I’m going to talk about Lezgi verbs in the next couple of entries, so let’s start from the basics.
Lezgi verbs can be divided into two groups: so-called “strong” and “weak” verbs. The latter are much more numerous and in fact new weak verbs can be formed any time (weak verbs are thus an open class). What is the difference between them and what consequences does it have?
For starters, the strong verbs have a thematic vowel while the weak verbs don’t. Thematic vowel is stressed and forms the three verb stems (called Masdar, Imperfective and Aorist; each of them may have a different vowel) from which all the other verbal forms are made. As the weak verbs have no thematic vowel they are stressed on the stem itself, which stays the same in Masdar, Imperfective and Aorist forms.
Examples (pay close attention; SV – strong verb; WV – weak verb):
kisun (WV) ‘fall asleep’
Masdar: kisun (base + Masdar ending for WV: -un)
Imperfective: kisiz (base + Imperf ending for WV: -iz)
Aorist: kisna (base + Aorist ending for WV: -na)
fin (SV) ‘go’
Masdar: fin (base + vowel: -i + Masdar ending for SV: -n)
Imperfective: fiz (base + vowel: -i + Imperf ending for SV: -z)
Aorist: fena (base + vowel: e + Aorist ending for SV: -na)
raxun (SV) ‘talk’
Masdar: raxun (base + vowel: -u + Masdar ending for SV: -n)
Imperfective: raxaz (base + vowel: -a + Imperf ending for SV: -z)
Aorist: raxana (base + vowel: -a + Aorist ending for SV: -na)
As you can see, the thematic vowels differ both between verbs and between stems of one strong verb. In fact, they’re unpredictable, you have to learn them by heart for every strong verb (they are affected by vowel harmony, which limits the choices, but we’ll talk about it later). Fortunately, as we’ve said, there’s only limited number of strong verbs.