Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Active case-marking natlangs (was Re: What isneeded in anconlang classificatory system?)

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Sunday, February 4, 2001, 19:39
And Rosta wrote:

> Matt: > > Tokana is another conlang with an active case-marking system. Tokana is > > strictly dependent-marking in this regard, inasmuch as there is no agreement > > morphology on verbs. The breakdown of case forms works more-or-less > > like this: > > > > ABSOLUTIVE: patients/themes (including subjects of non-eventive verbs) > > NOMINATIVE: volitional agents of eventive verbs (both transitive and > > intransitive) > > DATIVE ("to/at/in"): recipients, experiencers of verbs of > > perception/emotion/cognition, goals, locations, possessors > > ABLATIVE ("from/of/out of"): sources, non-volitional agents of > > eventive verbs, > > standards of comparison, supersets in partitive relations, reasons/motives, > > substances > > INSTRUMENTAL ("with/by/via/through"): instruments and inanimate actors, > > measurements/durations, degrees of comparison > > ALLATIVE ("towards/for"): benefactees, 'non-endpoint goals' > > COMITATIVE ("with"): comitatives, subsidiary instruments, possessees > > So reasons are expressed by the ablative, but are purposes expressed by > the allative?
Right. Examples: Me tahe imoik itaul moututu I-Abs stay-Pst at-home the-Abl illness-Abl "I stayed at home on account of my illness" Ma pusuke homa meile iten solatsne I-Nom make-Pst bread honey the-All wedding-All "I made honeybread for the wedding" Compare this second sentence with the following, in which the dative necessarily expresses location: Ma pusuke homa meile ite' solatse I-Nom make-Pst bread honey the-Dat wedding-Dat "I made honeybread at the wedding" The allative is also used with verbs of thinking and saying to express subject matter: Ma itsesa iten solatsne I-Nom tell-Pst-them the-All wedding-All "I told them about the wedding"
> Does Tokana have passive or antipassive? If so, can the demoted argument > ('term') be expressed by an oblique, and if so what case would it take? > I'd guess that a demoted nominative would become an ablative and a > demoted absolutive would become dative or allative (possibly with both > being grammatical but allatives having more of a conative interpretation?). > OTOH, maybe there isn't much functional need for a passive, since, iirc, > arguments can be left unexpressed, so "John was killed" could be rendered > as "John-abs kill", and "(also) killed was John" as "kill John-abs", > -- or?
Tokana does not have passives or antipassives, in the sense that you mean. Viz., there are no constructions which serve to promote or demote arguments, changing their case in the process. Perhaps the closest thing to a relation-changing operation in Tokana is the reflexive, formed by adding the prefix "uma(k)-" to a transitive verb. The subjects of reflexive verbs are always in the absolutive case, regardless of the case used for the corresponding transitive subject: Ma kahtin I-Nom hit-Pst-him(Abs) "I hit him" Me umakahte I-Abs Refl-hit-Pst "I hit myself" Otherwise, passive/antipassive-type meanings are expressed by simply leaving out arguments, as you guessed. To express "John was killed", simply omit all mention of the agent. There are actually two possible constructions here: If the focus is on the event ("John got killed"), the regular past tense form of the verb is used; if the focus is on the resultant state ("John has been killed, John is dead"), the present tense stative form is used: Ne Tsion kaihe the-Abs John-Abs kill-Pst "John was killed" Ne Tsion kaieha the-Abs John-Abs kill-Stat "John is (in a state of having been) killed" Eliminating the patient requires the addition of the prefix "u(k)-" to the verb stem. I call this prefix an antipassive marker, but since the addition of this prefix does not cause any change in case-marking/grammatical relations, the term is not entirely appropriate. Instead, adding "u(k)-" indicates that the participant which *would be* expressed with absolutive case has an unknown/indeterminate referent: Na Tsion kaihin Taniel the-Nom John-Nom kill-Pst-the(Abs) Daniel-Abs "John killed Daniel" Na Tsion ukaihe the-Nom John-Nom Antipass-kill-Pst "John killed someone" Notice that the agent is still marked with nominative case in the second sentence. Eliminating this agent, we get: Ukaihe Antipass-kill-Pst "Someone was killed"
> BTW, how is focus done in Tokana these days?
The focussed constituent is placed immediately in front of the verb, and the verb is inflected in the dependent order (the set of forms normally used when the verb is in a subordinate clause): Na Tsion kaihin Taniel the-Nom John-Nom kill-Pst-the(Abs) Daniel-Abs "John killed Daniel" Na Tsion ne Taniel kaihi' the-Nom John-Nom the-Abs Daniel-Abs kill-Pst-Dep "John killed DANIEL" [as opposed to someone else] or, with a non-fronted agent: Ne Taniel kaihi'na Tsion the-Abs Daniel-Abs kill-Pst-Dep-the John-Nom "John killed DANIEL" (the apostrophe in these last two examples indicates an accent mark on the preceding vowel) In my capacity as con-linguist of Tokana, I believe that this focus construction is a hidden cleft construction. The second sentence is actually "It is Daniel that John killed", but with a null copula and no expletive "it" subject. Matt.