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Austronesian lexical categories & voice (was: Trigger language question etc.)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, May 15, 2005, 18:42
On Sunday, May 15, 2005, at 02:18 , Tim May wrote:

> Himmelmann's papers make up a large part of what I've read about the > language, simply because they were online (and relatively readable).
Yep - I'm working my way through his "Lexical categories and voice in Tagalog" right now :) As you say, it is readable - and it is very interesting. In the "Tagalog & trigger idea: I'd like comments" thread last November, I had come to the conclusion that the "trigger" business was not helpful and that the phenomenon we were talking about was 'voice' (as a grammatical category). It is nice to see that this seems to be borne out by someone who has a far better knowledge of Tagalog than I have and who has obviously made an in depth study of the language. I've changed the subject heading as: - the thread is no longer about "to be"; - 'Trigger language' implies a specific interpretation of which does not seem to be shared by those still taking part in the thread. After all, triggering of some sort or other is probably found in all languages - and 'Trigger Language' always suggests to me communication between Roy Rogers and his horse :-) (Yes, I know - that dates me!) So far in Himmelmann's paper I have not come across the term 'trigger', and I have a feeling that I will not come across it in the remainder of the paper. However, he does refer to the 'Actor Voice', 'Conveyance Voice' , 'Locative Voice' and 'Patient Voice'. I guess his choice of 'Actor Voice' and 'Patient Voice' rather than the more familiar 'active voice' and 'passive voice' is to mark up the difference between the way this is handled in the more familiar IE langs and in Tagalog - but I must finish reading his paper.
> I'm always interested in languages with a weak verb/noun contrast, and > I found his account of Tagalog in this regard rather elegant.
I agree on both points.
> I've > tried to take a conservative,
By 'conservative', do you mean following tradition of western 'parts of speech' etc ?
> theory-independent position whenever > I've discussed it on-list, but I was very interested to find that > Naylor (as a native speaker, and just as another Austronesianist) > takes a similar position.
It is - and one needs too explain the Tagalog construction some way or another and it is difficult, it seems to me, to do so without taking up some position or other, even if only tentatively. Even falling back on occidental Graceo-latin derived parts of speech is IMO making a tacit assumption that this model is universal.
> Of course, I've always felt, even if Himmelmann (and Naylor) are > ultimately wrong about syntactic uniformity in Tagalog, such a model > is surely of interest to conlangers.
Most certainly.
> Other papers by the same author may also be of interest; in > particular, this sketch of Tagalog: > > de/~himmelmann/tagalog_Curzon.pdf > > (This is one of several papers recently removed from his web page (I > think they're finally being published) but which can still be accessed > from the copy at the Internet Archive: > > > de/~himmelmann/publications.html > )
Right - more reading to do ;) =============================================== On Sunday, May 15, 2005, at 06:00 , Roger Mills wrote:
> Tim May wrote: > > (quoting someone else, I think)
Well, he was replying to me, and the first quote is Tim's summary of Himmelmann
>>>> Roots differ in terms of which voice/focus/nominalization >>>> affixes they can take, but they don't split cleanly into verbs and >>>> nouns. Nearly all roots can take at least some, and very few can >>>> take >>>> all. >>> >>> That's very interesting. If nearly all, however, any idea why not all >>> can >>> take at least one? >> >> Tim May: >> I've no idea. Himmelmann says "practically all", and I don't think he >> gives any counterexamples - it's possible that he doesn't know any, >> but can't confidently make a universal claim. > > It's probably not possible to come up with a "rule"; the same is pretty > much > true of Indonesian and other "Western" AN languages. ("Eastern"-- Moluccan > and Oceanic-- langs. have lost so much of the active morphology that they > _may_ have developed more clearly defined word classes). But notice that > Engl. isn't entirely clear-cut either.
That all makes sense - and indeed English is not entirely clear-cut.
> > In Indo., no matter how "noun-y" a word may be, most can at minimum take > the > ber- prefix, meaning "to have..." or "to do ...habitually or as a > profession" or "to have the quality of..." It seems that in > Tagalog, > almost any "noun" can take the mag- prefix, which interestingly is cognate > with the Indo. one, though I don't think the meanings are quite the same.
ber - and mag- are cognate? The /b/ ~ /m/ alternation is OK - but the /r/ ~ /g/ one is a bit odd. What is their derivation?
> OTOH, Indo. seems to have more words (comparing the dictionary defs. at > least) that are defined as "verbs/adjectives" and which occur with the > clearly verbal prefixes/suffixes, and if they have a noun forms, they're > derived. But again, their base forms can almost always co-occur with the > possessive markers, which essentially turns them into nouns-- pikir/ku > 'think-my'= my thought (is...), what I think is...; datang/nya > '(his/her/its/the)coming/arrival'
Seems to re-enforce what Tim was saying above.
> Other papers by the same author [Himmelmann] may also be of interest; in
> Hmmm-- most of the links for the .pdf's don't work-- I hope just a > temporary > glitch.
I hope so. Ray =============================================== =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>