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

From:The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>
Date:Thursday, August 10, 2000, 13:21
> From: Jörg Rhiemeier > Subject: Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re: Chevraqis: a > sketch) > > 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.)
amman iar (coincidently also derived from JRRT's elvish languages) has the best of both worlds here. Its nominal case system is syntactically ergative, but it also has what I call a predicate inflection that is active. While the case system does not differentiate between degrees of volition, the predicate inflections do. Thus, i durnanne eleth en i velgan ernurgoraen \t i durnanne eleth en i \m i turin =an -e el- -eth en i \g the Turin =masc -[A] assertive- -past the \p det nam =gnd -erg mood- -tense ptp det \x the Turin did the \t velgan ernurgoraen \m beleg =an -0 er- en- ur- coiro -ae -n \g Beleg =masc -[P] do- cause- not- live -agt/pat -actn/proc \p nam =gnd -abs agt- caus- neg- v -val -vc \x Beleg slay Here Turin, in A-function, is marked with the ergative case while Beleg, in P-function, is in the absolutive. Further, the auxillary _eleth en_ marks Beleg as patientive to Turin's agentive role and the agentive predicate inflection _er-_ on the lexical verb denotes the intentional action of the agent. Finally, the valence _-ae_ on the lexical verb is an active indication of the agentive/patientive semantic roles played by the arguments. So here, Turin has intentionally killed Beleg (contrary to the Silmarillion's claim). However, eleth an i durnanne i velgan enurgorial \t eleth an i durnanne i \m el- -eth an i turin =an -e i \g assertive- -past to.pat the Turin =masc -[A] the \p mood- -tense ptp det nam =gnd -erg det \x did to.pat the Turin the \t velgan enurgorial \m beleg =an -0 en- ur- coiro -ia -l \g Beleg =masc -[P] cause- not- live -pat/thm -actn \p nam =gnd -abs caus- neg- v -val -vc \x Beleg slay Here Turin and Beleg continue to be marked for their syntactic roles as ergative and absolutive respectively, but now the auxillary _eleth an_ marks Turin as semantically patientive. The absence of an agentive inflection on the lexical verb indicates a nonvolitional action while the valence indicates the patientive/theme roles played by the arguments. So here (faithful to JRRT's intentions), Turin has accidentally killed Beleg.
> 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 same pattern as above applies to verbs of perception, thus vartanne eleth en i limper i dhaerannion erlauiel \t vartanne eleth en i \m martin =an -e el- -eth en i \g Martin =masc -[A] assertive- -past the \p nam =gnd -erg mood- -tense ptp det \x Martin did the \t limper i dhaerannion \m linno =per -0 i daeron =an -ion \g sing =actn/proc -[P] the Daeron =masc -of \p v =nsfx -abs det nam =gnd -gen \x singing the of_Daeron \t erlauiel \m er- lauo -ie -l \g do- hear -agt/thm -actn \p agt- v -val -vc \x hear Would be translated as "Martin _listened to_ the singing of Daeron." while, eleth an i vartanne limper i dhaerannion lauial \t eleth an i vartanne \m el- -eth an i martin =an -e \g assertive- -past to.pat the Martin =masc -[A] \p mood- -tense ptp det nam =gnd -erg \fp did to.pat the Martin \t limper i dhaerannion lauial \m linno =per -0 i daeron =an -ion lauo -ia -l \g sing =actn/proc -[P] the Daeron =masc -of hear -pat/thm -actn \p v =nsfx -abs det nam =gnd -gen v -val -vc \fp singing the dhaeronannion hear would be translated as "Martin _heard_ the singing of Daeron." Nur-ellen certainly looks interesting. Do you have a website? David David E. Bell The Gray Wizard "Wisdom begins in wonder." - Socrates