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Re: THEORY: Morphosyntactic Alignment (again?), and Milewski

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Monday, May 15, 2006, 15:22
On 5/14/06, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> wrote:

> Milewski's extension, on the other hand, has been to add what I will > call "genitive phrases" to the mix; that is, to align expressions in which > one noun modifies another noun (possessor-modifying-possessum seems > prototypical) with the prototypical bivalant monotransitive clauses and the > prototypical monovalent intransitive clauses.
> Some abbreviations will now be useful; > A = Agent of prototypical bivalent monotransitive clause > O = Patient of prototypical bivalent monotransitive clause > S = Single argument of prototypical monovalent intransitive clause > G = Possessor, or, noun which is being used to modify another noun > C = Thing possessed, or, noun which is being modified by another noun > > If a language has just two ways of marking these roles, then, > * either S is marked like A or S is marked like O; > and independently, > * either S is marked like G or S is marked like C.
In the languages I'm most familar with, G is marked and C can be marked like either A, P or S. I.e., in a genitive language, why say that the possessum is prototypically S, or A, when it can just as easily be O? E.g., "His dog chased her cat." G A V G P That is, it makes sense to say that in English and other genitive languages C is unmarked rather than that it is marked like S or A or P.
> This gives four alignments when there are only two marking-types: > A=S=C (nominative), O=G (accusative=genitive); > A=S=G (nominative), O=C (accusative= construct state); > O=S=C (absolutive), A=G (ergative=genitive); > O=S=G (absolutive), A=C (ergative= construct state).
Esperanto has A=S=G, O -- unless I'm misunderstanding something here. G is marked with a preposition "de", and that preposition takes a nominative object. C can be =A or =P. (Does "only two marking types" refer to cases/word order positions only or also to adpositions?) [I seem to vaguely recall someone saying that Esperanto's use of the nominative as the normal case for objects of prepositions violates some universal. If so, it's a universal of natural language evolution, not of the human language faculty, since people can learn to think fluently in Esperanto and automatically apply this rule.]
> If, on the other hand, there are three marking-types, fourteen other > possibilities are opened up: > A=S=C (nominative), O (accusative), G (genitive); > A=S=G (nominative), O (accusative), C (construct state); > O=S=C (absolutive), A (ergative), G (genitive); > O=S=G (absolutive), A (ergative), C (construct state); > S=A (nominative), O=C (accusative= construct state), > S=A (nominative), O=G (accusative=genitive), > S=C (nominative/absolutive = construct state), A=G (ergative=genitive), O > (accusative); > S=C (nominative/absolutive = construct state), O=G (accusative=genitive), A > (ergative); > S=G (nominative/absolutive = genitive), A=C (ergative= construct state), O > (accusative); > S=G (nominative/absolutive = genitive), O=C (accusative= construct state), > A (ergative); > S=O (absolutive), A=C (ergative= construct state), G (genitive); > S=O (absolutive), A=G (ergative=genitive), C (construct state); > A=C (ergative= construct state), O=G (accusative=genitive), S > (nominative/absolutive); > A=G (ergative=genitive), O=C (accusative= construct state), S > (nominative/absolutive).
> As a matter of fact Milewski knew of only six of these eighteen patterns > being attested; he hypothesized those six were the only ones that actually > occurred.
Which six?
> 2) ObConLang: How do your conlangs fit into this typology?
My gjâ-zym-byn is fluid-S active, with a variety of genitive postpositions for specific relationships (possession, ownership, entity-attribute, part-whole, authorship, kinship...), and no construct state. As a fluid-S language I don't think it fits into Milewski's typology at all. There are at least three postpositions that can mark the subject of a sentence (depending on animacy and volitionality) and at least six that can mark the object of a transitive verb, plus several others that can mark the predicate of a subject noun when there is no verb. One of my oldest conlangs, Pliv-Rektek, had both a genitive case and what I then called a contra-genitive, not having heard of the term "construct state". A simple statement of possession used a noun in each case with no verb; elsewhere one could use either case as needed to comment on a subject or object being a possessor or posessum of some other noun. So it would violate Milewski's tentative universal that no language marks A, P, G and C in four distinct ways. -- Jim Henry