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Re: Possessive Suffixes

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Thursday, May 19, 2005, 19:03
On Thu, 19 May 2005 16:00:37 +0300, Julia "Schnecki" Simon
<helicula@...> wrote:

>[I hope this doesn't reach anyone twice. My first attempt at >sending this mail to the list failed, so I'm trying >again...] > > >Hello! > >First of all, I should probably introduce myself... My name >is Julia Simon, I've been lurking on the list for a while, >and now I'm finally writing something. :-)
Welcome! :)
>I'm a linguist by training -- mostly computational >linguistics and comparative Indo-European linguistics, but >I'm interested in pretty much anything that looks even >vaguely linguistic. ;-) I work as a technical writer, >though (in telecommunications, if anyone's interested).
Nice! My training is in computer science, but linguistics is something of a hobby of mine.
>My native language is German, but I've spent so many years >in a mostly English-speaking environment that I'm well on >my way to bilingualism. And I've been living in Finland for ><mumblemumble> years, so I'm trying to do my best with >Finnish and (the local variant of) Swedish as well. But >like any good linguist, I strive to know fascinating bits >and pieces of as many other languages as possible. ;-)
Tervetuloa! :)
>Unfortunately I haven't managed to create an entire >language of my own yet... I have snippets lying around (a >phoneme system here, a morphology there, some ideas on >syntax, diachronic changes, ... well, you get the idea). >Well, maybe some day. Until then, I'll just keep having fun >playing around with phoneme systems, inflectional and >syntax patterns, and so on.
There's plenty of time, don't worry!
>Anyway... > >On 5/18/05, Rob Haden <magwich78@...> wrote: >> On Wed, 18 May 2005 19:27:24 +0100, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
>> >> >> That's what I was wondering about. How do languages develop
>> >> pronominal suffixes from independent pronouns? >> > >> >Presumably: independent pronoun --> clitic --> affix. >> >> Yes, but sometimes the picture isn't that clear. Take Finnish, for >> example. > >Funny you should mention this -- I had wanted to bring up >Finnish as well (what with it being the one language with >possessive suffixes that I actually speak, and all that).
Yes, Finnish is quite an interesting language.
>> The modern possessive suffixes there are: >> >> 1sg -ni >> 2sg -si >> 3sg -nsA >> 1pl -mme >> 2pl -nne >> 3pl -nsA > ><nitpick> The third person suffixes have a second form -Vn >that is used with oblique case forms ending in a vowel, e.g. > > hänen talonsa "his/her house" (talo+nsA, "house+3SG/PL" > -- ends in a vowel but is not oblique) > hänen talojensa "of his/her houses" (talo+i+n+nsA, > "house+PL+GEN+3SG/PL" > -- oblique but ends in a consonant) > >but > > hänen talolleen "for his/her house" (talo+lle+Vn, > "house+ALLATIVE+3SG/PL") > hänen talossaan "in his/her house" (talo+ssA+Vn, > "house+INESSIVE+3SG/PL") > hänen taloistaan "out of his/her houses" (talo+i+stA+Vn, > "house+PL+ELATIVE+3SG/PL") > >and so on. ></nitpick>
Ah yes, I'd forgotten about that. :P The other suffix is probably directly relatable to 3sg hän < *sän.
>Sometimes I wonder if maybe the -Vn variant is the original >one, perhaps with an allomorph -nV or -in or whatever that >could be attached to forms ending in a consonsant, and the >-nsA variant developed because it's too easy to confuse >possessive -Vn with the illative suffix -Vn (as in taloon >"into the/a house"). No idea where the -sA comes from, >though. -- But I digress.
It seems like the -sA part is from the original 3sg pronoun *sä ~ *s'ä, and the -n element is from the genitive and/or the accusative plus the 3sg affix.
>> The independent Finnish pronouns are: >> >> 1sg minä, stem minu- >> 2sg sinä, stem sinu- >> 3sg hän, stem häne- >> 1pl me, stem meidä- (dia. medä- or mejä-) >> 2pl te, stem teidä- (dia. tedä- or tejä-) >> 3pl he, stem heidä- (dia. hedä- or hejä-) >> >> Things aren't quite so clear here, but some of the obscurity is from
>> sound changes in Finnish, particularly /ti/ > /si/ and /sV-/ > /hV-/.
>> so, however, there seems to be an element in /n/ that is present in the >> formation of all the possessive suffixes except 2sg. While it could be >> some sort of derivational affix, I think it's more likely to be the
>> of the accusative and genitive cases of nouns used with the possessive >> suffixes. So, for example: >> >> Nom. jalka-mi 'my foot' >> Acc. jalkam-mi ' ' >> Gen. jalkan-mi > jalkani 'of my foot' >> >> In most cases, the acc. and/or gen. forms, originally allophonic
>> came to be generalized. > >Yes, present-day -ni coming from an earlier *-mi does make >sense... and then we get a correspondence -mi : minä/minu-, >which goes nicely with the obvious -si (< *-ti) : sinä/sinu- >(< *tin- or whatever) correspondence.
>I suspect that the 1sg inflectional suffix -n plays a part >in this as well. I don't know enough about Finnish >historical morphology to be able to tell whether or not >this -n used to be *-m at an earlier stage, but I do like to >think so, because a triple correspondence (*-m>-n : >*-mi>-ni : min-, just like 2sg -t : *-ti>-si : *tin->sin- >and 1pl -mme : -mme : me-) would be even nicer. :-) >(Besides, I do know enough about Finnish historical >phonology to know that an old word-final /m/ will appear as >/n/ in modern Finnish.)
Based on the pronoun, the 1sg suffix -n comes from earlier *-m. The possessive suffix may have become -ni from analogy with -n, or through some other means. I'm not sure yet.
>As you see, some of the person suffixes of Finnish verbs >bear a remarkable resemblance to the possessive suffixes: > > talo+ni "my house" : lue+n "I read" > talo+si "your(sg) house" : lue+t "you(sg) read" > (possessive -si < *-ti) > talo+mme "our house" : lue+mme "we read"
It seems (perhaps) that the 1pl verb ending developed from interference with the 1pl possessive ending, if the latter comes from *-n-me / *-m-me.
>The impression is of course spoiled a little by those >suffixes that don't quite match, namely > > (hänen) talo+nsa "his/her/its house" : luke+e "he/she/it > reads" > (heidän) talo+nsa "their house" : luke+vat "they read" > talo+nne "your(pl) house" : lue+tte "you(pl) read" > >The underlying forms of the verb suffixes are -V for 3sg, >-vAt for 3pl, and -tte for 2pl. So we end up with
From what I know, the 3pl verb ending is the same as the plural active participle ending. I've also read that the Old Finnish 3sg verb ending was commonly -p(i).
> possessive person/agent independent pronoun (nom.) >1sg -ni (< *-mi) -n (< *-m?) minä >2sg -si (< *-ti) -t sinä (< *tinä or some such) >3sg -nsA/-Vn -V hän >1pl -mme -mme me >2pl -nne -tte te >3pl -nsA/-Vn -vAt he > ><insert wacky theory about double-consonant correspondences >and how -nne is really -tte in disguise, or maybe vice >versa; and another, even wackier, theory about how >possessive -Vn and inflectional -V both lengthen the >preceding vowel and therefore *must* be related>
Given Finnish consonant gradation, it seems logical that the 2pl possessive ending developed from *-n-te / *-m-te, giving *-nte whence regularly *-nne.
>(The 3pl suffix doesn't quite "fit"; the form seems to be >related to the active present participle. In different >contexts, the form "lukevat" can be analyzed as luke+vat >(read+3PL) "they read" or as luke+va+t >(read+PRES.PCPL.ACT+PL) "reading" (or "the reading ones", >or whatever translation goes best with the context): > > pojat lukevat "the boys are reading" > lukevat pojat "the reading boys"
Yes, that is probably where it came from -- a predicate adjective formation. The same sort of thing happened with the English "present progressive" and probably also with the "preterite". If you look at Estonian, the 3sg verb ending there is -b, which must be cognate with the Old Finnish ending -p(i).
>So that suffix probably can't be linked to the possessive >suffix or to the independent pronoun no matter how hard I >try. *sob* ;) > >But I do wonder if an earlier form of the language maybe >had a more, um, versatile person marker that could be used >with nouns (to mark possession: house+1sg "my house") and >verbs (to mark the agent: read+1sg "I read") on the one >hand, and with some sort of generic "talking about an actual >person now" stem to form something that corresponds to an >independent personal pronoun (actualperson+1sg "I") on the >other hand... something along the lines of > > talo+mi : luKe+mi : mi+n- > talo+ti : luKe+ti : ti+n- > >and so on...
It's certainly possible. :) - Rob


Julia "Schnecki" Simon <helicula@...>