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C'ali: inverse verbs and pivots

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, July 13, 2003, 18:46
A couple weeks ago I posted about the agentive pivot system
in C'ali morphosyntax. I described the person crossreferencing
in C'ali, in which the class of transitive verbs and the two
classes of intransitive verbs use a common set of endings to
mark agent, patient and goal functions in a sentence.  I repeat
those endings for ease of reference:

           AGENT              PATIENT               GOAL
         Sg       Pl        Sg       Pl          Sg      Pl
1st     -ta      -?V       -nu      -kas        ?V-     -tse
2nd     -(i)m    -qwo      -thæ     -thæ        twe-    -(l)la
3rd I   -(a)n    -t|on     -këi     -xela       me-     -nar
    II  -(e)ssa  -t|on     -këi     -xela       me-     -nar
    III -ku      -möra     -xela    -parsu      kwe-    -nar
    IV  -pha(ma) -ku/-phai -ni      -yö         tšis-   -kwe/-nar
    V   -ku      -phai     -ni      -yö         swi-    -mi

In addition to these, there are also two classes of _inverse_
verbs, whose notional subject takes the oblique case and a dative
marking on the verb. The notional NP objects of these verbs take
either agent or patient marking, depending on the animacy of
the notional object.  In some cases, suppletive stems simply
subcategorize for this:  _oxthe-_ "love someone" v. _xyr-_
"love something". Most stems, however, simply take agentive or
patientive object markers on NPs depending on context: _amnu-_
"have someone/something"_.  The crossreferencing of these verbs is
wholly distinct, since whatever the marking on the object NP,
both animate and inanimate NPs are crossreferenced by a single
set of object markers:

          Dative NP         Agent/Patient NP
         Sg       Pl          Sg       Pl
1st     u-/w-    t(e)-       -sto      -sto-n
2nd     r(e)-    s(e)-       -(i)ndri  -(i)dri-n
3rd I   t[ai-    t[ai- -s(a) -(u)r     -(u)r-ni
    II  t[ai-    t[ai- -s(a) -(u)r     -(u)r-ni
    III tlo-     t[ai- -s(a) -(u)r     -(u)r-ni
    IV  mu-      mu- -s(a)   -les      -les-ni
    V   mu-      mu- -s(a)   -les      -les-ni

Some examples:

(3) t[ai-oxthe-r         saxmë-n  olma-qa
    3SgDat.I-love-3Sg.II man-OBL3 woman-AGT1
    "The man loves the woman."

(4) t[ai-xyr-les        saxmë-n  aimax-teio
    3SgDat.I-love-3Sg.V man-OBL3 land-PAT6
    "The man loves (his) country"

Note that effectively these verbs may in principle mark both animacy
*and* noun-class/gender of the arguments. In (3), the notional object,
"woman", a class II noun, is redundantly marked both as animate (by
receiving agentive case marking and in the stem chosen) and receives
class-II verbal cross-reference . This system probably arose from an
earlier kind of Fluid-S system where the case marking of intransitive
verbs' arguments more closely reflected the animate/inanimate distinctions
in nouns.  Now, animacy has simply been grammaticalized as a marking
of objects and suggests that what was originally an intransitive
subject is well on its way to being a syntactic object. The dative-
marked notional subject also has at least one other typical subject
property:  when in coordination, it may be elided with other dative-
marked notional subjects, while the object, whether marked either as
agent or patient, generally may not:

(5) t[ai-oxthe-r saxmë-n olma-qa som t[ai-amnu-r [x=man] olma-qa
    "The man loves the woman and [he] has the woman."
    *t[ai-oxthe-r saxmë-n olma-qa som t[ai-amnu-r saxmë-n [X=woman]
    *"The man loves the woman and [he] has the woman."

Thomas Wier            "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics    because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago   half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street     Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637