Øynduyska – IX (progressives)

The continuing adventures of Øynduyska!


The Bare Progressive and the Conjunctive Progressive

Like the preterite, the aorist is limited in its use; instead, descriptions of present-tense events typically employ a progressive construction.

A small number of verbs form ‘bare progressives’ – that is, the simple, seemingly aorist form of the verb can in fact be employed as a progressive. This applies particular to verbs of position, such as stąnn, “to be standing” and ligga, “to be lying”, but also to some verbs of state, such as sweva, “to sleep”, and some verbs of continuous motion, such as rąsa, “to flow”.

A simple way to form progressives for other verbs is to conjoin them to an inherently progressive verb. In this structure, the aorist form of the progressive verb is followed by ay and the aorist of the main verb; so, stá ech ay ley, “I am reading it”. The construction is therefore the present-tense parallel to the imperfect tense.

However, where the perfect tense employs only stąnn as the conjoined progressive, the conjunctive progressive is more varied. Generally, the conjoined verb is either stąnn or ligga, with a distribution equivalent to that in the perfect: that is, stąnn applies to animate subjects of transitive verbs and to animate subjects of intransitive verbs displaying particular animacy or control, while ligga is used with inanimate subjects, and animate subjects of intransitive verbs displaying passivity or involition.

It is possible, however, for other verbs to be used, particularly when a verb may be taken as true in its literal sense. Hence, sitt ech ay ley, “I am (sitting down and) reading it” may be found, syntactically equivalent to stá ech ay ley but particularly appropriate where the speaker is literally sitting.

Broadly speaking, conjunctive progressives are used for single current or near-future events expected to be brief in duration, and particularly those with a well-defined end-point that will soon be reached.


The Prepositional Progressive

Alongside the conjunctive progressive, Øynduyska also possesses a prepositional alternative. These are used for current events that are expected to be more substantial in duration, or that have no well-defined end-point.

The prepositional progressive comprises an auxiliary verb – either stąnn, ligga, or sitta – along with the preposition at and a verbal noun. There are therefore akin to the perfect, which uses a similar construction with a different preposition.

As in the perfect, and in the conjunctive progressive, the auxiliary ligga is used for inanimate subjected, and for animate subjects of transitive verbs presented as lacking animacy, agency, volition or control. Unlike the situation with the other tenses, however, the prepositional progressive divides the remaining space between two verbs, stąnn and sitta.

The distinction is chiefly aspectual. Stąnn is used with actions that are actively taking place, with actions that prevent other events from taking place until they are finished, and with actions that have no particular purpose; sitta is used with actions that are compatible with other event, with actions that aim toward a definite purpose, and with actions that are particularly drawn-out in duration, and may be used for, in effect, ongoing states that are not actively being progressed at the present moment.

The nuances may be better illustrated through examples:

stá he ay eeth (conjunctive progressive) – “he’s eating (he can’t come to the phone right this moment)”
stá he at øthung – “He’s busy eating (you’ll have to come back in the afternoon)”
sitt he at øthung – “He’s embarked upon a project of eating (he needs to gain weight for the operation)”

stá he ay ley – “he’s reading it right now”
stá he at leyung – “he’s busy reading it” or “he’s doing some reading of it”
sitt he at leyung – “he’s reading through it (day by day)”, or “he’s studying it”
[this is the primary way of describing academic study. Thus, sitt he at leyung van taąlcraft, “he’s studying mathematics”]



Phonetic sample:
sitt he at leyung van taąlcraft – /zɪt he at leːyʊŋg van tɑːlcræft/



3 thoughts on “Øynduyska – IX (progressives)

  1. Hans says:

    Kazakh uses verbs of position in a similar way for progressive constructions (present praticiple of content verb plus finite forms of position verb), although I haven’t seen a good explanation of the distribution yet.

  2. Interesting! It seems it’s not too rare a phenomenon…

  3. […] The continuing adventures of Øynduyska… […]

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