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Re: THEORY: genitive vs. construct case/izafe

From:Julia "Schnecki" Simon <helicula@...>
Date:Monday, July 25, 2005, 12:49

On 7/22/05, Patrick Littell <puchitao@...> wrote:
> On 7/22/05, Julia Schnecki Simon < helicula@...> wrote: > > Hello! > > > > While designing a case system for my (still unnamed) conlang project, > > I started wondering about some terminology. You see, I'd really like > > to have izafe (construct case/construct case constructions/whatever), > > but I'm not sure about the difference between genitive case and > > construct case. > > The term most used is "state". The dependent nouns get case, whereas the > head noun gets state.
Oops. Sorry. Yes, of course. I *knew* I'd overlooked something (and I should have realized this earlier, since I do know that the construct forms of Arabic nouns still show case and AFAIK Arabic allows only one case per noun...) :-(
> This also helps disambiguate when there're a case and a state with the same > name, like "absolutive".
Or when there's a noun in construct state and with such-and-such case. ;-)
> (When a noun is not possessed in a language with > morphological state, it gets the "absolutive state" in some terminologies. > This is what it's called for Nahuatl, for example, or Tzeltal.)
(Oh yes, I remember the absolutive state in Nahuatl... It's been a long time since I've last had to deal with ergative-absolutive languages, so it took me a while to remember that yes, there's an absolutive *case* as well.)
> > In a noun-noun (or noun-pronoun) construction that indicates > > possession or affiliation, if the possessor is marked, its form is > > called "genitive", and if the possessed is marked, its form is > > called "construct". A construction of this type where the possessed > > is marked is called "izafe", even if the possessor is marked as > > well. If only the possessor is marked, the construction is called > > "genitive phrase". > > > > Does this sound about right? > > I would use the term "genitive phrase" for all these constructions, whether > or not there is a morphological genitive case.
I guess I'll settle for "possessive phrase" or "possessive construction", at least in the context of my conlang, until I've decided more about the details of the construction. At the moment it looks like I'll have some sort of construct state and no proper genitive case at all...
> > Turkish _ev_ "house", _kapI_ "door", _ev kapIsI_ "front door" > > (generic term; a specific front door, i.e. the front door of a > > specific house, is _evin kapIsI_ with _ev_ in genitive case; > > _-(s)I_ is the 3sg possessive marker, so _ev(in) kapIsI_ > > literally means "(of-)house its-door") > > > > Hungarian _fiú_ "boy", _könyv_ "book", _a fiú könyve_ "the boy's > > book" (with _könyv_ bearing the 3sg possessive marker _-e_, so a > > literal translation would be "the boy his-book") (Note that there > > is no genitive case in Hungarian AFAIK.) > > Incidentally, you can find this sort of thing in earlier stages of written > English: > > The daulphin of France his power > Juno hir bedde. > > It's possibly a re-analysis of the genitive 's as "his".
Argh! Now I'm having flashbacks to that Introduction to Syntax and Morphology class where our lecturer claimed that the genitive _'s_ actually did originate in _his_ being used as an enclitic, or some such. (It was a long time ago, and I don't remember if he was joking or not. I sure hope he was.)
> > Could these constructions be called izafe? If not, what should I call > > them? > > I sometimes use the term "construct state" to describe these, but I don't > think it's entirely correct. The best term is probably something like > "head-marked genitive phrase", or, in the case of Turkish, "double-marked". > > The easiest way to think about it is with a four way typology of genitive > marking: "head-marked (state)", "dependent-marked (case)", "double-marked > (both)", unmarked (neither)". This will handle a vast majority of the > constructions one will come across, although it fails to really capture > rarer constructions like Suffixaufnahme, and can't really handle something > like Maasai at all.
"Head-marked" and "dependent-marked"! Thank you! That's exactly what I've been looking for; now I can forget "genitive" and "izafe(t)" and all that, at least for my conlang project, and start using more neutral terminology. (That is, I'm free to think about my con-syntax and con-morphology without getting unwanted interference from Semitic languages.) On the downside, however, now I'll have to rethink everything I've come up with for the syntax so far in terms of head-marking and dependent-marking. ;-) That probably won't have much of an influence on the syntax as such, but I'll have to (or feel compelled to) rework some of the descriptions and definitions...
> > I know that the term "izafe" isn't normally used when talking about > > Hungarian, for example, but I'd like to find out if that's because > > this Hungarian construction really has nothing to do with izafe, or > > because the people who study Finno-Ugrian languages usually aren't > > Semiticists and therefore don't know the term. ;-) > > It's related; idafa constructions are a specific sort of the wider > phenomenon of head-marking nominal phrases. Specifically, the sort in which > the head marking doesn't exhibit agreement with the dependent.
I'll stick to "head-marked NP" rather than "izafe(t)"/"idafa"/<insert own transliteration here>, then. :-)
> > And what about languages where the possessor-possessed relationship is > > expressed simply by juxtaposing two nouns, or a noun and a pronoun, > > without any case markings ("of-Peter book"), possessor affixes ("Peter > > his-book"), connecting particles (like Mandarin _de_), or similar? > > What do we call that kind of construction? > > Simple juxtaposition is the unmarked sort,
So there is no other term for constructions like _Peter book_ or _book Peter_ (to mean "Peter's book"), then, besides "juxtaposition"?
> but I'm not sure about connecting > particles. I would usually analyze these as dependent marking, depending on > the syntax of the language in question. "Of the people" is a grammatical > utterance, "book of" is not. But sometimes a linking particle is clearly > neither a head modifier or a dependent modifier. In Maasai, for example, > the linking particle must exhibit gender agreement with both the possessor > and the possessed!
Fascinating! (And now you've gone and put another bug in my ear... linking particles that show agreement with both linked items... mmm...) Regards, Julia -- Julia Simon (Schnecki) -- Sprachen-Freak vom Dienst _@" schnecki AT iki DOT fi / helicula AT gmail DOT com "@_ si hortum in bybliotheca habes, deerit nihil (M. Tullius Cicero)