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198                 The Loom of Language
invariable case-mark corresponds to the use of a fairly well-defined
particle in our own language, the effort spent an learning the case-
endings of a Finnish noun or pronoun is not gi eater than the effort
involved in learning the same number of independent words
Analogous remarks apply to the Finnish verb, which has two tense-
forms, present and past, like ours The same personal affixes occur
throughout, and the change in the final root vowel indicating completed
action is the same for all verbs Here is a specimen
mcne-nunc—we go                         mem-nmc—we went
mem-tre—you go                         mem-tre—you went
mcne~var—they go                        meni-vat—they went
Where we should use a separate possessive pronoun in front of a
noun, people who speak a Pinno-Ugnan language use an affix attached
to the end of a noun as the personal affix is attached to the verb. This
personal affix follows the case-mark Thus from talo (house) we get.
in my house            tatoi-i>\a~ifanc—m my houses
your house            ialQi-$$a**nne~~~m your houses
—in their house          taloi-ssa-nsa—in their houses
The first of the three personal af Fixes is the same for the Finnish noun
and Finnish verb. In Samoyede, a language related to Finnish and
Magyar, the same pronoun sullixes appear throughout the conjugation
of the verb and the corresponding possessive derivatives of the noun*
So the formal distinction between noun and verb is tenuous, as seen
by comparing:
lamba»u~~«my ski                mada~u       1 cut (my cutting)
lamba^r—thy ski               mada~r       thou cuttcst (thy cutting)
lamba^dar^his ski              mada-da »   he cuts (his cutting)
The structure of derivative words in languages of the Finno-Ugnan
family is not always as schematic as the examples given might suggest.
In some languages of the family the vowel of the suffix harmonizes with
that of the root-word. The result is that one and die same suffix may
have two or even three different vowels, according to the company it
keeps, e.g. in Finnish elama-ssa means in the hfe9 but tal(hssa means in
the house The modifying sulExes, particularly in Finnish, sometimes
adhere more intimately to the root*, as in the Indo-European languages.
None the less, two essential features are common to all the Finno-
Ugrian group. One is great regularity of the prevailing pattern of deriva-
tives The other i* comparative frted&m from arbitrary affixes which