen language itself requires more detailed consideration. The question of the Chechen form is still debatable. In previous years, many scientists were interested in this issue, and in recent years, much attention has also been paid to this topic. An attempt is made to unify temporal and aspectual terminology in Vainakh language, these systems are interconnected here. Most of the temporal forms in these languages also have aspectual and modal meanings. It is not isomorphic to the sub-system of the Chechen language. The task of the contrastive researchers should be the consideration of all points of view on the temporal-aspectual system of the compared languages. This will help to make additions and clarifications to the appropriate structures of the Chechen language.

Keywords: Tensetemporalitymodes of actiongrammatical aspect


Typological linguistic studies belonging to different structures have a long history. The beginning of the contrasting and typological studies took place in works of scientists of the Prague linguistic school. Linguists noted the promise of a comparative method in the study of closely related languages. The development of comparative studies of not only closely related languages, but also of languages belonging to different structures, had started relatively recently. In our multinational country, entire schools of typological research arose, where such languages as Russian, Kazakh, Buryat, Chechen, Finno-Ugric, and others were studied. Today, contrastive linguistics occupies a special place in language studies, as it allows you to discover important details in the studied languages that could go unnoticed if only one language is explored.

Problem Statement

Contrastive linguistics nowadays is an independent scientific discipline with its own subject of study. It is, in our opinion, the establishment of equivalence, both functional and formal. The comparison of languages will turn out to be the most effective on the basis of the functional-system description, on the basis of the unity of form and content.

Research Questions

The subject of study here are such grammatical categories of matched languages as temporality and aspectuality. Of course, these categories of multi-structured languages do not overlap one another completely either qualitatively or quantitatively. Here we can talk only about some tendencies allowing to make a comparative analysis. A positive point in such studies is, in our opinion, the fact that typological studies allow us to see in the poorly studied native language (in this case Chechen) some phenomena that could go unnoticed during his monolingual research.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of our research is to describe the temporal and aspectual possibilities of the Chechen and German languages in comparison. Only some forms of these languages are subjected to analysis, namely the Chechen and German preterit.

Research Methods

The most suitable method for contrastive studies is the functional-system method, which equally takes into account the facts of the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axis of the studied languages. Speaking about the methodology of comparative study of unrelated languages, it should be noted that, first of all, they should be a comparative-translational method. Of course, we do not refuse from the traditional research methods of analyzing language material, such as “direct observation, logical analysis, semantic interpretation, statistical calculations, transformations, etc. It is known that there are no direct translations from Chechen into German or vice versa; therefore, when describing these languages, we use translations of Russian classical literature into these languages. The Russian language plays a supporting role, that is, it serves as a benchmark in evaluating the deep structures of Chechen and German texts. The analysis of linguistic material is carried out in the direction of “Chechen language → German”, that is, the source language of comparison (SLC) is Chechen, and German acts as the second language of comparison (SecLC).


A review of the literature on the comparative study of Chechen and German languages shows that similar studies have begun relatively recently. Some works can be called here, one way or another connected with the contrastive study of the Chechen and German languages. This is Desherieva (1979), Dagirov (2005), Umadkereeva (1993). It should be noted that typological studies of the Chechen language are successfully carried out by such well-known domestic and foreign scientists as Khalidov (2003), Nichols (2001) and others. In recent years, the dissertations of such young researchers as MA-X have been defended on this topic (Arsakhanova, 2011; Molochieva, 2010). Apparently, typological researches in the Chechen Republic will be given even more attention due to the growing interest in a more detailed study of their native Chechen language. In this article we dwell on the type of the temporal system of the Chechen language in comparison with the German language and give examples of the functioning of the Chechen and German preterit in fiction texts.

In our previous works, we have already noted that the authors of Vainakh grammars consider categories such as temporality, aspectuality and appearance in different ways. For example, there is no unity both in the name of these forms, and in their quantity. The question of the Chechen form, for example, is still debatable. This issue was somehow dealt with by many scholars of previous years. In recent years, works of such scientists as Desherieva (1979), Khalidov (2003) and others. In the work of Desherieva (1979) attempted to unify temporal and aspectual terminology in Vainakh linguistics. These two systems in Vainakh languages are rather closely interconnected. Most temporal forms in these languages, in addition to temporal meanings, also have aspectual and modal meanings. As for the temporal-aspectual subsystem in the German language, it is not isomorphic to the sub-system of the Chechen language. These sub-systems do not overlap one another either quantitatively or in terms of function. It is clear that in this case the task of the researchers is to take into account all the points of view on the temporal-aspectual system of compared languages in order to make the appropriate additions and clarifications.

The contradictions in the categories of temporality and aspectuality in the Vainakh languages are quite explicable, since this issue is still a subject of discussion even in those languages that have a long history of their scientific research. For example, the question of grammatical aspects in the Chechen language has not yet found its generally accepted solution. Desherieva (1979) offers in her monograph one of the options for approaching this issue, although she admits that the problem of the category of the aspects here is still far from being fully resolved. Under aspectuality, she proposes to understand " all means of expression in the language the “characters” and the “modes of action” and the relationship between them " (Desherieva, 1979). Given the characteristics of a large set of "characters" and "modes of action", it, based on mathematical formulas, selects the category of the verb aspect with its main components "perfect" and "imperfect" in Vainakh languages and isolates "single-aspect" and "two-aspect" verbs of "perfect and imperfect". As an example, some "single-aspect" verbs are listed, such as кхиа - to grow, кхера - to be afraid (imperfect form) and тила - to get lost, тола - to win, датта - to bake (perfect form). It is difficult to agree with these conclusions of the author, since the Chechen verbs in a particular context can behave differently. This Chechen verbs can be interpreted as “grow”, “get scared”, “wander”, “win” and “bake”, even at the level of the infinitive. In addition, in the Chechen language, it isolates suppletive, “purely specific” pairs: вуожа – эга (fall — fall), ала – дийца (say — tell), тоха – етта (hit — beat), etc. However, the sentence in terms of aspect, these pairs of verbs can indicate both the attainment of an action limit and a long-term action that is in the process of its implementation.

Some scholars do not find reason to distinguish the category of the aspects as a grammatical category in the Chechen language, and the ablaut variations listed above in the verb bases refer to the properties of the Chechen verb to denote "single" and "multiple" objects. For example, in one of his works Khalidov (1988) writes:

Meanings equivalent to the specific meanings of the Slavic verb are not strange to the Chechen verb, but they have no special specific formant. S.M. Movtaiev and others suggest that internal flexions act as such formants, but their function is actually to implement multiple meanings, by the way, not only multiples. The meaning of perfection can be transmitted to both “single” and “multiple” verbs, just as the meaning of imperfection can be transmitted in both verbs. (p. 52)

In our opinion, the Chechen verb receives specific meanings at the level of a sentence in one form or another. Khalidov (1988) writes about the same in one of his works: “Forms of expression of specific meanings in the Chechen language are: 1) for perfect form these are present and past imperfect tense in conjugated verbs and internal inflections in Infinitiv, Imperativ and masdar; 2) for imperfect form these are all other tense forms, for verbs in Infinitiv, Imperativ and masdar there are internal inflections opposed to inflections of perfect form. Thus, we are forced to recognize the category of the aspect in the Chechen language and the grammatical and explicit categories combining the correlative meanings of perfection (perfection of action), receiving indirect expression in temporary forms.

As we can see, the brief analysis once more time speaks in favor of the fact that the Chechen language needs more in-depth scientific research in many areas, including aspectuality.

German language belongs to non-aspect languages, aspectuality is deprived of its morphological expression and refers to the number of functional-semantic fields that do not have their own grammatical core. Here, this category also did not reach the degree of grammaticalization, such as, for example, the category of time, pledge or mood. This circumstance brings together both languages of comparison.

When describing the aspectual possibilities of the German language, the researchers stop at three main points:

1. Classification of verbs in the form of an infinitive.

2. Syntagmatic connections affecting aspectual features.

3. Expression of aspectual meanings in temporary forms.

Perfect forms of the German language are often contrasted with imperfect forms and in terms of aspectuality as well. It appears due to the fact that perfect forms often manifest their duality: if this form is expressed by a limiting verb, then most likely we will deal with the meaning of limiting. Conversely, if this form is expressed by a unsaturated verb, then we can expect the meanings of the non-reaching limit of action. However, the meaning of reaching the limit of action can also express the shape of the imperfect in a particular context. Many researchers have noticed the "duplicity" of the German perfect, which is connected with the fact that it can be used both in its absolute and relative meaning. If the perfect has a meaning of contact with the moment of speech, then this form will assume completeness and achievement of the limit of action. Examples of this are the following: Die Arbeiter haben das schöne Haus gebaut, wo wir jetzt wohnen .

As the researchers note, the German forms of the perfect and the imperfect, exhibiting paradigmatic synonymy, can be used to refer to ordinary, repetitive aspects. However, the perfect in terms of the future expresses a complete future, which brings it closer to a Russian perfect form: Wenn du diese Arbeit gemacht hast, rufe mich bitte an.

Summarizing all the above, we can say that the German forms of time cannot qualify as aspect forms. For the expression of aspectual meanings in German, the main thing is the division of verbs into limiting and non-limiting verbs. Balin (1985) in his works lists the conditions under which we can talk about ways of expressing meanings equivalent to aspects:

1. The ability of the German verb to be classified as limiting or unsaturated verbs.

2. The ability or inability of individual grammatical forms to make the actions conveyed by them unambiguous with regard to the nature of the course of the action.

3. Circumstance words that can give an action either the meaning of the reached limit, or the meaning of duration and repeatability.

4. Supplement in the singular, which can eliminate the idea of repetitive actions.

5. The semantics of certain types of subordinate clauses that affect the nature of the course of action.

6. Certain patterns of interaction in the connected speech of all the above points: parallelism (synchrony) or sequence of actions.

All these points are united under the general name "figures of the aspectological context."

Interesting is the idea of grouping languages according to their ability to express, using temporal forms, the meanings proposed by Muryasov (2001). He identifies five groups of languages according to their ability to express aspect in one way or another. Among them is a group of languages, in which temporal forms exhibit a strong tendency to express one or another specific meaning:

a) duration or multiplicity of action: imperfect in German and in French;

b) completeness of action: futurum II, perfect, pluperfect in German, perfect past tense forms in English and French”.

Apparently, in aspectual and temporal terms, we may well attribute the Chechen language to the last group of languages.

Summarizing it, let us give some examples from translated texts of fiction in Chechen and German. As the factual material collected by us shows, in texts of fiction, the functional-semantic equivalent of the Chechen form of “past perfect” time, which, by analogy with the German language, could be called a test, all three forms of the past time of the German language can become. However, the most frequent functional equivalent here is the German preterit. The main temporal meaning of this Chechen form is the designation of actions that took place before the moment of speech. This seme of the Chechen form completely coincides with the seme of the German preterite. It is generally recognized that in many languages the main verb forms of the narration are pre-peritial temporal forms. An analysis of a sample of facts confirms that the Chechen form, as well as the German preterit, is a form of absolute past tense, which is used in a coherent narrative that has no contact with the present. Consider the following examples:

1. Тхойшинне сихха вовшийн вовза а вевзира, со доттагIалла лелалуш воцу дела, тIе-каре а тасаелира....

2. Wir verstanden uns bald und wurden gute Kameraden, denn ich eigne mich nicht für die Freundschaft.

3. Иза сецира: цунна гобира, схьахетарехь, цо шаьшна тIедилларца, царех къаста а къаьстина, виъ стаг дукха чехконца хаьхкина гIопана улло схьавеара.

Er machte halt : Seine Leute umringten ihn, und – offensichtlich auf seinem Befehl – trennten sich vier Mann vom Haufen und sprengten dicht an die Festung heran .

From the above examples it is clear that the narrative praitite in both languages serves to describe the events of the past and is the usual form of narration.

The study and identification of various meanings of the category of time is the most fruitful if, in parallel with it, categories related to it are also considered, such as aspectuality.

4. Тхо бердан йисте хьала тIе девлча, массара а чаболахь дIахийцира говраш.

Als wir das Ufer erreichten, setzten sich alle in Trab.

5. Луьйш адамаш а, ворданан тата а хезначу беречо юха а говр сацийра.

Vor sich hörte der Ritter Stimmen und das Knirschen von Schlittenhufen und hielt abermals an (Neuland., 5)

In example 3, the Chechen form of the past "perfect" чаболахь дIахийцира corresponds to the German preterit setzten sich in Trab . In the Chechen version of the sentence, the verb form itself already represents the action as a complete, single act. The German proposal in aspectual terms also shows the identity of this form of the Chechen verb, since the aspectual semantics of tense with the als can be considered as an element of the aspectual context figure “contingency of actions in sequence” working on the scope of reaching the limit of action.

The highlighted verb actions in both languages in Example 4 are also identical in both temporal and aspectual terms. Chechen сацийра denotes an action that took place in the past and has reached its limit. In the German version of this sentence, the limit verb anhalten is used, and all limit verbs tend to express the meaning of reaching the limit of action. In addition, in this sentence abermals circumstance is used, which can be characterized as a definitely-quantitative circumstance, which is an explicator of the meaning of reaching the limit of the verb form hielt an .


  • The problem of distinguishing grammatical categories in the language, such as aspect and tense is still relevant for Russian and other Slavic languages. An established opinion is the opposition of two correlations: the perfect and the imperfect aspects.

  • The aspect and tense characteristics of the verbal action are two sides of the same phenomenon and are closely interconnected both at the speech and at the language level.

  • In relation to the Chechen language, it is possible to speak of a tendency towards the formation of a temporal category in this language, and it can be seen in some Germanic languages.

  • Appearance as a purely grammatical category in the Chechen language has not yet fully formed. However, the meanings equivalent to the aspect meanings of the Russian verb are not strange in the Chechen verb.

  • German language belongs to non-aspect languages, where this category, as well as in the Chechen language, has not reached the degree of grammaticalization that is inherent in other categories in these languages. This circumstance brings together both languages of comparison.

  • In the formation of the meanings of reaching or not reaching the limit of action in the German language figures of the aspectological context are involved, first of all, as well as elements of morphology and syntax.

  • The Chechen and German languages show significant similarities when it comes to their ability to express aspect meanings with the help of certain tense forms.


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21 January 2020

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Dagirov*, M., Arsakhanova, M., Umadkereeva, I., & Abdukadyrova, T. (2020). Chechen And German Languages In Comparative Paradigm (Temporality And Grammatical Aspect). 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. 615-621). Future Academy.