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Re: Case or theta-role term for object of performance?

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Thursday, August 7, 2008, 16:09
On Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 11:20 AM, David McCann <david@...> wrote:
> On Wed, 2008-08-06 at 09:35 -0400, Jim Henry wrote:
>> Is there a standard >> term in linguistics for this theta role or case? Are there natlangs or
> I couldn't remember any examples, and a quick check of Palmer's > "Grammatical roles and relations" doesn't show any sentences of this > type, but I should think that it would be covered by the distinction > between affected and unaffected patients.
"Unaffected patient" seems at first like a contradiction in terms, as far as I understand the term "patient". But:
> In Ga'dang (Austronesian), the verbal marking shows if the patient (when > the topic) is altered (e.g. broken) or not (e.g. tied up).
That makes sense, and I guess affected vs unaffected patient is not a bad way to terminologize it. Still, gzb would conceptualize tying a knot in a string as a patient relation (or perhaps object-of-result, if the object noun were knot rather than string) even though the string isn't as drastically affected by tying as it would be by cutting or burning. If I were starting over, I might have two or more patient cases for different degrees of affectedness, but this part of gzb is too stable for that to change now.
> It seems too esoteric to ever get its own case or verbal marking (and so > to need a term in linguistics), but the object of a performance could > obviously be treated as a dative or partitive, or put into an oblique > case as in gzb. The performer would seem to be nominative or ergative: > after all, they are *doing* something, unlike one who experiences a > sight or liking.
Yes, the performer of all these verbs would get agent-case marking in gzb. The (tentatively named) performative case isn't necessarily oblique in gzb, though; I'm not sure gzb has any oblique cases as distinct from non-oblique cases. All cases except topic, agent and experiencer are obligatorily marked by postpositions; the patient case doesn't get special treatment that marks it out from other theta roles, like the accusative case in IE languages. I think the only way you could say that the patient case postposition is special is that it occurs more often in the corpus than the other postpositions; syntactically it's treated like all the other object case postpositions. The most common case and spacetime postpositions in the corpus are, 2.7230% 218 hxy-i patient 2.4731% 198 miq-i topic 2.2733% 182 i at 1.4864% 119 kax-i object of attention 1.4614% 117 tu-i agent 1.2366% 99 o to 1.0867% 87 jax-o becoming 0.8619% 69 sqi after 0.8119% 65 nxiqn-i comment 0.5121% 41 im part of 0.4871% 39 nxaxw-o addressee of communication 0.4372% 35 daxm-rq by (authorship) 0.3997% 32 jax-rq ceasing-to-be 0.3747% 30 kujm-o for, in order to 0.3622% 29 liqw-i related to 0.3123% 25 kriq-o object of result 0.2873% 23 sxu-i of (quality) 0.2748% 22 il through 0.2623% 21 jqaxr-i experiencer 0.2498% 20 syj-i with, using 0.2498% 20 jax-i in such a state I'm not sure how good a corpus this is re: representativity, since it has a mix of archaic and current text and I haven't made any effort to balance the relative word-count of different genres as in the Brown Corpus. About half of it is randomly selected journal entries from 2002-2008, and most of the other half is translation exercises and relay texts.
> Of course, some people want a word for *everything*: generally in wikis > rather than in books, though.
I need some way to refer to this distinctly in the gzb grammar, and I'd like to use a standard term if I can. I can make up my own terms like the Lojbanists, of course, if I have to, and it looks like I'll have to in this case (pun unintended, but shamelessly left in place once noticed). On Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 11:31 AM, Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...> wrote:
> Jim, how important to your distinction is the degree of creativity involved? > > From the perspective of modern (and perhaps, post-modern?) performers, > each performance (singing, playing, reading, presenting) of an established > work is an original creative act, of no less significance than the creative act
<snip> .........
> sufficiently tax my resources! I guess my point is this: that although I can > see the distinction you're making, in theory, it doesn't seem to be of any great > practical significance.
I think in gzb the degree of creativity is not what matters, but the transitoriness of the creative act's result. I would use {krĭ-o} to mark objects-of-result of creative acts that stick around in some form or other, even for a relatively short time after the action of the verb is complete, and {ĉul-i} for creative objects-of-result that exist only while the action of the verb is being done. As for the practical significance, consider that gzb, though not verbless like Kelen, is (what I might call) verb-drop; if the postpositions in a sentence are explicit enough about the relations of the various entities denoted by the nouns, then no verb is needed. So for instance ŝrun-twâ ĉul-i. music-saying performance-at I sing a song. ŝrun-twâ krĭ-o. music-saying create-to I compose a song. Here the explicitness of the two postpositions makes it unnecessary to supply verbs. (The first-person agent is also left out by the default subject rule.) -- Jim Henry Conlang fluency survey -- there's still time to participate before I analyze the results and write the article