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Re: I'm back (was: Re: Leaving for three weeks...)

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Sunday, September 4, 2005, 22:34
On 8/26/05, Julia Schnecki Simon <helicula@...> wrote:
> > > On 8/26/05, Patrick Littell <puchitao@...> wrote: > > > > I'm not sure how universally this generalization holds, but > > object-incorporated verb forms seem to tend towards an imperfective, > > habitual, or durative interpretation. It makes sense. "He hoes the/some > > beans" vs. "He bean-hoes", the second meaning something like "He > habitually > > hoes beans" or "He's a bean farmer". > > What you write about object-incorporated verb forms and their > interpretation matches my experience, too, but then again, I've only > looked at two languages with noun incorporation so far (Nahuatl and > Mohawk).
I've been doing some more research on it for an upcoming paper on body-part incorporation in Tototan/Tepehua, and it appears that object-incorporation of the valency-reducing sort -- the above sort -- is often accompanied by a habitual or durative interpretation. This is from Mithun's The Evolution of Noun Incorporation (Language 60, 1984): Since [incorporated nouns] do not refer to specific entities, these constructions tend to be used in contexts without specific, individuated patients. They may be generic statements; or descriptions of on-going activities, in which a patient has been incompletely affected; or habitual activities, in which the specific patient may change; or projected activities, in which the specific patient is not yet identifiable; or joint activities, where an individual agent incompletely affects a particular patient; or activities directed at an unspecified portion of a mass. On the other hand, the sort of noun-incorporation that doesn't affect the verb's valency -- like the sort that I'm studying in Totonac/Tepehua -- has no accompanying aspectual or partitive interpretation. Rather, it backgrounds one participant in the clause -- the incorporated noun -- in order to foreground an oblique participant, such a beneficiary or the possessor of the incorporated noun. Mithun's division of noun incorporation into distinct types -- especially her distinction between the valency-reducing (Type I) and oblique-argument-promoting (Type II) types -- seems to have gained wide currency. Anyway, it looks like our subjective perceptions are in general corroborated. --Pat