Case Suffix -Ø in Mongolian and Manju

Kyoko Maezono

Case Suffix -Ø in Mongolian and Manju

(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)

Among the languages typically classified as Altaic there are many common typological features, for example, the word order Subject + Object + Verb, a generally agglutinative morphology, as well as nominative-accusative alignment etc.

In this paper I want to argue another common feature for the two Altaic languages Mongolian and Manju. Under certain circumstances, the case suffix can be omitted, even though grammatical relations should be marked with case suffixes in these agglutinative languages.

By comparing sentences from Erdeni-yin Tobči (蒙古源流) which is originally a Mongolian chronicle of the Year 1662 written by Saγang Sečen with its Manju translation we find that a case suffix in Mongolian is often not marked with a case suffix in Manju vice versa.

In the following sentences we find the accusative-suffix for the direct Object in one language and not in another, e.g.

  1. (Mo) accusative – (Ma) -Ø
    (Mo) dörben yeke Daidu qota-yi (acc.=dir. Obj.) egüdün (IV 231,1-2) ‘He founded (these) four great Daidu cities, …’
    (Ma) duin amba daidu hoton (-Ø) weilefi teme. (54,10) ‘id.’
  2. (Mo) -Ø – (Ma) accusative
    (Mo) tayisi (-Ø) uribasu ber ese bolbai (IV 262,7-8) ‘Although I invited the Tayisi, he did not come (literally: it did not realize).’
    (Ma) taiši be (acc.=dir. Obj.) hôlaha. jiderakô. (59,9) ‘I invited the Taisi. He didn´t come.´

An absent case suffix -Ø is not an expected standard feature of agglutinative languages except for the subject, but is often practiced in Mongolian and Manju. Parallels to structures of isolating languages remain to be discussed.