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THEORY: Expressing the outcome of "productive" actions

From:Harald S. <polysynthetic@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 26, 2005, 19:37
A bright and shining hello to the list! :)))

Being a regular reader but rare poster who conlangs to research language as
such to discover its mechanisms and paradigms, I herby delurk and want to
share one thought about semantics that I have seen mentioned nowhere else so
far. I hope it won't be too philosophical and I would be eager to know
whether you have chosen one of the following two approaches in a conlang -
or even found yet another way to express what I am about to discuss...

In the sentence "I shouted 'Hello everybody!'", the text 'Hello everybody!'
is not the shout itself but rather the wording of my shout (being the
acoustic consequence of me shouting) which was set free by me as the agent.
Rick Morneau would have called 'Hello everybody!' the focus of the event
since it is an elaboration of the event itself and, being a core argument,
is neither agent nor patient. For speakers of German and English though,
'Hello everybody!' has the "look and feel" of the patient case role quite
convincingly because passive voice can be constructed as "'Hello everybody!'
was shouted by me" and somehow it appears that "I" is the agent and 'Hello
everybody!' is the patient of our example sentence.

But what about the outcome (acoustic in this case) of my event of shouting?
If English had a case for it  - let's call it "resultive" -, would (using a
hypothetical resultive case suffix of "ox") a sentence such as "I shouted
'Hello everybody!' thunderox" mean "I shouted using the words 'Hello
everybody!' and my shout was thunder"? If yes, then which kind of case role
would 'Hello everybody!' be? Certainly not the patient, would it? I rather
see notions of instrumentality but still I am not very sure...

Analyzing another example, let us consider "She paints something red on the
blackboard". "something red" does not appear to me like a mere elaboration
of the event. It rather looks like an object being acted on and, thus, seems
to be the patient of the sentence. In my opinion, English and German have
quite a strange view on the process being illustrated here. One could
understand it as an imaginary object (described as "something red") being
moved by painting from an unspecified location within potentiality to an
explicit destination in reality, namely the blackboard. But for such a kind
of meaning, no "resultive" case role would be implied at all!

Thus my questions: Which approach have you taken in your own conlang? Is
there another way to put it? Please let me know...

Cheers and thank you very much,


taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>
tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>