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Phaleran Update: Relative clauses, Proximative and Obviative pronouns

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Sunday, August 12, 2001, 6:12
In the last post, I talked about causative constructions in Phaleran.
In this post, I'm going to address how Phaleran forms relative clauses.


Phaleran relative clauses are, like causatives, formed by deletion of
transitivity markers and addition of a relativizing suffix -gwa- in their place,
even though relative clauses do not alter the valence of verbs.  Because
Phaleran is a fairly typical APV language, relative clauses typically appear
before the noun that they modify.  Consider, for example, the nonrelativized
sentence (1):

(1)     Atherlu       dzarituo   sunesna        hnerrateonten.
         father.ERG  son.DAT bill.PL.ABS give.DITR.3pSgPfRe.Qu
         'The father gave his son some money, so I hear.'

Some possible relativized forms of this sentence would be:

(2)    Dzarituo    sunesna         hneirgwanten                 ather
         son.DAT  bill.PL.ABS  give.REL.3pSgPfRe.Qu  father.ABS
         'the father who gave his son some money'

(3)    Atherlu       oiwo                sunesna        hneirgwanten                 dzari

         father.ERG 3pObvSgDAT bill.PL.ABS give.REL.3pSgPfRe.Qu son.ABS
         (lit.) 'the son who his father gave him money' or 'the son whose father
         gave him money' or 'the son to whom his father gave money'

(4)     Atherlu      dzarituo    hneirgwanten                  sunesna
         father.ERG son.DAT  give.REL.3pSgPfRe.Qu bill.PL.ABS
         'the money which the father gave his son'

Although this is the prototypical position for relative clauses, it need not be
the only one.  Relative clauses may also be placed after the noun they're
modifying if the information they relate is new or complicated requiring
relatively more lengthy discussion.  Note, also, that the Phaleran relative
clauses function almost like participial adjectives.  Like adjectives, they
modify a noun's basic attributes, and like adjectives in many languages, the
relative clause's head verb agrees in number and person with the noun it
modifies.   What cause, then, is there for thinking that the verb forms are
not really deverbitive adjectives? The reason for thinking so is that other
nouns in the clause otherwise operate exactly as if they were in main clauses
themselves, taking case and agreement marking.

One thing of note here is the obviative pronoun in (3). Because Phaleran does
not (at least now, anyway) have relative pronouns, it sometimes requires
resumptive pronouns when the sense is not obvious.

Proximative and Obviative pronouns

This seems as good a time as any to make good on my failure to mention
obviative pronouns several posts ago.  Here they are, with proximative
pronouns for comparison:

           Prox                        Obv
            Sg            Pl            Sg          Pl
S         eo             eona        ellei        ellai
A        eollu          eondru     erlu        ulnallu
O        eoi            eoni          ellei        ellai
Dat      eotwo       eontwo    oiwo       oinawo
Ben     eos           eonâs        uyâs       oinâs
Inst      eonto        eonânto    uyânto    oinânto
Dur      eokû        eoñkû       uyâkû    oinâkû
Abe     eoþþa       eonâþþa   uyâþþa   oinâþþa

Some things you can see here:
(1) the split ergativity of the third person stops with the proximative
third person pronouns; obviative pronouns pattern like regular nouns
in this respect.
(2) /n/ in some dialects shifts to /l/, which is how you get _ellai_
from *eo-hlei-na-i,  where /eo/ also shifts to e / _ll
(3) (a) in some dialects, /eo/  --> [u] / _*ly, where "ly" is a palatal [l]
      (b) in all dialects, /ly/ --> /y/
    In some dialects, these two shifts happened in opposite orders:
in dialects where [eo] remains while /ly/ shifts, you get another
sound shift /eoy/ --> /oi/. In dialects where [eo] shifts before /ly/
shifts, you get eventually */eoly/ --> [uy].  This explains the odd
patterning of the obviative oblique cases.  Not all of these forms are
entirely artificial; many of them occured in the prestige dialect which
went to make up the bulk of forms in Standard.  However, this dialect
was itself situated along several nonbundling isoglosses, and so forms
from otherwise consistent dialects go to form a hodgepodge in the

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@...>Phaleran Update: Relative clauses,Proximative and Obviative pronouns