Basque: haiz, naiz


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I'm wondering whether the Basque verb forms "haiz" and "naiz" are composed of two morphemes or more, as well as what the morpheme boundaries actually are. After some online research, I have arrived at the tentative conclusion that these two forms are bimorphemic and can be divided as "ha-iz" and "na-iz", with "ha-" and "na-" being person markers, as the conjugations of some other verbs seem to suggest (e.g. etorri > nator, hator) whereas "iz" is the stem, as the non-finite forms of the verb in question seem to suggest (e.g. the participle "izan").

Could someone tell me if my analysis correct? I see that there are other possible alternatives (e.g. that the stem is actually "-aiz", a form derived from the "iz-" of "izan", whereas the person markers are simply "h-" and "n-", since their "a" vowel has been absorbed by the "a" of "-aiz", although it appears in other verbs such as "etorri" where the short stem is consonant-initial; or even that there are three morphemes, "h/n-", "-a-", and "-iz", in which case I would have no idea as to the function of the second one) so I'm a bit uneasy.

I suppose that even minimal knowledge of Basque etymology would allow one to answer my question (such that even non-speakers could help me); alas, I myself have practically none. Furthermore, I have never studied Basque and consequently feel quite perplexed as I'm trying to handle its verb conjugation paradigms, which I need for an assignment I've been given by my morphology professor.

Thank you in advance
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  • J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    I am not really qualified to answer you about verbal forms in Basque, but I just can mention this grammar .You can read the table of izan in the present tense (Ch.6-2.Agreements p.94 ) : n- and h- are -aiz is one of the radicals of izan and indeed they are named mophemes on p.90. Moreover the corresponding forms in the past tense are n-in-tzen and h-in-tsen (p.100) where -in- expresses the past.
    What is also puzzling me is the a : is it a morpheme on its own or does it belong to the present radical of izan. Maybe you are right when saying the initial vowel has merged into this morpheme. Another grammar (p.78) analyses na- and ha- as 1st. and 2nd person prefixes of the present tense, what is not contradictory.

    I do hope somebody else, more qualified, will make this point clearer.
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