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In Kazakh, there is this verb ету etw. It appears after Russian infinitives so that they can be conjugated in Kazakh.

For example:
EN: invest
RU: инвестировать investirovat'
KZ: инвестировать ету investirovat' etw

Sentence:
EN: I want to invest
RU: Я хочу инвестировать ya khochu investirovat'
KZ: Менің инвестировать еткім келеді meniñ investirovat' etkim keledi

The word apparently used to mean "do" but now it mainly functions to conjugate Russian loanswords.

What is this called?

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  • That’s fairly similar to する suru in Japanese, though that is still also the general word for ‘do’ as well. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 11:59
  • Are we sure it lost the original meaning of to do/make? Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 20:39
  • Words don't assimilate loanwords.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 21:04
  • 1
    @Lambie Well -ировать is in fact mainly used for loanwords. Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 4:50
  • 1
    @AdamBittlingmayer - The Russian verb-forming suffix -ир- is itself a borrowing from German -ier- which is borrowed from French infinitive suffix.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 8:15

3 Answers 3

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Linguistic literature in typology (e.g. the World Lexicon of Grammaticalization) calls this a "pro-verb", the basic idea behind that name being that, like a pronoun, it's semantically empty without some kind of context. It's a very widespread feature found in many languages; examples that come to mind are:

  • Hindi karnā "to do" and honā "to be", which are used to adapt loaned verbs (from English, Persian, etc.) into the native verbal system, and turn adjectives into change-of-state verbs.
  • Persian kardan "to do" and zadan "to beat".
  • English make (make X annoyed = annoy X).
  • Swedish göra "to build etc." (check this paper).
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Kazakh ету sounds like it might pattern with the concept of "light verbs" in the literature (a semantically light or empty verb that converts other parts of speech into predicates). Granted, these are not necessarily specifically for incorporating foreign terms into another language's conjugation system.

As Janus Bahs Jacquet mentions, する in Japanese is a prototypical example of a light verb, which can take certain loan words such as a noun レビュー "review" and form a verb レビューする "to review". The Japanese wiki page for the concept of light verb lists a couple more terms from the literature -- "delexical verb", "empty verb", "semantically weak verb".

ету could be construed as a light verb that takes a Russian infinitive and produces a Kazakh verb.

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This is too long for a comment ...

The phenomenon is not unique to the Kazakh language, it also occurs in Jenisch (A German based argot) and here is an example from Wörterbuch der Gauner- und Diebessprache (title of the reprint, the Original is titled Chochemer Loschen, Wörterbuch der Gauner- und Diebessprache, vulgo Jenischen Sprache and was published in Meissen, 1833. No author is given):

mochel seyn "verzeihen" (to forgive)

There are a lot of Verbs formed like this. Interesting are the participles, for this example they are mochelnd (present participle) and g'mochelt (past participle).

Unfortunately, I don't know a specific term for seyn in this context.

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