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Tj'a-ts'añ and Tech (was Georgian and Arabic N-A word order)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Saturday, June 17, 2000, 3:32
>From: Christophe Grandsire <Christophe.Grandsire@...>
>Interesting. Looks a little like my Tj'a-ts'a~n which has all four cases >'ergative', 'absolutive', 'nominative' and 'accusative' (plus a dative used >also as the unmarked case for copular sentences) depending on the relation >set by the verb between the subject and the object and what is the status >of each one. Really a kind of active marking I think but more complex.
I'm probably only going to have three cases governing the subject and the verb. Georgian ergativity has little semantic role; it's mostly formal. Tech will probably use the three declensions applicable to subjects. I don't see much *need* for four cases, but there may be natlangs that actually do that, at least in a formal sense... The main issue I'll be wrestling with is how to casemark entities in a causative verb construction. How do natlangs decline nouns referring to who causes the action, who actually carries out the action, and who is the recipient of the action... (I'm leading toward this: 'My dear A-vocative, B-ergative of/from C-genitive caused D-nominative to <verb> E-accusative to F-dative with/by means of G-instrumental in a H-ablative way at/in I-locative".) That's a sentence using all nine of my cases (what I got so far), but I expect a tenth to surface somehow. Theoretically, if all the nouns are pronouns, that could theoretically be ALL ONE WORD!! (Sheesh, that's gonna be right ugly...)
>In Tj'a-ts'a~n, the core cases are basically used this way: >ergative: animate volitional agent >nominative: animate unvolitional agent or inanimate agent >absolutive: non-agent, non-patient >accusative: patient
So, in effect, ergative has an active role in the action, while nominative is passively involved in the action. Not the same thing as active/passive/middle voice, but similar. But your absolutive is a non-agent, non-patient -- so what would that be? Tech uses nominative and ergative for subjects and accusative only for direct objects, where the ergative does play the active role while the nominative is a 'passive actor' -- someone/something which effortlessly does something, or more accurately, goes with a verb describing a state (or an inherent, habitual or unintentional tendency to perform an action) rather than a volitional action. So in Tech, let's say... 1. Dad (nom) sells insurance (acc). 2. Dad (nom) is an insurance agent (acc). 3. Dad (erg) sold an insurance policy (acc) to me (dat) last week (loc). 4. Dad (erg) had Dale (nom) sell some insurance (acc) to me. (My father, P. Don Wier, is an insurance agent and securities broker here in Lufkin, Texas; I'm the youngest of four sons. Dale Wier, the Nº 2 son in Nacogdoches 20 mi/32 km north, also sells insurance.)
>I use 'agent' and 'patient' because in Tj'a-ts'a~n it's not the cases that >show what is subject and what is object but the agreement with the verb (in >the verbal complex, there are two 'slots' for the subject and the object >where agreement affixes in gender at least and even case are put). Cases >show actual functions, thus a noun in a local case can be subject or object >of a verb!
Oh, so you got an active language. Georgian is kind of an active language, but an unorthodox one. It's kinda on the border of being ergative and being active but it still has a lot of nominative-accusative features. (Modern Georgian, or at least the standard T'bilisi dialect, uses the dative case for accusatives as well as locatives. Tech uses three distinct cases, as I said above.) I was also thinking of the 'trigger system' of Philippine languages, but I'm not sure that's what you have... Danny Wier ¶¦¬þ Lufkin, Texas USA ________________________________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at