|From:||Tim May <butsuri@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, June 17, 2004, 1:40|
Joe wrote at 2004-06-08 08:03:07 (+0100)
> Ray Brown wrote:
> > On Monday, June 7, 2004, at 06:13 , Joe wrote:
> >> Yeah, but I was emphasising conciseness. I've found that a
> >> simple sentence - verb, subject, and object, can't really be
> >> expressed with less than three syllables.
> > It certainly can, really & truly; e.g.
> > tu l'aimes /tylEm/ two syllables
> > je l'aime /ZlEm/ one syllable
> Yes, but those are pronominal arguments. I probably should have
> made myself clearer.
It may be a mistake to think of a prototypical simple monotransitive
sentence as having two full nominal arguments. (Not that you said
this, but I think we sometimes tend to think along such lines.)
From _The Languages of Native North America_, p.192 (I know you have a
| An interesting restriction on possible simple clause structures can
| be seen in some languages of the Northwest Coast. It is now well
| known that speakers of most languages rarely introduce new
| participants into discurse as the subject/ergative/agent of a
| transtive clause. Though they might seem perfectly grammatical,
| sentences like _A nice man helped me out_ are surprisingly rare in
| spontaneous speech. Speakers more often introduce new entities in
| presentative constructions, in intransitive clauses, or as
| objects/absolutives/patiens of transitives: _A nice man came up and
| offered to help_, or _I met a nice man there and he helped me out_.
| For this reason ergative arguments (or subjects or agents of
| transitives) are rarely identified in full noun phrases: they are
| usually represented by pronouns or my nothing at all. In an
| examination of a corpus of spoken Sacalpultec Mayan, for example,
| Du Bois (1987) discovered that only 2.9 percent of the clauses
| contained lexical ergatives. Examinations of corpora from numerous
| other languages have shown similar percentages.
| In various Coast Salishan languages, the tendency to avoid lexical
| ergatives has solidified into a grammatical prohibition against
| them. In Lushootseed, for example, a Coast Salishan language of
| Puget Sound in northwest Washington, ... transitive clauses with
| pronominal agents are fine. Transitive clauses with lexical agents
| are never used, however. The only way to identify the agent of a
| verb like "take" with a lexical nominal is to passivize the clause.
Not that this has much bearing on conciseness.