Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

A concept.

From:Nihil Sum <nihilsum@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 7, 2002, 9:07
I posted this to another list to get some input. But the whole thing grew
into something completely different: a collaborative project with no
resemblance to what I had originally posted.
So the concept still wants for some real liguist-type critique. Please do
have a look at the examples below and tell me if you think this makes sense.

Could there be a language where nouns take endings to show the person
and number of the OTHER participant in an action? For example, where
a noun, which is the OBJECT of a verb, is marked to show what
person / number is the SUBJECT of that verb, and vice versa. I've got
some ideas for a language now...
It'll be based on an ergative-absolutive system, with word order
Agent-Verb-Patient (I might change my mind and make it P-V-A just to be
difficult). Verbs will not inflect for persons and numbers, instead, the
agent will be marked on the patient, and the patient will be marked
on the agent.
Does this sound feasible? Plausible?

Let me throw together a quick example for you. (these are by no means
the actual words or endings I'll be using!)

AGENT endings, taken by PATIENT:

-ang, -anga 1p singular, plural
-ek, -eka 2p singular, plural
-an, -ana 3p singular, plural

PATIENT endings, taken by AGENT:

-os, -ose 1p singular, plural
-ish, -ishe 2p singular, plural
-um, -ume 3p singular, plural

some conjectural words:

utuk - man
sabak - dog
kuat - to bite
mim - to see
-ag - noun plural ending


sabak-um kuat utuk-an
The dog bites the man

(dog-[with 3sg patient] bites man-[with 3sg agent])
So sabak-um here means "a dog, as acting upon a third person singular
and utuk-an means "a man, as acted upon by a third person singular

utuk-um kuat sabak-an
The man bites the dog

Now watch this:

sabakag-um kuat utuk-ana
the dogs bite the man

sabak-ume kuat utukag-an
the dog bites the men

sabakag-ume kuat utukag-ana
the dogs bite the men

Weird eh? When the AGENT takes a plural ending, the PATIENT also
takes an ending to indicate that what is acting on it is plural! And
vice versa!

a dog, with a 1pl agent

mim sabak-anga
we see the dog

a dog, with a 3pl agent

mim sabak-ana
they see the dog

a dog, with a 1pl patient

sabak-ose mim
the dog sees us

sabak-os mim
the dog sees me

mim utukag-eka
you (pl) see the men

utukag-ishe mim
the men see you (pl)

Let me know what y'all think. I want this to be CHALLENGED: what possible
snags that could put an end to this concept?
Or do you need me to clarify some of this nonsense?


Send and receive Hotmail on your mobile device:


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
julien eychenne <eychenne.j@...>Knowledge-related roots in sabyuk