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The radness of serial verbs (was: Re: "To slurp" in latin)

From:taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>
Date:Sunday, February 1, 2009, 20:07
* taliesin the storyteller said on 2009-01-28 14:20:11 +0100
> <verb> ergo sum, I <verb> therefore I am
Thanks to the hunt for "to slurp" in latin I've been doing a bit of slurping on my own (in private!) to try to discover what a slurp sounds like in Taruven. After all, the word seems to be onomatopoetic wherever it isn't borrowed or inherited, so onomatopoetic the Taruven word would be. It might just be that I am in possession of manners but frankly, I find slurping a bit uncomfortable[1]. Let it therefore be said that also we suffer for our art :) So: the newly discovered Taruven word for "to slurp" is "paru" (try repeating it quickly a couple times, paru-paru-paru... obvious innit?), with the backed /A/ and the central /u\/ and trilled /r/ as usual (can't have a slurp without a trill). If Taruven was like Latin, grammatically, all I'd then need was 1) a word for "to be/to exist"... I thought of using the adjective (well, stative, as in "stative verb") for being alive, "kuì", for the meaning "to exist", but that wouldn't make semantic sense for, say, a table: "the table is alive"! Now, "to exist" must obviously be a stative, even if we ignore the meaning that makes "existing/existant" synonymous with "current". It's a state, after all, a state even inanimate things can have. A very pleasant nap produced "thana" so now there's a word for "to exist"[2]. ... and 2) a word for "therefore/because/ergo". Oops. Taruven ain't like Latin. Adverbs and conjunctions and subjunctions: no want! Instead, Taruven uses the wonderful device known as the serial verb construction (SVC)! A verb without an overt subject has a first person subject, so "paru" = "I/we slurp/(are/were/was/will be) slurping". Two or more verbs without overt subjects is a serial verb construction where the shared subject is 1st person, so "paru bogh" = "I slurp then drown" or "I slurp and drown". This *must* be an SVC since the subject of the non-first verb(s) is covert. With an overt subject, even a same-subject marker, we'd have two sentences: "paru lebogh" = "I slurp. The subject of the previous sentence drowns." However, "bogh" is an intransitive verb while "thana" is a stative. Verb followed by stative equals the secondary predication known as the depictive, not your run-of-the-mill SVC. "paru þall" = "I slurp thirstily. I thirstily slurp. I am thirsty, slurp. I slurp, thirsty." One might imagine a covert "because" there... "I slurp because I am thirsty." Even "I slurp therefore I am thirsty." "paru thana" = "I slurp, existingly". Doesn't really work that well for the meaning "to exist". "I think therefore I exist" then? Let's try "ār thana". "ār": "I think (that|in order to)" + "to exist". However, "ār" can't be in no SVC... because it's a complemented verb. In a complemented verb, at least one argument is a subordinate clause. "ār thana" means "I think that I exist", or "I think in order to exist". The latter is of course pure poetry but doesn't change the fact that I still don't know how to express "because/therefore/ergo" in Taruven. It does mean that I have a suitable phrase for a slurper's t-shirt though: "thana paruaš": "In order to exist, I slurp". [1] .. or as it would be in Taruven: ār paru xevve [2] Turns out there already was a word "thanu" meaning "original, one and only". Nice! t., dives into "Grammar of Tariana" to see if/how it's done there