Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

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

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 19:09
On Tue, Nov 16, 2004 at 11:08:50AM -0500, Sally Caves wrote:
> Does Tatari Faran have traces of triggerishness? Teoh? You readin' this?
I'm not sure I'm confident enough about my understanding of triggers to state beyond doubt whether Tatari Faran is triggerish or not. Nevertheless, as far as I understand, it does exhibit similar tendencies. A Tatari Faran utterance consists of a verb modified by a set of core NP's. Each core NP is marked with a case marker which determines its role with respect to the action described by the verb. Let's make this more concrete by considering an example: the verb _kira ... esan_ means "to give". Given this verb, there are 3 roles that can be filled by NPs: the giver, the recipient, and the gift. Let's suppose we have NP's for all three roles. Let's say the giver is _kiran_, "young man", the recipient is "diru", young lady, and the gift is _firasa_, "flower". At this point, it should be noted that the *order* in which these NPs appear is, for now, unimportant. What is important is which roles they fill, rather than what order they appear in. The case marking on each NP is determined *solely* by its semantic role in relation to the verb. With the verb _kira_, "to give", the giver is always marked with the originative case. Therefore, _kiran_ would be marked with the postposition _ka_ (the masculine originative marker). Hence, the giver NP is _kiran ka_. The recipient is always marked with the receptive case; hence the recipient NP is _diru nei_ (_nei_ is the feminine receptive marker). The gift is always marked with the conveyant case, so its corresponding NP is _firasa sei_ (_sei_ is the feminine conveyant marker - flowers are grammatically feminine). Now, given the verb ("to give"), and the 3 NPs filling its 3 semantic roles, there are several different ways of realizing it as a sentence in Tatari Faran. Here is where the "triggeriness" comes in: as long as we keep to the same verb and the same set of NPs, the *factual content* of the utterance does not change. However, the *emphasis* may change. In Tatari Faran, one of the NPs in a given utterance is made the "subject" (i.e. trigger, in the Tagalog sense), or the center of attention, one might say. This NP will always be the first NP to appear in the sentence. In the indicative mood, this NP precedes the verb, whereas the other NPs follow the verb. For example: kiran ka kira firasa sei diru nei esan. young_man ORG give flower CVY young_lady RCP COMPL "The young man gives (a flower/flowers) to the young lady." (_esan_ is the verb complement, which is not relevant to our present discussion.) In this particular sentence, "young man" is made the "subject", the center of attention. Hence, another way to translate this might be: "It is the young man who gives flowers to the young lady." This happens to be in the familiar English word order. But let's now consider other possibilities. We may, for example, wish to emphasize that it is to the young lady that the flowers were given. We do this by simply fronting "young lady", and relegating "young man" to the back of the sentence: diru nei kira firasa sei kiran ka esan. young_lady RCP give flower CVY young_man ORG COMPL "The young lady was given flowers by the young man." (Note that although the English translation resorts to the passive voice, the Tatari Faran retains the same verb, and merely changes the word order. In fact, it has no concept of active/passive; they are one and the same. Note also that the factual content of this sentence is identical to the previous sentence; the only change is in its emphasis.) The interesting point about this second sentence is that the *same* case marking is retained for "young man". Even though the English necessarily has it as a prepositional NP, the Tatari Faran has no such change. (In fact, it would be an error to change the case marker on "young man", as it would alter the factual content of the sentence.) We could also decide to emphasize the fact that it was *flowers* which were given to the young lady by the young man, in which case we would front "flowers" and leave the young man and young lady in the back: firasa sei kira kiran ka diru nei esan. flower CVY give young_man ORG young_lady RCP COMPL "Flowers were given by the young man to the young lady." Note again, that the factual content of the sentence has not changed; only the emphasis. How is this related to triggers? Tatari Faran, unlike Tagalog, does not move the case marking of the trigger NP onto the verb. It also has no special trigger marker. However, these are just surface differences: the Tatari Faran subject NP has a special relationship with the verb by occupying a special position with respect to it, preceding it while other NPs follow it. Similarly, the Tagalog trigger NP has a special relationship with the verb by having its case marker moved onto the verb. In Tatari Faran, all NP roles (giver, recipient, gift) share the same mechanism (fronting) to be promoted to subject. Similarly, in Tagalog, all roles (actor, patient, location, etc.) share the same mechanism (relocating their case marking onto the verb and acquiring a trigger marker) to be promoted to trigger. In comparison, an accusative language treats the roles quite differently: to make an object the subject, one has to change the verb into a passive one and make the previous subject a prepositional phrase; to make an indirect object the subject, one has to put both the original subject and object in prepositional phrases in addition to switching to the passive voice. To make a locative NP the subject, another, different mechanism would be employed. Based on this, I would propose that Tatari Faran, indeed, does exhibit triggeriness. Even though its core case system is radically different from Tagalog, the way it treats subjects is very similar to the way Tagalog treats triggers. T -- Microsoft is to operating systems & security ... what McDonalds is to gourmet cooking.


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>