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Basque case usage (was: Re: Polysynthetic Languages)

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Thursday, September 25, 2003, 15:45
>Giving an example is difficult, because I can always give one but will >find it difficult to explain the difference with the same sentence without >the feature. It's usually used when you're telling someone (a good friend >normally, although it can be used even in polite Spoken French) about >something that happened to you, and it makes the sentences somehow more >lively, because they include a reference to the listener (difficult to >explain, I know). But imagine that I'm telling you about a person who has >been extremely arrogant against me and how I handled it. If I wanted to >say that I made him regret his arrogance, I may have said something like: > >Et j'lui ai fait ravaler son caquet à c'coincé ! > >You needn't understand the sentence itself.
Which is fortunate, because I didn't :-)
> The point is that as it is, it is a bit impersonal. To a French ear, it > sounds flat, uninteresting. By telling the story like that, I'd bore the > listener to death quite quickly. To make it more lively, and interesting > to the listener, I'd say instead: > >Et j'te lui ai fait ravaler son caquet à c'coincé ! > >The only difference is the addition of "te", the second person singular >non-subject pronoun (affix actually in Spoken French :)) ). By adding it, >I add the listener in the sentence, although the listener has nothing to >do with the action described by the sentence. The pronoun is only there to >make the sentence sound more lively, more interesting for the listener. >It's difficult to explain exactly the difference between the two >sentences. Maybe somebody else has an idea what I'm trying to explain :)) .
Many thanks to you and to John Cowan for trying to expalin this phenomenon. I wonder if the French example is similar to the way we will insert "you know" into an English sentence at times when the information given is definitely not information already known to the hearer? As in: "And, you know, I really made him regret how he treated me." (When all new information is being related to the hearer.) The purpose of the "you know" seems to be to draw the hearer in by referring to him.
>>I wonder why? > >Me too :)) . > >> There is so much redundancy in the markings that it would >>certainly be possible to loosen the word order up to the degree that Latin >>did. The marking system is certainly a lot more redundant than Latin's. > >In my experience, word order rigidity and abundance of marks are not >completely correlated. Look at Japanese. Despite the abundance of function >marks (nouns and verbs are normally impossible to confuse in a sentence, >and each noun has a function indicated by a postposition, even the >subject! - when present at least :))) -), it is extremely rigidly verb-final.
Someone mentioned here the other week that Japanese is *extremely* left-branching.
>>That's definitely an extra-cool feature. That's something worth studying >>to see if I can use it in one of my conlangs. (Actually, it's definitely >>worth studying just for its own sake because it's so extra-cool. You >>seemed to imply that overdeclination can be used only under certain >>cirumstances. It would be interesting to see what the constraints on it >>are.) > >The main constraint is that the possessive genitive in -en doesn't allow >much overdeclination. It allows the addition of the definite article -a >(in the sense "the one of"), as in: "harotzaren etxea": "the blacksmith's >house" -> "harotzarena": "the one of the blacksmith", but that's about it. >On the other hand, the locative genitive in -ko allows many things. >Addition of the article like the possessive genitive, but also addition to >already declined forms like my example "urrezko", where the -ko was added >to a form already in the instrumental case. Apart from that, it doesn't >seem to have any constraints.
How'd you come to learn Basque, BTW?
>>>com.: comitative case >> >>Refresh my memory, please. What is a comitative case? (All of the syntax >>that they had us study in school was Chomskyan, and none of it was practial >>or real-world.) > >Comitative case: case of accompaniement, corresponding to English "with" :)) .
Thank you very much. Someday, after I have re-educated myself in real-world linguistics, I hope that I will not need to ask very basic questions like this that I should already know the answers to :-) (I mean, seriously, I have an undergraduate degree in linguistics, and I have to ask what a comitative case is because I was never taught. That's embarassing. At least my phonetics and phonolgy are better than my syntax.)
>>>loc.gen.: locative genitive >> >>This is that second type of genitve that you were talking about. What >>exactly does it mean, and what makes it a genitive. > >It is genitive, as I said, because a noun in the locative genitive must >complete another noun. I've already explained earlier what it actually >means :)) .
And many thanks for that. And many thanks, also to Rob Nierse for his excellent example of the house having a fire in it versus the house itself being on fire, depending on which case you put the noun in.
>> Is there also a plain >>locative case in Basque? > >There is an inessive case which is also used as simple locative. Unlike >the locative genitive, it's used only as verb complement and cannot have a >temporal meaning.
Could you (or Rob Nierse) give me an example of the use of the inessive case vs. the locative genitive in Basque so that I can try to really grasp what the difference in usage is? I would like to properly grasp this concept (of verb complements versus noun complements) since it seems to have applications outside of Basque and is a concept that I have not been properly aware of up to this point. I'd also like to see a temporal meaning expressed with the locative genitive. How many cases are there in Basque? So far I've heard mentioned the ergative, absolutive, dative, possessive genitive, locative genitive, comitative, inessive, and instrumental. Are there more? Isidora


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>