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inverse constructions

From:Daniel Andreasson <noldo@...>
Date:Friday, November 5, 1999, 14:51
Hello all.

Once again I'm thinking about implementing a really
cool feature in Rinya, but as usual it's so weird and
against everything that I've written on Rinya so far
that it seems impossible to go through with it.=20
But I still want to try it and see what you guys
think of it. The idea comes from an article by Thomas Payne.
Here goes:

Imagine a 'natural' hierarchy of 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons.
Like this: 1 > 2 > 3prox > 3obv
The third person is split in two: proximate and obviative.
If two 3p interact, the proximate is the topic.

Ok. If a person to the left of another person in the
hierarchy acts on the person to the right...
e.g. 1 acts on 2. 'I look at you'
...then the normal use of the cases would be used.

il-in   yulo     im                 (i)
1sg-ERG see:PRES 2sg:ABS
'I look at you'

But if a person acts on a person to the left of the first
one, then you use an inverse form of the verb. Like this:

il-in   yulo-vo      im             (ii)
1sg-ERG see:PRES-INV 2sg:ABS
'You look at me'

That is, the '-vo' suffix inverses the cases.

One more example:

thel    yulo     e-gedh-ando        (iii)
dog:ABS see:PRES OBV-bird-ABL
'A dog sees a bird'

thel    yulo-vo      e-gedh-ando    (iv)
dog:ABS see:PRES-INV OBV-bird-ABL
'A bird sees a dog'

Examples (iii) and (iv) illustrate several things.

1) The most problematic thing. Rinya is an active
case marking lang. It marks semantic roles with
cases, and volitionality. The dog is non-volitional
and therefore is in the absolutive case. The thing seen,
(the bird) then is in the ablative case. This may cause=20
confusion when the roles are suddenly reversed.
(That is also why examples (i) and (ii) are translated
'look at' since '1sg' is volitional and in the ergative.)

2) The speaker decides that the dog is the topic
and marks 'bird' with an obviative prefix. When
the bird then (iv), which isn't the topic, sees the dog,
one must use the inverse suffix on the verb.

3) Maybe the verb should be first in the sentence
so the listeners understands right away what is
going on. Rinya is usually OVS, (though not in
the examples above, since that probably would cause
even more confusion) so if I make it VOS in
inversed sentences, maybe I don't even need a suffix
on the verb. The inversity is marked with word order.

Since this crashes with the active case marking, I
thought I might just use it when two 3p interact.

Anyway. What do you guys think? Do you like it?
Is it possible to do this? Did you understand=20
anything at all? ;)
Comments very much appreciated.

Daniel Andreasson
Deldar pen imenya
'A good day in your direction'