Unresolved problems in Lyanjen morphosyntactic nomenclature
|From:||Matt M. <matt_mcl@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, June 28, 2001, 16:48|
or, How pretentious a title can Matt come up with for his email?
Here are some problems I've discussed on-list before (largely last autumn);
I'd like to see if we can come up with any fresh insight on them. Please
bear in mind that I'm only a second-year Lx major and my morphosyntax is
PROBLEM ONE: Noun cases. Lyanjen has three non-oblique cases. The first one
is used for the subject of intransitive clauses:
Trilya iks malper.
trilya -0 iks malp -er
sky Subj not be:purple 3pSgPrInd
"The sky isn't purple."
bóbal -0 crots -0
bobal Subj hunger 3pSgPrSim
"The bobal hungers." (A bobal is a kind of ruminant.)
The second one is used to mark agents, such as the agent of a transitive
verb, whether or not there's a patient. The third one is used to mark
patients, whether or not there's an agent.
Ðoc'turibar zau'splaï itadzactan.
ðoc'turib -ar zau'spla -i itadzact -an
archbishop Agt insult 3pSgPsSim MP Pat
"The archbishop insulted the member of parliament."
ðoc'turib -an tanat -i
archbishop Pat kill 3pSgPsSim
"The archbishop was killed."
(Compare to "Ðoc'turibar tanati" (the archbishop killed) and "Ðoc'turib
tanati" (the archbishop died)).
So. In Chapter 7 of _Describing Morphosyntax_, Payne describes a three-way
division of noun roles between subjects, agents, and patients. Most
languages either group subjects and agents in the same case (nominative, vs.
accusative) or subjects and patients (absolutive, vs. ergative). None of
these terms work for me since mine are all separate. What do you think of
the case names "subjective", "agentive," and "patientive"?
PROBLEM 2. Verbs in uncomposed moods (participles, infinitives, volitives,
and imperatives) in Lyanjen usually have a prefix indicating the case of the
noun they "replace". This is kinda difficult to describe, so I'll just give
CASE FULL SENTENCE INFINITIVE
Subj Ge craii. ("She screamed.") t'crai
Agt Ger craii oin. ("She screamed something.") k'crai ("to
Pat Riun gos craii. ("His name was screamed.") r'crai ("to
Gen Ge craii esulas. ("She screamed from the roof.") g'crai ("to be
Loc Ge craii kijat. ("She screamed about war.") p'crai ("to be
Dat Ge craii múniem. ("She screamed at the queen.") m'crai ("to be
(Each case can of course have several meanings; I've chosen the use that
makes the most sense for this verb. The nouns with the cases mentioned are,
respectively, "ge (she)", "ger (she)", "riun (name)", "esulas (roof)",
"kijat (war)", "múniem (queen)". )
Then, of course, you can use each of these infinitives slightly differently
T'crai ipritar. ("Screaming is annoying.")
K'crair enbin sas spoler r'aprenan gan. ("To scream one's message guarantees
R'crair kopriker striman. ("To be screamed ruins a song." (A song is ruined
if it is screamed.))
G'craim esulan iks boldirer. ("To be screamed from is not what the roof is
P'crair snaku kijan. ("To be screamed about will stop the war." (The war
will stop if it is screamed about.))
M'crain ger iks cater. ("She does not like to be screamed at.")
I don't know what to call the class of prefixes in question. I've
tentatively settled on "valency", but I don't know if that makes sense.