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The CHS puzzle; was: Genitive relationships (WAS: Construct States)

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Sunday, March 7, 1999, 19:11
John Cowan wrote:

> Sally Caves scripsit: > > > Other > > linguists have tried without success to explain > > why these similarities should exist between two > > languages that apparently had no contact that we know of. > > Why shouldn't they have been in contact in Iberia?
When, John? How long ago in Iberia? By "no contact" that we know of, I meant no contact within recorded history. The thesis suggests that the "contact" had to have occured prehistorically, given the very basic core grammar that it affects, and probably at a time when proto-Celtic languages and Semitic languages had some kind of sustained encounter long before written history. I didn't write the thesis; you can go consult it through Interlibrary Loan. It's by Orin Gensler. It's called _A Typological Evaluation of Celtic/Hamito-Semitic Syntactic Parallels_. University of California, Berkeley, 1993. He references John Morris-Jones, Julius Pokorny, Heinrich Wagner,G.B. Adams, Karl Horst Schmidt, and others who've addressed the problem and offered tentative explanations. Here are the seventeen features that Celtic and Hamito/Semitic "share" in common--called the CHS puzzle, pp. 5-6: 1) Conjugated prepositions (prep. + pronominal object in a single word. 2) Word order: VSO, N-Modifier, Prepositions 3) Relative clause linker: invariant particle, not relative pronoun. 4) Relative clause technique (oblique): copying, not gapping, i.e., "the bed, I slept in it," meaning "the bed that I slept in." 5) Special form of the verb peculiar to relative clauses. 6) Polypersonal verb (subject and object both marked). 7) Infixing/suffixing alternation: Object marker is infixed to the verb if there is a preverb, suffixed otherwise. 8) Definite article in genitive embeddings may occur only on on the embedded noun: "house the-man" ="the man's house." 9) Nonconcord of verb with full-NP subject: verb can fail to agree with the subject, depending on word order. 10) Verbal Noun (Vn: object in genitive), not Infinitive (object in same case as with finite verb). 11) Predicative particle: in copular or nominal sentences, the predicate is marked with a particle homophonous to a "local" preposition: "He (is) in a farmer"="he is a farmer." 12) Prepositional periphrastic: BE + Prep + VN, e.g., "He is at singing" [TEONAHT'S "she is with singing"] 13) DO periphrastic: DO + VN, e.g. "He does singing." 14) Notional adverbial clause expressed as "and" + finite clause 15) Nonfinite forms usable instead of finite main-clause verb 16) Word-initial change, expressing a variety of syntactic functions 17) Idiomatic use of kin terms in genitive constructions, e.g. "son of sending" = messenger; "son of land" = "wolf" ACTUALLY, this last is pretty neat. I didn't know that about either Celtic or Semitic. I'd have to reread major portions of the dissertation to tell you what Orin and others have said about possible points of contact. I'll let you linguists wrangle with this, since, as I said, I didn't write it. I merely find it fascinating. Sally Caves