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Modal particles: биз дээ

10 December 2016

This is part of a series on Modal particles based on textbooks and grammar references that I have to hand.

Биз дээ is a sentence-final particle used to seek confirmation of one's statement or opinion from a listener, although pinning down the actual tone and function can be difficult. Биз дээ is well catered for in sources, including dictionaries, textbooks, and grammar books. Sources make little distinction between биз and биз дээ.


1. Mongolian Language for Beginners
2. Mongolian Language Handbook
3. Mongolian Grammar
4. 蒙古语语法
5. Dictionaries
6. Other

1. Bayarmaa Khalzaa (Mongolian Language for Beginners) 2012

Bayarmaa's explanation of биз дээ relies on a simple equation to English tag questions:

Биз дээ? (isn't it? / is it?, didn't you? / did you? etc.)

Та багш биз дээ?
You are a teacher, aren't you?
Та хоолоо идсэн биз дээ?
You ate your food, didn't you?
Та хоолоо идээгүй биз дээ?
You didn't eat your food, did you?
Ийм гутал үнэтэй биз дээ?
This type of boot is expensive, isn't it?
Монгол хоол амттай биз дээ?
Mongolian food is delicious, isn't it?
Чи ирнэ биз дээ? [irnizdee]
You will come, won't you?

When биз дээ is used after the verb байгаа, sometimes just биз is used.

Гадаа халуун байгаа биз? [baigaaiz]
It's hot outside, isn't it?
Энэ цамц гоё байгаа биз? [goyaigaaiz]
This shirt is pretty, isn't it?
Энэ хоол амттай байгаа биз?
This food is tasty, isn't it?

Takeaways:

1. Биз дээ is used where English would use tag questions.
2. After байгаа, биз can be used by itself.
3. The pronunciation is often reduced to /iz/ in speech.

Problems:

The explanation fails to take into account the various connotations of the tag question 'isn't it' in English, including the difference between rising and falling intonation.


2. T. Uranchimeg (Mongolian Language Handbook) 2007

Uranchimeg treats биз дээ along with -гэж үү? and -гүй юү? Here we look only at the биз дээ examples:

Биз дээ is a tag question. A tag question is a question that is added to the end of a sentence. I use a tag question because I expect you (the listener) to agree with me. I give my idea but express it in the form of a question.

Та миний аавыг танина биз дээ?
Тийм, би аавыг тань эртнээс танина.
You know my father, don't you?
Yes, I have known your father for a long time.
Та миний аавыг таинхгүй биз дээ?
Тийм, би аавыг тань танихгүй.
You don't know my father, do you.
That's right, I don't know your father.
Тэр "Чингис хаан" киног үзсэн биз дээ?
He has seen the movie 'Chingis Khan', hasn't he?
Тэр "Чингис хаан" киног үзээгүй биз дээ?
He hasn't seen the movie 'Chingis Khan', has he?

The speaker expects you to answer "Yes". However, you can answer "No" if you do not agree with the speaker.

Өвөө дайны тухай сонссон биз дээ?
Тэгсэн. Өвөө дайны тухай сонссон.
Grandfather heard about the war, didn't he?
Yes, grandfather heard about the war.
Батзаяа өчигдөр ажилдаа ирсэн биздээ?
Тийм. Батзаяа багш өчигдөр ажилдаа ирсэн.
Teacher Batzaya came to work yesterday, didn't she?
Yes, teacher Batzaya came to work yesterday.
Хүүхдүүд өдөр юм идсэн биз дээ.
Тэгсэн. Хүүхдүүд өдөр юм идсэн.
The children ate something for lunch, didn't they?
Yes, the children ate something for lunch.
Та манай инженертэй уулзсан биз дээ?
Үгүй, Би танай инженертэй уулзаагүй.
You met with our engineer, didn't you?
No, I didn't meet with your engineer.
Та нар үдийн хоолоо идсэн биз дээ?
Үгүй, Бид үдийн хоолоо идээгүй.
You had your lunch, didn't you?
No, we didn't have lunch.

Takeaways:


3. Kullman and Tserenpil (Mongolian Grammar) 2005

Kullman and Tserenpil distinguish among several different usages.

Examples from Tserenpil/Kullman in the Mongolian traditional script can be found here.

Modal particle биз

This particle expresses an assumption. Following a verb with the Tense-Bound Terminating Suffix -на, it expresses indifference:

Та уучилна биз, би үнэхээр завгүй байна.
You will excuse me, won't you. I really don't have time.
Тэр хэзээ ирэх вэ?
Би сайн мэдэхгүй байна. Маргааш ирнэ биз.
When will he come?
I don't know exactly. He might come tomorrow.

Following a verb with a Noun-Determining Suffix, it could be translated using a tag question.

Өнөөдөр сайхан өдөр байгаа биз дээ?
Today it's a nice day, isn't it?
Та түүнтэй уулзаа биз дээ?
You have met him, haven't you?
Та өчигдөр түүнтэй уулзсан биз дээ.
You met him yesterday, didn't you?

As a copula, it equates nouns or adjectives. Sometimes the final vowel (only evident in Classical Script) is stressed.

Энэ үнэн бизээ.
That's probably true.
Та Баатар гуай биш биз?
You're not Mr Baatar, are you?

Takeaways:

Problems:


4. Chingeltei (蒙古语语法) 1991

Note that Chingeltei approaches usage from the Inner Mongolia standard, which at times differs from Mongolian standard.

Chingeltei explains the degree of certainty needed to use биз дээ. All Chinese translations use 吧, which indicates an assumption on the part of the speaker.

Examples from Chingeltei in the Mongolian traditional script can be found here.

推测语气词... биз, биз дээ 表示推测,但是这种推测往往有一定把握,或者自己在一定程度上肯定以后,征询对方的同意。

Rough translation: Modal particles of conjecture...: биз, биз дээ express conjecture, but often the speaker has a certain degree of assurance, or is already sure to a certain extent about this conjecture before seeking the agreement of the listener.

Та чинь Баатарын ах нь биз дээ.
您是巴特尔的哥哥吧。
(You're Baatar's brother, aren't you?)
(My interpretation: Speaker feels relatively sure that the listener is Baatar's brother.)
Чи бас явах дуртай юм биз дээ.
大概你也愿意去吧。
(You probably want to go too, don't you?)
(My interpretation: Speaker feels reasonably confident that the listener wants to go.)
Эртхэн хариаад ирвэл дээр биз дээ.
早点回来好吧。
(I think you agree that) It would be better for you to come back early.
Та лав сонссон биз дээ.
您一定听见了吧。
(You surely must have heard it, haven't you?)
(My interpretation: Speaker has grounds for believing that the listener has heard it.)
Хошуун дарга аймаг дээр байх биз.
旗长在盟里呢吧。
(The banner leader should be in the league.)
(My interpretation: Speaker feels confident in assuming that the banner leader is in the league.)
Та хоёр эндүүрч байна биз.
你们两个误会了吧。
(There is surely a misunderstanding between you two.)
(My interpretation: Speaker feels confident in his/her judgement).

Takeaway:


5. Dictionaries

A number of ordinary dictionaries have entries for биз.

Монгол хэлний дэлгэрэнгүй тайлвар толь edited by Л. Балдан, Ё. Баярсайхан, Э. Пүрэвжав (2008):

БИЗ ᠪᠣᠢ ᠵ᠎ᠠ Таамаглах, төсөөлөх, эргэлзэх, лавшруулах мэтийн санааг илтгэхэд хэрэглэх сул үг, буй заа

Чиний сонссон гаж бүруу чимээ эдэг чинь лав шар шуувууны дуу биз (Д. Цэвэгмид. Зохиолын түүвэр)

Үнэн биз (Үнэн буй заа, үнэн үү)

Тийм биз (тийм буй заа, тийм үү)

A Modern Mongolian-English Dictionary by Gombojab Hangin et al (1986) defines биз as follows:

(predicate particle) must be, maybe, (it) is probable

санаж байгаа биз certainly you remember

A Modern Mongolian-Japanese-English Dictionary / 現代蒙英日辞典 by Tömörtogoo (1977) has the following entry:

Биз aux. v. may be, seems to be, it is probable, perhaps

Биз 助動詞 〜だろう, 〜でしょう, 多分〜でしょう

Та миний үзэгийг хараагүй биз / is it possible you have seen my pen? / あなたは私のペンを見なかったでしょう?

Тэр маргааш ирэхгүй биз / it is probable he will not come tomorrow / 彼は明日来ないでしょう。

Орчин үеэйн Монгол-Япон хэлний товч толь / 現代モンゴル語辞典(改訂増補版) edited by Озава Шигэо / 小沢重男 (undated copy) has the following entry:

биз (bui-ǰa) ❲助❳ [推量を示す助辞] ...だろう, 恐らく, 多分...でしょう。

Та хараагүй биз. あなた見ていなかったでしょう。

Тэр очно биз. 彼は行くだろう。

新蒙汉词典 / Шинэ Монгол-Хятад Толь compiled by the 新蒙汉词典编委会 (2007) has:

биз ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ❲小❳ 大概,也许,或许,多半,想必,看来:

та хараагүй биз? 您大概没看见呢?

тэр очно биз 他大概要去

Монгол-Хятад Толь Бичиг / 蒙汉词典 by Доржсүрэнгийн Болдбаатар (2006) gives:

биз ❲小❳ 啊,吗;

Хүүхэд үүхэдгүй сайн биз дээ?▵孩子大人都好啊?

Хүүхэд эмчлүүлэхэд мөнгө хэрэгтэй байхад чи хатуу сэтгэл гаргаад зээлэхгүй байх юм биш биз дээ? ▵ 儿子治病要借钱,你能狠心不借吗?

ᠮᠡᠩᠭᠣᠯ
ᠬᠢᠲᠠᠳ
ᠲᠣᠯᠢ
(ᠨᠡᠮᠡᠨ
ᠵᠠᠰᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ
ᠳᠡᠪᠲᠡᠷ)
蒙汉词典(增订本) by Inner Mongolian University School of Mongolian Studies Mongolian Language Research Institute (1999) gives:

ᠪᠢᠵᠡ [语] 啊,吧(表示推断):

ᠲᠠ
ᠰᠠᠢᠨ
ᠪᠢᠵᠡ!
你好吧!

ᠬᠢᠵᠢ
ᠴᠢᠳᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ
ᠪᠢᠵᠡ
ᠳᠠ!
会做吧!

Takeaway: All dictionaries characterise биз in terms of expressing conjecture or tentative conclusions.


6. More miscellaneous examples

From Япон хэлний өгүүлбэр зүйн тайлбар толь (日本語文型辞典) (Раднаагийн Баттогтох) (2012).

These are all Mongolian examples translated from the Japanese and don't necessarily represent natural spontaneous usage. What is interesting, however, is that the translator feels that だろう is often suitably expressed as биз. だろう is used to make a conjecture in Japanese; that is, it is used to make a statement that the speaker feels (or hopes) is true but is not willing to assert categorically.

Энэ номыг уншаад, хэний ч догдлохбүй байхгүй биз.
この本を読むと、誰でも感動せずにはいられないだろう。
(Surely) no one who read this book could fail to be moved.
Одоогийнх шиг улс төрийн нөхцөл байдал нь ард түмэнд үл итгэх бодол төрүүлэхгүйгээр өнгөрөхгүй биз ээ.
今のような政治情勢では国民に不信感を与えずにはおかないだろう。
(Surely) a political situation of the current kind can only cause lack of confidence among the populace.
Ээжүүд одоо хаана байгаа бол оо?
Хэдий нь буудалдаа очоо биз.
お母さんたちは今頃どこにいるかしら。
もうホテルに着いているだろう。
I wonder where the mothers are now.
They've probably arrived at the hotel.
Ээж ээ, Америкт суралцах тухай яриа. Дэмжинэ биз дээ?
お母さん、アメリカに留学する話、賛成してくれるでしょ?
Mum, about going to study in America, you'll support me won't you?
Өглөөжин цасан дунд шувууны ажиглалт хийлээ.
Тэгээд хүйтэн байсан биз.
朝はずっと雪の中で鳥の観察をしていたんです。
それは、寒かっただろうね。
I was watching birds in the snow all morning.
That must have been cold.