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Re: Probability of a definite article becoming a topicaliser?

From:Keith Gaughan <kmgaughan@...>
Date:Friday, March 7, 2003, 16:33
Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...> wrote:

> Keith Gaughan wrote: > > > Something John said in the article replacement thread put an odd thought > > in my head. Here goes: > > > > Say we have a language, and that language manages to (mostly) lose its > > definite article. How probable is it that the remainents of the definite > > article could become a topicaliser particle? Or more to the point, is > > there any real language out there where this happened? > > Zounds! You read my mind! This is more or less what I was going to ask > sometime over the next few days.
Zounds indeed! I thought my post had managed to sink without a trace! I was just after coming to the conclusion that the idea was just a little too daft for its own good.
> Naturally, this means that I don't have > an answer. I was thinking about what would happen if Irish lost its > article: consonant-initial feminine nouns might still have a lentied > initials; thus they'd be marked definite, but this option wouldn't > be available for other nouns (except vowel-initial masculines).
Well, with vowel-initial feminines at least, the initial vowel might get nasalised in the singular. Of course, because lenition and eclipsis patterns vary across the country (the 'standard ones are based on the Munster dialect), there might be some more ways around it...
> This strikes me as very odd! (In other words, it might go into my next > lang, which is in the Meticulous Planning stage). But the odd thing > about my example is, I think, that not all nouns are susceptible. If > whatever trace of the articles remains can occur with any noun, then > its development into some pragmatic marker (like of topicality) seem > possible, methinks. Cool.
The idea hit me when I was thinking about Irish too. In my head, 'sin' and 'seo' morphed into suffixes that marked definiteness (a bit like in the Scandinavian languages) and 'an' and 'na' (the fact that one is the other, only backwards has always struck me as a bit funny) turned into topicalisers. K. -- Ceci n'est pas une .sig.