A distinct marker of completion and inadvertence within the tense-aspect-evidentiality-system of Khalkha Mongolian

Brosig, Benjamin (31 August 2021). A distinct marker of completion and inadvertence within the tense-aspect-evidentiality-system of Khalkha Mongolian (Unpublished). In: 54th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. online. 30. Aug. - 3. Sep. 2021.

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In Khalkha Mongolian, the so-called “Completive” or “Intensive” marker -čix- is found in 12% of finite predicates (in a 6-hour corpus of free conversation). Its meaning is usually described as stressing the completion of an action (e.g. ÖMYSMSDSMKBSG 1964: 490). In the aspecto-temporal domain, -čix- denotes the attainment of actional boundaries and may disambiguate predicates in which such attainment is optional. For instance, it is incompatible with progressive marking and forces past-referring interpretations of perfective markers (1), resultative interpretations of resultative-continuative markers, and future-referring interpretations for the non-past forms of inceptive-stative verbs (2).

(1) a. av-čix-laa. b. av-laa.
‘[SUBJ] took it.’ ‘[SUBJ] is about to take it.’ / ‘[SUBJ] took it.’
(2) a. med-čix-ne. b. med-ne.
come.to.know+know-COMPL-NPST come.to.know+know-NPST
‘[SUBJ] will come to know.’ ‘[SUBJ] knows.’

However, actional meanings don’t exhaust the semantic range of -čix-. Meanings such as unexpectedness, suddenness, forcefulness (Svantesson 2003: 168), inadvertent or dissatisfactory execution (Brosig 2014: 46-51 on closely related Khorchin Mongolian) or carelessness (informants) have been suggested, but not demonstrated. Similar notions have been reported for the Turkic auxiliary verbs tašla-/kamiš- ‘throw away’ and ïːδ- ‘send away, release’ (Johanson & Csató 2018: 154). which are comparable since -čix- is connected with -ž orxi- [-CVB + ‘abandon’] (Luvsanvandan 1968: 143) by a cross-linguistically attested grammaticalization path for completive aspect (Kuteva et al. 2019: 252-253).

Judging from Khalkha corpus data, it appears evident that marking the attainment of actional boundaries cannot account for the wide distribution of -čix-. With the Perfect Participle in -sAn, the Completive mostly shows up in contexts in which the speaker lacks full control, either with inherently uncontrollable actions (3) or with events that the speaker can partially influence (4). This usage is also frequent with other markers such as habituals (5).

(3) šönö-d=öö bür arv-an xed bol-čix-son bai-san.
night-DAT=RPOSS complete ten-ATTR how.many become-COMPL-PRF.PTCP AUX-IM.PRS
‘At night, it had even turned ten something [minus degrees].’
(4) aaan. + ooon. + aan, odoo oilgo-čix-son.
‘Ahhh. Ohhh. Well, now I understood.’
(5) yaay, bi barag borc-iig tüüxii-geer=nʲ id-čix-deg bai-san=yum=šd.
‘Ick, I used to eat the dried beef stripes almost raw [since I so much liked soup with beef stripes, I didn’t care to wait for them to soften up back then].’

In this presentation, then, using corpus data confirmed by multiple informants, we will explore

1. the extent to which -čix- is required to facilitate an aspectual interpretation or rather helps to express notions related to reduced agency such as lack of anticipation, control, volitionality or care
2. whether the form always takes the perspective of the speaker or might also relate to the control etc. of the subject or another participant
3. how -čix- correlates with aspectual and evidential suffixes which reflect the speaker’s perspective, and to what extent it fulfills a role that in several Southern Mongolic languages (e.g Fried 2018) is fulfilled by evidential markers.


Brosig, Benjamin. 2014. The tense-aspect system of Khorchin Mongolian. In: Pirkko Suihkonen & Lindsay Whaley (eds.), Typology of languages of Europe and Northern and Central Asia. Amsterdam: Benjamins: 3-65.
Fried, Robert. 2018. Egophoricity in Mangghuer: Insights from pragmatic uses of the subjective/objective distinction. In: Simeon Floyd, Elisabeth Norcliffe & Lila San Roque (eds.), Egophoricity. Amsterdam: Benjamins: 197–224.
Johanson, Lars & Eva Csató. 2018. Grammaticalisation in Turkic. In: Bernd Heine & Heiko Narrog (eds.), Grammaticalisation from a typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 146-165.
Kuteva, Tania, Bernd Heine, Bo Hong, Haiping Long, Heiko Narrog & Seongha Rhee. 2019. World lexicon of grammaticalization. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Luvsanvandan, Š. 1968. Orčin cagiin mongol xelnii bütec: Mongol xelnii üg, nöxcöl xoyor nʲ [The structure of contemporary Mongolian: the words and suffixes of Mongolian. Ulaanbaatar: Šinžlex uxaanii akademi.
Öbür mongγul-un yeke surγaγuli-yin mongγul sudulul-un degedü surγaγuli-yin mongγul kele bicig sudulqu γajar [Institute for Mongolian language and script at the faculty of Mongolian studies of Inner Mongolia University]. 1964. Odu üy-e-yin mongγul kele [Modern Mongolian]. Kökeqota: Öbür mongγul-un arad-un keblel-ün qoriy-a.
Svantesson, Jan-Olof. 2003. Khalkha. In: Juha Janhunen (ed.), The Mongolic languages. London: Routledge: 154–176.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Brosig, Benjamin


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation


[1515] Evidentiality in Time and Space Official URL




Benjamin Brosig

Date Deposited:

21 Sep 2021 14:20

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:53





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