Unresolved syntactic topics

Disambiguation of grammatical properties

Actor vs. TV

Com Sg. vs. Loc Pl.

Comitative singular and locative plural are homonymous in North Sámi. This is the biggest unsolved topic in the sme disambiguation file. What makes the topic so difficult to resolve is the fact that both comitative and locative can function as arguments of verbs and nouns as well as adjuncts. Arguments are fixed within the verbs subcategorization frame. Adjuncts are optional and supply additional information. The border can be difficult to draw.


The locative is quite flexible with respect to its functions, which usually makes it rather difficult to exclude it as a potential case.

Theta roles according to Sammallahti: GÁLDU, HÁLDDAŠEADDJI, BÁIKI, LUOBAHEADDJI

GÁLDU: Máhtte bođii Mázes.

HÁLDDAŠEADDJI: Juhána beana lea Máhtes.

BÁIKI: Máhtte orru Mázes.

LUOBAHEADDJI: Máhtte oaččui Márehis sabehiid.


Comiative can have either an instrumental, a sociative or another idiosyncratic (idiomatic) function. Nickel describes comitative in object or adverbial position with two main connotations: instrumental and relational (sociative).

such as in: Dat láve álo riidalit isidiin.

Disambiguation can be attempted with respect to:

  1. The subcategorization frame of verbs
  2. Number disambiguation
  3. Word order
  4. Signal words

1. The subcategorization+adjunct frame of verbs:

There are illative verbs, comitative verbs, locative verbs and verbs that have variants with different subcategorization frames. Additionally, there are numerous ways of combining ordered comitative and locative adjuncts. Verbs taking oblique objects, such as luohpat+Loc that helps in so far as we can exclude variant 6, which means if we only have one argument the situation is unambiguous

  1. verb+Loc
  2. verb+Loc+Com
  3. verb+Com+Loc
  4. verb+Loc+Com+Loc
  5. verb+Com+Com+Loc
  6. verb+Com
  7. ...

Unless: there are homonymous variants of a verb with different subcategorization frames (or different realizations of subcategorization frames if one believes that the object simply is not realized in some kind of surface structure):

In the case of borrat, the verb has a transitive and intransitive variant:

  • Mun boran. (Used in the same way as the intransitive boradit: Mun boradan.)
  • Mun boran láibbi.

2. Number disambiguation

Some words are typically not used in plural such as for example "ipmárdus" "doaivu" "dárogiella" "gelbbolašvuohta" "kulturduogáš" "kulturgelbbolašvuohta" "sámegiella" unless their plurality is stressed by particular words such as "goappeš", "goappašat", "earálágan", "máŋgalágan" or Num or Ord. There are other words that typically do not appear in singular, such as "beassaš" "čalbmeláse" "gálssot" "headja" "sabet" "sisttet" "skárri". But here the situation is a bit more difficult as those words can appear in singular with slightly different semantics.

3. Word order

Usually the argument or adjunct can stand to the left or right of the verb or noun.

Is there a certain order of adjuncts or arguments?

Several locatives

There can be more than one locative in a sentence

  1. one verb or noun
    1. locatives with the same function (theta roles respectively adverbial functions) have to stand next to each other, one of them is a specification of the other such as in:

      I live in Berlin, in Germany.

    2. locatives with different functions do not have to be in neighbouring positions
  2. several verbs and/or nouns
    1. that means different verbs and nouns can have a locative with the same function as adjuncts and arguments
Several comitatives

There can be more than one comitative in a sentence

  1. one verb or noun
    1. comitatives with the same function
    2. comitatives with different functions

      • *Mon stoagan iežan rátnáiguin vávváiguin. - I play with my friends with dolls.
      • Mon stoagan iežan rátnáiguin vávváiin. - I play with my friends with a doll.
      • Mon stoagan vávváiguin iežan rátnáiguin. - I play with dolls with my friends.
      • Iežan rátnáiguin mon stoagan vávváiguin. - With my friends I play with dolls. (topicalization when the following question is answered: Geaiguin don stoagat vávváguin? - With whom do you play with dolls?)
  2. several verbs and/or nouns

4. Signal words

Usually work together with verbs and indicate a particular case

Examples are oktii (+Com), searválagaid (+Com)

5. Heads

Constructions where a head chooses a locative or comitative substantive can have different forms: examples for this are:

  1. finite or infinte verb + complement
  2. (deverbal) noun + complement
  3. adjectival verb (participle) + complement

  1. ## Mii leat lihkostuvvan bures dáinna prošeavttain.
    The verb "lihkostuvvat" chooses the comitative "dáinna prošeavttain".
  2. ## Mis leat ovttasbargočoahkkimat PP-bálvalusain, skuvllain, mánáidsuodjalusain ja skulvadearvvašvuođabálvalusain.
    The noun "ovttasbargočoahkkin" chooses the comiatives "PP-bálvalusain", "skuvllain", "mánáidsuodjalusain".
  3. ## Sieiddi bálvalemiin sturron eallu gohčoduvvui bálvvoseallun. Here the participle "sturron" chooses the comitative "bálvalemiin".

6. Something about nouns as heads

There are deverbal nouns marked by a derivational affix, which behave as their verbal counterparts with respect to complementation.

There are other nouns that typically prefer locatives or comitatives as their complements.

LIST LOC-COMPL-NOUN = "ávki" "árvalus" "dovdu" "ipmárdus" "ovda#mearka";
    # Nouns that take a locative
    # There is also an idiomatic use of "ovda#mearka" in the constructions "ovdamearkka dihte" and "ovdamearka" (Ess).

LIST COM-COMPL-NOUN = "bargu" "lihkku" "ovtta#oaivil" "ovttas#bargu" "šiehtadus" ;

Gen vs. Acc


We got a problem if there are more than one heads and the number of genitive modificators without attributes excedes the number of heads, which are modified.

  • 1 head, 1 modifier; 2 heads, 2 modifiers => no problem
  • 2 heads, >2 modifiers => problem

such as in:

        "SDD" N ACR Sg Nom @SUBJ
        "jođihit" V TV Ind Prs Sg3 @+FMAINV
        "bajit" A Superl Attr @AN>
        "dássi" N Sg Acc @OBJ
        "dássi" N Sg Gen @GN>
        "dearvvašvuođa#politihkka" N* laš A Attr @AN>
        "stivret" V* TV N Actio Sg Acc @OBJ
        "stivret" V* TV N Actio Sg Gen @GN>
        "fitnodat" N Pl Gen @GP>
        "hárrái" Po @ADVL
        "." CLB <<<

(TV A)(G Po)
TV G A Adv not Po
TV (G G Po) null object

(TV A)(G G Po)
(TV (G A)(G Po)
(TV (G G A) Adv
(TV (G G G Po)

How to overcome this: Look at the properties of the involved GA constituents: GA1 GA2 is not (G A) if: 1 = common, 2 = proper
1 = abstract, 2 = concrete

Gen vs. Nom

The typical Gen/Nom case is a string of 1 2 3.. X, where X is a Genitive case assigner.. The question is then whether it is possible to break the string at some point, and claim that we have, say G N G N Po. Cases in point:

Min plánaid Sámi skuvllaid oktavuođas
Here, the Prop breaks the Gen string


- check the usefulness of the tag +Range for other than dates

- write rules that include + Range/ +Date

TIME expressions

Our TIME set consists of the following subsets:


TIME expressions are special with respect to their behaviour as adverbials. They can be time adverbials not only in one of the oblique cases, but also in genitive and accusative.

One gets the following syntactic tags from homonymy

  1. Genitive @GN>
  2. Genitive @ADVL
  3. Accusative @ADVL
  4. Accusative @OBJ
  5. Locative @ADVL
  6. Nominative @SUBJ

1. Genitive @GN>

jagi: Mis ii leat guolli ovdal go jagi loahpas.

áigodaga: Doaibmagolut leat kr 54 378', mii lea kr 964' eambbo go áigodaga gaskamearálašbušeahtta.

suoidnemánu: Suoidnemánu gaskamearalaš temperatuvra govvida muhtin muddui man bures šattut sáhttet lieđđugoahtit.

2. Genitive @ADVL

Expresses according to Nickel how often or how many times something happens, when it happens and under which circumstances.

Mun ledjen doppe máŋgga geardde. - I have been there a lot of times.

Mun vuolggán boahtte vahku. - I am leaving next week.

3. Accusative @ADVL

This is for expression where the time period in contrast to point of time is expressed.

Dat orui doppe vihtta jagi. - He lived ther for five years.

4. Accusative @OBJ

such as in:

Lea leamaš liiggás oanehis áigodat oažžut bohtosiid oidnosii, čájehuvvo ahte easttadeaddji buohcanjávkan dárbbaha áiggi vai váikkuha nu movt lea sávaldat. (áiggi)

5. Locative @ADVL

That applies to locatives vs. AccPx such as in:

Jus oahppi dahje ohppiidjoavku jávká lobihemiid osiid diimmus dahje olles diimmu.

6. Nominative @SUBJ

This applies to vahkku which can be Nom, Gen and Acc

Jus vássá vahkku nu ahte dákkár duođaštus ii leat boahtán goddái, de galgá dát dieđihuvvot riikka stevdnevihtana bokte.

Resolving ambiguity between @GN> and @ADVL

Ambiguity in this case is usually avoided by a particular word order:

dan áigodaga goanagas (@GN>) vs. gonagas dan áigodaga (@ADVL)

áigodaga goanagas (@GN>)

dan áiggi goanagas (@GN>) vs. gonagas dan áiggi (@ADVL)

áiggi goanagas (@GN>)

jagi bušeahtta (@GN>) vs. bušeahtta jagi (@ADVL)

Px vs. Loc

Time expressions with numerals that modify them cannot/usually do not bear a possessive suffix.

Jagis 2002. - In the year 2002. / * Her year 2002.

SgNomCmpnd vs. SgGenCmp

This is a case that cannot be disambiguated.

"<Dikšun->" S:1862, 1862
        "dikšun" N SgNomCmp Cmpnd S:1440 @CMPND
        "dikšun" N SgGenCmp Cmpnd S:1440 @CMPND
        "sosiála" A SgGenCmp Cmpnd @CMPND
        "sosiála" A SgNomCmp Cmpnd @CMPND

One possibility could be to introduce a third tag, and have it as a last resort: SgNGCmp or something like that. Another possibility is to just go for Gen (this is not an optimal solution).

Disambiguation of idiosyncratic cases

Disambiguation of buot

The question is whether it should be adverbial or whether it should be quantifier (called indefinite pronoun)

Disambiguation of suorggis vs. suorggi

Disambiguation of Sápmi vs. sápmi

The first question to ask: Is this real ambiguity? Or do we simply have one form which always includes two different possiblities of interpretation.

Sápmi   Sápmi+N+Prop+Sem/Plc+Sg+Nom
Sápmi   sápmi+N+Sg+Nom

Sápmi is a place propernoun meaning Sámiland; the noun sápmi on the other hand means Saami person, Saami language and is often used adjectival denoting everything regarding the Sámi; an adjective form does not exist.

The problem of ambiguity arises in cases where the singular genitive form is used with capital letters modifying some other noun such as in the following examples.

Sámi Ovdanahttinfoanda ferte vuordit árra čakčii ovdal ruhtadilli čielga.
Sámi doaibmaplána dárbu ja ulbmilat .
Sámi perspektiiva iešguđet bálvalussuorggis.
Sámi mánáid ja nuoraid bajásšaddaneavttut.
Sámi geavaheaddjiid bálvalusaid vuođđun ferte leat sámegielmáhttu ja sámi kulturmáhttu.
Sámi fierpmádagat ollet dávjá gielddarájáid rastá, ja danin veajášii leat buorre, juos gielddat barggašedje ovttas.
...2001 giđa mátkkoštii Beaivváš Sámi Teáhter...

In some cases "Sámi", the genitive form, clearly denotes the place-name:

Sámi Radio - Sámiland's radio
Sámi dutkamiid guovddáš - Sámiland's research centre
Sámi Kulturmuitoráđđi - Sámiland's culture..council

In other cases it clearly does not:

Sámi guovllut - Sámi-related areas
Sámi perspektiiva lea dehálaš. - Sámi-related perspectives are important

Within a sentence it would have been written with minuscules.

This is an example, where the plural is used, clearly indicating sápmi, not Sápmi:

Norgga Sámiid Riikkabellodat - The Norwegian Sámi-people's ..party

To be continued...

Disambiguation of guđetge


maidege Sg or Pl

In: "In leat gullan dus maidege."