Word formation in nouns and verbs.
Chuvash is a synthetic or agglutinative language, which means that rather long words may be built up out of basic root morphemes plus more morphemes of tense, mood, possibility, and of many other meanings. Chuvash is more flexible than a language like German at times. One of the chief differences between it and similar formation in English is that Chuvash usually uses only one morpheme, where several may be required in English. For instance, in the English words baker, motorist, electrician there are three distinct suffixes, each with the essential meaning of “the man who does it.“ In Chuvash, the single suffix -şă/-şĕ serves for this purpose. In addition to specific suffixes for forming nouns and verbs in Chuvash, there are also compound nouns of the following sort:
al hand + şyrăvĕ its writing alşyrăvĕ manuscript (itself of similar formation)
(< şyru - to write)
pilĕk five + şullah pilĕkşullah five-year plan
(< şul year)
şul road + şüren şulşüren traveller
(< şüre - to go, travel)
şur half + utrav island şurutrav peninsula
The student with experience in other languages will quickly recognize many loan-translations and formations similar to already known ones, and the new student will also be able to analyze the parts to determine the constituents.
Some of the suffixes most frequently used to form nouns from other stems will be given next, but we must restrict ourselves to the most important ones with but a few examples, to which the student may add his own.
A. The suffix -şă/-şĕ denotes the occupation of the person, or the person logically associated with some object and its function.
pulă fish pulăşă fisherman
timĕr iron timĕrşĕ smith
kĕtü herd kĕtüşĕ herdsman
jură song jurăşă singer
jĕrke order, System jĕrkeşĕ director
B. An extremely important suffix of wide application is the one in -lăh/-lĕh. Its most important usage is to denote a concept derived from the main word, like English -ness, -ship and some other endings. It also denotes the purpose of an object, and the locality where that thing is naturally found or located.
juman oak jumanlăh oakgrove
hăjăr sand hăjărlăh sandbank
şĕlen snake şĕlenlĕh snakepit
kuş eye kuşlăh glasses
săhman caftan săhmanăh material for a caftan
şăvar mouth şăvarăh bit (in a horse‘s mouth)
tus friend tuslăh friendship
tasa clean tasalăh cleanliness
jultash comrade jultashlăh comradeship
vată old vatălăh age
syvă well, healthy syvlăh health
pujan rich pujanlăh wealth
pur there is purlăh property
şuk there is not şuklăh lack, insufficiency
etem man etemlĕh mankind, humanity
patsha king patshalăh kingdom
C. A somewhat similar suffix, -shă/-shĕ denotes the concept of the quality or attribute involved, e.g.
tarăn deep tăranăshă depth
şülĕ high şülĕshĕ height
sarlaka wide sarlakăshă width
jyvăr heavy jyvărăshă weight
In reality, this suffix is none other than the possessive morpheme met with in some terms of relationship, but the Chuvash grammarians consider it to belong here.
D. The suffix -u/-ü (after consonants) or -v (after vowels) is a very useful one to form nouns of action from verb stems.
şyr- to write şyru letter
pĕl- to know pĕlü fact, knowledge
vĕren- to study vĕrenü studies
sujla- to choose sujlav elections
puple- to speak puplev speech
kul- to laugh kulu laughter
puh- to gather puhu collection
In addition to these, there are quite a few other suffixes forming nouns from nouns or verbs, but it will be just as practical for the student to learn these through texts, as not all of them are equally productive. Some of the are: -an/-en, -ăk/-ĕk, -ăm/-ĕm, -ăş/-ĕş, -chăk/-chĕk, -kă/-kĕ, -kăch/-kĕch, -măsh/-mĕsh, -shka/-shke, -ske, and -uk/-ük.
In the realm of the verb, it is also possible to form quite a few variations on the basic idea inherent in that verb, and this not by employing any separate words, but by adding certain morphemes of fixed meaning to that stern. For instance, there is no separate verb “can“ in Chuvash. This idea, however, can easily be expressed with every Chuvash verb by infixing the morpheme -aj/-ej. This is called the potential infix.
kil- to come
kllej- to be able to come
kllejmest he cannot come
tupajman they could not find (him)
ĕlkĕrejmesen when you are not able to get to me
tupajăn-i will you be able to find (them)?
pyrajmastăp I cannot go
tupajmarămăr we were unable to find him
ănlanajmastăr-i-ha are ye not able to understand? (Mark 4,13)
Another extremely important morpheme, which, like the preceding, maybe infixed with every Chuvash verb, is the causative, which denotes actions brought about by someone at the command or behest of another. It uses the morphemes -tar/-ter, and -ttar/-tter, and -t. Be careful not to confuse this morpheme with the ending of the 3rd p. sg. imperative ..tăr/-tĕr, as in:
pultăr let there be
vakantăr let it be chopped to pieces
jultăr let it remain
Some examples of the causative are these.
tutarsa kil- go and have made
şuntarsa causing to be burned, branding
kür-t-se bringing in, causing to be brought in
pytantar- to cause to secrete, to hide (trans.)
şitersen when you feed me (cause to eat)
şyrtar- to have write, to make write
vulattar- to make read, to have someone read
ĕşletter- to make work, to cause to work
vĕrent- to cause to study, to make to learn
The reflexive and passive formations in Chuvash are those in which the action is reflected back on the subject itself, or when subject and object of the action coincide in one person. Its morphemes are -ăn/-ĕn, -n, and -ăl/-ĕl, as in the following examples
şăvan- to wash oneself
kasăl- to cut oneself up (of a tree in a folktale)
vitĕn- to cover oneself
sarăl- to enlarge
sirĕl- to shun, avoid
şilen- to grow angry, anger oneself
uşăl- to open itself (as of a door)
Such a passive verb does not require an agent to be expressed.
Another important verbal formation in Chuvash is the reciprocal voice, which denotes actions taking place in a reciprocal manner between several subjects or objects. It has the suffixes -ăsh/-ĕsh, -sh‚ or ăş/-ĕş, -ş.
pulăsh- to help one another, be of assistance to each other
pallash- to become acquainted with each another
kalash- to discuss together with someone else (something)
kăshkărash- to cry, shout (of several persons)
Verbs may also be formed from nominal stems, hence‚ they are called denominal verbs. The suffixes used for this are: -la/-le, -al/-el/-ăl, -ar/-er and -n.
puş head puşla- to begin
şuta light şutăl- to dawn
jün cheap jünel- to cheapen
hura black hural- to blacken
jeshĕl green jesher- to become green
ăsh warmth ăshăn- to heat
kăvak blue kăvakar- to become blue
Verbs formed with these suffixes may also have forms in the other voices, as reflexive-passive, reciprocal and causative, yielding the suffixes: -lăn/-len, -lash/-lesh, and -lat/-let.
tumlan- to undress oneself
sudlash- to judge one another
pĕrlesh- to join with one another, unite
părlat- to freeze (trans.)
Chuvash also has some onomatopoetic verbs, formed with the suffixes -tat-/-tet- and -lat-/-let-, viz.,
shătărtat- to crackle
chĕriklet- to chirp
mărlat- to purr
The iterative suffix denoting repeated or strengthened action in Chuvash is -kala-/-kele-.
şyrkala- to write a bit, write a few lines
şürkele- to go for a little walk
ĕşlekelenĕ He worked as opportunity presented itself.
kăshkărashkala- to cry or shout repeatedly (of several persons)
shăhărkala- to whittle