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Old Albic update: Syntax of the verbal noun

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 12:10

This time I wish to present you some brief notes on the syntax of the
Old Albic verbal noun.

The Old Albic verb has only one infinite form, the verbal noun (VN),
which is of great importance in the syntax of the language.  The VN
is formed with the suffix -°nth, e.g. _hatanth_ 'biting'.  It is
an inanimate noun which has no plural, but is inflected normally
for case.

The VN is used whenever a clause functions as an object (or subject)
of another verb.  In such an infinite clause, the arguments of the
VN are coded as possessors, with the agent appearing in the genitive
case and the patient in the partitive case if animate and in the
locative case if inanimate:

(1)  Asalama hatanth as chvanas ol ndarol.
     AOR-see-3SG:P-1SG:A bite-VN the:C-GEN dog-GEN the:M-PRT man-PRT
     'I saw the dog bite the man.'

Such sentences can also be constructed differently, namely by
coding the subject of the embedded clause as the object of the
matrix clause and linking the embedded clause with the conjunction
_a_ 'and' to it:

(2)  Asalama om ndarom a hatanth sol as chvanas.
     AOR-see-3SG:P-1SG:A the:M-OBJ man-OBJ and bite-VN he-PRT
     the:C-GEN dog-GEN
     'I saw the man and his biting by the dog.'

The verbal noun is also used in three periphrastic stative verb
aspects: the progressive, the perfect and the prospective.

The progressive aspect expresses that the subject is in a state
of doing (or undergoing) something.  It is formed with the verb
_b-_ 'to be (temporary, cf. Spanish _estar_)' and the locative
of the verbal noun:

(3)  Baha matanthal bradal.
     be-PRS-1SG:P eat-VN-LOC bread-LOC
     'I am eating bread.'
     (lit. 'I am in the eating of bread.')

The perfect aspect expresses that the subject is in a state
resulting from a past action or event.  It is formed similarly,
but with the ablative of the VN:

(4)  Baha matanthad bradal.
     be-PRS-1SG:P eat-VN-ABL bread-LOC
     'I have eaten bread.'
     (lit. 'I am from the eating of bread.';
      cf. Irish English 'I am after eating bread.')

The prospective aspect expresses a state of being about to do
something; it is formed with the allative case of the VN:

(5)  Baha matanthan bradal.
     be-PRS-1S:P eat-VN-ALL bread-LOC
     'I am about to eat bread.'
     (lit. 'I am to the eating of bread.')

Case forms of the verbal noun also take the role of participles:

(6)  a chvana hatanthala (sas)
     the:C-AGT dog-AGT bite-VN-LOC-AGT (it-GEN)
     'the biting dog'

(7)  a chvana hatanthada (sas)
     the:C-AGT dog-AGT bite-VN-ABL-AGT (it-GEN)
     'the dog that has bitten'

(8)  a chvana hatanthana (sas)
     the:C-AGT dog-AGT bite-VN-ALL-AGT (it-GEN)
     'the dog that is about to bite'

(9)  o ndaro hatanthala sol
     the:M-AGT man-AGT bite-VN-LOC-AGT he-PRT
     'the man that is bitten'

(10) o ndaro hatanthada sol
     the:M-AGT man-AGT bite-VN-ABL-AGT he-PRT
     'the man that has been betten'

(11) o ndaro hatanthana sol
     the:M-AGT man-AGT bite-VN-ALL-AGT he-PRT
     'the man about to be bitten'

The locative case of the verbal noun is also used in a
converbial construction, expressing that something happened
while something else was happening.

(12) Matanthal mas bradal, lingena am dvarling.
     eat-VN-LOC 1SG-GEN bread-LOC ring-IPF-3SG:P the:I-OBJ doorbell
     'As I ate bread, the doorbell rang.'
     (lit. 'In my eating of bread, the dorbell was rung.')


(13) Matanthad mas bradal, lingena am dvarling.
     eat-VN-ABL 1SG-GEN bread-LOC ring-IPF-3SG:P the:I-OBJ doorbell
     'After I ate bread, the doorbell rang.'

And also:

(14) Matanthan mas bradal, lingena am dvarling.
     eat-VN-ALL 1SG-GEN bread-LOC ring-IPF-3SG:P the:I-OBJ doorbell
     'As I was about to eat bread, the doorbell rang.'

... brought to you by the Weeping Elf


Elliott Lash <erelion12@...>