Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Infinitives & gerunds (was: How to kick the infinitive habit)

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 5:58
On Tue, Oct 03, 2006 at 07:49:59PM +0100, R A Brown wrote:
> I've changed the subject line, as this part of the thread is clearly > not about kicking the infinitive habit. Rather, it is about > interesting and different uses of infinitives :)
Funny how threads mutate like that. :-)
> H. S. Teoh wrote: > >On Tue, Oct 03, 2006 at 10:40:02AM +0100, R A Brown wrote: > [snip] > > Maybe not. In which case, I'd like to be enlightened as to what is > > better terminology to describe what TF is doing. :-) Maybe > >"participle" is a better term for the "infinitive"? Or maybe not. > > Having looked more carefully at your examples, and looking at the TF > grammar, I think they are > indeed infinitives - but TF's way of handling relative clauses is > certainly unusual! But why not? :)
Sounds good to me. :-) It's not like TF doesn't already have unusual features, such as the case system and the complements. One more wouldn't hurt.
> Just to recap your examples from your previous mail: > {quote} > tara' kei uenai ibuneis ka'aman ia. > (she ORG) want (AUX_CVY:mushroom eat:INF_RCP) COMPL > She wants to eat the mushroom. > ..... > > huu sa tapa tun na ibuneis arapan bata. > 1sp CVY go slope RCP CVY:mushroom pick_up:RCP COMPL > I go to the slope (of a mountain) to pick mushrooms. > {/quote} > > I have no problem with these. The words concerned are clearly nouns as > they have the noun case postclitics;
Um... actually, they don't. The last word in each clause is the complement, which is connected with the main verb rather than the infinitive.
> but they also have verbal functions in that they have their own verb > arguments. that is, they are verbal nouns - i.e. infinitives.
I'm not so sure about the noun part. The case they inflect for not indicating their function in the main clause, but rather the function of the subject NP (the first NP in the sentence) in the subclause. Maybe they are more like participles than infinitives? But they can only ever take the subject NP as subject, and they don't agree in case, but instead mark the case of the subject in the subclause.
> But: > {quote} > Notably, the infinitive clause is identical in form and construction > to a relative clause modifying a noun: > baan ikaren muras kuinin sei tanap buta' fei imi tsi. > (old_lady (CVY:shoe black own:RCP) CVY) dwell hut that in COMPL > The old lady who owns the black shoes lives in that hut. > {/quote} > > Well, yes, this is TF's infinitive. It is AFAIK a quite unique way of > handling relative clauses - as I said, I familiar with the idea of > using a participle clause to express this idea (The old lady, the > [one] owning the shoes, lives in that hut), but you haven't use a > participle. It's certainly an interesting way of dealing with things > :)
I'm not so sure about analysing the relative verb here as an infinitive. The case clitic is modifying the head noun, not the relative clause. Maybe it's closer to a participle? Or maybe something else altogether. The way it is constructed is that the clause sits between the head noun and its corresponding clitic, just like any other noun modifier: baan sei old_woman CVY (The) old woman baan duru sei old_woman slow CVY The slow old woman baan tara' sei old_woman DEM CVY That old woman baan ikaren muras kuinin sei old_woman CVY:shoe black own:RCP CVY The old woman who owns the black shoes. The syntactic nesting of this last is: (baan ((ikaren muras) kuinin) sei) Since the relative clause is in adjectival position, a literal translation might be something like "the black-shoe-owning woman". Seems more like a participle than an infinitive to me, although again, not agreeing with the head noun in case, but instead indicating the case of the head noun inside the subclause.
> >And perhaps I should just call the "gerundive" a plain ole gerund, > >because that's really what it is, except that the nouns that modify > >it appear in secondary forms. > > Yes, I think it would be better called just the plain ole gerund :) > > They are definitely verbal nouns, as far as I can see, so I definitely > think 'gerund' would be a better term.
OK. :-)
> ([snip] > >NP's in embedded/subordinate clauses. The arguments to a gerundive, or a > >gerund, are marked using the latter.) Thus, it is possible to speak of a > >gerundive phrase (or gerund phrase?) comprising of the gerund itself > >plus its arguments, which are overtly distinct from the other NP's in > >the main clause. What is the best terminology to describe this? > > gerund phrase, or maybe 'gerundial phrase'?
Ah, I like "gerundial phrase".
> >>>The infinitive is used when the subject NP inside the sub-clause is > >>>the same as the subject NP of the main clause. > >> > >>Sort of like we find in certain constructions in ancient Greek :) > > Article + infinitive? > > No - I was thinking of clauses expressed with acc+infinitive, like > they have in Latin. If the subject of the infinitive is the same as > that of the main verb, Latin a reflexive pronoun, but Greek simply > used the infin. with no 'accusative subject'.
Ah, OK. [...]
> >>>The gerundive is used when the action is independent of the subject > >>>NP of the main clause. > >> > >>OK - but why isn't it called a gerund? > > Maybe it should be? :-) The main thing, I think, is that TF gerunds > > can take NP arguments, > > So could Latin gerunds and so do English gerunds (tho not subject > arguments, but both can take all other verbal arguments).
Right. I guess they really should be called gerunds, then. TF gerunds can take all sorts of arguments, and behaves more or less like an embedded sentence (though you can't embed any more sub-clauses in it 'cos the prefix-inflections are already being used). E.g.: diru kei numitai asuen na hike. girl ORG torment younger_brother RCP COMPL The girl torments (her) younger brother. teira na hamra numitai'i adiru ni'asuen ko aram. older_brother RCP see torment:GND ORG:girl RCP:young_brother ORG COMPL The older brother sees the girl tormenting (her) younger brother. (Lit., the older brother sees the tormenting of the younger brother by the girl.) [...]
> >Interesting. There is actually another way to indicate purpose in TF, > >using the postpositional _utu_ ("for the purpose of"): > > huu sa tapa tun na ibuneis arapan utu bata. > > 1sp CVY go slope RCP (CVY:mushroom pick:RCP for) COMPL > > I go to the slope for the purpose of picking mushrooms. > >One could argue that the so-called "infinitive" in the previous > >example is really just an abbreviated form of this latter > >construction, with _utu_ elided. > > I guess one could. In English dialect, forms like "I go to the slope > of the hill [all] for to pick mushrooms" were still around in the > early 20th cent - but probably died out now :=(
Hmm, isn't that still around in English pidgins? [snip]
> > Hehe... makes one wonder where the prescriptivists got that 'rule' > > from. :-) > > They have a habit of turning _tendencies_ into fixed 'rules' - even if > it means saying things like "Caesar's Latin is not as good as > Cicero's" - crazy ;)
[...] lol... Speaking of which, I've been thinking about this idea of creating (or analysing) language not in terms of grammatical rules, but of *prototypes*. Maybe I'll write this up in a separate thread... T -- Life is too short to run proprietary software. -- Bdale Garbee


R A Brown <ray@...>Infinitives & gerunds