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Degrees of volition in Old Albic (was Re: Linguistic knowledge and conlanging (...))

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 27, 2004, 19:23

On Mon, 26 Jul 2004 23:37:03 -0500,
"Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@...> wrote:

> From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?J=F6rg?= Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> > > I came up with when reflecting over ergativity; when I first used > > it (in Nur-ellen, the predecessor of Albic), I didn't know any > > natlang with an active-stative system, and I have yet to read > > about a natlang with a degree-of-volition marking system like > > the Albic one. > > Could you briefly describe how this works in Albic? I've always > loved split-S phenomena.
Sure. First of all, Old Albic is a fluid-S language, in which intransitive subjects are marked like transitive subjects if they are agents, and like transitive objects if they are not. (Transitive subjuects are always agentive.) Examples: (1) Obosca o ndero. AOR-flee-3SG:A M-AGT man-AGT `The man fled.' (2) Acara om nderom. AOR-sit-3SG:P M-OBJ man-OBJ `The man sat.' (3) Ibretara o ndero am phath. AOR-break-3SG:P-3SG:A M-AGT man-AGT I-OBJ knife-OBJ `The man broke the knife.' Some verbs can take either marking, depending on whether the subject acts out of itself or not: (4) Acvamsa atto maro. AOR-come-3SG:A father-AGT 1SG-GEN-AGT `My father came.' (5) Acvama gratath thas. AOR-come-3SG:P letter-OBJ 2SG-GEN-OBJ `Your letter came.' Now to the really juicy part of it all, degrees of volition. The unmarked degree of volition, expressed by a subject in the agentive case as in (1), (3) and (4), is full volition, i. e. the subject acts intendedly. Another degree of volition is accidental action, which is marked by putting the subject in the dative case. Assume, for example, that the man in example (3) did not intend to break the knife, but broke it involitionally (e. g., while cutting something tough with it): (6) Ibretara ona nderona am phath. AOR-break-3SG:P-3SG:A M-DAT man-DAT I-OBJ knife-OBJ `(It happened to) the man (that he) broke the knife.' With verbs of perception, dative subjects indicate cursory perception, and agentive subjects indicate deliberate observation: (7) Etersa ona nderona am chvanam. AOR-see-3SG:P-3SG:A M-DAT man-DAT C-OBJ dog-OBJ `The man saw the dog.' (8) Etersa o ndero am chvanam. AOR-see-3SG:P-3SG:A M-AGT man-AGT C-OBJ dog-OBJ `The man looked at the dog.' There is, however, a third degree of volition, which expresses that the subject acts out of an external cause. This is marked with the instrumental case, and the verb (unlike in the other degrees of volition) does not carry an agent agreement marker. For inanimate nouns, this is the only possible degree of `volition': they never have any volition. (The case paradigm of inanimate nouns is defective; they have no agentive or dative cases.) Examples: (9) Oboc ømi nderømi. AOR-flee M-INST man-INST `The man was made to flee.' (10) Ibreta emi ønti am crañ. AOR-break-3SG:P I-INST stone-INST I-OBJ pot-OBJ `The stone broke the pot.' Grammatically, these sentences are zero-agent constructions with an oblique NP expressing the instrument by which the event occurs. This system of degrees of volition applies both to active intransitive and transitive subjects. It is also independent from the tense/aspect/mood of the verb (unlike e. g., Georgian), even though I have consistently used the aorist (the usual form of narration) in the examples above. This has become quite lengthy, but well, that's the way it works. The modern Albic languages have (not yet worked out) similar systems. Abbreviations: 1 1st person 2 2nd person 3 3rd person A agent agreement AGT agentive case AOR aorist C common animate gender DAT dative case GEN genitive case I inanimate gender INST instrumental case M masculine gender OBJ objective case P patient agreement PL plural SG singular Greetings, Jörg.