Active case-marking natlangs (was Re: What is needed inanconlang classificatory system?)
|From:||J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, February 4, 2001, 19:58|
Marcus Smith wrote:
> Matt Pearson wrote:
> >Tokana is another conlang with an active case-marking system. Tokana is
> >strictly dependent-marking in this regard, inasmuch as there is no agreement
> >morphology on verbs. The breakdown of case forms works more-or-less like
> >ABSOLUTIVE: patients/themes (including subjects of non-eventive verbs)
> >NOMINATIVE: volitional agents of eventive verbs (both transitive and
> What do you mean by "eventive verbs"?
Verbs denoting events (as opposed to stative verbs).
> >DATIVE ("to/at/in"): recipients, experiencers of verbs of
> >perception/emotion/cognition, goals, locations, possessors
> >ABLATIVE ("from/of/out of"): sources, non-volitional agents of eventive
> >standards of comparison, supersets in partitive relations, reasons/motives,
> >INSTRUMENTAL ("with/by/via/through"): instruments and inanimate actors,
> >measurements/durations, degrees of comparison
> While this system makes distinctions not commonly found in accusative and
> ergative languages, I don't see why you call it active.
My characterization of Tokana as active is based on the fact that the
case-marking of the subject (insofar as it is possible to characterise a notion
"subject" for this language) correlates with things like degree of
agentivity/animacy and degree of involvement:
Absolutive subjects (undergoers):
Ne Tsion itskane
the-Abs John-Abs arrived
Ne Tsion tioke
the-Abs John-Abs died
Nominative subjects (volitional agents):
Na Tsion hostane
the-Nom John-Nom danced
Na Tsion tsitspit kopo
the-Nom John-Nom smashed-the pot-Abs
"John smashed the pot"
Ablative subjects (non-volitional animate agents):
Inaul Tsionu tsitspit kopo
the-Abl John-Abl smashed-the pot-Abs
"John accidentally smashed the pot"
Instrumental subjects (inanimate agents):
Itan suhoua tsitspit kopo
the-Inst wind-Inst smashed-the pot-Abs
"The wind smashed the pot" (by blowing it off the table)
Dative subjects (experiencers):
Ine' Tsione hilin ikei
the-Dat John-Dat saw-the dog-Abs
"John saw the dog"
Ine' Tsione kesta
the-Dat John-Dat happy
"John is happy"
Consider also the following triplet of sentences, each translated "John cut his
Na Tsion hane silh
the-Nom John-Nom cut finger
Inaul Tsionu hane silh
the-Abl John-Abl cut finger
Ine' Tsione hane silh
the-Dat John-Dat cut finger
The choice of which sentence to use depends on the degree of volitional
involvement exhibited by John: The first sentence would be used if John cut his
finger deliberately (e.g., in preparation for a blood-sibling ritual). The
second sentence would be used if John performed an action which caused his finger
to get cut, but did so without intent (e.g., he was cutting food and the knife
slipped). The third sentence would be used if someone or something else cut
John's finger (e.g., he was running along and accidentally grazed his hand
against something sharp).
I acknowledge that languages which are usually called "active" don't really work
like this, but I don't know what else to call the Tokana case-marking pattern.
Do you have any suggestions?