ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies
ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies 

Verbal forms as means for structuring narratives and text genre marking in Khanty dialects

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Urmanchiyeva A. Yu. Ispolzovaniye glagolnykh form dlya strukturirovaniya narrativa i markirovaniya tekstov razlichnykh zhanrov v dialektakh khantyyskogo. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 2021. 17(3): 287–323.

The article compares the narrative strategies of the easternmost Vakh dialect of the Khanty language against those in other Khanty dialects. The use of temporal, modal, aspectual and evidential verbal forms in a given text is known to be motivated by not only their grammatical meaning in the strict sense, but also by a set of specific discoursive functions they have developed.

On the one hand, such verbal forms can have certain impact on the narrative discourse structure. Important for the purposes of this study is the opposition between the main storyline and the introduction, as many languages use special verbal forms in the initial fragment of a story which introduces the main characters, provides their “personal data” and, sometimes, their brief background.

On the other hand, verbal forms in a narrative can have yet another function, namely, differentiation between texts of different genres where verb forms used in folklore texts are not the same as those found in personal narratives (life stories). This function of verb forms is much less studied compared to various verb form uses for narrative structuring.

Samoyedic languages are a good example of languages where verb forms are used on the one hand, for structuring a narrative, and on the other hand, for contrasting texts of different genres. They can both clearly differentiate an introductive fragment from the main storyline, and demonstrate the binary opposition of folklore vs. personal narratives. This specific use of verbal forms in discourse, however, is untypical for the Ob-Ugric languages, including for most Khanty dialects. Thus, both the Obdorsk (a northen Khanty) dialect and the Surgut (a westernmost of the eastern varieties) dialect lack these distinctions. The easternmost Vakh dialects show a different picture. In this local variety of Khanty, verbal forms are used both for structuring the narrative (special marking of the introductory fragment) and for typologically rare contrasting of the three genres: historical tradition, fairy tales, and personal narrative. The same threefold opposition is also found in the northernmost Middle Taz dialect of Selkup. It is noteworthy that this ternary contrast is observed precisely in materials from Korliki village, a part of the Vakh dialect area directly bordering the territories inhabited by northern Selkups (their migration routes also included the Vakh basin).

Eastern Khanty, narrative, discourse
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Eastern Khanty, narrative, discourse
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