Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

IE emphasis (was: Existential clauses)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 13, 2004, 21:16
I haven't been following the 'Existential clauses' thread very closely,
but I did spot John's reply to Carsten.
I don't know what the original sentence about the notary & the murderer
was (was it in French?), but I did notice what both Carsten & John said
about emphasis.

On Monday, July 12, 2004, at 06:51 , John Cowan wrote:

> Carsten Becker scripsit:
>> Another disadvantage (here of IE langs): Emphasis is not >> grammaticized/lexifyed/whatever-ized. Perhaps you meant "L'assassin, >> c'*est* le notaire!" (It *is* the notary who is the killer.) > > In English it is grammaticized: > > The notary is the murderer. > The murderer is the notary. > > mean essentially the same thing, but
In Welsh it's even more grammaticized, and.... Y notari yw'r llofrudd. Y llofrudd yw'r notari. _not_ mean the same thing.
> It's the notary who is the murderer. > It's the murderer who is the notary. > > are distinct precisely in what is foreground and what is background.
Yep - Y notari yw'r llofrudd = It's the notary who is the murderer. Y llofrudd yw'r notari = It's the murderer who is the notary. (_yw_ /1w/ or /Iw/ has dialect variants 'ydyw' or 'ydy') Unmarked sentences in Welsh begin with the finite verb. If some other part of speech (in these examples, a noun) is fronted, it emphasizes the *focus* of the sentence. (Welsh has focus fronting, not the topic fronting that we find, e.g. in German). In fact, if we have two _definite_ nouns joined by a copula in Welsh, then one or the other must be emphasized. It is quite ungrammatical to have something like: *Mae'r llofrudd yn yr notari. The plain unmarked (i.e. without emphasis) sentences are: either - Mae'r llofrudd yn notari is the murderer PRED notary = The murderer is a notary or - Mae'r notari'n llofrudd is the notary PRED murderer = The notary is a murderer 'yn' is a particle marking the predicate. The sentences with indefinite complements may also have emphasized forms, thus: Yr llofrudd sy'n notari = It's the murderer who's a notary Yr notari sy'n llofrudd = Its the notary who's a murderer Notari mae'r llofrudd = The murderer's a *notary* Llofrudd mae'r notari = The notary's a *murderer* Emphasis is grammaticalized a-plenty in Welsh - and not, you will have noted, simply by word-order but also by choice of forms of "to be" :) Both English & Welsh are IE languages. IME it's tempting fate to say things like: "Another disadvantage (here of IE langs): Emphasis is not grammaticized/lexifyed/whatever-ized." The IE langs are so diffused and variant now, that practically any generalization is more than likely find exceptions.
> (There is also a problem in that "notary" is not properly a translation > of "notaire"; in the United States a notary is responsible only for the > authenticity of the signatures to a document signed in his presence, and > not at all for anything about its content; similarly, a notary can witness > that someone appearing before him took an oath, but is not responsible > for anything about the testimony.
Yep - much the same in the UK (probably why Welsh has simply 'notari' <-- Eng. 'notary' <-- Latin: notarius = a writer of shorthand [hence: a secretary] <-- notae [] = shorthand. Yep - they had shorthand way back in Roman times :) Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760