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Syntactic stuff in Volndí a Zanra (Old Sanhr)

From:Peter Ara Guekguezian <pag-conlanglist@...>
Date:Friday, June 8, 2007, 2:13
Note: "Volndí a Zagra" means "Zagra (sanhr) of Vólind", and is
pronounced [BUln"d1j@"zANgr@] /Boln"t1 a "zaN_-ra/ (NB : [l n d z] are
all dental, not alveolar). "Uqú a Zagra" and "Aduyjé a Zagra"
([3`"g8`:]- and [,ad3`z\Jej@]-) are also encountered.

Basic Ordering: the syntactic levels in Zagra are

      the conjugated stem (the root + essential infixes + derivational
      morphemes; the smallest unit that can stand by itself, i.e., a word);
      the core (the stem + non-essential affixal/enclitic particles; in
      effect a "super-word")
      the phrase (the head core + any dependent cores)
      the clause (either a verb phrase, or a genitive phrase +
      copulative pronoun)
      the sentence (the main clause + any subordinate clauses)

Noun Core : STEM-LOC-PRON-CNST-PPSN-LOC , where LOC is the locative
morpheme, PRON is a pronominal possessive, CNST is the construct
morpheme, and PPSN is a postposition. Not all of these elements can be
present in the noun core at once. With postpositions, the core is either
NOUN-PRON-CNST-PPSN-LOC or NOUN-PRON-PPSN (the choice depends on meaning).

Verb Core : TMP-PRON1-STEM-PPL-PRON2 , where TAM is a tense/mood
morpheme, PRON1 is the less active pronominal constituent, PPL is the
participial/subordinating morpheme, and PRON2 is the more active
pronominal constituent. Only one of each element may occur at any one
time; e.g., only one tense/mood morpheme is allowed per verb.

Genitive Phrase : there are four possible forms for a genitive
(noun-on-noun) phrase in Zagra : N1-CNST N2 ; N1-PPSN N2-LOC ;
N2-LOC-CNST N1 ; or N2-LOC-CNST N1-PPSN , where N1 is the dependent noun
and N2 is the head noun. Pronominal possessives can occur on either or
both of the nouns, in their proper positions. Genitive phrases are very
common in Zagra; if a copulative pronoun is added to the end of a
genitive phrase, the result is a verbless clause that can stand on its own.

Also, genitive phrases can be multiplied ad infinitum with one dependent
noun having another noun dependent on it. In these cases, every noun
that is dependent to another is syntactically marked as dependent, e.g.,
N1-CNST N2-CNST N3 or N3-LOC-CNST N2 N1, with the relationship being
marked by the relative closeness to the head (in the previous example,
N3 is the head of N2, and N2 is the head of N1). Each individual
genitive phrase can be either postposition-marked or construct-marked
(e.g., N1-CNST N2-PPSN N3-CNST N4, where N3, itself being dependent to a
head, does not take the locative suffix). However, head-initial and
head-final phrases cannot be mixed.

Noun Phrase : REL ADJ DEM NOUN/GP , where REL is an (adjectival)
relative clause, ADJ is an adjective, DEM is a demonstrative/deictic
pronoun, and NOUN/GP is either a noun or a genitive phrase (i.e.,
multiple nouns in the aforesaid close syntactic relationship). Pure
genitive phrases are much preferred to noun phrases with adjectives and
relative clauses. If a noun phrase does contain a lot of adjectival
"gunk" that modifies the head of a genitive phrase, the head goes
between the adjectives and the dependent nouns (i.e., the genitive
phrase is head-initial). This is the main occasion to use a head-initial
genitive phrase; otherwise, Zagra's tendency toward head-final
structures predominates.

Verb Phrase : REL NP NP NP ADV VERB , where REL is a (nominal or
adverbial) relative clause, the NP's are noun phrases, ADV is one or
more adverbs, and VERB is, of course, the verb core. As you may have
guessed, adverbs and other modifying elements outside the core are
deprecated in Zagra, with the preferred phrase having bare-bones NP's
and a fully-affixed verb core carrying the weight of the meaning.

I'll get into relative clauses next; suffice it to say that both the
verb phrase and the genitive phrases + copulative pronoun are perfectly
good as sentences. Indeed, Zagra likes to pack as much meaning as it can
into compact genitive phrases and verb phrases, strewing around pronouns
where disambiguation is needed.