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Re: Neat Idea?

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Friday, August 5, 2005, 18:32
> > On 8/4/05, tomhchappell < tomhchappell@...> wrote:
> > Imagine a conlang with the following; > 1) A family of five light verbs -- one monovalent, one bivalent, one > trivalent, one 4-valent, and one 5-valent -- which inflect to agree > with their argument(s) in person, number, and gender or noun-class; > but have no other semantic load. > 2) A light verb which inflects for tense, mood, aspect, voice, and > version (a thing I have seen only in Georgian and Caucasian > languages), but has no other semantic load. > 3a) No verb except those in 1) ever has to inflect for the person or > number or gender or noun-class of any argument. > 3b) No verb except that in 2) ever has to inflect for tense or aspect > or version or voice or mood. >
I think it's a neat idea. If I were implementing it myself, I'd try to streamline it to a single light verb... possibly like so: There are n light verb roots that express (mostly in an unsegmentable manner) TAM, derived from formerly heavy verbs. Something like PAST REAL, PAST DUR REAL, PAST IRREAL, PRES REAL, PRES DUR REAL, PRES IRREAL, FUT IRREAL. Then I would add agreement markers to that. The distinction between different n-valent light verb roots would be rendered redundant by the n agreement markers on it. As for voice... in this system I would handle it within the agreement marker system rather than as a verb affix. (This isn't an email to say "you should do this or that". Just thinking about how I would implement it to acheive my personal preferences.) For example, say it's an Active-Stative system with an Indefinite Subject construction ("voice", if you will) and an Indefinite Object one. You could have a special "null subject" marker in the subject slot, etc. Or in an accusative system, something like a subject marker that, in addition, indicates that the subject was promoted from object position. Or an object marker that says, "I was promoted; look for me in subject position." Don't want the combinatorial complexity of n person/class markers with the various voice variants? Not too hard... just restrict subjecthood to persons and higher-animacy noun classes. ----------------------------------- I had thought of a system like this for a language I was playing around with for a friend's story. Number, voice, and case were distinguished by consonant and vowel mutations, and with time sound change made the system very difficult for a non-native speaker to master. As the language expanded into a widely-spoken maritime lingua franca, the cognitive burden of these mutations was made less by the use of a few dozen noun classifiers, which took the number and case mutations in place of their nouns. But that didn't solve the "problem" of verbs, the forms of which still needed to be learnt by rote. So I was playing around with "verb classifiers", which took the number and voice mutation in place of their heavy verbs. Each verb has an associated class, although, like noun classes, different verbs could be made by preposing different classifiers to a verb root. Example classes were verbs of motion, verbs of position, ditransitive verbs of transfer, ingestive verbs (cross-linguistically these behave in special ways, incidentally), verbs of activity, statives, verbs of possession, etc. In some ways these could be like aspect and mood markers -- making aspectually different verbs by preposing the active, stative, or habitual verb-class markers. The system wasn't neat and tidy, though, because I wasn't going for a neat and tidy language. Just my contribution, Pat