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Re: Construct States

From:Tim Smith <timsmith@...>
Date:Sunday, March 7, 1999, 17:45
At 04:17 PM 3/2/99 -0800, JOEL MATTHEW PEARSON wrote:
>Malagasy has something similar to the construct state. To form >a possessive construction, you add the suffix "-n" to the possessed >noun. The noun phrase denoting the possessor follows the possessed >noun, and forms a phonological word with the possessed noun (usually >indicated in the orthography by writing the possessed noun and the >first word of the possessor as a single word, in some cases separated >by an apostrophe or a hyphen): > > ny boki-n + sika > ny bokintsika > the book-N 1pExcl "our book" > > ny boki-n + ny vehivavy > ny bokin'ny vehivavy > the book-N the woman "the woman's book" > > ny boki-n + Rakoto > ny bokin-dRakoto > the book-N Rakoto "Rakoto's book" > >Whether the "-n" suffix should be analysed as a construct state >suffix or something else is a matter of debate... > >Matt.
This construction is formed by adding a morpheme to the head noun, whereas the Semitic construct state is formed (or was originally) by _subtracting_ a morpheme. Or so it would appear from the following: At 04:22 PM 3/2/99 -0500, Brian Betty wrote:
>[snip] >It's easy. All the Hamito-Semitic languages I'm familiar with - Egyptian >and the Semitic languages - use the construct state to mark genitives and >compound nouns. Basically, because of an old genitive marker in /-i/ and >rules of accent ('Zweisilbengesetz' - making a three-syllable word into 2 >syllables), when the case-markings are stripped from a word it appears in >its 'construct' (theoretically, its 'abstract') form. > >For example, Tuppu^m 'tablet' (T = t with a dot under it, indicating it is >'emphatic' [glottalised or pharygealised], and the [u^] is a /u:/ formed >from the nominal case-ending -um combined with another preceding vowel; >accent is on the last syllable in this word because of this) is borrowed >from Sumerian (not surprising!) DUB-BI 'tablet. The construct of this word >is Tuppi; Tuppu^m < Tuppi + um. So when you say, My tablet, the 'object' of >the genitive is placed first in construct form, followed by the genitive of >the posessor. Tuppi:ya 'my tablet' < Tuppi + ya (length is a separate issue >here!)
This seems to me to imply that, although the Malagasy and Semitic constructions have the same function synchronically, they must have originated by different processes. ------------------------------------------------- Tim Smith The human mind is inherently fallible. It sees patterns where there is only random clustering, overestimates and underestimates odds depending on emotional need, ignores obvious facts that contradict already established conclusions. Hopes and fears become detailed memories. And absolutely correct conclusions are drawn from completely inadequate evidence. - Alexander Jablokov, _Deepdrive_ (Avon Books, 1998, p. 269)