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Sidaan Verbal System

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Thursday, December 15, 2005, 23:50
It's been awhile since I actually posted any actual data on anything,
so I thought I'd post on this verbal system I've been toying with.

Sidaan a new revamp of an old language that didn't go anywhere
that's changed quite a bit.  Before going into the verbal system, a
quick word on the phonology.

In Sidaan, there's a bilabial, alveolar, palatal, velar and uvular
series, each featuring a [+/-voice] stop and fricative, plus a nasal.
The voiced segments from medial V_V singletons, and the entire
palatal series comes from palatalization.  The vowels are as follows:

High: i, 1, u
Mid: e, E, o
Low: a

The vowels [i] and [e] cause a previous alveolar or velar consonant
to palatalize.  Thus, you get a merger:

*tela > cela
*kela > cela

I wanted to have a uvular series, and what makes it distinct is that
palatal vowels lower after uvulars:

*qela > qEla

This way engma and the uvular nasal remain reasonably distinct,
though they can contrast before vowels other than palatals.

Okay, now for the verbs.  I've always found the idea of dependent
marking rather fascinating.  So instead of marking case, Sidaan
arguments agree with the other present arguments.  Each non-direct
object is marked with /-s/ if a direct object is present, and each
non-indirect object is marked with /-t/ if an indirect object is
present.  Here are some examples:

(a) tox cLeho.
/I cry-PERF./
"I cried."

(b) lEmba cLeho.
/girl cry-PERF./
"The girl cried."

(c) toxs maza loN\quno.
/I-DO apple eat-PERF./
"I ate the apple."

(d) lEmbas maza loN\quno.
/girl-DO apple eat-PERF./
"The girl ate the apple."

(e) lEmba loN\quno.
/girl eat-PERF./
"The girl ate."

(f) toxCit mazat lEmbas paJevo.
/I-DO-IO apple-IO girl-DO give-PERF./
"I gave the girl an apple."

(g) toxs maza paJevo.
/I-DO apple give-PERF./
"I gave an apple (to someone)."

(h) toxt lEmba paJevo.
/I-IO girl give-PERF./
'I gave to the girl (something)."

There's also a passive and an applicative marker, which will come
into play later.

So this is the system as it was in the past.  The word order was
strict SOV, and the marking worked as shown.  However, there
was a different type of construction that arose after awhile through
the use of the genitive.  The genitive has three forms:

(a) N + N = NG
maza klEmba /apple GEN.-girl/ "the girl's apple".

(b) Pro + N = GN
stox maza /my apple/ "my apple"

(c) N + N/Pro = NG
mazat (tox) /apple-1sg. (I)/ "my apple"
mazas lEmba /apple-3sg. girl/ "the girl's apple"

The difference between (2a) and (2c) is that (2c) is always used for
inalienable possession.  The same is true for pronoun + N with
(2b) and (2c).

The new construction that arose was a use of a verbal noun in
conjunction with topicalization.  So any could be dragged to the
front of the sentence in order to topicalize it.  Verbs could be
nominalized by adding /san-/ to the front without adding a
tense marker.  Arguments were then added in two ways: (1)
the subject was added using strategy (2c), and all other arguments
were added using (2a).  (Because the verbs are now nouns, they
no longer take real arguments, and so there's no longer any
dependent agreement.)  Here's an example:

(3) sanloN\qut (tox) cimaza ano.
/NOM.-eat-1sg. (I) GEN.-apple COP.-PERF./
"My eating of the apple (existed)."

And you could even do so with ditransitives, the order being

(4) sampaJeft (tox) cimaza klEmba ano.
/NOM.-give-1sg. (I) GEN.-apple GEN.-girl COP.PERF./
"My giving of the apple to the girl (existed)."

Since this is a topicalizing construction, the passive, the applicative,
and the passive plus the applicative is used to make different
subjects:  [Note: I haven't come up with phonological forms for
the passive or applicative yet, or a strategy for reintroducing an
agent so I'll just make some up for these examples.]

(5) Passive
sampaJefLis (maza) klEmba (pa tox) ano.
/NOM.-give-PASS.-3sg. (apple) GEN.-girl (OBL. I) COP.PERF./
"The apple's giving to the girl (by me) existed."

(6) Applicative
sanloN\quxt (tox) klEmba cimaza ano.
/NOM.-eat-APP.-1sg. (I) GEN.-girl GEN.-apple COP.-PERF./
"My eating for the girl of the apple (existed)."

(7) Applicative Passive
sanloN\quxLis (lEmba) cimaza (pa tox) ano.
/NOM.-eat-APP.-PASS.-3sg. (girl) GEN.-apple (OBL. I) COP.-PERF./
"The girl's eating-for of the apple (by me) (existed)."

(7)'s kind of tough to find a translation for, but I guess that'd do it.

Anyway, so over time, this became reanalyzed as the actual verbal
system (with some reflexes of the old system still present).

Now here's what I want to do.

In the new system, you have the structure V-S-DO-IO-T.  That last
tense element is a copula, but in theory, it could be any other verb.
Why not?  So I want to make that role functional.  So, for example,
that slot could easily be made into a verb like "to be good", or "to be
bad", etc. (The girl's eating of the apple was good.)  But also, what
you have there is a verb that's taking one argument: a subject,
occupied by the entire CP (the girl's eating of the apple).  Why not
make it a transitive verb?  Why not "The girl's eating of the apple
shocked me"?  That'd look (schematically) like this:

(8) eat girl apple me shock

Now the verb (or CP) would be marked as agreeing with the direct
object of the matrix clause (me).  Or let's pretend the expression
"gave me chills" translated word-for-word:

(9) eat girl apple chills me gave

Now the CP agrees with the object *and* direct object, "the chills"
agrees with the direct object, and "me" agrees with the indirect

Then, these could be passivized:

(10) chills me (by eat girl apple) gave-PASS.

Or maybe even topicalized:

(11) give (eat girl apple) chills me existed

So, assuming I could actually construct a sentence like that in
Sidaan, is that processable (or -ible)?  Is this system supportable?

Oh, and one more question: In pro-drop languages with an overt
passive marker, can you drop the subject of a passive verb?  I
always assumed the answer was "yes", but then you could have a
verb with no overt arguments (assuming the demoted object
could also be dropped).

Oh, and if you read this far, thanks for reading.  :)

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>