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Re: Mnau Clause Patterns

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Sunday, May 28, 2000, 2:14
> Is Mnau an isolating lang? Does it have many grammatical
> What do you have for role marking, besides the word order?
Well, it's not as isolating as Chinese. Nouns are inflected for number, and subject nouns are inflected when they stand for reflexives & reciprocals. As the grammar develops, other inflections may follow (mood, tense, & aspect for the verbs, particle vs. preposition inflections, etc.) But most of the core relationships in Mnau are communicated through word order. In Mnau, I want EVERY verb to be a phrasal verb like English "carry on," "make up," "get away," "go out," "come back," etc. X stands for the particle that every verb has associated with it. (The use of some particles will be idiomatic, but that's no problem. I might try to invent some particles that English speakers haven't heard of. I want every particle to have a reading as preposition. I also want every verb to have a transitive and intransitive reading.) My particle scheme creates another place in the sentence to put noun phrases that aren't adjascent to other noun phrases. N V N vs. N V N X N It also makes for an easy transformation; you can move the particle. I've changed Mnau grammar since I wrote last. 1. N before the verb stands for a doer. 2. N before the particle stands for an object or undergoer. The particle can occur after the verb or before it, resulting in these clause patterns: NVX and XNV both convey ideas like "John ate" and "John moved." VNX and NXV both convey ideas like "The bread is eaten," and "The wax melts." NVNX conveys ideas like "John ate the bread" or "John approached the woods." NXNV conveys ideas like "Bread was eaten by John" or "The woods were approached by John." 3. Noun phrases AFTER a verb or particle are complements, the exact nature of which are specified by the particles. The value of "X" would be different in each of these three sentences: NVNXN John gave the bike to Mary. John took the bike from Mary. Mary made John a general. NXNVN The bike was given by John to Mary. The bike was taken by John from Mary. A general was made by John out of Mary.* A general is what John made of Mary. 4. When the only argument of the verb is a complement, the clause is existential. VXN There is a house. There seems to be a house. A man appeared. A sound came on. 5. When the only arguments of the verb are subject and complement, the sentence is predicative. (I may use adjectival nouns instead of predicate adjectives.) NVXN I am Mr. Smith. Many bats are insectivores. It seemed to be a ghost. 6. Subject suffixes include those that make the subject reflexive, those that make the subject reciprocal, and those that transpose the complement with the usual kind of subject.
> >AVPXR > <...> > >"A donated P, making it Mary's." > >(i.e. A gave P to Mary.) > > This is nice! > But I think you can't treat all indirect objects this way. > Or can you? And I am still curious how your X's work!
I've abandoned this approach, because donating A with the result that A becomes Mary's is not the same as giving A to Mary. Let's say I give A to Ted, who dies and bequeaths all his goods to his wife, Mary. My resultative clause is compatible with that scenario, but "I gave A to Mary." is not. I've adopted a more pedestrian approach, as we see above.
> Do (semantic) adjectives work like verbs or like nouns?
> >VPX > >"A melted." > >"A was eaten." > (I guess you meant "P melted" etc.)
Yup! I meant "P melted." Thanks for spotting that mistake. My predicates in these constructions will be verbs, taking inflections for tense, mood, etc. Voice will be communicated by the position of the arguments.
> >VPXR > >"P was beaten to a pulp." > >"P was made happy." > >"P was donated, making it Mary's." > >(P was given to Mary)
> You'll have to distinguish these from imperatives somehow
(dunno how
> Old Chinese managed this). Doesn't seem too hard.
I can inflect the verb for imperative mood; or use the uninflected verb for an imperative.
> Do you also allow omitting S? It would be nice to imply that
'no noun' equals to 'somebody' sentence-initially. But you'll have to forbid omitting/adding nouns in that position for other purposes (ellipsis, topicalization, etc.). Good point! Since I'm allowing inflections, I could use clitics or verb cross-referencing that only shows up when certain arguments are omitted. Then again, I might try to invent something a little more exotic.
> I don't see much problems thus far, but they may arise with
sentences with more actants/circumstants.
> Basilius,
THANK YOU for your input! Jim