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Re: What do you call this suffix?

From:JR <fuscian@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 16:55
on 4/14/08 1:30 AM, caeruleancentaur at caeruleancentaur@YAHOO.COM wrote:

>> JR <fuscian@...> wrote: > >> The suffix does not signify or result from anything other than the >> presence of an adjective. It's a redundant, predictable, and >> basically useless historical relic.... > > Is it known what its function was before it became a relic? > > Charlie
I'm still working out the lang's history, but I think it developed from the verb 'to be', as it appeared in an internally-headed relative clause. In older times you would have had a phrase something like this: kebri batou lo-byo house be-Rel 'the house, being a big one' Today's adjectives used to be nouns, and this structure provided a way to link a descriptive noun to a head noun without any intervening material, and in the order adjective (in function if not in form)-noun. Eventually, the verb was reduced and reanalyzed as a suffix, and the preceding noun was reanalyzed as an adjective (thereby creating the class itself). And on 4/14/08 1:11 AM, Eric Christopherson at rakko@CHARTER.NET wrote:
> It reminds me of the construct state (status constructus) in Afro- > Asiatic languages, although as I understand it, that always involves > two NPs in a possessive/genitive relationship. Also, in those > languages, the construct state morpheme is a suffix on the head, and > the head comes before the dependent, so in effect the affix comes > between two nouns. > > However, Ainu also has a construction where possessors (heads) are > marked while their possessa (dependents) are not, and the heads come > after the dependents, so at least in terms of word order, it > resembles your example. The remaining difference is that the > relationship is still a possessive one, not an adj+noun one. However... > > ...if you said that <kevre> and <jetse> were (historically at least) > abstract *nouns*, you could have a pattern like some phrases in > Semitic where e.g. you use "house of bigness" to mean "big house", > i.e. <vato-l> would be the possessor of <kevre>.
Khafos' adjectives in fact were once nouns, but even then the structure was not one of possession, and synchronically I think you'd have to call them adjectives. In the kinds of phrases you mention in Semitic, the second element is still very much a noun morphologically and syntactically. The descriptive words in Khafos, OTOH, are distinct from nouns in that they cannot take their own modifiers (and thus not -l either), cannot take tense suffixes, and must agree in number with the head. You're right though that in both cases a head noun is being marked. In Semitic and Ainu though, the dependent must be another NP (or can it be something else in Ainu?), while in K. it can be an AP, most PPs (which I didn't mention before, sorry), or a preposed relative clause - almost anything but an NP. (Actually, in K. there are no nominal modifiers that consist solely of an NP - nouns must made into adjectives or be enclosed in another type of phrase. If there were, perhaps the suffix would be used with them.) I'm not sure the word order differences matter here, but anyway the different distributions should be enough to necessitate different analyses and names for these phenomena, right? Here are a couple examples of usage with elements other than adjectives: llwe sily-sh poiu-l table on-3 dish-? 'the dish on the table' kfa-n-t-of poiu-l break-2-Pst-Rel dish-? 'the dish that you broke' But -l is not used with possessor phrases using 'te', which is inflected like a postposition, but behaves differently syntactically: meliege te-sh poiu neighbor Pos-3 dish 'the neighbor's dish' And it's not used with following relative clauses, which structurally lie outside of the NP, and can be clearly separated from it: poiu we-sh kfa-n-t-u-sh-of dish for-3 break-2-Pst-DO-3-Rel 'for the dish that you broke' While I'm at it, I'll explain briefly what the (a?) more indirect function/benefit of the suffix is. Since adjectives can still be zero-derived into nouns, and vice-versa, and there's usually no other inflection present to distinguish them when several occur together, if there were no -l, one would find ambiguities like this: *kevre mmeiy ize torga-sh-t big ugly insect kill-3-Pst 'the big ugly one killed an insect' or 'the big one killed an ugly insect' Putting -l after the second or the third word would mark it as a noun and distinguish between the two possibilities. However, without getting too into it, this method is not 100% useful. But in the absence of real usage of the language, it's hard to tell just how helpful it is, and I may have been too harsh in my characterization of it earlier, and this may be (part of?) the reason the suffix has been retained until now. Josh