Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re: Chevraqis: asketch)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Saturday, August 12, 2000, 9:26
Me govan`n!

The Gray Wizard wrote:

> > [Degrees of volition in Nur-ellen] > > > > If the action is something the subject does in error or accidentally > > without intending it, the dative preposition _na_ is used, as in: > > > > Na Turin dagnent Veleg mjeln. > > DAT Turin kill-PAST OBJ.Beleg OBJ.friend > > > > (Turin and Beleg are characters from _The Silmarillion_; > > Turin kills his friend Beleg, mistaking him for an enemy.) > > amman iar (coincidently also derived from JRRT's elvish languages) has the > best of both worlds here. Its nominal case system is syntactically > ergative, but it also has what I call a predicate inflection that is active.
How did this double marking evolve in your fictional history? This is highly interesting. Most languages use one and only one system of marking semantic relations or cases, but Amman-iar uses two different of them.
> While the case system does not differentiate between degrees of volition, > the predicate inflections do. Thus, > > i durnanne eleth en i velgan ernurgoraen > > \t i durnanne eleth en i > \m i turin =an -e el- -eth en i > \g the Turin =masc -[A] assertive- -past the > \p det nam =gnd -erg mood- -tense ptp det > \x the Turin did the > > \t velgan ernurgoraen > \m beleg =an -0 er- en- ur- coiro -ae -n > \g Beleg =masc -[P] do- cause- not- live -agt/pat -actn/proc > \p nam =gnd -abs agt- caus- neg- v -val -vc > \x Beleg slay
I note an interesting feature here, namely, the use of definite articles with proper names. This strikes me as odd, because it is so redundant. But then, there all sorts of odd redundant things done in languages.
> Here Turin, in A-function, is marked with the ergative case while Beleg, in > P-function, is in the absolutive. Further, the auxillary _eleth en_ marks > Beleg as patientive to Turin's agentive role and the agentive predicate > inflection _er-_ on the lexical verb denotes the intentional action of the > agent. Finally, the valence _-ae_ on the lexical verb is an active > indication of the agentive/patientive semantic roles played by the > arguments. So here, Turin has intentionally killed Beleg (contrary to the > Silmarillion's claim).
I really like this marking system! It is so absurdly complex, but it makes sense. Nur-ellen, as can be seen from the examples I have given, does things in a simpler manner, it does active-type case marking on the noun. In Nur-ellen, case marking is semantic, while the counterpart of the syntactic case marking of Amman-iar is word order. Basic word order in Nur-ellen is SVO, but can be handled freely; for example, while Nur-ellen does not have passive voice, the object can be put first. A sentence like _Veleg dagnent Turin_ could be translated as "Beleg was killed by Turin"; the case marking makes it clear that it cannot mean "Beleg killed Turin", which would be _Beleg dagnent Durin_. Sentences with inanimate "subjects", as in "A computer computed the orbit of Mars", are formed by using an instrumental phrase which in such cases is usually put in front, e.g. Ni gendel gendent men e Garnil. The agent slot is left empty in the example above. Compare: Men`lgoldir gendent ni gendel men e Garnil.
> However, > > eleth an i durnanne i velgan enurgorial > > \t eleth an i durnanne i > \m el- -eth an i turin =an -e i > \g assertive- -past to.pat the Turin =masc -[A] the > \p mood- -tense ptp det nam =gnd -erg det > \x did to.pat the Turin the > > \t velgan enurgorial > \m beleg =an -0 en- ur- coiro -ia -l > \g Beleg =masc -[P] cause- not- live -pat/thm -actn > \p nam =gnd -abs caus- neg- v -val -vc > \x Beleg slay > > Here Turin and Beleg continue to be marked for their syntactic roles as > ergative and absolutive respectively, but now the auxillary _eleth an_ marks > Turin as semantically patientive. The absence of an agentive inflection on > the lexical verb indicates a nonvolitional action while the valence > indicates the patientive/theme roles played by the arguments. So here > (faithful to JRRT's intentions), Turin has accidentally killed Beleg.
An interesting solution. So the roles are shifted like this: Turin: Agent ---> Patient Beleg: Patient ---> Theme Do I understand it correctly? In contrast, in Nur-ellen, the transformation is thus: Turin: Agent ---> Experiencer Beleg: Patient ---> Patient
> > With verbs of perception, dative distinguished cursory perception > > from intentional observation, as in > > > > Martin lastent linnel e Daeron. > > Martin listened to the singing of Daeron. > > > > vs. > > > > Na Martin lastent dringel e neug. > > Martin heard the hammering of the dwarves. > > The same pattern as above applies to verbs of perception, thus > > vartanne eleth en i limper i dhaerannion erlauiel > > \t vartanne eleth en i > \m martin =an -e el- -eth en i > \g Martin =masc -[A] assertive- -past the > \p nam =gnd -erg mood- -tense ptp det > \x Martin did the > > \t limper i dhaerannion > \m linno =per -0 i daeron =an -ion > \g sing =actn/proc -[P] the Daeron =masc -of > \p v =nsfx -abs det nam =gnd -gen > \x singing the of_Daeron > > \t erlauiel > \m er- lauo -ie -l > \g do- hear -agt/thm -actn > \p agt- v -val -vc > \x hear > > Would be translated as "Martin _listened to_ the singing of Daeron." > > while, > > eleth an i vartanne limper i dhaerannion lauial > > \t eleth an i vartanne > \m el- -eth an i martin =an -e > \g assertive- -past to.pat the Martin =masc -[A] > \p mood- -tense ptp det nam =gnd -erg > \fp did to.pat the Martin > > \t limper i dhaerannion lauial > \m linno =per -0 i daeron =an -ion lauo -ia -l > \g sing =actn/proc -[P] the Daeron =masc -of hear -pat/thm -actn > \p v =nsfx -abs det nam =gnd -gen v -val -vc > \fp singing the dhaeronannion hear > > would be translated as "Martin _heard_ the singing of Daeron."
While Amman-iar and Nur-ellen shift roles differently, each language uses the same pattern for both situations. In Amman-iar: Martin: Agent ---> Patient the singing of Daeron: Patient ---> Theme In Nur-ellen: Martin: Agent ---> Experiencer the singing of Daeron: Patient ---> Patient So Amman-iar has a Patient/Experiencer polysemy and Nur-ellen a Patient/Theme polysemy. However, the two patients are still treated differently in Amman-iar as one is in ergative and the other in absolutive case.
> Nur-ellen certainly looks interesting. Do you have a website?
Unfortunately not yet. I am still working on it, but I am going to set up a page about Nur-ellen soon. Syld, Joerg.