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THEORY: Construct state and/or genitive case in Semitic langs -- was: Re: THEORY: Morphosyntactic Alignment (again?), and Milewski

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 17, 2006, 23:18
On 5/17/06, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> wrote:
> On Tue, 16 May 2006 18:13:10 -0400, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...> > wrote:
> >On 5/16/06, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> wrote: > >>On Mon, 15 May 2006 11:22:43 -0400, Jim Henry > >>><jimhenry1973@...> wrote:
> >Of course this analysis wouldn't work for a language > >that really has a construct state identical to a > >particular oblique case and also has a distinct genitive, > >or vice versa; but if there are any such natlangs > >I don't know about them. As far as I know > >the construct state as such is attested only in > >the Semitic language family (see below), and there > >construct state is orthogonal to case. > > [er] > I believe it was Akkadian; at any rate the very first Semitic language I > looked at specifically for the purpose of investigating "construct state", > was indeed analyzed has having _both_ a genitive _and_ a "construct state", > by that author. (I think if you look back at "Carsten's Birthday" in the > archives, you may see where someone referenced that language.)
According to the Wikipedia article I cited, Arabic has a genitive case as well as a construct state. I'm not sure about Hebrew, but surely one or more persons on this list will know. This article is unclear on the genitive and/or construct state and I suspect (based on its apparent inconsistency with what I've heard elsewhere) that it may be inaccurate.
> >>Is "construct state" a "case", as it seems at the moment? Or is it > >>like "definite" and "indefinite", whatever they are? > > [JH] > >I treated the contra-genitive like a case in Pliv-Rektek, > >but according to this Wikipedia article, > > > > > > > >the construct state in Arabic and Hebrew is a > >kind of definiteness marking, not a case. > > [er] > I'd love to know how they know that. I'd love to know how certain and how > accurate they are about that.
That I don't know. If for instance a noun can be marked as both nominative and construct, or accusative and construct, but can't be both construct and definite or both construct and indefinite, then I would say that construct is a kind of definiteness marking in a given language. But I don't know if that is true of Arabic and/or Hebrew. For instance, if in a nonce-conlang definiteness is marked by mutating the initial consonant and case is marked by various suffixes, we might have paf - a cat (absolutive) baf - the cat (absolutive) maf - the cat of (absolutive) pafek - a cat (ergative) kes - a woman (abs.) tus - mouse (abs.) sasu - to purr tevu - to eat then we might have: sasu maf ges - the woman's cat purrs tevu mafek gesek tus - the woman's cat eats a mouse -- Jim Henry