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Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re: Chevraqis: a sketch)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Thursday, August 10, 2000, 9:27
Me govan`n!

daniel andreasson wrote:
> > Yoon Ha Lee wrote: > > > No articles, but 4 cases, which may be a mistake: > > nominative (transitive subject, intransitive voluntary subject): -(r)a > > (-ra if something ends with a vowel, occuring generally in names or > > irregular nouns) > > > > accusative (transitive object, intransitive involuntary subject): -(r)e > > > > genitive (ownership possessive): -(r)en > > > > locative (places/times or non-ownership possessive): -(r)ad > > I have to ask (since I'm an "active" case marking nut): What if the subject > of a _transitive_ verb is involuntary? Would you still mark it with > nominative? > Or would you do as with intransitives and mark it with the accusative? > If that is the case, then what would happen to the object of the transitive > verb? Would it get the genitive or locative case? Or would it remain in > the accusative?
The solution I have found for this problem in Nur-ellen (an active case marking language I am currently working on) is the following system of degrees of volition: The unmarked form is the agentive (nominative), which is always used if the action is voluntary. If the action is something the subject does in error or accidentally without intending it, the dative preposition _na_ is used, as in: Na Turin dagnent Veleg mjeln. DAT Turin kill-PAST OBJ.Beleg OBJ.friend (Turin and Beleg are characters from _The Silmarillion_; Turin kills his friend Beleg, mistaking him for an enemy.) With verbs of perception, dative distinguished cursory perception from intentional observation, as in Martin lastent linnel e Daeron. Martin listened to the singing of Daeron. vs. Na Martin lastent dringel e neug. Martin heard the hammering of the dwarves. The dative is also used with negated verbs to express failure of an intended action, while the unmarked agentive expresses intentional non-action. Finally, there is the instrumental (_ni_ + objective case). This is used to denote an inanimate "subject" (such as a stone that hits a window), but also that someone does something involuntary, against his will. This is _not_ to be confused with comitative (same preposition, but agentive case), which is also sometimes used as a degree of volition which is not easy to explain in a few words, but grammaticalizes what in modern motivational psychology is called a "state of flow". The object of the sentence always remains in the same case in all these versions, namely the objective. It ought to be noted that only animate nouns have an agentive case. This also means that inanimate nouns have only one case, the objective; Nur-ellen has only these two cases, everything else is done with prepositions, some of which govern the agentive, but most the objective. P.S. If you think the examples above remind you at Sindarin, this is because Nur-ellen, being a language of modern-day Elves, is largely based on it. Syld, Joerg.