yflK 81-115, 811.51


The paper outlines the main patterns of negation in the endangered Eastern Khanty dialects of Western Siberia. Eastern Khanty negation is coded primarily by the negator of two types, indicative/declarative gntg and imperative al. In terms of the position of negative marker, Eastern Khanty shows consistent preference of preposing. Concerning the morphosyntacic symmetry of negatives, Eastern Khanty appears predominantly symmetrical, showing no mor-phosyntactic variation between affirmative constructions on one hand, and negative constructions on the other, while main variations in the marking negation concern imperatives and existentials.

Key words: endangered languages of Siberia, areal typology, language documentation.

Khanty, one of the indigenous languages of the Uralic language family, is spoken by fewer than 7 000 indigenous hunter-gatherers and reindeer herders out of more than 28 000 Khanty population in north-western Siberia.

The dialects of interest in this study are the adjacent eastern-most river varieties of Vasyugan, Ale-xandrovo and Vakh totaling fewer than 200 speakers.

Typical Eastern Khanty simple clause has the SOV pattern. The O position varies contingent on pragmatic properties of the referent in proposition [1, 2].


(1a) ma


“I walk”.




(lb) ma ajrit-am tiyl-a qari-mta-s-im

1SG canoe-1SG/SG DET-ILL pull-INTN-PST2-1SG/SG

“I pulled my canoe here”.

The argument in the S/A grammatical relation normally has all the traditional subjecthood properties, such as control over referential relations clause-inter-nally and -externally: control over embedded non-finite clauses; control over zero anaphora across conjoined clauses; control over reflexivization; quantifier movement control. Eastern Khanty is typical head-final with no head-agreement.

In Eastern Khanty, the position in the clause immediately preceding the verbal predicate is typically taken by the referent belonging to the part of the proposition containing pragmatic assertion, focus (very roughly equated to new information). The clause-initial position, in Eastern Khanty clauses, typically shows a referent belonging to pragmatic presupposition, topic referents (shared knowledge).

Eastern Khanty prosody serves a twofold purpose: discursive - to manifest prominent/salient discourse status; and delineating - to outline discourse components. The Khanty phrasal accent is strongly associated with the pragmatic structure of the proposition.

The distribution of pitch accents is in correlation with the pragmatic function of focus, and as such, correlates with the semantics of the whole proposition. The dominant Eastern Khanty intonation contour is low-mid falling [3], with pitch accent falling on clause constituents that are pragmatically prominent, i. e. focal referents.

Eastern Khanty Negation Patterns The Eastern Khanty negative clauses code propositions, whose truth-value is asserted as false, as opposed to the regular indicative declarative clauses.

This discussion leaves outside the immediate focus the issue of nominal morphological negation - Eastern Khanty Abessive case, and concentrates more thoroughly on other negation strategies: analytical and lexical.

Basic Pattern of Eastern Khanty Negation The most common effect of the use of negation in the Eastern Khanty is only for a portion of the negative proposition to fall under the scope of negation, being asserted as false, while the rest remains true, being the part of the proposition containing presupposed information:

(2) man-na afo joyo-ta ants

1SG-LOC again... shoot-INF NEG

usp'et’ wer-s-am,

«be on time» do-PST2-1SG “I didn’t have time to shoot again”.

In (2), the matrix “I was in time” is asserted as

false, while the complement “to shoot” is not affected

by negation being presupposed, which is typologically a fairly common pattern [4].

Formally Eastern Khanty negative clauses are typical declaratives with a negative element immediately preceding the constituent whose existence or truth-value is falsified in the proposition. Negation is coded by the negator anta, a free morpheme typically preposed to the part of the proposition that is negated. Eastern Khanty commonly uses the negation of the verb phrase leaving outside of the negation scope the rest of the clause.

1 The work leading to this publication was made possible in part by the support of the RFFI grant № 11-06-00371 a.

(3) ma awet-a anta 'imt-am

1SG sled-ILL NEG sit-PST0.1SG “I did not SIT in the sled”.

(4) miq jay-i anta 'qol-wayta-wal

1PL 3PL-ELA NEG hear-ATTN-PRS.3SG “We won’t be hearing from them”.

Similarly to (2, 3), in ((4)-(5)), the negator occurs preceding the verbal predicate, expressing the false assertion. The Agent argument and the Locatives appear to be outside of the scope of negation referring to the presuppositional part of the proposition. In (5), the negator appears between the verbal predicate and the spatial adverb “outside” closely associated with the predicate, thus even leaving this spatial/manner preverb outside the immediate scope:

(5) jal-l-aw, kum anta layil-wal

stand-PRS-1PL outside NEG look-PRS.3SG

“We wait, it does not look out”.

Prosody and Information Structure of Negation Evident from the pitch analysis (6, 7), the dominant negative intonation pattern is similar to that of the standard direct declarative, that is low-mid falling.

(6) ST_024-025.

meta noy'os 'lok-pa ant-'im-aki,

some sable track-TOP NEG-PP-PRD 'alla-ki 'lok-pa ant-'im, met'ayi-pa ant-'im-aki old-PRD track-TOP NEG-PP some-TOP NEG-PP-PRD

“There are no sable tracks anywhere, not even an


As a rule, pitch accent falls on the stressed syllables of the pragmatically prominent clause constituents (“sable tracks., old tracks., no tracks.” in (6)) and extends to the negative particle ant- functioning as a negative existence predicate. This pitch accent pattern correlates to the underlying semantics of the proposition, which is a falsification of existence/truth value of a referent or its quality. In this, accent scope appears to coincide fairly well with the negation scope of the utterance. Pragmatically, it is exactly the nonexistence, which associates with the relation of Focus in the proposition ((6) “As for the tracks, there are NO

SABLE TRACKS, NO OLD ONES, NO TRACKS at all”). An evidence of topicality of the nominal constituents whose non-existence (counter to expectation) is the focus of the proposition, is the presence of the topical-emphatic marker -pa.

The negator anta, typically unstressed, is by extension often considerably reduced preceding accented clause constituents. This is particularly obvious in cases where preceding the V-initial clause constituent, anta undergoes strong reduction.

Verb-phrase Negation

The negative assertion pattern is consistent in most examples, where the negative particle occurs immediately preceding the part of the proposition that is asserted as false, thus delineating the scope of negation.

The negation of all modal predicates (desire (7), physical (8) or cognitive ability (9), obligation/necessity (10), allowed event (11), projected event serving as purpose or condition (12)), are coded by the negator preceding the complement-taking modal predicate, or the weak (distant) manipulation verb (11):

(7) ma onaltayal-ta qat-pa man-tati

1SG learn-IMPP house-ALL go-INF

anta 'qoj-l-am

NEG want-PRS-1SG

“I do not WANT to go to school”.

(8) tinta-ta anta 'ali-l-em pay-INF NEG can-PRS-1SG/SG

“I won’t be able to pay for this”.

(9) muyulina wer-ta anta 'onol-l-am

something do-INF NEG know-PRS-1SG

“I CAN not do anything”.

(10) noq tinaq ot-lan man-a

2SG expensive thing-2SG/PL 1SG-ILL

anta 'mas-wal

NEG need-PRS.3SG

“I don’t NEED your expensive things (things are to me not necessary)” (Gulya, 1966).

(11) qalaw ant'im, wajay qan-tfa

fish.net NEG animal search-INF

anta 'sil-wal-t


“NO fishing nets, they don’t LET US track game” (Filchenko, 2005).

(12) joy wal-q-al toq, timint


wer anta wal-yas

business NEG be-PST1.3SG

“If (s)he were alive, such a thing would not have happened” (Gulya, 1966).

Individual Constituent Negation Apart from the verb phrase negation strategy, Eastern Khanty also uses individual constituent negation strategy placing the negative particle immediately preceding the negated adverbial element: con-verbial of manner (13), finite synthetic conditional (14), finite of purpose (15) - negating what is asserted only by the adverbial rather than the whole of the verb phrase.

(13) t'fu lana aj-am kit-am

DET time young-ATTR thing-ATTR

qu-j-t anta qoy nomaysak-min, noy

man-EP-PL NEG long think-CNV arrow

wer-at, man-at toyla, qo

do-PST0.3PL go-PST0.3PL DET-ILL where

wel-at t'fu jay

live-PST0.3PL DET people

“Then not thinking much, young men made arrows and went where those people lived”.

(14) anta man-q-an, woy-na tul-uj-an NEG go-COND-2SG force-COM take-PS.2SG

“If you are not going (to marry), you’ll be taken by force” (Tereskin, 1961).

(15) n’an’ jiyata-s-im, qotf-'ayi

bread check-PST2-1SG/SG burn-PST0.3SG

ili anta qotf-'ayi.

“or” NEG burn-PST0.3SG

'wer-wal, anta

work-PRS.3SG NEG

“I checked the bread, if it burned or not (burned)” (Filchenko, 2008).

In relative clauses, the negator occurs in preposition to each, the verbal predicate of the finite relative clause, and the predicate of the matrix clause, thus negating separately the asserted event of the relative clause, and negative presupposition of the matrix clause, as in (16):

(16) qoji anta

who NEG



“Who does not WORK, does not EAT” (Gulya, 1966).

In finite conditional/conjunctive clauses, the negator is in preposition to the verbal predicate of the finite reason adverbial clause, thus negating only the asserted predicate of the reason adverbial clause, rather than the whole of the proposition of the adverbial clause or the whole of the complex clause, as in (17):

(17) man-na tu-yas-i toq,


joy-an man-a anta ma-yas-i


“I should have brought (it), but (he) did not give (it) to me” (Gulya, 1966).

Eastern Khanty Negation of Existence/State

As mentioned above, the negation of existence (or state) is typically coded by the participle-like form derived from the negator anta. This participial negative existential predicate is often affixed with the predica-tor affix /-aki-/. In this case, the negative existential is acting as a regular nominal predicate, with a predica-tor affix:

(18) man-na tfimlali tfi-nam 1SG-LOC a.little there-ALL

joyo-s-im, tfut-na-pa ant-'im-aki


“I shoot there a little, and there’s nothing”

(Filchenko, 2005).

In cases where the referent whose existence is asserted as false is plural, the negative existential

antim is used with the plural form of the predicator affix /-ata/:

(19) amp-at faray-wal-t, tfu tayi

dog-PL noise-PRS-3PL DET place

morta toyi wer-il poro-min i jay-nam

all away do-3PL step-CNV and 3PL-RFL

ant-'im-ata NEG-PP-PL

“The dogs are noisy, (they) stepped all over that place but they (themselves) are not there”.

However, also similar to some nominal predicates, this negative existential predicate is occasionally used without the predicator affix. Thus (20) contain two reiterations, where the first case of negative existential has the predicator affix, and the second does not:

(20) worw-al-a lay-im-al, pun-al

pants-3SG-ILL look-PP-3SG hair-3SG

ant-'im-aki, pun-al ant-'im


“(He) looked in the pants, the hair IS ALL GONE, the hair is not there” (Filchenko, 2008).

The repeated negative assertion is coded by the negative existential without the predicator affix. This pattern appears to apply across considerable anaphoric distance, i. e. when the reiteration is separated from its antecedent utterance by a sizable discourse. Thus, (21) is a reiteration of a clause (20) uttered 10 clauses earlier in the narrative:

(21) opjat’ noyos lok-pa ant-'im

“again” sable track-TOP NEG-PP

“Still, there is no sable track” (Filchenko, 2005).

The cases of negative existential without predica-tor affix /-aki/ outnumber those with the affix (approx. 60 to 40 %), which may prompt this form as a default coding of negative assertion of state when it is expressed for the first time. The exact implication of having the predicator affix on the negative existential is yet to be detailed, as in the case of adjectives in the predicate function.

(22) man-na krugom jalkamta-s-im:

1SG-LOC “around” circle-PST2-1SG

mata wajay lok ant-'im

some animal track NEG-PP

“I circle around: there is not a single animal track” (Filchenko, 2005).

It should be noted, that there are a number of examples where the negative particle unaffixed with /-aki/ is not a reiteration, but is an independent proposition as in (22) above. There are no attested examples of the cases though, where the affixed negative participle follows the unaffixed one. However, there are rare examples of the reduplicated predicator affix following the negative particle (23):

(23) toyi-j-ay-i juqa-s-am, matali

there-ADV-ELA get-PST2-1SG something

ant-'im-aki-iki, ant-'im wal-qal


“I got there, there is not a thing there, it was not there” (Filchenko, 2005).

In light of the above data, a prediction concerning the distribution of the predicator affix /-aki/ with the negative existential implies a connection to the pragmatic features of the referent(s) whose non-existence is thus predicated. That is, it is most probable that negative assertion of existence will be coded by the negative nominalization uninflected with predicative affix /-aki/ if the referent, whose non-existence is predicated, is high in pragmatic identifiability/activation, that is, more available in the discourse universe. Example (23) is viewed here as the supporting evidence, where the reiterated final predication, the nega-

tive participle antim, is followed by the existential walqal “(s)he was”, resulting in the literal “non-exist-ent it was”, referring to absent “milk” whose non-existence was definitively confirmed by the SAP.

The role of the existential verb “to be” in (25), as well as in (26) below, is to be seen as that of an auxiliary bearing the appropriate TAM inflections (in these cases - one of the past tense markers -qal “PST1”). Thus, the bear negative existence predicate antim appears to be used for either the present or the so-called suffixless past [1, 2] forms, while the range of morphological past tense forms (and presumably aspectual) occur within the [antim + wal-TAM “to be”] model.

(24) telefon ant-'im wal-'qal. telephone NEG-PP be-PST1.3SG

“There WAS NO telephone” (Filchenko, 2008).

In the alternative-type existence questions (25), however, the latter [Neg + wal-TAM “to be”] model often extends to the present-future tense propositions, possibly for the purpose of maintaining the symmetry between the two parts of the alternative/choice question. In these cases, a regular verbal negator anta is used preposed to the existential predicate “to be”:

(25) tom qat-na qoj 'wal-wal,

DET house-LOC IndPrn be-PRS.3SG

qam anta 'wal-wal?

or NEG be-PRS.3SG

“Is there anyone in that house, or not?” (Filchen-ko, 2008).

In this, such existential propositions formally align with standard verb negation ones.

In complex nominal predicates with the nominal (attributive) part and the existential “to be”, similar to

(23) above, the negative particle, according to the general pattern, appears in preposition to the nominal part, thus negating quality asserted by the nominal, rather than the existence of the entity itself. Thus, in (26), it is the quality “thin” that is asserted as false, rather than the existence of the animal itself, with the verbal negator anta thus preceding the attribute “thin” rather than the copula “to be”:

(26) wajay anta 'kantf-im wal-'qal

animal NEG thin-ATTR be-PST3.3SG

“(That) animal was not thin” (Filchenko, 2008).

This pattern of the verbal negator immediately preceding the nominal predicate applies also to the cases of nominal predicates with absent copula or predicator affix:

(27a) anta ' alla, aj al

NEG big one year

“Not a big (one), one year old”.

(27b) 1 arki - 'anta, 'aj-ali (anta 'arki) much NEG one-DIM (NEG many)

“Not many, just one” (“Not many”) (Filchenko, 2008).

In (27b), an apparent Russian contact-induced change in the syntax of negation takes place, with the

negative particle accented and postposed to the negated quantifier. This is later self-repaired in the controlled reiteration (27b in brackets).

In the discussion of the Eastern Khanty negation of existence, it is important to make a note of a rare but attested analytical construction similar to the complex nominal predicate ((26) above). It makes use of the [NomPrd + Aux] model, where the role of the nominal is taken by the negative participle antim inflected with the predicator affix -aki, while the verb jita “become” acts as an auxiliary:

(28) ant-im- ' ayi ji-'yal.

NEG-PP-PRD become-PST1.3SG

“(S)he passed away” (Filchenko, 2008).

Eastern Khanty Proposition Negation

The whole proposition may also fall under the scope of negation, when the whole of the proposition is asserted as false. This is typically the case in refutation-answers or rejection replies to imperative or proposing utterances, as in (30a), (30b):

(29) 'anta, tfi anta 'qaqi wajay,

NEG DET NEG young.brother animal

tama 'qasi tfil-wal

DET man crying-PRS.3SG

“No, this is not a bear, this is a person crying” (Filchenko, 2008).

(30a) inl-a!


“Sit in!”

(30b) 'anta, man-na paskari mas-wal

NEG 1SG-LOC fast need-PRS.3SG

“No, I have to hurry” (Filchenko, 2008).

Eastern Khanty Imperative Negation (Prohibitives)

Eastern Khanty imperatives have the special negative particle al used to code the negative imperative/prohibitive utterances or negative requests:

(31) man-oy qoq-qa-pa al man-a 1SG-PRL far-PRD-ALL NEG go-IMPR.2SG

“Don’t go far away from me!” (Filchenko, 2008).

(32) tfaka sem-en-ka tiyl-a al

very heart-COM-PRD here-ILL NEG


come -IMPR. 2DU

“Don’t you (two) come close so baldly!” (Kalinina, 1970).

The negative particle al here always appears stressed and preposed to the verbal predicate in the imperative mood form. Eastern Khanty imperatives, being the non-declarative strong manipulative speech acts, are associated with the scope of irrealis, as they refer to the states-of-affairs whose event-time will follow the speech-time, i. e. which are projected to occur in the future. The scope of negation in these cases extends over the whole of the proposition, thus eliciting the non occurrence of an action. The existence of the special negation pattern for imperatives is

though rare but a well attested typological pattern [4, c. 317].

Eastern Khanty Lexical negation (negative lexical verbs)

Eastern Khanty also makes limited use of the lexical negation, i. e. uses a lexeme with inherent negative semantics, primarily with the sense of “lack of mental or physical ability”:

(33) nuy-pa porisla-wal, kum luya-ta

up-ALL scramble-PRS.3SG outside get.out-INF



“(S)he scrambles up, (but) cannot get out” (Filchen-ko, 2008).

(34) man-na kurt-im loqo-ta juy

1SG-LOC cannot-1SG read-INF 3SG



“I cannot read his book” (Filchenko, 2008).

Eastern Khanty Negation in Code-switching

Negation in now frequent code switching undergoes common systemic changes, identifiable synchronically elsewhere in the Eastern Khanty. Now almost 100 % bilingual Khanty-Russian speakers, in casual improvised speech, borrow Russian negative particles “ni/ne” substituting the native Khanty “anta”, particularly at nounphrase negation:

(35) a temi ni 'moytak, ni pa'tfi,

«but» DET «NEG» dace «NEG» rudd

ni 'ayarnaq, ni 'sart ant-'im wal-'qal.

«NEG» ide «NEG» pike NEG-PP be-PST1.3SG

“But here, there wasn’t no dace, no rudd, no ide, no PIKE” (Filchenko, 2008).

In this, the grammar of negation undergoes change, obviously following the Russian pattern with double negation of NP and VP individually.


With regard to existing typological generalizations concerning negation, Eastern Khanty negative clauses demonstrate fairly regular features, both for the genetic affiliation and for the contact area. Regarding the type of negative marker [5], Eastern Khanty negation is coded primarily by the negator of two types, indicative/declarative anta and imperative al. There is a class of examples, where the indicative negator anta appears to function as a negative existence predicate, furnished with a participial-type marker -im and frequently with a productive predicator/adverbializer affix -aki.

In terms of the position of negative marker [6], Eastern Khanty shows consistent preference of preposing, in accord with the basic word-order patterns.

Concerning the morphosyntacic symmetry of negatives [7], Eastern Khanty appears predominantly symmetrical, showing no morphosyntactic variation between affirmative constructions on one hand, and

negative constructions on the other, apart from the presence of a respective (indicative vs. imperative) negative particle. Main variations in the marking of Eastern Khanty negation concerns the imperatives and existentials.

Based on the data at hand, Eastern Khanty is fully symmetrical in imperative constructions, apart from having a special imperative negation particle, etymologically different from the sentential negation, which corresponds to Type II negative imperatives by [8].

Eastern Khanty negative existentials show two main strategies: 1) in the present-future and unaffixed past, bear negative existential antim is used; 2) for the non-present tense forms negative existence is coded by the combination of the negative existential antim and the copula wal-ta “to be” acting as an auxiliary and bearing required TAM morphology. In the first strategy (bear negative existential antim), the use of the predicator affix -aki (sometimes reduplicated) apparently hinges on the pragmatic properties of the referents of the concrete proposition. In this, Eastern

Khanty existentials are not clearly definable into generalized Types A, B and C [9], in that: a) the Eastern Khanty negative existential predicate antim is obviously related to the verbal negator anta, though; b) it has special predicate morphology (anta -im (-aki)), and c) may be used for the past tenses as the verbal negator of the ordinary existential predicate (X walqal “there was X” vs. X antim walqal “X there was not”), or even as clearly regular verbal negators in the present tense, where a alternative between existence and non existence is offered (X walwal, qam anta walwal “is there X, or is there not”). The Eastern Khanty negative indefinite is coded by the regular indefinite pronouns combined with the negative existential predicate antim in a variety of negative existential constructions. Finally, Eastern Khanty makes quite limited use of negative lexical verbs, mainly of ability semantics, which aligns it typologically more with the northern Samoyedic languages rather then with areally adjacent southern Samoyedic or closely related Ugric.


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Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. P. 454-457.

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Filchenko A. Y., PhD Linguistics, Associate professor.

Tomsk State Pedagogical University.

Ul. Kievskaya, 60, Tomsk, Russia, 634061.

E-mail: afiltchenko@tspu.edu.ru

Материал поступил в редакцию 25.11.2011.


Рассматриваются основные стратегии выражения отрицания в восточно-хантыйских диалектах в контексте типологических обобщений средств выражения отрицания в языках мира, в генетически родственных языках и в контексте обско-енисейского контактного ареала. Морфосинтаксические и семантические черты восточнохантыйского отрицания рассматриваются в свете таких типологически релевантных параметров, как этимология и положение маркера отрицания, морфосинтаксической симметрии отрицания, аспекты вариативности в морфосинтаксисе отрицания в сравнении с утвердительными индикативами, способы выражения отрицательной бытийности, конструкции с отрицательными (вспомогательными) глаголами.

Ключевые слова: исчезающие языки Сибири, ареальная типология, документация языков, отрицание.

Томский государственный педагогический университет.

Ул. Киевская, 60, Томск, Россия, 634061.

E-mail: afiltchenko@tspu.edu.ru