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Re: Tagalog & trigger idea: I'd like comments. :)

From:Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 21:52
Ray Brown wrote:

> HELP!! > > When I saw the subject line of this thread, I was hoping for > enlightenment. > Maybe someone has posted something which clearly explains this and it is > waiting to be downloaded.
I replied to Sally with some made-up exs., but wihtout guarantee... As I said, I'm going to ask a genuine Tagalog speaker/teacher to (try to) explain....So perhaps all discussion should be deferred. However....
> David Crystal does not mention 'trigger' in his "A Dictionary of > Linguistics and Phonetics"; but Larry Trask does give a definition in his > "A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics", namely: > "Any element in a sentence which makes some requirement elsewhere in the > sentence. For example, a subject NP which requires agreement in the verb > is said to 'trigger' agreement in the verb, or to act as an agreement > 'trigger', the verb being the agreement 'target'. Similarly, a verb or a > preposition in a case-marking language may trigger a particular case form > on the object NP."
IMO, neither def. covers what happens in Tagalog et al. And as I've said before, I don't know when Philippine-type langs. began to be called "trigger languages". People in the field seem to prefer to say they have "focus systems".
> > The other problem in the current thread that I have read so far seems to > be the common confusion between 'focus' and 'topic', which is not helpful.
I confess to being confused about these, myself. Here is a sentence: "Stella Gibbons wrote a book in 1932." S.G. is certainly the subject; is she also the topic? (I think so.) Or is she the focus; if not, what is? "A book was written by S.G. in 1932" Now what's the topic/focus? Obviously, "book" has been promoted to subject. "It was in 1932 that S.G. wrote a book" OR "It was 1932 when S.G....." Now what's topic/focus???
> So let us see. > ================================================================== > > On Tuesday, November 16, 2004, at 03:01 , B. Garcia wrote: > [snip] > > In reference to Philippine languages all a trigger is is an affix on > > the verb that indicated what part of the sentence is *emphasized* > > Right - in English we use emphasis either to mark the focus, or to mark a > contrast with some other element. So: > > 1. Do I assume that what is being marked is indeed the focus? > 2. Is then the target the emphasized element?
I think the answer to both these is "yes".
> 3. As not all sentences have focus, do 'non-focused' sentences have a > trigger affixed to the verb? If so, why?
I'm not sure Tag. et al. can have a verb without some sort of focus or other affix. Many "words" ("bases") in AN languages can be ambiguously N, Vb, Adj, until various affixes are added. Here for ex. is part of the dictionary entry for "sulat": "1. (n.) writing, inscription 2. letter, correspondence; _isulat_ (vb., passive) to use (a pen, etc.) in writing; =sulatin to write out (a topic or s.t. definite); manulat (intr.) to write professionally; sulatan (pass.) to write to or on; (sulatán material on which writing is done); sumulat (vt, vi) to write" You see what we're up against :-((((( In the above, i- is the instrument-focus marker; -an the locative/benefactive (apparently Tag. conflates these); -um- is the agent focus marker. (I think -in- is patient focus, but it isn't cited). Tag. being VSO, sentences could begin: isulat ang pluma.... (pluma 'pen' is "subject", focus?, and takes the ang particle (any other arguments in the sentence, like "author" "book" would be marked with another particle _ng_) sulatan ang papel.... (papel 'paper', ditto) sumulat ang autor... (autor, ditto)-- In Engl., an active sentence (?sinulat ang libro.... [libro, ditto] a passive in Engl.) Note too that the answer to: What does John do? would use "manulat" ' a writer'; while What is John doing? would use "sumulat" ' writing' I doubt very much that one could use bare "sulat" as a verb.
> > > be it the one who does the action, who receives it, who it's done for, > > where, what was used to do it. The noun that the verb refers to is > > marked with an affix. > > OK - so the affix on the verb is the trigger and the NP is the target. The > verbal affix triggers an affix on the NP?
Insofar as _ang_ can be considered an affix; it's written separately, at least. The various affixes on the verb are definitely the more relevant; "ang" has no real meaning, it simply indicates the link between the verb and the "focused" argument, which is indeed fronted and must come directly after the verb. (AIUI) I won't try to answer your remaining questions at this point, but I'll include them in my msg. to Prof. Naylor. A related and broader question might be: when/why do we choose to use active vs. passive in Engl. and other familiar languages? Surely pragmatics are involved, and a desire for variety in sentence structures-- a text with nothing but active SVO sentences is plodding, awkward and boring. I suspect this is true of Tag. as well, but use of the various focuses may be required more often than active/passive are in Engl. ObConlang: Kash has no marked passive voice, but fronting the direct object produces a sentence that we would probably translate with the passive: çenji yasisa minaye Shenji(nom.) 3s-love name(Mina)+dat. (-e) "Shenji loves Mina" "Passive" minaye yasisa çenji -- I refer to this as _focussing_ Note that with a pronoun object-- ç. ne yasisa 'Sh. loves her', the only thing you can do is move çenji to final position, and I'm really not sure what that changes; in fact in that case çénji would have the main stress in the sentence. You can also use heavy stress: çenji yasisa miNÁye 'shenji loves MINA' (this is just _emphasis_) also 'ÇÉnji yasisa minaye' and 'çenji yaSÍsa minaye' OTOH _topicalization_ involves different structure, different intonation. mina , çenji ne yasisa name-nom. [,=break in inton.] Shenji her he-loves As for Mina, Shenji loves her vs. cleft S, also a form of topicalization: mina na ya, çenji ne yasisa "it's Mina that Sh. loves ~Mina is who Sh. loves" It won't surprise me to learn that I'm off-base with my terminology.


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>