Re: Tagalog & trigger idea: I'd like comments. :)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, November 18, 2004, 7:51|
On Wednesday, November 17, 2004, at 08:07 , Roger Mills wrote:
> Sally Caves wrote:
>> Can you give an example of the various triggers in a Philippine language?
>> even just a made-up one?
> In the Listserv Archive, see msg. #78359 of Jan.13, 2003, for some
> from the Tsou lang. of Taiwan;
Haven't tracked it down yet - but it seems there was a quite a thread
going on at the time about triggers etc.
> Basically you can have: Agent focus - goal/patient focus - location focus
> instrument focus - benefactive/dative focus. (Not every PI language has
> possibilities; and sometimes it's hard to come up with a sentence with all
> the appropriate arguments.) Agent and Goal focus of course correspond to
> familiar active and passive
So it is _focus_ that we are concerned with, that is *new information* -
and not the _topic_ under discussion?
>> For instance, in your above statement you remark that the affix is on the
>> verb. And then in the next sentence you say it's on the noun. Are there
>> two affixes? Please show me and Rodlox with an example.
> The affix on the verb indicates which focus is being used; the
> argument-in-focus (loosely, the subject)
This is where confusion can arise. Subjects in unmarked sentences
correspond to the topic, not the focus.
> is marked with a sort of article
> (in Tagalog, ang for common nouns, si for proper names, special forms of
> pronouns. The non-focused arguments use a different article or
> prepositions/different pronoun forms.
OK - the NP receiving focus is marked with a special particle ("focusing
particle" - my term) and the verb is marked to indicate the semantic
function of the focused NP.
That makes sense. But, as I observed in my previous mail, there seems to
be some difference of opinion about what is the trigger and what the
Is the verbal affix the trigger and the focused NP the target? _or_
Is the marked NP the trigger and the verb the target?
I cannot help thinking some other terminology would be more helpful. Is
there indeed an alternative terminology for this feature of Philippine &
> For now: With a slight change in your wording, here are my
> of how a Philippine language would do it:
>> The woman brings water from the river to her family in a bucket.
> Agent focus: bring/i ta woman o water o family do rio ni bucket
Out of context, we cannot of course be certain whether the woman is the
topic or the focus, but normally one would assume the woman is the topic.
>> The family was brought water from the river in a bucket by the woman.
> Benefactive/dative focus: bring/an ta family o woman o water do rio ni
The same observation applies here.
>> Water was brought from the river in a bucket by the woman to her family.
> Goal/patient focus: bring/u ta water o woman o family do rio ni bucket
>> A bucket was used to bring water from the river by the woman to her
> Instrument focus: bring/um ta bucket o woman o water do rio o family
> (It's accidental that the smooth Engl. translation has to be passive; it
> could be a cleft S: "It was with a bucket that the woman...etc."
The cleft construction does show focus, the passive usually does not.
However "a bucket" rather than "the bucket" does suggest this is new
> LOC.focus: bring/it ta river o woman o water o family ni bucket.
> Again, cleft S is the best translation, "it was from the river that the
> woman brought...etc." or "The river is where the woman brought the water
That is focus.
> I suspect that aside from the verb-first/affix + immediately following
> "subject/focus" with _ta_, the ordering of the remaining arguments can be
> pretty free.
OK - but I do find "subject/focus" unclear.
> (The 3 sentences I deleted aren't really in the same series)
> Hope that helps. (I had fun :-))) )
It caertainly helps in that the markings of the NP & verb are clarified. I
am still unclear:
(a) whether we are dealing with focus (tho I think we are) or topic
(b) what is considered to be the trigger and what the target.
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" ]