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USAGE: verb marking for person and number and stuff (was Re: Test and more.)

From:Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Saturday, December 18, 1999, 10:16
Raymond Brown wrote:

> At 10:27 pm -0800 17/12/99, abrigon wrote: > >I wonder how a lingo would look if the subject and verbm or > >subject and object were in the same word. > > If the subject's a pronoun, there's hundreds (probably thousands) of > natlangs that do just that - all the Romancelangs, modern Greek, Persian, > the Semitic langs, all the very many Bantulangs (they even include pronoun > objects in the verb), all the Turkic langs etc etc. > > I'm not, alas, nearly so familiar with native languages of the New World, > but I understand that the polysynthetic ones go further and incorporate > noun subjects within the verb and, I believe, in some (many? / all??) cases > the noun objects also.
Depends on the language. In nominative/accusative languages, that's often the case, whereas in the one ergative language I've been working on (Mam, a Mayan language), only grammatical subjects are marked on the verb, whether they be ergative or absolutive, and there is no concomitant case marking on the nouns themselves (although Mam also has a highly ergative syntax).
> But I'm not sure how just subject & object can get into the same word, > without their being incorporated into the verb.
I know of no languages in which incorporation into the verb itself is not the case in such a circumstance.
> Suffixing the definite article is not unknown either, cf. Romanian: > magazin (shop) - magazinul (the shop)
Degaspregos does this: stenos = "rock"; stenosatoi = "the rock"
> >Since in many ways The is just a refining of the word Store. Just > >tells us it is a singular store > >versus a plural. > > No, no - it tells us that it is definite, not indefinite!
That's certainly true for English, but it doesn't need to be that way. In Mam, there is no definite article, but there are indefinite articles (singular and plural), and the lack of the indefinite article is taken to implicitly mark definiteness.
> 'the' can be used with plural as well as with singular, e.g. > magazin (shop) - magazinul (the shop) > magazine (shops) - magazinele (the shops) > > Basque similarly suffixes the definite article. Indeed, Basque goes even > further and 'to-the-shop' is IIRC all one word. But I'd have to look out > my notes to verify this.
IIRC, that is correct.
> >Of course then why do we have The/Thee at all? > > Eh? 'the' and 'thee' are two very different words. > > Quite literally thousands of languages do, in fact, manage without a word > for 'the'. > > As for 'thee' - it sort of depends what you mean. Why do we need 'thee' as > well as 'you'? Well, modern spoken English (except in the north of > England) manages quite well without 'thee' - but many people find the > distinction useful.
True, which explains "y'all", "yous" and the rest of the dialectal variations that have developed in its absence. (But see below)
> >Or I/We/They as well? > > Well, er, sometimes it's kind of nice to know who is doing what :) > But many east Asian languages, at least, (e.g. Chinese & Japanese) do not > habitually use 'I', 'we', 'they'. The words are used only for emphasis to > to avoid ambiguity. If it's obvious from the context who's doing what, the > pronouns are not used.
True, but I seem to recall that Mandarin Chinese has introduced (optional?) plural marking on pronouns. Similar to Quechua, they just take the nonplural forms and tack on "-men" to form "women", "nimen", "tamen". (Any Sinologists out there to correct me?). The introduction of this feature is largely due to Western influence on the language. =========================================== Tom Wier <artabanos@...> AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704 <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ===========================================