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Re: Syntactic differences within parts of speech

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Monday, August 28, 2006, 17:59
On 8/22/06, Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...> wrote:
> I've been intrigued lately (the past six months?) by discussions on the > list which expose variations in the syntax of words considered to be of > the same part of speech. For example, the interesting discussion of > the syntax of "ago", or discussions of the syntactics of gerunds versus > participles in English (such as that gerunds are commonly thought to be > operating as nouns, but in fact retain some aspects of verbs with respect > to their arguments, etc.) > > Sorry for any vagueness or impenetrability above; I'm not getting enough > sleep. > > At any rate, I want to be able to apply this level of detail to a conlang, > maybe even to the extent of devising a grammar with more parts of speech > (and I mean open classes - creating a small closed class is easy) than we > are used to. But I need ideas.
[snip] [NATLANG] Within the Totonacan family, there is a split between ordinary nouns and those denoting body parts (and, by metaphorical extension, any part of a whole). The body parts are not a subclass of nouns -- they are a separate part of speech. (They are not, in fact, words; they're best analysed as prefixes.) Body parts can incorporate into verbs, nouns cannot; nouns can stand alone in a sentence, but body parts must undergo nominalization in order to do this, etc. ------------- It's not uncommon to find a language that has split their nominals into several classes based upon possession -- into, for example, obligatorily and non-obligatorily possessed nouns. Or into three groups: 1. Obligatorily possessed (hand, mother) 2. Possessable (cow, building) 3. Obligatorily non-possessed (yellow, George) (As a note, this is not the same as inalienable vs alienable possession, which is about a *relationship* between possessor and possessum, and not a division of possible possessums into classes.) Now, in most languages this is not a case of different *parts of speech* for each class... but it *could* be. Proper names, for example, may in some language be treated sufficiently differently from common nouns (in, say, availability to affixation or compounding) that we might want to analyze them as their own P.O.S. -------------- As a side note, Totonaca also has "statives" as a separate part of speech from verbs; I believe that at least one other post has already brought up this distinction. Another fun thing to think about: what parts of speech emerge when your various P.O.S.s undergo compounding? In Totonaca, if you if incorporate a body part into a stative, you basically get a locative! So "head" plus "stand" gives you a locative meaning "standing-on-the-head/roof/peak-of X". -- Pat