Euskara: gaitun

Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

Senior Member
English - U.S.
Kaixo!

I am still working on the Basque folk song I posted about a couple of week ago, from an old collection published in the 1920's by R.M. de Azkue. I have a question about a phrase near the end of the second stanza. The last few lines of the stanza look like this:

oyanak arturen gaitun
šori ta abere pistiak ere
gurekin izain dire zorion lagun.


(The previous line ends with a semicolon, so presumably this text is not grammatically connected to anything that came before it.)

The song comes with a Spanish singing translation (tailored to the syllable counts and phrase lengths of the Basque text and thus not necessarily reflecting the exact meaning of the original). It contains the phrase una gran selva nos acogera, "a great forest will welcome us", and it certainly looks like oyanak arturen gaitun should mean roughly the same. The thing I'm wondering about is the final -n on gaitun. As I understand it, "the forest will welcome us" would be oihanak harturen (or hartuko) gaitu in Batua.

So what is the final -n in gaitun? I've considered a number of possibilities but I can't come up with anything that makes sense to me.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A second person singular subject doesn't make much sense there, but could it be allocutive? The actants are third singular subject and first plural object (gaitu "it: us"), but the addressee is feminine familiar singular. That seems possible in a folk song. Are there other main clause verb forms in it that have this marking?
     

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    A second person singular subject doesn't make much sense there, but could it be allocutive? The actants are third singular subject and first plural object (gaitu "it: us"), but the addressee is feminine familiar singular. That seems possible in a folk song. Are there other main clause verb forms in it that have this marking?
    I thought of that, but the song is sung by a bride to her new husband (in the previous line, which I unfortunately failed to quote, she addresses him as senar), so a feminine allocutive would be unlikely here, unless for some reason the speaker changes between the previous line and this one. I don't see any indication - other than this possible allocutive - that such a thing is happening. Also, there don't appear to be any allocutives, feminine or masculine, anywhere else in the text.

    De Rijk's grammar of Batua says that adding an allocutive to gaitu would also change the final vowel, producing gaitik/gaitin. However, this text is pre-Batua and I've noticed that the treatment of vowels can differ considerably from dialect to dialect, so that needn't be dispositive.
    I don't think this answers your question, but take a look here: A Grammar of Basque Gaitun or gaituk, therefore, would mean thou is the subject and we is the object.

    Pages 564 and 565 may help.
    I could see oyanak being the (vocative) subject of a second-person verb ("You, forest, will welcome us"), but I don't see why it would be addressed in the feminine familiar. Also, as I said in my reply to entangledbank's comment, the song is addressed to the bride's new husband.* Why would she suddenly start addressing the forest instead?

    On the other hand, if oyanak is not the subject, what is it doing there? I realize that it could be absolutive plural instead of ergative singular, but then I don't understand its grammatical role in the sentence.

    -----------------------
    * I really must apologize for leaving that line out in my original citation. It turns out to be much more relevant that I thought.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Did you take a look at the pages I told you about? I think that might explain it.

    I'd rule out oihanak as vocative singular, because it would then not exhibit the ergative mark (a)k.
     

    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Those pages talk about a construction that uses an interrogative word and the complementizer -(e)n. I suppose that the -n could be a complementizer (although IIRC that would behave differently in Batua: gaituen). However, there's no interrogative word here. (Edited to add: ) OTOH it's dialectical poetry. Maybe the interrogative is understood somehow.

    Regarding the vocative question, can an ergative noun not be used with a second-person verb? I thought I saw something in de Rijk that implied that this was possible. I'll need to check but I don't have my copy with me at the moment.
     
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