When is a verb not a verb? (was: Trigger language question concerning the use of "to be")
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, May 10, 2005, 18:06|
On Monday, May 9, 2005, at 11:56 , Chris Bates wrote:
> Yep, this is the way I took the language when I learned some (although
> when to use ligatures gave me problems). It's supported by the fact...
Yes, she supports it by similar facts (which I've snipped).
> be funny if this analysis is correct, since creating all noun languages
> is a regular "wacky no natlang does it" conlang idea.
> The one problem I
> can see is that, while you can argue all occuring verb forms are
> nominalizations, there are certainly verb roots which are not in the
> same class as noun roots, since I don't believe nouns can freely take
> the same morphology as verbs.
I am no expert in Tagalog or any of its related languages, this has
occurred to me. When I was doing my 'Latalog' sentences, I was going to
use either the 4th declension deverbal noun formed from the perfect
participle or 'supine' stem, e.g.
auditus "hearing", uisus "sight" etc.
(The so-called 'supine' is in fact the accusative case of this noun).
But such nouns are true nouns and cannot for example show tense or aspect.
In order to convey the completive aspect of the Tagalog examples, I used
the infinitive which, while a noun, retains certain verbal features (for
example, I could choose the perfect infinitive rather than the present
infinitive). They are not normally modified with genitive constructions,
tho this is use is attested - hence I used them.
> So in this analysis you need two classes
> of roots: one for action / state words from which you can derive various
> nominalizations, and one for noun roots which do not take the same
> nominalizing markers.
Yes, she refers in one part of her paper to the two classes as _nomina
actionis_ and _nomina rei_ respectively; in another part of her paper she
refers to Leonard Bloomfield's terms; he called her nouns "full words" and
your former group as "transient full words" and the latter as "static full
While one can argue that the "verb" in Tagalog is only a "quasi-verb"
since its "enlargements" are treated as attributes (genitives) and not as
'objects', and thus consider them as a sub-category of 'noun', it seems to
me that you then have a category of noun which is a "quasi-noun" in that,
unlike other nouns, it can be marked for aspect and is marked to indicate
the participant role of its subject.
The latter feature feature is called _voice_ in IE and other languages. I
guess the reason that it is not called 'voice' in Tagalog is that while
with the IE passive, if the Agent is expressed, it is specifically marked
as agent, but in Tagalog it is a genitive attribute just like any other
verbal object/ argument.
However, consider Trask's definition of 'voice':
"The grammatical category expressing the relationship between, on the one
hand, the participant roles of the NP arguments of the verb and, on the
other hand, the grammatical relations borne by those same NPs."
This surely is precisely what is going on in Tagalog. Consider Paz Naylor'
Nag-alis n(an)g sapatos ang babae.
remove-AF, compl gen shoes nom woman
'The woman removed (her) shoes.'
(Literally: 'Removed of shoes nom-woman.')
Inalis n(an)g babae ang (kanyang)sapatos.
remove-GF, compl gen woman nom (her) shoes
'The woman removed her shoes.'
(Literally: 'Removed of woman nom- (her)shoes.')
Inalisan n(an)g babae n(an)g sapatos ang bata.
remove-LF, compl gen woman gen shoes nom child
'The woman removed (the) shoes from the child.'
(Literally: 'Removed-from of woman of shoes nom-child.')
Ipinag-alis n(an)g babae n(an)g tinik ang bata.
remove-BF, compl gen woman gen thorns nom child
'The woman removed thorns for the child.'
(Literally: 'Removed-for of woman of thorns child.')
Ipinang-alis n(an)g babae n(an)g sapatos ang kalsador.
remove-IF, compl gen woman gen shoes nom shoehorn
'The woman used the shoehorn to remove her shoes.'
(Literally: 'Removed-with of woman of shoes shoehorn.')
The (quasi-)verb takes on a different form according to the participant of
the grammatical subject. The main difference, as it seems, to me between
the Tagalog patters and the more familiar IE ones, is that all the other
participant roles are expressed by the genitive construction. But it still
seems to me to fit Trask's definition of 'voice'.
This does not mean they cannot syntactically be nouns of the _nomina
actionis_ type if one is happy enough to accord the them noun status
although they exhibit aspect and subject agreement.
I am not, however, sold on the "all-noun" explanation of Paz Naylor and
others for similar reasons to those you give. On the other hand, I do find
it preferable to the "trigger" explanation (especially when it gets
misunderstood and people refer to the (quasi-)verb affixes as triggers!).
One might just as well say that:
(a) "She removed her shoes" - the fact that the grammatical subject has
the participant role of Agent triggers the active voice.
(b) "Her shoes were removed" - the fact that the grammatical subject has
the participant role of Patient or Goal triggers the passive voice.
Both statements are true enough, but that is not the way active and
passive are normally explained.
>> Cf. Paz Naylor's example:
>> Maganda ang babae
>> STATIVE-beauty NOM woman
>> In her analysis, Tagalog is reckoned not to have syntactic verbs, but
>> quasi-verb nouns. 'maganda' is, in this analysis, a noun denoting the
>> stative concept of being beautiful. To quote her:
>> "Schachter and Otanes (1972), Naylor (1980), Ferrell and Stanley (1980)
>> and others have pointed out that Tagalog and/or Philippine-type sentence
>> structure is like an equation, it is thus _bipartite_ and one nucleus
>> constituent _equates_ with the other and the two are joined by
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]