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comment: four-participants (on-topic, even! but long)

From:Muke Tever <alrivera@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 10, 2002, 13:21
I posted this bit to my webpage at:
but since nobody reads that [..yet?] I am posting it here also.

Well, I was reading more of Describing Morphosyntax, and I'm almost sure I read a bit about a language grammaticalizing "contrary to expectations" and "according to expectations" as verbal inflections, and not just verbs on their own. But now I can't find it. I thought I saw it near the section on miratives, but it appears to have vanished entirely. One point I did find was "languages tend to have about three distinct core grammatical- relation categories (usually subject, object, and indirect object)....there are two, and possibly three, categories necessary to keep participant roles distinct in normal human interaction without overburdening the mind." (7.0, p. 133) *That* sounds like a challenge to me. I got to thinking about a less-related concept, about how language is a process that links the imaginary to the physical: to get an image of a tree from your head into someone else's, you say "a tree". So, starting from the idea of a language that more acknowledges this, I came up with the idea of "FRAME" and "OBSERVER". Basically the observer is our fourth participant, in addition to the subject, object, and indirect object. [and the Frame is the clause that the Observer observes] In English we can say things like "I see you're tossing the ball to John" or "I see your tossing of the ball to John". What we want is similar to and extended from this. In that sentence, "I" is (am?) the observer, "you" is (are?) the subject, the ball is the object, and John the indirect object. Let's see it in Obs-lang: ter-tu-mi pet-a Ivan-ta throw-2AGT-1OBS ball-PAT John-DAT "I see you're throwing the ball to John." We call it "observer" because in this language the default action is "see". "I" doesnt (dont?) have to be the only observer, anything can do: vol-mu-ti Ivan-a like-1AGT-2OBS John-PAT "You see (that) I like John." On a basic note these would probably just in normal use be the same as evidentials. The beauty of this construct is that the observer can do more than just view the "frame" (i.e., the action: you throwing the ball to John, or me liking him)—we can combine it with other verbs [or particles] for other effects: Causative par Ivan uchi-lu-ti ludi-zi-a CAUS John learn-3AGT-2OBS play-INF-PAT "You taught John to play" / "You caused John to learn to play" Mirative kata slan-tu-mi kwa azin! MIR membrum-2SUBJ-1OBS like mule "Whoa, you're hung like a mule!" etc... Ivan-ya naka Mari mansi-lu-li zan-y-a John-OBS HATE Mary eat-3AGT-3OBS dog-PL-PAT "John hates it when Mary eats dogs." mere la faza-tu-mi prite preche KNOW what do-2AGT-1OBS summer last "I know what you did last summer." How's that sound? Yeah, it's rough, but that's the general idea. Notice that the observer-actions don't take the morphology that the agent-actions do. In fact, they are probably adverbs [and not real verbs at all anymore...] This has been Yet Another attempt to reduce to morphology things more often found in syntax... <<<< It would be nice to get comments on this (I know it's probably not *likely*, but is it fundamentally broken on any level? etc.) (And yeah, nesting would be evil on this--"Par Ivan paruchiluti ludizia", you taught John to teach playing; "Par Ivan paruchi[ti?] Mari paruchiluli ludizia", you taught Ivan to teach Mary to teach playing, etc....) *Muke! --


Matthew Butt <m.butt@...>Another attempt to introduce myself