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Phaleran Update: Language game; Alienable and inalienable possession

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, May 19, 2002, 21:02
Most of my work on Phaleran of late has been lexicographical and
so involved much brute-cataloguing.  I now have an organized list
of 448 parts of the basic vocabulary, plus some concultural items
that I've used as examples in my grammar.  I've also been working
on the diachronic relationship of all the Tlaspian languages in
the U.A. system, and have tried to figure out what the major
isoglosses are in Phalera proper.  Of theoretical interest are
two subsets of the grammar I've ammended:  a language game in use
by many Phaleran dialects, and some notes on alienable/inalienable

The Language Game

Much like the English construction "X schX", this game is used to
denigrate the subject in question.  Superficially, one would say
that one simply reverses the first two syllables in a reduplicative

(1) Lexeme:                      Derived form:
    k'orwu  'treasonous act'     k'orwu-wuk'or
    xâfen   'old man'            xâfen-fenxa
    ahra    'governor'           ahra-hrâ
    hlantra 'house'              hlantra-trahlan
    kwesna  'political right'    kwesna-nakwes
    eltri   'superior, lord'     eltri-triel

This data set in part just reconfirms what we already know
about Phaleran phonology:  that it licenses onset complex
onsets, but not complex codas.  We see for example
_el.tri-tri.el_ not _*elt.ri-ri.elt_.  We also see the usual
fusion of two underlying vowels in /ahra-hraa/ to avoid
hiatus.  Nothing terribly strange here.  More interesting
is the templatic nature of the reduplicant, which must be
a proper bimoraic foot (in this dialect, codas are not
moraic), since we see shortening in _xâfen-fenxa_.

Alienable and Inalienable Possession

The distinction between alienable and inalienable possession
is today only a partially productive morphological process.
In principle, words which have to do with body-parts, kinship
and social-caste relations are inalienably marked on the DP
head by a prefix which varies depending on person and number
(though not proximative and obviative), and is diachronically
an unstressed version of the full pronoun:

(2)   Number   Singular  Plural
   First       -wa      -wai
   Second      -la      -tþe (< *tata-)
   Third       -(u)l    -li

Some examples:

  (3) a. helku-wa  'my hand'
      b. tata-tþe  'your (pl) father'
      c. ahra-li   'their Governor'
      d. agei-l    'his selfish-instinct'

It truly is head-marking, as we can see in phrasal possession:

  (4) eluo      kwâl
      city.ABS  ward-3Sg
      'the city's ward'

  (5) dessâ    genil
      king.ABS land-holding.3Sg
      'the king's hereditary land-holding'

Alienable possession is dependent marked using either the
dative case (if the possessor is inanimate) or the
instrumental (if animate):

  (6) hwânto   titlîna
      1Sg.INST PL.bear.ABS
      'my blackbears'

  (7) onþergawo        mnarto
      falling-snow.DAT whiteness.ABS
      'the falling snow's whiteness'
      (Phaleran has distinct words for snow-on-the-ground
      and snow-still-falling)

Ritual animals are inalienably possessed when alive, but
alienably possessed when dead (i.e., after sacrifice):

  (8) urla    ful
      man.ABS owl.3Sg
      'the man's owl'

  (9) urlânto  fû
      man.INST owl.ABS
      'the man's [dead] owl'

This last feature is highly idiosyncratic lexically and
completely unproductive.  Any questions, comments, criticisms?

Thomas Wier          "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n /
Dept. of Linguistics  mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..."
University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought /
1010 E. 59th Street   and not complete one road that has no turn"
Chicago, IL 60637     Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>Phaleran Update: Language game; Alienable and inalienablepossession