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Re: Trigger language question concerning the use of "to be"

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Sunday, May 15, 2005, 1:18
Ray Brown wrote at 2005-05-11 19:30:04 (+0100)
 > On Wednesday, May 11, 2005, at 12:55 , Tim May wrote:
 > > Chris Bates wrote at 2005-05-09 23:56:41 (+0100)
 > [snip]
 > >> "wacky no natlang does it" conlang idea. The one problem I can see
 > >> is that, while you can argue all occuring verb forms are
 > >> nominalizations, there are certainly verb roots which are not in
 > >> the same class as noun roots, since I don't believe nouns can
 > >> freely take the same morphology as verbs.
 > >
 > > Not so.  Roots differ in terms of which voice/focus/nominalization
 > > affixes they can take, but they don't split cleanly into verbs and
 > > nouns.  Nearly all roots can take at least some, and very few can take
 > > all.
 > That's very interesting. If nearly all, however, any idea why not all can
 > take at least one?

I've no idea.  Himmelmann says "practically all", and I don't think he
gives any counterexamples - it's possible that he doesn't know any,
but can't confidently make a universal claim.

 > Excellent stuff, by the sound of it (meaning that it seems to
 > concur with the understanding I have been getting from the -
 > admittedly very little - Tagalog I have come across :)

Himmelmann's papers make up a large part of what I've read about the
language, simply because they were online (and relatively readable).
I'm always interested in languages with a weak verb/noun contrast, and
I found his account of Tagalog in this regard rather elegant.  I've
tried to take a conservative, theory-independent position whenever
I've discussed it on-list, but I was very interested to find that
Naylor (as a native speaker, and just as another Austronesianist)
takes a similar position.

Of course, I've always felt, even if Himmelmann (and Naylor) are
ultimately wrong about syntactic uniformity in Tagalog, such a model
is surely of interest to conlangers.

Other papers by the same author may also be of interest; in
particular, this sketch of Tagalog:

(This is one of several papers recently removed from his web page (I
think they're finally being published) but which can still be accessed
from the copy at the Internet Archive:


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>Austronesian lexical categories & voice (was: Trigger language question etc.)