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Re: Switch Systems and Relative Animacy

From:Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Date:Thursday, January 20, 2005, 14:49
> >What I was thinking was that the first NP in any sentence would be the one >with the highest animacy, no matter what its role. If it happens to be the >agent, then the verb is unmarked. If it is the patient, then the verb would >be marked for switched animacy. So, an example (in English): > >Man bear killed(animacy unmarked) >would mean: 'The man killed the bear.' > >Man bear killed(animacy switch marked) >would mean: 'The bear killed the man.' > >Since man is higher in the animacy hierarchy than bear. > >
This is also an interesting an idea. :) It doesn't seem far fetched to me, because as I said topic fronting in common, and the topic worthiness of something tends to be related to its animacy. :) So if a language started off fronting topics, changing to fronting the most animate argument seems like an easily possible change.
>mode + inv. anim. + stem + A + P + IO + tense > >where A, P, IO are agent, patient, indirect object (for not knowing >a better term--oblique?) pronoun affixes. They must always appear >in this order, so the animacy hierarcy doesn't really apply. However, >*all* NPs present in the utterance that are arguments of the verb >must have a pronomial affix in the verb. So to elaborate on my >example above: > >Man bear ('The man killed the bear') >Man bear ('The bear killed the man') >'aK' is the animacy switch marker. > >I'm not totally satisfied with this system, as it seems overly >redundant. More work is needed, obviously. > >
Why is more work needed? Basque, the language I gave an example from before, has agreement with the actor, patient, dative, and sometimes the gender of the listener, as well as tense and mode markings on the main verb. There are some nat langs that go even further. So it's another case of ANADEW. :) If you want that much agreement, there's no reason to change it.