In my previous post, we encountered the Old Tuvian verb ṛak- ‘to be green’. The answer to the obvious question is: yes, Old Tuvian does apply verbs in an adjectival function. Let us see how this works:
putoki hilṭā ‘(the) boy is tall’
sari kewā ‘(the) king is old’
So far, so good. But how do we express a meaning like ‘the girls like the tall boy’? Well, we employ the present participle:
hoṛesā hilṭimme putoki wurā
maiden-PL-DAT to.be.tall-PR.PART-ABS boy-ABS to.like-INTRANS-3psg.ABS
So, the present participle of the adjectival verb in this instance behaves pretty much like the adjective we know from English. Of course, the participle takes any case endings from the noun (Suffixaufnahme). In addition to this, Old Tuvian also displays ‘‘regular’’ adjectives derived from nouns: hipārihi ‘golden’, sarihi ‘royal’ etc.
More interesting, though, is the way Old Tuvian makes adjectival comparisons. Any comparative or superlative form as such does not exist. It is the case system which gives a helping hand, so with the ablative case:
putokisatan hilṭā lit. ‘he is tall from boys’, i.e. ‘he is the tallest boy’ (or, depending on context: ‘she/it is taller than (all) the boys’) .
And with the equative case:
putokisunna hilṭā ‘he is as tall as the (other) boys’ or similar.
Again, we may want to express a more complicated meaning including a superlative, as ‘the king beheld the eldest girl’:
sarīwa kewimme hoṛe iokullōsā
king-DAT to.be.old-PR.PART-ABS maiden-ABS to.be.visible-INCH-PAST-INTRANS-3psg.ABS
We note that there is no formal distinction between ‘old girl’ and ‘eldest girl’ here—that must be deduced entirely from context. In English, of course, saying ‘the old girl’ here would imply an accentuation of her age, meaning perhaps that she was older than expected. In that case, Old Tuvian would apply an intensive suffix: kew-iṛt-imme, or maybe an inchoative suffix to denote that she is becoming older, ‘of age’: kew-ull-imme. Thus, contrary to English, Old Tuvian aligns the shorter form with the non-accentuated meaning. Suddenly, the system doesn’t seem that odd anymore.