*Došol sum and *sum dojden in Macedonian: Some Comments on the Syntax of Macedonian sum-Matrix Verb and sum-Auxiliary in Resultative Constructions

Elisabeth Elliott, University of Toronto

Based on data collected to determine the semantic meanings of the resultative functions of Macedonian active constructions of the type ‘be’ plus agreeing -n(-)/-t(-) participle, e.g., dojden sum ‘I am here (literally: arrived),’ and ‘be’ plus agreeing l-form, e.g., sum došol ‘I have arrived,’ I made the observation that Macedonian ‘be’ (henceforth sum) functions as an auxiliary or as a matrix (finite) verb. This distinction—sum-aux. and sum-matrix—is seen in different syntactic patterns and is dependent on the semantic function of sum. Korubin (1974, 1976, and 1990) was the first to propose this distinction. He shows that in the standard language in unmarked contexts sum-matrix does not occur sentence initially while sum-aux. does. In this work Korubin’s observation will be expanded upon, predominately for the literary language as it exists in Skopje, and it will be shown that distinctive syntactic clausal patterns are found for sum-aux. and sum-matrix. Some comparison will also be made to syntactic patterns in certain Macedonian dialects.

In Macedonian sum-matrix is present in all persons and numbers and functions as the matrix verb in, for example, simplex clauses with nominal or adjectival predicates and in resultative constructions of the type jas sum jaden ‘I have eaten’. Sum-aux., however, is present only in 1st and 2nd persons singular and plural; it functions as the auxiliary and only occurs in the unmarked past l-form, e.g., jas sum jadel ‘I have eaten’. I will argue that clause initially sum-aux. is proclitic and is distinguished from sum-matrix which is enclitic when it occurs with verbal adjectival, nominal, or adjectival predicates in neutral word order in declarative indicative non-negated non-elliptical clauses without nominal clitics. For example (NB.: all data are taken from native sources and/or tested on native speakers, and though all examples here are in 1st and 3rd persons singular the same patterns are observed for all other persons and numbers; these will be included in the paper):

I arrived/have arrived.
He arrived/has arrived.

(2)a.Jas sumdojden.
I am here (literally: arrived).
He is here (literally: arrived).

I am a Macedonian.
He is a Macedonian.

This restrictive syntactic environment, i.e., declarative indicative non-negated non-elliptical clauses without nominal clitics, is chosen as a starting point because under such conditions the distinction between sum-aux. and sum-matrix is clearest. In other syntactic environments both sum-aux. and sum-matrix exhibit proclitic patterns; this may explain why the distinction is often not realized (for example, cf. 1a and 2a). A brief discussion will also be included of Korubin’s and Tomic’s (1997) examples with sum-matrix in clause initial position. Time permitting, the syntactic patterns of sum-auxiliary and sum-matrix in certain other types of clauses will also be briefly examined.

Recent work on the syntax of Macedonian clitics categorizes all instances of present tense sum as auxiliary (Tomic 1997) and does not account for the distinction between sum-auxiliary and sum-matrix copula in Macedonian observed by Korubin (1974, 1976, and 1990). Baerman and Billings, in response to Tomic, distinguish between auxiliary and matrix copula, but only in third persons, i.e., e ‘is3sg,’and se ‘are3pl,’ are matrix (finite) copulas while the remaining persons—sum ‘am1sg.’, si ‘are2sg.,’ sme ‘are1pl.,’ ste ‘are2pl.’—are auxiliaries (1998:24). My work expands upon Baerman and Billings by arguing that in all present tense instances of sum followed by an l-form sum functions as an auxiliary, and elsewhere sum functions as a matrix (finite) verb. Given the restrictive syntactic environment under consideration in this paper, Baerman’s and Billings’ (1998) arguments concerning the correlation of prosody and clitic placement will not be treated at this time, though their support of Korubin’s observation that sum-matrix need not be adjacent to verbal adjectives will be maintained. This paper concentrates on the different syntactic patterns of the Macedonian resultative constructions dojden sum and sum došol as evidence that in the dojden sum construction sum functions as a matrix (finite) verb while in the sum došol construction sum functions as an auxiliary. This observation, together with others such as position of temporal reference (R), illustrate that the dojden sum types of construction are (present) Resultatives, i.e., present states that exist as a result of past events (Bybee et al. 1994:54), and are not (present) perfects, i.e., past events whose results have present relevance. Additionally, the conclusions argued for here illustrate that re-analysis of the syntax of sum in Macedonian is necessary.


Baerman, Matthew and Loren Billings. (1998) “Macedonian Clitics and the Trisyllabic Stress Window.” Mila Dimitrova-Vulchanova, Lars Hellan, Ivan Kasabov, and Ilyana Krapova (eds.). Papers from Second Conference on Formal Approaches to South Slavic Languages Sofia September 1997. University of Trondheim, Working Papers in Linguistics vol. 31. Norway. 13–32.

Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins and William Pagliuca. (1994) The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the Languages of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Korubin, Blagoja. (1974) “Mesto glagola sum kak vspomogatel′nogo i kak svjazki v makedonskom literaturnom jazyke.” Grammatičeskoe opisanie slavjanskix jazykov: koncepcii i metody. Moskva: Nauka. 244–50.

—. (1976) “Glagolot sum kako pomošen i kako vrska.” In Korubin, Blagoja. Jazikot naš denešen, kn. 2. Biblioteka Literaturen zbor, 4. Skopje: Biblioteka Literaturen zbor. 82–93.

—. (1990) “Mestoto na glagolot sum kako pomošen i kako spona vo makedonskiot literaturen jazik.” In Korubin, Blagoja. Na makedonsko gramatički temi. Posebni izdanija, kniga 18. Skopje: Institut za makedonski jazik “Krste Misirkov.” 292–97.

Tomic, Olga Misheska. (1997) “Non-First as a Default Clitic Position.” Journal of Slavic Linguistics 5(2):301–23.