šaìel egie; ekuìel faìre
War separates, Death unites

Overview: statives

Some consider statives to be in between nouns and verbs, others to be a superclass of nouns and verbs. Either way they can take markers from both, depending on what function they serve. Following Baker (2005) then, statives in Taruven might be considered (+N, +V).

When a stative modifies a noun, it agrees in case (noun suffix position 5) if it is not directly adjacent to the left of the noun. If it acts as a head noun in an NP it has the meaning "someone/something [stative]", like "the blue one", "the big thing", it can then take all the noun-markers.

All statives have an intransitive verb-meaning: "to be_[stative]", like "to be big", "to be blue". They can always carry verb-markers for evidentiality, certainty and tense. Through causation, an agent can make something else enter/leave the [state], show that the [state] is changing or change the [state], that is, gain a transitive meaning. A verb derived from a stative acts like any other verb, carrying any verb-marker, except as noted in Verbification below.

Finally, statives can modify verbs, just as adverbs of manner.

Structure of a stative

Modifying a noun.

stative stem - 1 - 2 - 4 - (Noun case)

Being a noun.

stative stem - 1 - 2 - 4 - (All noun-suffixes)

In comparisons.

stative stem - 1 - 2 - (All verb-suffixes except causatives)

Being a verb.

stative stem - 1 - 2 - 3 - (All verb-suffixes)

Modifying a verb.

stative stem - 1 - 2 - 4

Markers on the stative, in order

  1. duration
  2. degree
  3. verbification
  4. tense

Duration of state

Only statives are ever marked for duration with this set of markers.

-ri(þ) temporary, partial
-la(gh) permanent, complete
    1. orrolagh
      I am always hungry
    2. ykru orrolag
      Somebody kills the/a always hungry one
    3. ī varrira
      he/she was blue for a while

The long forms are used if followed by a vowel as in example 1a), or nothing as in example 1b). The short forms are used if followed by a consonant, as in example 1c). Usually it is the following marker that adapts to what precedes. When this is not the case, as here, Taruven grammarians talk of a weak/tame marker, a vüjo.

-lagh is less marked than using the sentence-word sella. It is rarely used together with tense-markers.

Markers of degree

Only statives can be marked with the comparison-markers.

-eìrinn negative excessive
-eìre negative superlative
-e negative comparative
-(i)vi equative
-a positive comparative
-arre positive superlative
-arrinn positive excessive
    1. geàl mān
      big rock
    2. geàla mān
      very big rock
    3. geàlarre mān
      very, very big rock
    4. geàlarrinn mān
      absurdly big rock
    5. gareìrinn
      not strong enough
    6. mirrō xōeìrinn
      the cat isn't fast enough
    7. orroarre mirrō krura geàlarre nīkeaþ
      the hungriest cat killed the biggest mouse
      the very, very hungry cat killed the extremely big mouse
    8. mirrō gavaþ orrovi
      the cat is as hungry as the dog

With statives, word order matters. A stative modifying a noun need not express the case of the noun, provided the noun is to the right of the stative and there are no explicitly case-marked words inbetween. This can lead to ambiguities, especially in subjects.

    1. xō sïtū / sïtū xō
      the quick bird, the bird is quick
    2. [mirrō geàl]i xu še [xō sïtūaþ]ii
      the big cat catches the quick bird
    3. [geàl mirrō]i xu še [xō sïtūaþ]ii
      the big cat catches the quick bird
      (lit: the cat, a big one, catches the quick bird)
    4. [mirrō geàl]i xu še sïtūaþiii
      the big, fast cat catches the bird
    5. xōaþii [mirrō geàl]i xu še sïtūaþii
      the big cat catches the quick bird
      (lit: the quick one, the big cat catches it, the bird)

How to compare

In English, as exemplified below...

Using the terms defined by Stassen (1985), "John" is the comparee NP, "renowned" is the comparative predicate and "Mary" is the standard, or comparison.


This is the most frequent way of comparing. Word order is irrelevant, since there can be no ambiguity. Compare 2h) and 4c).

    1. ī gara ūaþ
      he/she strongers you
      he/she is stronger than you
    2. ī gararrinn fenaþ
      he/she strongests them
      he/she is the strongest of them
    3. orrovi nīkeaþ mirrō
      the cat is as hungry as a/the mouse
    4. uorrovi nīkeaþ mirrō
      the cat that is as hungry as a/the mouse


Using a conjunction is less frequent than using case, but is preferred in some dialects. The conjunction itself is optional.

  1. Conjunction with comparative
    1. ū gar a ī gara
      you are strong and he/she is stronger
      he/she is stronger than you
    2. ū gar a ī gare
      you are strong and he/she is weaker
      he/she is weaker than you
    3. ī gara a ū gar
      he/she is stronger and you are strong
      he/she is stronger than you
    4. ī gare a ū gar
      he/she is weaker and you are strong
      he/she is weaker than you
  2. Conjunction with antonymous stative
    1. ī geàl a ū vynn
      he/she is big and you are small
      he/she is bigger than you
  3. Conjunction with negated stative
    1. ī gar a ū ëgar
      he/she is strong and you are not strong
      he/she is stronger than you
    2. ū ëgar a ī gar
      you are not strong and he/she is strong
      he/she is stronger than you


Comparison with verbs is rare but is considered to be of a higher register than the others. The verbs faìre to be equal and egie to be different are both complemented verbs, with the standard of comparison being the subject and marked as such with -el and the comparee being the non-clausal complement marked with the benefactive. However, the non-clausal complement must be plural, and using a clause instead of a noun-phrase is somewhat unstandard.

    1. garel faìre ī aið ū
      garel         faìre ī  aið      ū
      gar    -el    faìre ī  a   -ið  ū
      strong -CSUBJ equal 3s and -BEN 2s<
      Strength is an equality between he/she and you
      he/she and you are equally strong
    2. garel faìre suìðhe
      garel         faìre suìðhe
      gar    -el    faìre suìðhe
      strong -CSUBJ equal 1q.BEN
      Strength is an equality between us
      Strength is what we have in common
    3. garel egie ī aið ū
      Strength is a difference between he/she and you
      he/she and you are not equally strong
    4. šaìel egie; ekuìel faìre
      War separates, Death unites

Conversion to verb

-r(e) intransitive: instantaneous change of state
-l(a) intransitive: gradual change of state
-ge causation (transitive verb)
-geke causation (ditransitive verb)
-aš causation (complemented verb)

The change of state markers usually implies that its subject enters into the state. If the subject leaves the state, the state is negated, as seen in the examples below. Note that ekuir is merely a worn form of ëkuìr.

    1. kuì
      to be alive
    2. ëkuì
      to be dead
    3. ī ekuir
      he/she dies
    4. ekuiradh
      to be dead

As with the duration-markers, the change of state markers are vüjo.

Note that an intransitive or complemented verb (examples 10b,c) and f) below) derived from a stative can take inanimate subjects, the only limitation on the subject (and on the object in the transitive case) is that it is capable of being in the specified state. While a beneficiary is optional, as it is with regular verbs, example 10e) makes the beneficiary mandatory. Finally, example 10g) is a shorthand version of example 10h).

    1. žyn isse
      The door is closed
    2. žyn isser
      The door closes quickly/suddenly
    3. žyn issel
      The door closes slowly/deliberately
    4. fen žynaþ issege
      They close the door
    5. sāið fen žynaþ issegeke
      They close the door on my behalf/for me
    6. žynel isse lefirr
      The door closes because it is cold
    7. fenel issežyn lefirr
      They close the door because they are cold
    8. fenel issegežyn lefirr
      They close the door because they are cold


Statives can be marked for tense just like verbs.

-ra past, former, ex-
present/generic/undefined, current
-su future
    1. firra
      the former cold, it used to be cold
    2. sā firra
      I was cold
    3. o axxaìn
      It is barbaric
    4. axxaìnsu
      barbaric thing/person/act to come
    5. ū xōsu
      You'll be quick


    1. ī kuìlla
      ī  kuìlla
      ī  kuì      -l           -ra
      3s be_alive -COS.gradual -PAST
      he/she gradually became alive
    2. ī vararra
      ī  vararra
      ī  var     -a    -r          -ra
      3s be_blue -more -COS.sudden -PAST
      he/she suddenly became bluer
    3. ū geàlarrinn tlaaþin
      ū  geàlarrinn       tlaaþin
      ū  geàl   -arrinn   tla     -aþ  -in
      2s be_big -too_much clothes -PAT -PAUCAL
      you're too big for the clothes
    4. falarrinn
      fal   -arrinn
      water -too.much
      a flood
    5. šarraagenn
      šarra     -a    -ge  =enn
      diversity -more -CAU -doer
      somebody who increases diversity
    6. vafirge yár šaỳegadaþ
      vafirge        yár          šaỳegadaþ
      va-  firr -ge  yár          šaỳe -ge  =adh    -aþ
      IMP- cold -CAU warm-colored flat -CAU -result -PAT
      cool the red-hot flattened object


M. C. Baker (2005)
Lexical Categories. Chapter 4 p.190f. Cambridge University Press
L. Stassen (1985)
Comparison and Universal Grammar. Blackwell, Oxford