|From:||Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, April 27, 2005, 19:47|
On 4/23/05, # 1 <salut_vous_autre@...> wrote:
> Today, I tought of something, even if I'm not actually planning to use it in
> a conlang
> Are there languages in which a verb can agree wich the possessor of a
> nominal phrase?
> Is there something similar in any (nat/con)language?
The example I gave from Tzotzil reminded me of a maxim I've heard for
learners of Tzotzil and Tseltal: "What happens to your possessions
happens to you." It's not a valid generalization for either language,
I think; just something for the learner to keep in mind to get
sentences like "You buy his corn (for/from) him" and "You marry his
daughter (to/for/from) him".
We could find your system arising historically out of a system in
which possession is also defined as a locus of control. What my
possessions do, I do. What happens to my possessions happens to me.
So in "my spear killed the antelope", the verb would have a 1st person
subject marker rather than a 3rd person one. And in "the wolf killed
my cat", the verb would have a 1st person object marker rather than
You could have the following diachronic development:
1) First, just agreement with subject and object in the ordinary way.
2) Secondly, subject and object agreement affixes are extended to
body-part possessions. Makes perfect sense: unless my corpus collosum
has been split, everything my hand does *is* done by me. And
everything done to my hand is done to me.
3) Next, the different sorts of possession the language might have
(ownership, familial, etc.) lose their distinctive affixes and are all
marked with the body-part possessive affix. So now instead of
multiple types of possession, there's only one.
4) The agreement affixes now extend to agree with all possessors,
body-part or not.
This is where I would stop, myself. If we wanted to get your system
precisely -- in which there are no subject or object affixes but only
possessor affixes, we can continue:
5) Word order becomes the determining factor in determining the
subject and object, and the subject and object affixes thus become
redundant. They begin to wear away. However, when these affixes are
used instead to indicate the possessor of the subject or object,
they're not redundant and the speakers take pains to leave them on.
There, we have it. A possessor agreement system deriving in a pretty
much natural way from a normal agreement system.
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