Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: possessor

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 3rd. 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. -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00 -- Watch "reply-to!"