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Re: Applicatives (was: Re: Requesting some challenging sentences)

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Sunday, October 30, 2005, 20:01
Thanks to Tom, who gave a very thorough description of
applicativization.  One quick question:

Tom wrote:
I don't think the "third position" counts as "oblique" for the
purpose of this terminology.  Promoting "third position" to "second
position" in an indirect/direct language is called "Dative Movement";
promoting "third position" to "second position" in a
secundative/primative language is called "Anti-Dative Movement".

In the last clause, do you mean "second position" to "third position"?

Anyway, a last note, applicativization, in my mind, is a process
like, say, relativization, where it can only apply to certain categories
which the language defines, and so all you need to do is figure out
which categories it applies to.  Applicatives are often used as
rhetorical/stylistic devices, or in reference tracking.  So a language
with a lot of applicatives, is probably one where reference tracking
is extremely important.  For example, you may have a language
where an argument that's in focus can never be less than a direct
object.  So if you want to say, "My father has a pool cue that's been
in the family for generations.  Yesterday, for the first time, he let
me play pool with it", you'd use an instrumental applicative in the
second clause, and probably demote "pool" to some kind of olique
argument, so you'd get, "Yesterday, for the first time, he let me
with-play it by means of pool", or something like that.  The opposite
would be strongly dispreferred.  In fact, these types of sentences
in English start to get bizarre the further away you push the
introduced topic, because English is sensitive to this, as well.  So
take the following:

"My grandparents own a candy store.  Lots of children like to
take their friends there."

getting worse...

"My grandparents own a candy store.  I hear that mayor smith
once told a secretary to leave his notebook there."

and yet worse...

"My grandparents own a candy store.  In Canada, Bill heard about
a couple that owned a farm near Sonoma that had been married
by a minister who'd once went to it."

None of these is ungrammatical, just a little odd.  This is because
when you introduce a topic in English, one expects the subject of
the next sentence to usually be the same--especially when the
subject is pronominalized.  Relative clauses are also used often,
and this is where English takes advantage of its ability to relativize
a lot of things.  For the first one, for example, you could say:

"My grandparents own a candy store where lots of children like
to take their friends."

That'd be relativizing a location, but perhaps the more natural
would be to turn into an goal...

"My grandparents own a candy store that lots of children like
to take their friends to."

One thing I've found (and this is by no means a direct correlation;
just something I've noticed) is that languages that relativize fewer
positions tend to have more applicatives.  Often you'll find if a
language has five or more types of applicatives, only subjects can
be relativized.  There's one language in particular I'm thinking of,
but I can't remember it's name...  Anyway, that's my two cents.

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison