The Udi Language

Grammatical description and sample texts

:   Wolfgang Schulze (Univ. of Munich) 2001


ATTENTION: The present version of the Udi Online Grammar has been written in the years 2000 and 2001. It does not include more recent findings on Udi morphosyntax as they are discussed in the ‘Functional Grammar of Udi’ (Schulze, work in progress).    


This grammatical description of Udi is based on both fieldwork and published descriptive literature (see the bibliography). Yet, it is far from being a complete presentation of both all systematic aspects of the language and usage-based variations. Though Udi has enjoyed a relatively broad reception in linguistics (esp. in typology), the material basis has not been very much enlarged in the last decades. Most treatments of Udi grammar still rely on the works by Schiefner 1863, Dirr 1904, Dzheiranishvili 1971, Gukasjan 1974, Panchvidze 1974, or Schulze 1982 and the data presented in these books. Additional material is available from A. Harris' book on 'Endoclitics and the origins of Udi morphosyntax' (Harris 2002) and Schulze's critical reediting of the Udi Gospels ('The Udi Gospels - text with comments, grammatical notes, concordance, and etymological index' (Munich: Lincom Europa 2001)). All this (in parts new) material will probably call for the rectification of some parts of the analyses given here or will raise new questions (see the project: ‘A Functional Grammar of Udi’).

The Udi data given in this Online Grammar stem from yet unpublished field notes of the author (a few of them had been elicited) or from published textual material. Most of my field notes result from work with informants from Vartashen which is mirrored in the Online Grammar by a certain preference for this dialect. In fact, all quoted Udi material represents the Vartashen dialect except if marked differently.

The theoretical framework applied to this description resp. analysis is rather eclectic: It wavers between 'Basic Linguistic Theory', 'Functional Typology', and the standard cognitive framework used by the author, namely the 'Grammar of Scenes and Scenarios'. This does not mean that the description/analysis randomly refers to these frameworks. Rather, it tries to use each of them in the appropriate case (and - with respect to cognitive explanations - to a limited extent). The main goal of this Online Grammar is to inform people about how the architecture of the linguistic knowledge system 'Udi' presents itself in the linguistic production of Udi people. 

The user should be aware of the fact that the author is not a native speaker of English. Hence, the English style of this description may sometimes be clumsy or even bad, but I hope that the text still serves its purposes.

Finally, I would like to thank my late Udi teacher Voroshil Gukasjan who gave his utmost in order to train me in his language until he declared me 'ready' to participate in real fieldwork among Udis. I would also like to thank the people from Vartashen and Nidzh for having continued this training in 'real life' (or, as some would say: ecologically valid) situations. Finally, I have to mention Alice Harris from Vanderbilt who again and again brought my interests back to this language by sharing with me her invaluable insights in this language. I do know that we do not agree at every point - but it were just these different points of view that forced me to rethink and reformulate what I know of the language. It's little enough.......