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Re: Ergativity

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Saturday, August 16, 2003, 2:30
Chris Bates wrote:
> > Other than that both > agglutinating and very isolating languages tend to have very strict > order in which the parts of the sentence can occur, and I think someone > already said this but I'm not sure there's a massive amount of > difference.
Actually, the key difference is that isolating languages have moveable morphemes. For example, in English, you can separate auxiliaries like "will" from the verb (He will never run). If English was agglutinating, you couldn't do that, you'd have to say something like "He never will-run". Of course, there are similarities, but this is due to the fact that agglutinating languages generally evolve from isolating. For example, look at modern French which has been making the order of morphemes increasingly rigid, so that nowadays, the verb is something like subj-obj-tense/aspect-verb(-tense/aspect/person)-negation, having created new mechanisms, such as the particle /Esk(@)/ (est-ce que) to make questions. Or, a possibility in future development of English would be turning subject pronouns and auxiliaries into prefixes, so that for Modern English "He will never run", you'd have to say "Never he'll-run", and new ways to form questions, such as perhaps "Is it that ever he'll-run again" for "Will he ever run again?"
> I would put more into the distinction between > agglutinating/isolating languages and inflecting and fusional ones than > between agglutinating and isolating... Although now I think of it, > there's nothing to prevent an isolating language from having words that > help mark verb tense aspect etc and noun case (Japanese has post > positions which mark case doesn't it?
Actually, I think it's better to consider those suffixes than actual postpositions, because they can't be separated from the noun. Even when you have a postposed number, the case-marker immediately follows the verb (Onna o sannin = woman accusative three-person = "three women (acc)", not *onna sannin o). Plus, _no_, etc. don't have independent pitch, but rather, it depends on the preceding word.
> I'll try to make an ergative language without a single trace of > accusativity lol even though its probably been done a thousand times > before.
My Uatakassi is fairly thoroughly ergative, however, there are still some accusative features, like the prefix na- which normally means "one who" with an agentive meaning (altho, in some fossilized forms can mean "one who" with a patient meaning, the result of a phonetic collapse), and it has accusative marking in the first and second person clitic pronouns.
> Also, can anyone tell me of a natlang which has a bilabial trill?
There's an IPA symbol, so I'd assume that it exists, but I don't know of any specific langs. -- "There's no such thing as 'cool'. Everyone's just a big dork or nerd, you just have to find people who are dorky the same way you are." - overheard ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42