Survey of the grammatical treatment of embedded Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian
27 February 2019 (last updated 1 November 2019)
This is a survey of how embedded clauses (sentences) in the Dative-locative case are treated in a selection of textbooks and grammars of Mongolian. It is primarily concerned with comparing approaches so as to better understand the placing of this type of construction in Mongolian grammar. One caveat must be borne in mind: since it covers only a small range of grammars written in foreign languages (mostly English), as well as textbooks aimed at language learners, it is doubtful that this brief survey can present a full picture of how such clauses are used in Mongolian.
The Dative-locative suffix (өгөх оршихийн тийн ялгал⇪) attaches to what are traditionally known in Mongolian as 'verbal nouns' or 'participles' (үйлт нэр or тэмдэг үйл үг⇪). Clauses containing such 'nominalised verbs' are equivalent to embedded sentences or clauses (subject clauses, object clauses, adverbial clauses, adnominal clauses) in many other languages.
Tserenpil & Kullmann abandon the old terminology and speak of verb forms ending in the Noun Determining Suffix NDS⇪, to which case endings can then attach. Note that case endings can also attach to the negative suffix -гүй.
The commonest case ending on NDS (verbal nouns or participles) is the Accusative, which marks the entire clause as the object of a verb. Indeed, clauses in the Accusative case have their own grammatical designation: "Objective clause" or Тусагдахуун гишүүн өгүүлбэр⇪. Similarly, "Subjective clauses" (Өгүүлэгдэхүүн гишүүн өгүүлбэр⇪), which have zero marking, have their own separate grammatical identity.
Other grammatical cases are more limited in their ability to attach to NDSs and the role they play is more fragmented. The Dative/locative attaches to the following: the -х form, the -сан4 form (simple past tense), the -даг4 form (habitual), and the -аа4 (imperfective) form, as well as the aforementioned negative form -гүй.
Note that the grammaticalised or semi-grammaticalised form гэхэд, the Dative/locative of гэх, is excluded from the scope of the following.
ᠥᠭᠬᠦ ᠣᠷᠣᠰᠢᠬᠤ ᠵᠢᠨ
ᠲᠡᠮᠳᠡᠭ ᠦᠢᠯᠡ ᠦᠭᠡ
1. Grammar of Written Mongolian (Poppe)
2. 蒙古语语法 (Qingge'ertai)
3. Mongolian Grammar (Tserenpil and Kullmann)
4. Mongolian (Janhunen)
5. A Contrastive Grammar of Mongolian and English (Batchuluun)
6. Mongolian Language Handbook (Uranchimeg)
7. Mongolian Language for Intermediate Students (Bayarmaa)
8. Summing up
9. Works cited
1. Poppe (Grammar of Written Mongolian) 1954
Poppe was writing about a conservative form of the written Mongolian language which is no longer in use. One feature of this language is that modern Dative/locative is rendered as ᠳᠤᠷ, which I have rendered into Cyrillic as д.
Poppe has the following to say about what he calls the "Dativus Temporalis" (508).
The temporal dative (dativus temporalis or dativus temporis) indicates the time during or at which an action takes place. This answers the question "when?"
A particular case of the temporal dative is the dative-locative of the nomen futuri or nomen perfecti. The former of these verbal nouns indicates an uncompleted action during which an action is or will be performed (e.g., "when he is" or "when he will be here"); the latter indicates the completed past during which the action has been performed (e.g., "when he did something"). Such constructions act as the Latin ablativus absolutus or as subordinate temporal clauses in modern European languages.
Poppe goes into more detail at the section on Nominal Constructions in the Dative-Locative (651):
Nominal constructions in the dative-locative correspond, in the meaning, to temporal subordinate clauses of European languages and to the Latin ablativus absolutus. They are translated into English as "When the person concerned did (or will do) something..."
The action of such constructions is expressed by a verbal noun in the dative-locative. When the actor of the construction is the same as the grammatical subject of the whole period, the action is indicated by a dative-locative with the reflexive-possessive suffix.
The actor is put in the genitive (or in relatively rare cases, under the influence of the Colloquial, in the accusativus actoris...), when he is not the same as the subject of the whole sentence.
The actor in the accusative:ᠮᠠᠨᠤ ᠨᠥᠬᠥᠷ ᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦᠷ ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠦ ᠣᠯᠠᠨ ᠲᠠᠨᠢᠯ ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠠᠵᠤᠭᠤ᠃manu nökör-i qota-dur irekü-dür tegün-ü olan tanil bayiɣsan aǰuɣuWhen our friend came to town, there were many acquaintances of his there.
Манай нөхөрийг хотод ирэхэд түүниий олон танил байсан ажуу
The actor in the genitive:ᠮᠠᠨᠤ ᠨᠥᠬᠥᠷ ᠦᠨ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦᠷ ᠪᠢᠳᠡ ᠪᠦᠭᠦᠳᠡ ᠪᠠᠶᠠᠰᠪᠠ᠃manu nökör-ün irekü-dür bida bügüde mašida bayasbaWhen our friend came to town, all of us were very glad.
Манай нөхрийн ирэхэд бид бүгд машид баясав.
The actor is the subject of the whole sentence:ᠪᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠨ ᠰᠤᠷᠭᠠᠭᠤᠯᠢ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠣᠷᠣᠮᠤᠢ᠃bi qota-dur irekü-degen surɣaɣuli-dur oromuiWhen I come to town, I shall enter school.
Би хотод ирэхдээ сургуульд ормуй.
- Poppe works within a traditional grammatical system using Latinate terminology.
- Poppe draws a parallel between the use of the Dative/locative on nouns to indicate a location in time and the use of Dative/locative on verbal nouns to similarly indicate a point in time.
- He mentions the use of different cases for the subject of the embedded clause, and the use of the reflexive suffix when the subject of the embedded clause is the same as that of the whole sentence.
2. Qingge'ertai (蒙古语语法) 1991
Qingge'ertai worked within the Inner Mongolian grammatical tradition. In the section on Verbal Nouns or Participles (known in Chinese as 形动词 xíngdòngcí), he discusses their use in a nominal function (形动词的静词性 xíngdòngcí de jìngcíxìng) for each grammatical case. His classification of such forms when followed by the Dative/locative is as follows. (Any errors in translation are my own.)向位格
(The Dative/locative of the verb can express the relationship of actions to certain characteristics)
(Good to eat)
(Nice to drink, easy to drink)
(knows how to play, good at playing)
(practised at doing)
(easy to break)
(Not easy to go about building)
(Note: Mongolia: байгуулахад хэцүү)
(Expresses the cause of actions - a causal relationship between two verbs)
(We're glad you came)
(Everyone has objections to him saying that)
(Note: Саналтай is a translation of Chinese 有意见 and is not used in Mongolia in this sense.)
(Expresses the time of actions)
(They left when you came)
(When you're hungry food is a treasure; when you're cold clothes are a treasure)
(To catch a lion you need to know how to catch)
(Use when planting crops)
(Use when running livestock)
(When I realised it they'd finished)
(Note: Mongolia: Надыг мэдэхэд тэд хийгээд дуусчихсан.)
(There's nothing wrong with talking like that)
(Expresses the place of actions)
(reach the stage of crying)
(be almost dead)
(Expresses the dependent conditions of actions)
(It depends how you say it)
(The strength and fatness of livestock depend on how they've been pastured.)
6) 形动词的向位格可以构成一种比较结构。(The Dative/locative of a verb can form a comparative construction)
(This way is better than that)
(Asking him for this is better than asking for that)
- Qingge'ertai's classification includes an interesting range of uses for Dative/locative clauses. All but a few are perfectly acceptable in Khalkha.
- These need to be taken into account when considering the uses of Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian.
3. Kullmann and Tserenpil (Mongolian Grammar) 2005
Kullman and Tserenpil do not treat Dative/locative forms in a unified way. They are mainly covered at "Conjunctions" and "Adverbials". In addition, the Dative/locative of a verb can also occur where a noun has been dropped.
We could present a twofold classification in original and derived conjunctions, but for the following reasons we don't do that: conjunctions that look superficially like original conjunctions (e.g. "бөгөөд", "болон", etc.) would have to be strictly classed as 'derived' because of their origin of "verb + VDS". So, it's difficult to draw proper lines between 'original' and 'derived'. To us, it seemed more important that the following conjunctions serve as conjunctions today.
"байхад, харин" = "whereas"
- has an additive meaning; creates a comparison between two actions or things; general statements, therefore the NDS "-даг" is mainly used.
- connects predicate parts (verb demands an NDS).
With this list, our main concern was to look at those verbs or analytical constructions that serve as conjunctions today. We'll not talk again about the sVDS's in general, but only consider those sVDS's and postpositions that appear in an analytical construction.
"байх үед; х(а)д" = "when; while"
- introduces temporal clauses
- "-х(а)д is the short form of "байх үед". Only if the epoch ("үе") needs to be stressed, the conjunction "байх үед" is used (examples omitted here).
- with a common subject, the RS [reflexive suffix] is used and the subject is in nominative and not in accusative voice... In [the final example] the RS is used on the object ("son"), which is also possible.
All of the following conjunctions contain a proword (mostly a demonstrative proword). That's why we call them 'proword-conjunctions'. Such conjunctions refer to something which was mentioned before (either one or more sentences). Therefore, such conjunctions are usually placed at the beginning of a new sentence.
"Тэгэхэд" = "As ... doing that"
- connects two sentences
- the literal translation 'as ... doing that' is very clumsy in English. We would make one sentence instead, with a clause expressing the "Тэгэ-".
- compare with "-хад" ('when'; 'as')
Adverbials, (Latin 'ad verbum' = 'to the word/verb'), describe the conditions under which the action, which is expressed in the sentence, takes place. It is difficult to draw a line between adverbials and adverbial clauses. [...]
Adverbials can be divided into the following semantic groups:
- Local adverbials (place)
- Temporal adverbials (time
- Modal adverbials (mode; way of behaving)
- Causal adverbials (reason)
- Final adverbials (intention)
- Conditional adverbials (condition)
- Concessive adverbials (concession)
They answer the questions "яагаад? ямар учраас? юунаас? яаснаас? юунд?" (why? for what reason? due to what?) and thus explain the reason of the action.
They can be built like this:
* with NDS's + Dative-locative-CS's
(Four other types of construction are also given.)
Where a noun has been dropped
If a noun is dropped and replaced by нь, the Dative/locative on the original noun will transfer to the verb.
- In addition to the use of -хад for expressing time, Kullmann and Tserenpil also introduce usages like байхад, харин and тэгэхэд.
- The category of 'adverbials of cause' adds an extra dimension to that of 'time'.
- Kullmann and Tserenpil also note the case behaviour of subjects in clauses (differential subject marking) and the use of reflexives when the verb in the subordinate clause is the same as that of the whole sentence.
- While a grammar rather than a textbook, Kullmann-Tserenpil is still heavily oriented towards the language learner. While it retains an emphasis on morphological and syntactic criteria at a basic level, for larger units of syntax this approach breaks down. In particular, the conjunctions are a heterogeneous collection of forms, including words and structures that connect non-predicate parts (for instance "N and N") as well as those connecting predicate parts (Sentence + Sentence). Treating -хад (an NDS followed by a case ending) as variant of үед 'at a time, when' is one result this approach.
4. Juha A. Janhunen (Mongolian) 2012
Janhunen deals with this construction at a couple of sections. One is at Quasiconverbs.
Quasiconverbs may be defined as complex verbal forms with a converbial function and a morphologically transparent structure. Formally, quasiconverbs are case forms of participles used as action nouns. ... In the complex sentence, quasiconverbs have normally a role basically identical with that of disjunct converbs, linking verbs with different subjects. Like the disjunct converbs they can, however, be rendered conjunct by adding the reflexive possessor marker, which then allows them to be used in same-subject constructions.
...In the quasiconverbs, ... case forms have somewhat more specialized functions than with regular nominals. Thus, the quasiconverbs in the Dative/locative case have normally a temporal function (time:'when?')...'
The system of quasiconverbs
Temporal: The temporal quasiconverbs are formed by adding the dative ending -e.d to the participle markers, as in -ir- 'to come': PART FUT DAT ir-h-e.d 'when (s/he) comes': PART HAB DAT ir-deg-t 'when (s/he) always comes', PART FUT DAT ir-sen-d 'when (s/he) had come'.
(Janhunen claims that the form based on the imperfective participle (-хад, -хдаа) is only 'theoretical' since it would be formally (though not functionally) identical with the perfective converb in -g.AAd. This appears to be incorrect as such forms do occur in Mongolian. However, none of the sources consulted here make reference to them.) Two examples of such forms are:
Сэржамц удирдагч хүнтэй танилцаж байгаадаа өөрөөрөө бахархаж байв.
Serjamts udirdagch khüntei taniltsaj baigaadaa öörööroo bakharkhaj baiv.
Serjamts was proud of himself for gettng to know a leading person.
Ерөнхий сайд У. Хүрэлсүх Ерөнхий сайд Абэ Шинзо-тай дахин уулзаж байгаадаа баяртай байгаагаа илэрхийлэв.Yörönkhii said U. Khürelsükh Yörönkhii Abe Shinzo-tai dakhin uulzaj baigaadaa bayartai baigaagaa ilerkhiilev.
Prime Minister Khürelsükh said that he was pleased to meet Prime Minister Abe Shinzo again.
Janhunen also makes clear that there are other uses of participial case forms:
It should be noted that the participial case forms attested in the quasiconverbial constructions can also occur in other contexts, as when required by the verb itself (verbal rection). In such contexts, participles can take also other adverbial case endings, including those of the possessive and directive. Syntactically, however, it is useful to distinguish the quasiconverbial uses from the other occurrences of participial case forms which do not serve the purpose of verb chaining.
Janhunen gives (within the context of conjoint/disjunct constructions) an example at Referative constructions where a participle is followed by a Dative/locative in what is clearly not a temporal form. He notes that '... in the conjunct type, the subject is expressed by the reflexive suffix, added to the nominalized predicate.'
bii en-d ir-sen-d-ee bayerle.j bai-n'
SG1P here-LOC come-P.PRF-DAT-RX rejoice-C.IMPRF be-DUR
- Janhunen divides Dative/locative clauses between a rather semantically-based category of grammaticalised expressions that he calls 'quasiconverbs' (with a temporal meaning) and Dative/locative clauses governed by the verb or adjective ('verbal rection').
- Apart from one example elsewhere in the book, Janhunen goes no further in discussing the uses of Dative/locative clauses.
5. Dagdangiin Batchuluun (A Contrastive Grammar of Mongolian and English) 2013
Batchuluun's contrastive grammar, written from the point of view of language teaching and learning, attempts to compare and contrast the two languages within existing grammatical frameworks. Regrettably, differences in grammatical frameworks result in strained comparisons, mismatches, and gaps. 'Verb + Dative/locative' forms are almost completely ignored, with only one explicit mention at VERBALS. There is also a cursory mention at CONJUNCTIONS.
Verbals are non-finite forms of a verb. They are verbs that act like nouns and name actions and processes. In a sentence a verbal can be used as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.
There are three kinds of verbals: infinitives, gerunds and participles.
Completely equating terminology between the two languages, Batchuluun notes that Mongolian has only two of the three types: 'infinitives' and 'participles'.
Infinitives are non-finite verb forms which name action without referring to a tense, person, or number.
Batchuluun notes the difference of opinion among Mongolian grammarians over the form that should be regarded as the infinitive: the verb stem (e.g. яв- 'to go'), or the verb form with the suffix -х (явах). It is in discussing the 'verb form + suffix -х' that Batchuluun makes the only explicit reference to 'verb + Dative/locative case' in the entire book:
In Mongolian, the infinitive suffix -х is retained when a noun case suffix or noun possessive suffixes are added to a verb:
(Examples relating to Dative/locative )
Batchuluun adopts the traditional category of 'participles' in Mongolian, which covers noun-determining suffixes (Noun Determining Suffixes NDS⇪), adjective-determining suffixes (such as -маар 'want to'), and verb-connecting suffixes (such as аад4, -ж, -бч, -магц4 'as soon as', -вал/бал4, and many others). Dative-locative forms of verbs are not covered.
Batchuluun mentions the use of the Verb + Dative/locative to indicate time ('when') as follows:
The subordinators in English are classified as follows:
TIME: when -х үед, -д, -т...
No examples are given.
However, there are numerous examples through the book of Dative/locative clauses as translations of English sentences. A large selection is shown below:
- The cursory coverage illustrates a major blind spot in the contrastive method. Cases are covered at the section on nouns but almost completely ignored at the section on verbs.
- While the Dative/locative form of 'participles' is ignored in analysing and contrasting Mongolian with English, ironically many -хад expressions are found as translations of English sentences.
6. T. Uranchimeg (Mongolian Language Handbook) 2007
Uranchimeg does not deal with 'Verb + Dative/locative' as a specific grammatical format. However, she does cover the uses of -санд4, -гүйд, -хад4, -хдаа4 in two separate sections: "Conversation" and "Use of Suffixes".
The Conversation section deals with congratulations, expressing thanks, asking forgiveness, and expressing condolences, with all examples in the past tense (-сан4 or -аагүй4).
Баяр хүргэх: Congratulations
Талархал илэрхийлэх: Expressing thanks
Уучлалт гуйх: Asking forgiveness
Эмгэнэл илэрхийлэх: Expressing condolences
Use of Suffixes
In the "Use of Suffixes" section Uranchimeg treats the use of -хад4 and -хдаа4 to mean 'when' or 'while'.
-хдаа4 (when, while (one subject and two actions))
(Main clause in past tense)
Үгүй, би Улиастайд ганцхан удаа морь унасан.
No, I rode a horse only once in Uliastai.
Би тэнд байхдаа номин санд ажилласан.
When I was there I worked in a library.
(Main clause in habitual tense)
(Main clause in future tense)
-хад4 (when, while (two subjects and two actions))
(Main clause in past tense in all examples)
Тийм, биднийг Улиастайд байхад мөднөр орсон.
Yes, it hailed when we were in Uliastai.
Намайг тэнд байхад Тэрбиш Улаанбаатарт байсан.
While I was there Terbish was in Ulaanbaatar.
Та хоёрыг орж ирэхэд Туяа "Сайн явж ирэв үү?" гэж асуусан.
When the two of you arrived Tuya asked "Did you have a good trip?"
Намайг хоол хийж байхад Бурмаа утсаар ярьсан.
Burmaa called while I was cooking.
Онгоц буухад би машиныхаа дэргэд байсан.
When the airplane landed I was standing next to my car.
Үгүй. 10 цаг 30 минут болж байхад галт тэрэг хөдөлсөн.
No, the train left at 10:30.
Намайг Монголд ирэхэд жолооч, хэлмэрч хоёр утгсан.
When I came to Mongolia, the driver and translator welcomed.
Өглөө намайг босоход 7 цаг 40 минут болж байсан.
When I got up this morning it was 7:40.
- The usages covered in Uranchimeg are those which are likely to be most useful to foreign students learning Mongolian.
- Uranchimeg demonstrates by example 1) the use of the reflexive on the verb (-хдаа4 if the subject in both clauses is the same) and 2) the use of -ыг / -ийг on the subject of the subordinate clause if it is animate or definite.
7. Bayarmaa Khalzaa (Mongolian Language for Beginners) 2012, (Mongolian Language for Intermediate Students) 2011
Bayarmaa's approach is functional. There is no formal identification of 'Verb + Dative/locative' as a specific construction; examples are focused on use in actual speech.
Uses of the 'Verb + Dative/locative' can be divided into three: 1) expressions of thankfulness, asking for forgiveness, and congratulations, 2) use in the meaning 'when, while', and 3) use as an object of the verb.
Expressions of thankfulness, asking for forgiveness, and congratulations
Талархал илээрхийлэх (To express thankfulness)
(Main clause in past tense in all examples)
Уучлал гүйх (To ask for forgiveness)
(One example in the past tense, the other uses -аагүйд)
Баяр хүргэх (To give congratulations)
(Example in the past tense)
Нийлмэл өгүүлбэр (Complex Sentence -- When)
Sentences with the same subject:
Subject ........... verb stem + (а4)хдаа4 ..........verb
Subordinate clause Main clause
Sentences with different subjects:
Subject ........... verb stem + (а4)хад4 ..........verb
Subordinate clause Main clause
Object of the Verb "хүрэх"
- The treatment is largely the same as Uranchimeg.
- The use of reflexives (where subjects are the same) and of -ыг / -ийг on the subject of the subordinate clause, along with other rules, are spelt out by example or explicit comment.
8. Summing up
Following Janhunen, Dative/locative clauses can roughly be divided into two types:
- Clauses where the verb or adjective governs (requires) the dative case. In such cases, the Dative/locative can be considered a core case, like the Nominative and Accusative. Such verbs include туслах 'to help', хүрэх 'to touch, reach', халаглах 'to regret', харамсах 'to regret', баярлах 'to rejoice', гэмших 'to regret', итгэх 'to believe', гайхах 'to be surprised', уурлах 'to be angry', оролцох 'to participate', and many others. The form дуртай/дургүй 'like/dislike' and some other also require the Dative/locative. Use of a reflexive suffix to indicate that the matrix sentence has the same subject as the clause will depend on the semantics of the verb.
- Clauses where the Dative/locative clause has been semi-grammaticalised with a temporal meaning ('when'). No matter what the tense of the final verb, the verb in the clause will normally be in the -х form. A reflexive suffix can be used to indicate that the subject of the matrix sentence and that of the clause are identical.
However, this is clearly inadequate as an explanation of the range of uses of Dative/locative clauses. Several other common patterns exist, including:
- Clauses with the sense of 'easy to', 'difficult to', 'good at', etc. It is relatively rare to use a reflexive indicating 'same subject' in such clauses since in most cases the statement is a generalisation. (However, these can possibly be classed under 'quasiconverbs' of time.)
- Clauses indicating cause. The most common type of clause indicating cause are those expressing gratitude. These are possibly conditioned by the verb баярлах 'to rejoice', on which баярлалаа 'thank you' is based, but the pattern appears to have become fixed in expressing gratitude, regret, or apologies. It mostly occurs in the past tense and seldom takes the reflexive suffix.
From Qingge'ertai we learn that Dative/locative clauses have other uses, as well. These appear to have a narrower range of application than those listed above but are nevertheless valid uses of Dative/locative clauses. Our selection of grammars and textbooks, mostly written in English, is clearly insufficient to fully describe the range of uses of Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian.
(The uses of the Dative/locative are relevant to this later post on Switch Reference in Mongolian, qv.)
9. Works cited
Batchuluun, Dagdangiin. 2013 A Contrastive Grammar of Mongolian and English Ulaanbaatar: Soyombo Printing Company.
Bayarmaa Khalzaa 2017, Mongolian Language for Intermediate Students, Ulaanbaatar: Lingo Lab.
Janhunen, Juha A. 2012 Mongolian (London Oriental and African language library 19.) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Poppe, Nikolas 1954 Grammar of Written Mongolian (Fifth unrevised printing 2006, Porta Linguarum Orientalium Neue Serie 1. Originally published 1954) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Qingge'ertai. 1991 蒙古语语法 (A Grammar of the Mongolian Language) Huhhot: Inner Mongolian People's Publishing.
Tserenpil, D., Kullmann, R. 2005 Mongolian Grammar (Монгол хэлний хэлзүй ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠬᠡᠯᠡ ᠦ ᠵᠦᠢ) Third revised edition, Ulaanbaatar. (4th revised edition appeared in 2008, 5th revised edition appeared in 2015.)
Uranchimeg, T. 2007 Mongolian Language Handbook: For Learners of the Mongolian Language (Revised edition) (Монгол Хэл Сурах Гарын Авлага: Гадаадыинханд зориулав) Ulaanbaatar.
An NDS can serve as a verbal adjective to a succeeding noun (явсан хүн), can take case endings (явсаныг), can be followed by the particle юм (явсан юм) or an auxiliary verb (явсан байна), and can form negatives (явсангүй) and interrogatives (явсан уу?)
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