Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Ergativity in Adunaic (was Re: Degrees of volition in active languages...)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Sunday, August 13, 2000, 12:07
Me govannen!

J Matthew Pearson wrote:

> > [conhistory of Amman-iar] > > Adunaic was ergative? Based on the sketchy description of Adunaic in one of > Christopher Tolkien's "History of Middle-Earth" volumes, the morphological case > system seems to me to have been modelled loosely on Berber, with a "bound" case > used for postverbal objects and genitives and a "free" case used for preveral > subjects. Or am I misremembering?
I don't know this canonical source, but I got the impression from Helge's page that Adunaic is ergative. According to that page, there was a case, termed "subjective" by Helge, marked with the ending _-un_, which was used for subjects of verbs, and an unmarked case which Helge calls "normal". (It also mentions an "objective" form used in compounds, which obviously corresponds to the "bound" form you have mentioned.) This kind of marking is typical for ergative languages (ergatives are always marked, and absolutives usually not). From the example given in the page, it seems that intransitive subjects take the "normal" case instead of the "subjective": _Anadu^ne^ zi^ra^n hikallaba_ "Numenor the beloved fell down" However, the matter is not entirely clear, and Adunaic might actually be an _active_ language, as we have _Kado^ Zigu^run zabatha^n unakkha_ "And so the Wizard came humbled" with _Zigu^run_ being "subjective" of _Zigu^r_ "wizard", where one would expect the "normal" (absolutive) form instead: _**Kado^ Zigu^r zabatha^n unakkha_ Note that "to fall" is an inactive verb and "to come" an active one, hence we would expect the two cases used exactly as in the examples given if Adunaic was indeed an active language. In Nur-ellen, the two sentences would be translated Njumenor ammjelnen lantent OBJ.Numenor OBJ.beloved fall-PAST vs. A si in Itr`n tolent dannurnen And thus the AGT.wizard come-PAST humbled which shows the same distribution of cases as observed in the Adunaic examples. However, as Sauron (who is meant by "the Wizard" in the examples) came as a prisoner, one would actually use the instrumental, which is not only used for inanimate "subjects", but also for subjects doing something against their will under force: A si ni in Ithr`n tolent dannurnen And thus INST the OBJ.wizard come-PAST humbled Did I mention this use in my post about degrees of volition in Nur-ellen? Syld, Joerg.