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Re: THEORY: Number and animacy

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Friday, November 10, 2006, 2:39
On Nov 9, 2006, at 5:08 PM, Henrik Theiling wrote:

> Hi! > > Paul Bennett writes: >> ... >> Digging dug. > > :-) > >> From a book with a remarkably long name, published mostly in German >> in 1969, which AFAIK remains the most complete collection of work on >> Elamite (or at least, it was circa ten years ago). >> >> ] >> >> Chapter 2 THE ELAMITE LANGUAGE by ERICA REINER >> ... > > Very interesting! > > I remember that Elamite is what made me introduce person on nouns in > some Conlang sketch. I suppose other conlangs also do this?
Well, if I understand the concept correctly, a conlang I'm working on does this too, but didn't get it from Elamite. In it, "he is a man" would be the same as "the man"; both would take a 3rd-person singular marking. However, if the noun is possessed, it takes a person/number/ gender marking for the possessor instead. This is a consequence of a) the language's ergative alignment and b) the fact that nouns really boil down to verbs (or maybe it would be better to say predicates). The verb in the previous example is "to be a man", an intransitive stative verb*, so the 3rd-person singular absolutive argument marker refers to the subject, the man himself. Nouns which are possessed or show a relationship are transitive verbs, with the ergative argument referring to the noun and the absolutive argument referring to the possessor. For example, "my mother" or "she is my mother" would be rendered with the verb "to be a mother to (someone)" with a 1st- person singular absolutive marker and probably an external (non- affixal) 3rd-person singular ergative pronoun (the absolutive is the only argument marked on the verb itself).