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Phaleran Update: Causatives

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Saturday, August 11, 2001, 11:59
In the last post I talked about the Phaleran numeral system.  Now
for something (almost) completely different:  causatives.


There are two distinct causative constructions in Phaleran:  direct
and indirect.  Direct means that the agent of causation is actually
physically the immediate cause of the resulting action.  Indirect is
just the opposite:  the agent may have not directly caused the action,
but 'enables' it to happen. (For this reason, it may be refered to as
the 'enabling causative construction.)  The direct construction is
marked morphologically, created by the replacement of any of the
9 transitivity markers with the causative -þnu-, while the indirect is
marked by an noun-like causative particle, not inflected for aspect, which
takes a subordinate clause complement.  [That fact that verb
valence is marked at all is highly unusual; only 6 percent of languages
make said marking.  But since transitivity markers are not allowed in
any subordinate clauses, there is a sense in which here we are seeing
a morphological 'emergence of the unmarked' phenomenon.]

So, let's say you want a construction that would be glossed in English as
'cause to eat':   cause (x, eat(y, z)), or 'x causes y to eat z'.   A direct
instantiation of this statement could be:

    Atherlu        dzarituo     þasu          šr|eþnunti
    father.ERG  son.DAT   food.ABS  eat.CAUS.3pSgPfRe.Sen
    'The father made the son eat food[, and I saw it].'

This might mean that the father directly spoon-fed his son, rather than
putting a plate of food out for him.  For direct constructions, the cases can
be predicted from their place within the causation predicate structure:  x,
the outermost participant, will always take the ergative (barring some
voice-changing operation like the antipassive), the subject of the caused
action the dative and the object of the caused action the absolutive.
When the caused action is only a one place relation (say, "cause to die"
= die(y)), the subject of the caused action takes the absolutive.

The indirect causative construction in Phaleran works somewhat more
like the English gloss above:

    Ather          eo  tahnoi štî    dzaru       þasu          šr|essi
    father.ABS 3p  cause  that  son.ERG food.ABS  eat.3pSgProgRe.Sen
    'The father caused his son to eat food[, and I saw it].'

The similarity to the English is actually quite superficial, however.
In the main clause, the subject noun (here, the father) is marked
with the absolutive, while in the subordinate clause, the agent of
the verb is marked with the ergative.  Thus we see a reinforcing
sense that the son, and not the father, is really the center of the
action here.  Moreover, the main clause operates almost like a
predicate nominal, as if to say 'the father is the cause' (and indeed,
that is how this construction originated).  In situations where the
aspect or evidentiality of the verb is not really a concern, Phaleran
predicate nominals work something like Hebrew*:

    Pû            eo  ahra
    boy.ABS  3p  Governor.ABS
    'The boy is Governor [i.e., hereditary despot of Twolyeo]'

This is almost like saying 'The boy, he is Governor'.  So, the particle
_tahnoi_ looks like a noun.  However, it cannot really function like a
noun would in other situations:  it cannot be used to refer to a cause
or causation in general, nor can it take noun-like morphology like
number and case.  It is only used to introduce causative constructions
like this one.

A phonological aside:  the form _dzaru_ above is an example where
Phaleran's originally highly agglutinative structure is beginning to break
down.  The regular surface absolutive form is _dzari_, from an UR of
/dzarit/.  Phaleran phonology has a lot of restrictions on the type of
coda consonant that a syllable may have, and stops are one of the classes
disallowed.  But we know the /t/ has to be there, because, aside from
other forms like _dzarituo_ where the /t/ surfaces as expected, the [u]
allomorph of the ergative case marker /llu/ only surfaces when the final
segment of the stem is a fricative or stop.

*(When aspect or other verbally marked information is necessary,
Phaleran uses _thari_, which is much like English _be_.)

Coming up:  relative clauses!

Thomas Wier | AIM: trwier

"Aspidi men Saiôn tis agalletai, hên para thamnôi
  entos amômêton kallipon ouk ethelôn;
autos d' exephugon thanatou telos: aspis ekeinê
  erretô; exautês ktêsomai ou kakiô" - Arkhilokhos


Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>