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Re: Basque bizarreries (was: Conland Digest etc.)

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 25, 2004, 20:43
En réponse à Philippe Caquant :

>Partitive is also related to Indefinite in my book. >The author mentions Partitive and Prolative as >applying to Indefinite, that's why these two cases are >presented one following the other.
Strange, because no other case than the Partitive apply *only* in the indefinite.
>Prolative should be Destinative (but *instead of* >looks rather different to me from *for the benefit >of*; probably two concepts mixed here...).
Not really. I think the idea is that of someone taking the place of someone else to do something, giving that second person a favour, hence "instead of" and "in the benefit of" can be easily related. Note though that the Destinative has two forms: -tzat for the "instead of" meaning, and -entzat for the "in the benefit of" meaning. However, if the Prolative and the Destinative are the same, I can't understand how it can claim that the Prolative can be used only in the indefinite. My book, taking "txori": bird, lists: "txori(ren)tzat": instead of (a) bird(s), "txoria(ren)tzat": instead of the bird, and "txorientzat": instead of the birds. The Destinative can *easily* be used with the definite :) .
> I wonder >whether it's really a Benefactive, or if it can be >Malefactive too.
I wouldn' know :( .
>Of course I didn't want to say that you should define >a table as masculine or feminine: this is French >oddity. I rather thought like in English: masculine, >feminine, neutral. I think that very many languages >mark the gender,
Actually, I'm not sure that *that* many languages mark gender on nouns. English doesn't (it marks gender only on pronouns, and only lexically on some nouns, just like Basque does). Dutch doesn't. Japanese doesn't (until not so long ago, Japanese didn't even have a 3rd person feminine pronoun). Chinese doesn't. You may argue that the fact that English has gendered third person pronouns, so it marks gender. But then, so does Basque on its second person personal suffixes. I don't see why one should be taken as marking gender less than the other. Marking gender is not that common, and in languages that mark it it is subject to erosion (English used to mark gender on nouns. It has nearly completely disappeared to the point that it is now lexical rather than syntactic). So it's actually not peculiar for Basque not to mark any gender. It is in good company with a *lot* of languages around the world.
> so my question was: why is it not so >in Basque ?
My question would rather be: why should it be? Evidence shows that gender in Romance languages originates from an animate vs. inanimate system where collective nouns evolved into feminine nouns (which is the reason why Latin neuters had a plural in -a). Gender marking in most languages is just a historical accident, due to language change. Nothing special in it.
> This is one of the points that make Basque >*peculiar* (and hence interesting, of course), from my >point of view.
From yours yes, but for the billions of people speaking languages without gender marking, it is nothing special :) .
>Isn't it striking that the french word *bizarre* comes >from Basque language ?
Easily explained: a single isolate ergative agglutinative language in a sea of synthetic accusative Romance languages.
>As to the many cases in Basque, especially the >locative ones, it's not really different from Finnish >from ex. Anyway, from a conceptual point of view, I >don't think there is any difference between using, >either a case, either a preposition, in sentences >like: >* I'm going to the city*, *I'm coming from the city*, >vs: >*I'm going city-ADL*, *I'm coming city-ABL*. > >But it is still interesting to note the different >locative notions that are taken into account in a >specific language. This is a great help to >*cartography* these locative (or other) concepts. > >--- Christophe Grandsire ><christophe.grandsire@...> wrote: > > En réponse à Philippe Caquant : > > > > > > >The author mentions the following cases in Basque: > > >- Nominative > > >- Active > > >- Mediative > > >- Inessive > > >- Elative > > >- Adlative > > >- Locative Genitive > > >- Possessive Genitive > > >- Dative > > >- Unitive > > >- Partitive > > >- Prolative > > > > > >Nominative would probably be called Absolutive > > >nowadays, and Unitive looks like Comitative. As to > > >Prolative, I'm still trying to understand what is > > this > > >kind of animal ('used in place of the preposition > > >*for*', and applying only to Indefinite). > > > > Strangely enough, my booklet says that it's the > > *partitive* that applies > > only to the indefinite. And it shows examples > > proving it. For what is > > worth, it gives the following cases: > > - Absolutive (also called Nominative) > > - Ergative > > - Instrumental > > - Dative > > - Possessive Genitive > > - Comitative (in French it's given as "sociatif") > > - Destinative ("instead of" or "for the benefit of") > > - Locative Genitive > > - Inessive > > - Adlative > > - Ablative > > - Partitive (doesn't exist in definite forms) > > It also mentions that the adlative can take further > > suffixes to form the > > Directive (in the direction of) and Terminative > > (until). > > > > What strikes me is that it doesn't seem that easy to > > map the two > > description together (especially with the fact that > > my booklet says, with > > examples, that it's the partitive that doesn't exist > > in the definite. > > > > >What's very interesting is the Number; there is > > >Singular, Plural, no Dual, but an Indefinite > > Number: > > > > I'd rather say that there are two definitions: > > Indefinite and Definite, and > > number is marked on the noun only in the definite. > > In the indefinite, you > > simply use separate marks (and indeed, Basque often > > uses "bat": "one" with > > the indefinite to indicate it's singular). Nothing > > fancy actually. > > > > >*zoin hiritan* means *in what city* or *in what > > >cities*. This is a very good idea I think. In > > >counterpart, no Gender, so shall we suppose that > > the > > >Basque think that the difference between man and > > woman > > >is too insignifiant to be mentioned ? > > > > Since it separates 2nd person singular masculine and > > 2nd person singular > > feminine in personal suffixes (-k masculine, -n > > feminine), I doubt it. > > Nominal gender has nothing to do with finding sex > > differences meaningful or > > not. Nominal gender is just a classification system > > based on purely > > etymological circumstances which just happens to fit > > the "masculine" and > > "feminine" distinctions for nouns where it's > > meaningful. But for other > > nouns, it's just random (if you work only > > synchronically). What makes a > > table more feminine than a sofa for instance? > > Nothing. It's plain random > > and meaningless. Just a way to add gender agreement > > so that we know what > > refers to what in the sentence. No deep meaning to > > find in that. > > > > > In that case > > >there are probably wrong. Man and woman brains are > > >very different, not to speak about the rest of it. > > > > So what? Since when does it mean we *have* to > > distinguish those things in > > language? Especially mandatorily and on words that > > have not even a remote > > connection to sex? Believe me, I think the Basque > > find "gizon": "man" very > > masculine and "emazteki": "woman" very feminine. Not > > having overt gender > > marking on nouns doesn't say anything about how > > people view the universe. > > Especially since the majority of objects and > > concepts are genderless. > > Gender systems are just classification systems (like > > in Bantu languages for > > instance) on the verge of extinction or renewal. > > > > Christophe Grandsire. > > > > > > >===== >Philippe Caquant > >"Le langage est source de malentendus." >(Antoine de Saint-Exupery) > >__________________________________ >Do you Yahoo!? >Yahoo! Mail SpamGuard - Read only the mail you want. >
Christophe Grandsire. You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>