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Gzarondan vindicated.

From:Adrian Morgan (aka Flesh-eating Dragon) <dragon@...>
Date:Thursday, September 30, 2004, 10:45
I've recently been browsing messages in Language Log, and came across
an unexpected vindication of certain features of Gzarondan grammar.

This entry:
Links to this site:
Which contains papers such as this one:
Which discuss tense marking on nouns and articles. Quote: "In
Chamicuro (Arawak, Peru), the definite article encodes a (clausal)
past/non-past tense distinction, independently of the verb (which
usually has no tense marking at all) (Parker, 1999)".

Gzarondan has always marks tense on the article preceding the
nominative noun, because there seemed to me to be no intuitive reason
why tense shouldn't just as easily be marked on the subject of a
sentence rather than on the verb.

Here I will review the grammar of Gzarondan as it applies to articles.

(I am happy to give a more detailed analysis of any of the examples
that I use in this post.)

Articles and Pronouns

Firstly, whereas English draws a distinction between articles,
determiners and pronouns, there is no such distinction in Gzarondan.
I've chosen to use the term "articles" to denote the word class
corresponding to these categories, which in Gzarondan grammar is a
completely indivisible word class.

You'll get more or less the right picture if you imagine that instead
of having seperate words for "the" and "it", English obtained the
pronoun by simply stripping the noun phrase of everything except the
article, so that the article "the" served the role of the pronoun "it"
when not followed by a noun phrase. That's exactly how Gzarondan
articles work.

In the following example, the article _rana_ is translated "the" when
followed by the noun _baxka_ (boy) but is translated "he" when
followed by the verb _preg_ (to speak).

    Rana baxka preg -- the boy spoke
    Rana preg       -- he spoke

(Incidentally, the spelling _baxka_ is not standard, but I don't want
to confuse things by diverging into irrelevant transcription issues,
and the consonant cluster is [xk] so I'll use that spelling in this
post. In any event, I'm planning to do a Gzarondan spelling reform
sometime, and I don't know quite how it will turn out when I do.)

Article Followed by Verb: Two Interpretations

An article followed immediately by a verb can indicate one of two
things. It can mean that the article is being used in its capacity as
a pronoun (as in the above example), or it can mean that the article
and verb together denote an abstract noun, which is the way the phrase
"rona preg" (the same as "rana preg" but with animate instead of
masculine gender) is interpreted in this example:

    Rona preg maral ykk -- the speaking was exciting

Similarly, the phrase "roniu yara" can mean "they (singular) desire"
or "the desire", depending on context. Note that the abstract noun
interpretation of an article followed by a verb is only grammatical
if the gender agrees, and that, with some exceptions, the gender in
such cases is animate.

Incidental: the "exception" alluded to here is that the masculine
gender would indicate the commencement of the action while the
feminine gender would indicate its conclusion. Hence:

    Rana preg maral ykk -- the commencement of the speaking was exciting
    Rena preg maral ykk -- the conclusion of the speaking was exciting

The notion that time is animate, the past masculine and the future
feminine pervades Gzarondan language and mythology. But this is not
relevant; it is merely interesting.

Articles and the Nominative Case

Articles are not always compulsory in Gzarondan, but they _are_
compulsory in the nominative case, because the nominative article
carries tense and mood information for the clause. I use the term
"long article" to denote an article that carries this information.

Most of the suffixes that can appear on a nominative article are
listed below:

-eq   [E8]  (future tense, not imperative)
-eqc  [E8S] (question, future tense)
-eqhs [E8T] (hypothetical scenario, future tense)
-wc   [US]  (future tense, imperative)
-iu   [o]   (present or nonspecific tense)
-oc   [OS]  (question, present or nonspecific tense)
-ohs  [OT]  (hypothetical scenario, present or nonspecific tense)
-okk  [Ox]  (vocative exclamation, e.g. the "you" in "hey you!")
-a    [a]   (past tense)
-ac   [aS]  (question, present or nonspecific tense)
-ahs  [aT]  (hypothetical scenario, present or nonspecific tense)
-ya   [ja]  (earlier past or past perfect)
-yac  [jaS] (question, earlier past or past perfect)
-yahs [jaT] (hypothetical scenario, earlier past or past perfect)

You can see that in the examples I've given so far, I've used the
suffix -a for past tense, as in "rana" and "rona".

Note that the nominative article only makes a perfect/imperfect
distinction in the past tense. For other tenses, the perfect aspect
can be marked on the verb using the infix -hs- [T].

Further Morphology of Articles

Nominative articles carry the tense/mood suffix as described above,
but all articles contain the following marks:

Initial consonant: every article begins with one of the following.

    m-  [m] (reference includes first person but not second person)
    t-  [t] (reference includes second person but not first person)
    f-  [f] (reference includes both first and second persons)
    r-  [r] (definite)
    h-  [h] (indefinite)
    hl- [K] (general, as in: "by and large, all humans are insane")

Central vowel: every article contains one of the following.

    -y-      [I]      (inanimate)
    -o-      [O]      (animate)
    -e-/-eq- [E]/[E8] (feminine: polite/familiar forms respectively)
    -a-/-al- [a]/[a5] (masculine: polite/familiar forms respectively)

Final consonant: the non-nominative form of an article ends with "n"
if singular or "nt" if plural.

Definite articles may be prefixed with e- [E] (this) or o- [O] (that).

Second person imperative articles may be contracted to _'wc_, a form
in which only the suffix remains. This conveys a greater sense of
urgency, but loses a certain amount of politeness.

Articles when Indicating Possession

There are some special rules that apply when possession is being

Note firstly that in possessive phrases, if the phrase is nominative
then it is the possessed entity that bears the nominative marker, not
the possessing entity. Of course, this is also true in many other
languages, but the rule has to be stated. More on this further down.

For example, this clause:

    Ryniu cynt freyhsll ykk -- the sword is cold

can appear in possessive contexts such as:

    Ran-ryniu cynt freyhsll ykk          -- his sword is cold
    Baxka-ryniu cynt freyhsll ykk        -- the boy's sword is cold
    Ran baxka ryniu cynt freyhsll ykk    --  "   "      "    "  "
    Baxka stiwkk ryniu cynt freyhsll ykk -- the quiet boy's sword is cold

Note that if the possessing entity is expressed with a single word, it
is hyphenated to the article belonging to the possessed entity.

This is not the only way to indicate possession - indeed, sometimes
the grammar requires that it be indicated with a preposition instead -
but that need not concern us right now.

When this form of indicating possession is used, the article belonging
to the possessed entity *must* be explicitely stated. For example in
this sentence:

    Maniu ya tan-ryn cynt -- I want your sword

there is absolutely no way that the article "ryn" can be removed and
made implicit. If you tried, you'd get something like this:

    Maniu ya tan cynt -- I want you [who are] the (masculine) sword

Swords are not usually masculine, so there's a gender disagreement
here, although not a critical one as a speaker could certainly get
away with describing a sword as masculine in some contexts (poetic
license and all that).

The Retropossessive Form

I said earlier that the nominative article suffix is marked, if
applicable, on the possessed entity, not the possessing entity.
However, you *can* mark the possessing entity as nominative, bearing in
mind that the meaning of the sentence will be different. This is called
the "retropossessive" form. For example, compare:

    Ren-ryniu cynt -- her sword
    Reniu-ryn cynt -- she with the sword

As in:

    Ren-ryna cynt merykll ykk -- her sword was treacherous
    Rena-ryn cynt merykll ykk -- she with the sword was treacherous

If the retropossessive form is used in a non-nominative case, then the
sentence contains two long (affixed) articles - one to indicate the
nominative case, and one to indicate the possessing entity in the
retropossessive phrase. This, therefore, constitutes an exception to
the rule that the long article is used only for the nominative case.
However, this secondary application of the long article does not
indicate mood. For example:

    Maniu ya roneqhs edil iu reniu-ryn cynt -- I want for the leader to
                                               be she with the sword

This example contains three affixed articles:

    Maniu   -- for nominative in main clause
    Roneqhs -- for nominative in subclause
    Reniu   -- for retropossessive in subclause

Finally (and I think this makes an excellent finale for this post) the
Gzarondan word for God is actually a contraction of a retropossessive
phrase: _Rohly_ [rOKi] ("God") is a contraction of _Roniu hlon yy_
("the one who possesses time").

And that's how articles work in Gzarondan. Simple, eh?



Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>