THEORY: Odd case systems (was Re: Charlie and I)
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, September 19, 1999, 17:27|
"Raymond A. Brown" wrote:
> There is case; it just works
> differently from both Classical Latin & from what the prescriptivists think
> English should have.
True. I can't remember if I've already told the list about this, but
in Atkan Aleut (Alaskan language), there is a case system of sorts,
but not at all what you might expect. The absolutive (in singular,
-x^, the voiceless uvular fricative) is used for all nouns in the
sentence if each is specifically mentioned:
(1) Hlax^ mikakux^
"The boy is playing."
(2) Hlax^ suunaadax^ agukux^
boy:AbsSg boat:AbsSg make:Pres:SgSub
"The boy is making a boat."
(3) Piitrax^ asxinus kidukux^
Peter:AbsSg girl:Pl help:Pres:SgSub
"Peter is helping the girls."
The relative (here, -m), on the other hand, is really weird.
It's used for singular subjects, but tells you that an objective
noun is implied by the verb but is not directly stated (i.e.,
is a pronoun of some sort):
(4) Hlam aguqaa
"The boy made it."
(5) Piitram kidukungis.
"Peter is helping them."
The case essentially tells you "Hey, I'm a singular subject,
but you also need to be looking for an object somewhere."
But not only does the noun change, the verb decides to
agree with the object instead. It looks like all this might have
evolved out of an ergative-absolutive system, but clearly
isn't now, because the relative and absolutive can both be
used for syntactic subjects of any type of verb (well, the
relative can't be used for transitives, obviously, because
there are no objects). Of course, the whole system gets
considerably messier when *all* nouns are implied, but we
won't get into that...
Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
ICQ#: 4315704 AIM: Deuterotom
"Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."
Denn wo Begriffe fehlen,
Da stellt ein Wort zur rechten Zeit sich ein.
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