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Animacy of nouns

From:Carsten Becker <naranoieati@...>
Date:Saturday, September 10, 2005, 8:58

Before I'm going to Poland for a week, I wanted to ask one
question: Payne somewhere has a diagram in "Describing
Morphosyntax" where there is an overview about the
tendencies regarding animacy of various things. I don't know
what things especially, but I've seen something similar on
this one-and-only list, too.
There are languages that have a distinction in animateness
of nouns AFAIK, and thus, some arguments to the verb are
considered more animate than others and so they are fronted
or whatnot. My question is how do you know how animate a
noun is compared to another one? Are there rules (maybe only
rules of thumb), or is this completely up to the speaker, or
are there groups of "objects with high animateness",
"objects with an average animacy", "objects with a low
animacy", "inanimate objects", i.e. some kind of noun
classes for this?

I'm asking because I wanted to make Tarsyanian a bit more
complicated in order to have more fun. I think I wrote
eariler that I have thought about that not every noun can
take any role/case, besides the fact that in intransitive
sentences, the role of the noun is dictated by the verb used
(split-S). I imagine underlying animacy can cause lots of
"nice" trouble. ;->


"Miranayam cepauarà naranoaris."
(Calvin nay Hobbes)


Shreyas Sampat <ssampat@...>
David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>