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Let me conjugate აშენება asheneba "to build" as an example.

In the present indicative:

ვაშენებ v-a-shen-eb-Ø "I build"

აშენებ Ø-a-shen-eb-Ø "you build"

აშენებს Ø-a-shen-eb-s "he builds"

The imperfect (imperfective past) is formed nearly identically, except with the addition of an extra -d- after the thematic suffix (-eb-, in this case). Since this creates an (I assume) illegal cluster, an (I assume) epenthetic -i is added to the end of the verb - except for 3.SG, where -s is swapped out for -a instead:

ვაშენებდი v-a-shen-eb-d-i "I was building"

აშენებდი Ø-a-shen-eb-d-i "you were building"

აშენებდა Ø-a-shen-eb-d-a "he was building"

The present subjunctive is nearly identical to the imperfect, except now this post-d- vowel is forced to be -e, and the -a in 3.SG goes back to being -s:

ვაშენებდე v-a-shen-eb-d-e-Ø "I build (SBJ)"

აშენებდე Ø-a-shen-eb-d-e-Ø "you build (SBJ)"

აშენებდეს Ø-a-shen-eb-d-e-s "he builds (SBJ)"

So what I was initially taught was that v- was the 1.SG subject marker, Ø- was the 2.SG subject marker, and that -s/-a were two different allomorphs of the 3.SG subject marker (it's also -a in e.g. the aorist past: ააშენა a-a-shen-Ø-a "he built").

I was trying to look up where the -e evolved from. What is it, exactly, diachronically? But in looking for what the relevant search term for this suffix is, I stumbled across this description on the Wiktionary Georgian verbs appendix:

The transitive verbs (which employ the v- set) use the suffixal nominal marker -s- (as in a-šen-eb-s, c̣er-s) for the third person singular in present and future screeves. Intransitive verbs, the past and perfective screeves of the transitive and medial verbs, and indirect verbs, employ sets of vowels: in the indicative, i (strong) or e (weak) for the first/second person, o or a for the third person; in the subjunctive, the suffixal nominal marker is the same for all persons, generally e or o or, less frequently, a. The aorist intransitive form avašene, 'I built', has the structure, a-v-a-šen-∅-e, characterized by preverb -a- and weak suffixal nominal marker -e-.

Essentially saying that there aren't two morphemes here, the 3.SG -s/-a and whatever -i/-e is supposed to be... there's one morpheme here, with four allomorphs -s/-a/-i/-e, which they're calling the "suffixal nominal marker".

I... cannot fathom why that would be the way to analyze the verb system, not least of which because it implies აშენებდეს a-shen-eb-d-e-s "he builds (SBJ)" has two copies of the same marker placed back-to-back.

But plenty of other papers seem to take it for granted that there is such a thing as the "suffixal nominal marker" slot in the Georgian verb template. For example, this, this, and this - they're not about the "suffixal nominal marker", but they all list out the verb template and give one suffix slot the name "suffixal nominal marker".

I don't understand why 1) this would be one verb category and not two separate unrelated categories (subject and... mood, I guess?), or 2) why they would be "nominal" in nature? I guess they superficially look like the nominative case allomorph -i and the dative case -s, but I don't know why you would conclude that slapping noun cases onto a verb is where these evolved from? I've been looking up "suffixal nominal markers" looking for an article to explain this but I can't find any, they all just presuppose that they exist. What am I missing here?

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  • The verb template on the same page calls that slot the suffixal person marker, which (to someone like me who knows very little of Georgian verbs) would seem to be a more intuitive name for it, given that it seemingly marks the person of the subject/object. I have no idea how to account for the -e-s in a-šen-eb-d-e-s, though – it looks like the same slot filled twice to me as well. May 14 at 14:21

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