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Tagalog 'modifying' construction

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, May 15, 2005, 18:42
As I read on through Nikolaus Himmelmann's "Lexical categories and voice
in Tagalog" I've just come across something that set me thinking.

I will just quote Nikolaus Himmelmann first:
Note: SPEC = specific article; STAT = stative; LK = linker (_not_ my
abbreviations or glosses)
(22) _ang  maliít         na hayop_
       ang  ma  -liít      na hayop
	  SPEC STAT-smallness LK animal
         the small animal
The order of the constituents in a modifying construction is not fixed
('the small animal' could also be rendered by _ang hayop na maliít_).
Semantically it is in general quite clear which constituent denotes the
(semantic) head of the construction and which the modifier. That is in (22)
  it is clear for speakers of Tagalog that what is denoted is a small
specimen of the class of animals and not an animal-like specimen of the
class of small things, regardless of the order of _maliít_ and _hayop_.
However, it is not clear whether this semantic distinction has any kind of
formal (prosodic and/or syntactic) correlates."

It occurred to me that another interpretation is possible. That _na_ is
not just a 'linker', but is more specifically the 'intersection operator'.

That is it is not a question of either (a) a small specimen of the class
of animals or (b) an animal-like specimen of the class of small things.
Rather is the set formed from the intersection of {the set of small things}
{the set of animals}. That would surely explain quite simply why we may
have _hayop na maliít_ or _maliít na hayop_ without any difference of
meaning. The specifier _ang_ specifies the set resulting from the
application of the intersection operator.

Just a thought :)

"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language."         J.G. Hamann, 1760


Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
B. Garcia <madyaas@...>