Morphemic form: V{niaqcarə}V (Combinations)
New orthography: +niarsaraa, +niarsaraaq
Proto-eskimoic root:
Constituents: V{niaq}V + {?}
Morpheme type: Verbal modifier
Left sandhi: Default (additive, epenthetic or phonotactically truncative)
Right sandhi: None


Form and usage:

This affix is not mentioned in Fortescue et al. (2010), nor in Schultz-Lorentzen (1958) or any of the older dictionaries. The earliest attestation seems to be in Petersen (1967), which gives the forms -niarssarâ, -niarssaraoĸ, and it subsequently appears in Fortescue (1983) and in later editions of the Greenlandic Dictionary (most recently, the DAKA). This suggests that this affix is a fairly recent invention.

Unfortunately, it is not clear what it consists of: The first component is obviously V{niaq}V, in the sense of 'try to', but the remainder is unknown. My own best guess is that the second component is V{ðarə}V, 'habitually Vb', which is an old, irregular and mostly non-productive variant of V{ðaq}V. However, this hypothesis offers no explanation as to why /ð/ has become /c/ in this context, contrary to the usual ð-rule.

As argued above, this affix seems to be a new formation, so it cannot be due to an historic sound process that is no longer active. One possible explanation could thus be that it is due to a misunderstanding of the form/behaviour of V{ðarə}V (maybe caused by its irregular behaviour), treating it instead as being -ssarâ, -ssaraoĸ, rather than with alternating 't' and 'ss'. However, this would suggest that we should also be able to find the forms -ssarâ, -ssaraoĸ attested elsewhere, on their own (i.e. without V{niaq}V) following a consonant. These forms are indeed listed in Petersen (1967), but seemingly not elsewhere, and this dictionary does not give any further hints to their origin.

With respect to the meaning, there also seems to be some confusion. According to the DAKA, 'try' can be expressed in the following ways:

However, V{niaqcarə}V seems to be preferred, at least by some speakers (Ilulissat), over ooqattaarpaa as a way to express 'attempt' (and thus limiting ooqattaarpaa to mean 'try tasting' or 'try on' e.g. a new pair of shoes). Whether this reflects a general change in the usage/meaning, or just local preferences, is unclear.

Verb stem

Right sandhi: ə-contraction
Valency: Divalent (valency 2)
Diathesis: Agentive (NPP)


Meaning Notes
Agent tries (despite difficulty) to Vb Patient Examples
Agent tries (despite difficulty) to Vb When used with intransitive endings