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Referent Tracking

From:Rik Roots <rik@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 23, 2005, 21:10
On Wednesday 23 Nov 2005 08:23, Chris Bates wrote:

<snip - I don't remember seeing this post on ZBB>

> This area doesn't seem to have been giving much thought or through > describing by people writing conlangs, which is why it interests me. I > mean, people say "I have a switch reference system" or "I have a *topic* > system" etc, but they don't go into detail when it comes to the role > such systems play in things like reference tracking, and indeed whether > for a given system that is one of its functions (Swahili, for instance, > has a passive but does not use it as a major reference tracking device). > So your thoughts? I'd love to hear details about how various natlangs > accomplish reference tracking functions, and also about how any of your > conlangs do it." >
Gevey is guilty of such weirdnesses. I think the solutions I came up with for the language work (though others may disagree). SWITCH REFERENCING is a part of the language, but is confined to relative clauses. A set of relative conjunctions go before the relative clause. The choice of which conjunction should be used depends entirely on what object (subject, direct or indirect object) is shared between the two clauses. The only reason I chose to implement the system is because I wanted my relative clauses to follow their main clause rather than be embedded in it. Examples: Jone (s) yuush maey (o) wiekfase (v) John cooks the rice Jone (s) yesh thoel (o) tokase (v) John likes birds
> Jone yuush maey wiekfase zhek yesh thoel tokase > John, who likes the birds, cooks the rice
loife (s) yuu pouzuul (o) primase (v) ta'tuusrheks (i) the man gives a stick to the dog Jone (s) ye loif (o) gluefase (v) ïsta'deefsuubz (i) John sees the man in the field
> loife yuu pouzuul primase ta'tuusrheks kozh Jone gluefase ïsta'deefsuubz > the man that John sees in the field gives a stick to the dog
SWITCH FUNCTION doesn't really operate in Gevey because there's no active/passive voice system in play, though if two clauses share the same subject then the second clause can drop its subject on condition that this is marked both on its leading conjunction and the verb itself. Moving onto FOCUS - by which I mean identifying the most relevant piece of information in a clause - this is achieved by word ordering, with the word appearing directly in front of the verb being the most focussed word. I have to mention focus because it clashes with the TOPIC-COMMENT system, which in Gevey is shown by all "new" information going in front of the verb and all "old" information after it (in direct contradiction to what most other languages do). The new-old rule tends to overshadow the focus rules, so when old information is more important to the speaker than new information they run into a problem - which I solve by deploying three focus markers (a promoter, a demoter and an intensifier) when necessary. This is, of course a gross oversimplification of how these considerations play together nicely in the language! Rik


Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>