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Re: Telek grammar tidbit

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 3, 2000, 6:06
For those of you who remember my posting in Subject Possessor Raising, here
is the promised Object Possessor Raising (OPR) description.

Let's say you have a Telek sentence like:

Jan-al  Mali so-kalim-ym-yd ke-lesa-'ni
John-NOM  AsP-shirt-POSS-ACC AsA-see-PERF
'John saw Mary's shirt.'

Note that the verb does not show agreement with _Mali sokalimymyd_ 'Mary's
shirt' since shirt is inanimate.

Now suppose that this is in the context of a conversation about John and
Mary, so that shirt is really less relevant to the discourse than its
owner.  In such a context, you could say:

Jan-al Mali-id ke-s-ax-kalim-lesa-'ni
John-NOM Mary-ACC AsA-AsP-GOAL-shirt-see-PERF
'John saw Mary's shirt.'

This is a much more complicated sentence, especially in the verb.  In this
case, "Mary" has been marked as accusative, and the original object "shirt"
has been incorporated in the verb.  The goal applicative has been added,
and the verb shows object agreement with "Mary".

What has happened is that the possessor has been "promoted" to be the
object of the sentence.  The verb "see" requires a "see-r" and a "see-ee",
but makes no provisions for the possessor of the "see-ee".  Therefore, an
applicative must be added to allow "Mary" to appear as an argument of the
verb.  Because "Mary" is more salient to the discourse (that is the reason
she was extracted from the possessive phrase in the first place), it means
that the object is relatively unimportant, thus gets incorporated into the

One interesting fact is that although Telek usually allows you to drop
almost any noun phrase, once OPR has taken place, the object cannot be
dropped.  Thus, the first example below is possible, but the second is not.

Jan-al ke-lesa-'ni
John-NOM AsA-see-PERF
'John saw it.'

**Jan-al Mali-id ke-s-ax-lesa-'ni
'John saw Mary's.'

As possessed item may never be dropped unless the possessor disappears as
well.  This is not to say that the previous example would be grammatical if
I left out "Mary" -- once OPR has occurred, an object may not be dropped
under any circumstances.

There are some restrictions on this operation.  First of all, it may not
apply if the verb already has some applicatives attached to it.  The reason
for this is that the goal applicative is always the closest applicative to
the stem.  If OPR applied to an object that was introduced by an
applicative, there would be no way to get the morphemes in the right
order.  Another restriction is that OPR cannot occur when the object is an
inalienably possessed noun that is not a body part.  One reason is that
inalienably possessed nouns that are not body parts cannot be
incorporated.  Another reason is that most nouns that fall into that
category are animate, and animate nouns tend to resist incorporation.  (I
mean the semantic category "animate" -- as in things that move on their own
-- not the Telek gender "animate" which includes things like "strawberry"
and "volcanic eruption".)

Marcus Smith
AIM:  Anaakoot
"When you lose a language, it's like
dropping a bomb on a museum."
   -- Kenneth Hale