Re: definite/indefinite articles
|From:||Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>|
|Date:||Friday, April 4, 2003, 12:08|
On Friday 04 April 2003 10:33 pm, you wrote:
> Hi, ppl!
> Since I'm now 360 msgs behind because of my trip to a conference (as an
> interpreter), smbody may have already answered the question. I'm just
> popping up to shaw y'all I'm back again, safe and sound :-)
> João Ricardo Oliveira ikrí:
> <<are articles an Indo-European creation?>>
> No, they are not. Natlangs from other families have them too. For example:
> Hebrew (Semitic f.): def.art. ha(+gemination); Hungarian (Uralic f.):
> def.art. a/az, ind.art. egy.
Polynesian as well, eg NZ Maori: Te - "the", singular, Nga - "the", plural; He
- indefinite article, Tetahi - some, indefinite singular article, etahi -
some, indefinite plural article.
Cook Islands Maori: Te - "the", singular, Nga - "the", dual, Te au - "The",
Hawai'an: Ka/ke - "The", singular, Na - "the", plural; He - indefinite
Samoan: Le - "The", singular, missing in action in the plural; Se - indefinite
article, singular, Ni - indefinite article, plural.
And I regret I don't know nearly enough about the Aboriginal Australian, or
Papuan or the rest of the Austronesian family. And as usual, I have been
totally neglectful of the African language families, so I don't know if any
there have articles - Xhosa appears not to, but then that is probably made up
for by the categorization scheme - if it is well-enough known to warrant
being fitted into a category-and-number prefix, it probably doesn't need a
definite article. (Likewise the Altaic languages and the Sino-Tibetan
families.) Any others?
Na te po a Wairaka i raru ai - By darkness Wairaka was misled.
He kotuku rerenga tahi - A white heron of a single flight.
Kei muri i te awe kapara he tangata ke, mana te ao, he ma - behind the tattoed
face a stranger stands, he who owns the earth, and he is white.
He manako te koura i kore ai - there are no crayfish because you set your
heart on them.
Waiho ma te whakama e patu - Let them be subdued by shame.
He wahine, he whenua, ka ngaro te tangata - For woman, for land, man dies.
From "Maori Proverbs", Reed Methuen, 1987
I suppose that is sufficient to illustrate that languages often treat
definiteness and indefiniteness differently. The whole concept of
definiteness and indefiniteness is just as much semantic and therefore
syntactic as it is morphological. (And just for kicks, anyone want to
translate and display their translations of the above proverbs? I'll set
them on my web site for people to admire! :)
Mau e ki, "He aha te mea nui?"
You ask, "What is the most important thing?"
Maku e ki, "He tangata, he tangata, he tangata."
I reply, "It is people, it is people, it is people."