Q's about trigger again
|From:||Roger Mills <romilly@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, December 11, 2003, 3:34|
Carsten Becker wrote:
>I've got a question again, this time about triggers (because that's still*really* difficult stuff for me)
I agree, the system is very odd and a little counter-intuitive from our western
POV-although Eur. languages can do all the same things, but with different
means-active/passive, word order, intonation, cleft sentences. It's a matter of
what's being focused on in the discourse.
>Assuming English would be such a language, and you'd have the followingmarkers:
>Focus/Trigger: -blaAgent: -uu
Just for fun, let's add Locative: -oo
>If I understood you right, in the sentence "I write an essay with my pen."would be
>I = the one who acts (agent)write = verb, transitive though
an_essay = the one who is affected (patient)
my_pen = the thing the action is done with (instrument)
>I'm not sure, but perhaps you'd then have sentences like these:Ibla writeuu an_essay my_pen. (*I* do it)
I writeuu an_essaybla my_pen. (I write an *essay*)
I writeuu an_essay my_penbla. (I do it with *my pen*)
(I add: I writeuu an_essay my-pen in-the-kitchenbla 'I wrote an essay with my pen
*in the kitchen*')
I think you're ignoring your own invented morphology above; you've got -uu
'agent' on every verb.. I think these ought to be:
1. Ibla writeuu an-essay my-pen (agent focus)
2. I write-aa an-essaybla my-pen (patient focus)
3. I write-ii an-essay my-penbla (inst. focus)
4. I write-oo an-essay my-pen kitchenbla (loc. Focus)
Tagalog is a fairly strict VSO language, so schematically, its order would be-
1. write-uu Ibla essay pen
2. write-aa essaybla pen I (unsure about order of pen and I)
3. write-ii penbla essay pen I (" " " " )
4. write-oo kitchenbla essay pen I (" " " )
(IIRC the Tag. forms would be (sulat 'write') 1. s/um/ulat 2. s/in/ulat 3. i/sulat
4. I forget, maybe sulat/an
#1 and 2 correspond fairly easily with active/passive. The only way to express
#3, 4 in Engl. would be with a paraphrase of some sort-"this is the pen I wrote
the essay with" , "the kitchen is where I wrote the essay". (Some analyses of
Tagalog call 3 and 4 the "instrumental passive" and "locative passive" but
that's misleading and not current usage. We have to look at the whole
discourse. In no European language I know of would you start a conversation
with "A book was bought by me yesterday". Consider the following little
"Yesterday I bought a book. John Smith wrote the book. JS wrote the book with a
word-processor. I bought the book at Borders" (It's not even good English
style, is it? Better, we'd say: "Yesterday I bought a book. It was written by
John Smith. He used a w.p. to write it. I bought it at Borders."
In our hypothetical language, and I'm fairly sure, in Tagalog, each verb should
show a different trigger/focus:
Yesterday Ibla bought-uu a book. [Now book is the focus/topic] JS wrote-aa bookbla. [now
wp. is new info/focus] JS/he wrote-ii book wpbla. [now the bookstore is new
info/focus] I bought-oo book/it Bordersbla.
>But I thought the essay would be the pacient and the pen the instrument -where is that shown?
Umm, they are, if you get the morphology right ........;-((
>Or is there no need to be shown? That would lead toambiguities, wouldn't it?
_Something_ has to be shown; probably with strict word order; for instance, use only the
verb suffixes but require that the subject/focus must either immediately
precede or follow the verb; converserly, require -bla on the subj/focus and
leave the verb unmarked. I suspect just relying on word order might indeed lead
to ambiguities. Play around with it!!
>How are sentences done where there are more than one verb That I don't know. I suspect both verbs would have to have the same focus, but am
not at all sure. Or you might have to use a separate sentence.
>or using "normal" categories, where there is more than one object-like thing?You mean like an indirect object with "give"? Tagalog IIRC uses a couple "oblique"
markers to indicate the subsidiary roles in a sentence; generally I think
context or semantics also keep things clear. After all, in "I gave Mary a fish"
it's clear that Mary is the "oblique" recipient, not the thing given. With
verbs that take 2 animate arguments you do need either case-marking, strict
word-order or intonation, active/passive-or a trigger system-to make clear
who's doing what to whom.
Try to get hold of a good Tagalog or Bisayan grammar-the Tag. ref.grammar by
Schacter & Otanes, or even Leonard Bloomfield's old (early 20C) study;
Bisayan-John Wolff. Also, I gave some exs. from a related language last
summer-search in the listserv's Conlang archive for "Tsou" (Sorry, I'm offline
and can't give the exact msg. #s.)
I too think it's a little off-the-point to try to fit trigger languages into the
ergative mold. The system is just completely different. Still, it's interesting
that, assuming as we do that Proto-Austronesian used something like a trigger
system, a few distant descendants are said to have developed into ergative
languages (Malegasy and some Polynesian lgs, we're told.) But then, so has good
old IE Hindi.
(If the format of this msg. is screwy-and I do hope not-- , that's because I
composed it in MSWord.)