Genericity (was: Relative clauses - 2nd attempt)
|From:||Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>|
|Date:||Friday, August 4, 2006, 20:59|
On Thu, 3 Aug 2006 12:02:40 -0000, caeruleancentaur
>I apologize for the previous imprecision.
>There are two questions in this message & I seem to have gottent
>them mixed up!
>Without a definite article a sentence in the indicative mood could
>be either general or specific. E.g.:
>nib-êes óós-vi µêrs-a
>That could mean either "The cheetahs run swiftly" (some specific
>cheetahs I am watching) or "Cheetahs run swiftly" (all cheetahs).
>I want to use the preposed particle (not prefix) _im_ to mark the
>generic meaning. Thus:
>nib-êes óós-v-' im µêrs-a could only mean "cheetahs run swiftly."
>GPTC (GENERIC PARTICLE)
>Question #2: Is this structure known as generic mood or generic
>aspect or generic something else?
Well, genericity is one of the two things that definiteness is a
To put it a little more idiomatically;
Definiteness is a grammaticalization of identifiability and universality-or-
To say "The X" can mean either (and often both) of two things;
1) I expect you already know which "X" I'm talking about (identifiability),
2) I'm talking about _all_ the "X"s I _could_ be talking about.
When you say something like "birds sing" or "dogs chase cats" or "cheetahs
run swiftly" or "elephants never forget", what you're saying is essentially
gnomic (or, at least, maybe it is -- see the discussion here about "gnomic"
the past few weeks).
I don't think it qualifies as an "aspect", really, because it isn't about
the internal temporal consistency of the clause.
We had talked about "gnomic" as if it might be an aktionsart. But some
languages mark what a cross-linguistic scholar might recognise semantically
as an aktionsart, as if it were morphologically an aspect.
I also don't think it is a modality or mode or mood, because it doesn't
have to do with the speaker's attitude toward the clause (as a dubitative
mood might) nor with how the speaker intends the clause to fit into the
discourse (as your "relative" mode -- which I snipped, excuse me -- might).
In my opinion it is best classified as a grammatical number. You are
suggesting -- as I see it -- that the verb inflect for number, and that one
of the values this inflection can have is "generic number"; that is, that
the agreed-with-participant (probably the subject) is intended to refer to
_all_ the things it _could_ refer to.