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

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Saturday, August 12, 2000, 17:34
Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:

> I note an interesting feature here, namely, the use of definite articles > with proper names. This strikes me as odd, because it is so redundant. > But then, there all sorts of odd redundant things done in languages.
Your own native language, German, is guilty of this redundancy (some dialects at least). Same thing with Hungarian, and most (if not all) of the Austronesian languages that have articles (Malagasy, Tagalog, Polynesian, etc.)--though in the latter case a different series of articles is used with proper names: Malagasy: ny boky "the book" i Noro "Noro" My own conlang, Tokana has this feature. The rule is that *all* definite noun phrases require an article--including not only definite descriptions, but also proper names, universally quantified noun phrases, and definite possessed noun phrases: ne kal "the man" ne Tsion "John" ne kekua kal "each man" (lit. "the each man") te katiana Tsion "John's house" (lit. "the house-his John") Tokana uses the same set of articles for common nouns and proper nouns, but does distinguish animates (which take "ne") from inanimates (which take "te"). In some ways, this is more logical than the English pattern.
> Basic word order in > Nur-ellen is SVO, but can be handled freely; > for example, while Nur-ellen does not have passive voice, the object can > be put first. A sentence like _Veleg dagnent Turin_ could be translated > as "Beleg was killed by Turin"; the case marking makes it clear that it > cannot mean "Beleg killed Turin", which would be _Beleg dagnent Durin_. > Sentences with inanimate "subjects", as in "A computer computed the > orbit of Mars", are formed by using an instrumental phrase which in such > cases is usually put in front, e.g. > > Ni gendel gendent men e Garnil. > > The agent slot is left empty in the example above. > > Compare: > > Men`lgoldir gendent ni gendel men e Garnil.
Tokana does the same sort of thing (notice that case is marked on the article rather than the noun, not unlike Tagalog): Na Tulin kaihe-n Pelek the.NOM Turin killed-the.ABS Beleg "Turin killed Beleg" Ne Pelek kaihe-na Tulin the.ABS Beleg killed-the.NOM Turin "Beleg, Turin killed (him)" or "Beleg was killed by Turin" Ne Pelek kaihe the.ABS Beleg killed "Beleg was killed / Someone killed Beleg" In general, non-absolutive arguments may be freely omitted (or, in your terms, the non-absolutive slots may be left empty). The absolutive is in some sense the 'core' argument of the sentence--making Tokana an active case-marking language with an ergative/absolutive 'base', I guess. When the absolutive argument is omitted, an antipassive prefix "u-" must be added to the verb: Na Tulin u-kaihe the.NOM Turin APASS-killed "Turin killed someone" or "Turin did some killing" U-kaihe APASS-killed "Somebody was killed" or "A killing-event happened" Matt.