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Re: Request for feedback on the Vilani verb

From:David Peterson <thatbluecat@...>
Date:Thursday, March 18, 2004, 22:23
Hi Rob,
I haven't got time to really comment right now, but I do have one question: Why,
if you have an inverse system, do you mark agency on the noun? Typically in an
inverse system there's no marking on the noun, because the inverse system tells
you all. So all you need to decide (in the case of your language):
(1) Which is the agent and the patient in the unmarked form on the verb stem (in
your case, it appears that the agent suffix comes before the patient suffix, so
that would settle that)?
(2) When animacy is completely, 100%, irrevocably equal, what order do the agent
and patient come in in the sentence? If there order is free otherwise, will you
create rigid word order for just this case? If not, is there some other way to
distinguish the two? A good test case is proper names. Generally, proper names
are not treated as proximal or distal in languages, and they're always
definite. So if you had, say, "Eneri sees Bill", how would that work? Let's
assume that they're both equidistant from you, the speaker (if that's how
you're defining proximate and distant in your language). Also, if you have no
marking on the noun, then you'll need a way of deciding which prefix is
assigned to which noun (presumably via word order). If you put marking on the
noun, then there's no real reason to have an inverse system. One way that
languages often solve it is to make it so that the agent is always proximal and
patient is always distal (when they're equal in status oth!
 erwise). That still doesn't work for names, though (in general). In fact, I
think there are a few languages where it's truly ambiguous, so you could
construe "Eneri sees Bill" *or* "Bill sees Eneri". However, in such languages
(I'm thinking of a particular one from Describing Morphosyntax), it's
determined from context. So, if Bill is the one who's being talked about the
sentence before, then Bill will be construed as the agent. If it's Eneri, then
Eneri will. Also, presumably they wouldn't start a conversation this way.
They'd say something like, "Hey, you know Eneri?", then they'd say the
sentence, and so Eneri would have to be the subject.
Okay, that's it.  Your verbal system seems interesting, though, from what I've seen of it.
-David*******************************************************************"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze.""No eternal reward will forgive
us now for wasting the dawn."
-Jim Morrison