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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 6:54 am 
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A lot of linguistic literature seems to take a division between core arguments and obliques for granted. But last night, I stumbled onto wondering about whether the distinction is universal while googling on a topic of recent interest - applicatives. In particular, I am still very interested in languages where applicatives, and verbal agreement with what would be non-core NPs in a language like English, are very common and very extensive. Such languages do seem to exist, with some Northern Caucasian languages looking like good examples from the limited information I have on them.

Anyway, according to "Applicative Constructions" by David Peterson, Marianne Mithun has argued that in some American Indian languages, like Tuscarora, applicatives are commonly used to avoid the need for multiple clauses. In such a language, the choice is not applicative vs oblique adpositional phrase, but between applicative vs introducing another clause complete with a fully inflected verb. The article referenced is "Understanding and Explaining Applicatives", published by the Chicago Linguistic Society, volume 37. I would be extremely grateful to anyone who could provide me with a copy of this article, since I wasn't able to find a copy.

I was, however, able to find this:

www.eva.mpg.de/~cschmidt/SWL1/handouts/Mithun.pdf

This gives a similar argument for Mohawk, complete with examples of how what would be obliques in English end up as core arguments that the verb agrees with in Mohawk. So, the question is: to what extend is the split between core and oblique universal, and if it is universal what is the minimal extent that the two are differentiated by?

Another place where I think we could look for languages with minimal differentiation between core and oblique arguments would be languages with highly productive symmetric serial verb constructions. In SVCs, the extra verbs can increase the number of arguments of the construction as a whole, and it's not obvious that any small subset of those arguments is privileged beyond the shared actor that you typically find.

However, most languages with productive SVCs also have some previously independent verbs which act more like adpositions. Typically some verbs get specialised to express adposition-like meanings and mostly occur in combination with other verbs. What I'm not sure about is whether objects of these specialised verbs normally behave any differently to objects of other verbs in SVCs.

I suspect there isn't a simple answer to this question, because the facts of natural language tend to be messy. Different roles in different constructions often show some degree of similarity without being exactly identical - languages with applicatives are actually a good example of this. People talk a lot about 'symmetric' and 'asymmetric' applicative languages, based on whether the applicative object exclusively possesses the object properties or whether the original object also retains them, but in fact it seems that many languages have complicated mixtures where different object-like arguments each have some, but not all, properties of objects in non-applicative transitive clauses. In the languages Peterson talks about, there are even different distributions of object properties for different applicative constructions in the same language.

So I guess the same thing will happen here - by some criteria a language won't have a robust core/oblique distinction, but there will probably be subtle differences between different constructions that could be used to argue for a split of some kind.

Anyway, this ramble is just basically a way of asking for your thoughts (and the Mithun article if you have a copy!).

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 10:51 am 
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Even in English various verbs require PP or other positional/directional complements rather than NP ones, or in addition to them. For instance, you cannot merely put a thing; you have to put it somewhere - omitting the destination information usually produces an unacceptable clause. This sort of thing suggests to me that what's core to one verb is not to another, even within the same language, and that the notion should be extended to look at types of information rather than just types of NP.


Also, FWIW on languages agreeing with non-core participants, Haida has an interesting system. It does not use agreement, as such - verbs are not marked for person/number/etc as an inflective paradigm. Rather, full nominals are left alone, but just about any pronouns in the sentence are moved to the front of the verb and cliticize there. There is no core/oblique distinction observed in this - pronouns (for anything) are attached the verb, simple as that. Even possessive pronouns, and even when their possessees are not close to the verb. I have not finished reading all 1300 glorious pages of Haida Syntax yet, but I have read the chapters on constituent order, NP anaphora, and the complement/adjunct distinction (among others), and nowhere yet is there any substantial treatment of a core/oblique distinction. Except for the author having noted in passing a couple times that it appears almost congruent to the pronoun/noun distinction: pronouns are generally core and nouns are generally oblique. (Something similar works in a number of polysynthetic languages: the arguments are pronouns and any nominals that happen to be present are all oblique/adverbial. But Haida can't be called a poly lang, and the pronouns on the verb do not co-occur with co-indexed nominals - e.g. the subject will be a noun somewhere in the sentence or else a pronoun on the verb, never both at once.)


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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 11:36 am 
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Radius Solis wrote:
Even in English various verbs require PP or other positional/directional complements rather than NP ones, or in addition to them. For instance, you cannot merely put a thing; you have to put it somewhere - omitting the destination information usually produces an unacceptable clause. This sort of thing suggests to me that what's core to one verb is not to another, even within the same language, and that the notion should be extended to look at types of information rather than just types of NP.


That's true.

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Also, FWIW on languages agreeing with non-core participants, Haida has an interesting system. It does not use agreement, as such - verbs are not marked for person/number/etc as an inflective paradigm. Rather, full nominals are left alone, but just about any pronouns in the sentence are moved to the front of the verb and cliticize there. There is no core/oblique distinction observed in this - pronouns (for anything) are attached the verb, simple as that. Even possessive pronouns, and even when their possessees are not close to the verb. I have not finished reading all 1300 glorious pages of Haida Syntax yet, but I have read the chapters on constituent order, NP anaphora, and the complement/adjunct distinction (among others), and nowhere yet is there any substantial treatment of a core/oblique distinction.


That's pretty interesting. I might browse through Haida Syntax online if I can find it on Google Books or somewhere similar. Presumably in the case of possessive pronouns, there is double marking: once on the verb, and once near the noun? Do these pronoun clitics contain case/role marking at all? And how does this interact with adpositions, if Haida has them? If pronouns associated with adpositions are moved, is anything left behind?

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 1:51 pm 
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What's the name of the Mithun article? I have a huge PDF library (from JSTOR and photocopies made over the years), and may have it.

I'm 99.9% sure I discussed this stuff with Eddy...check the polysynthesis thread; it was probably saved. If not, I can discuss it again, but it'll have to wait until I have the time; right now, I'm limited to scanning threads and making short comments.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 2:35 pm 
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vohpenonomae wrote:
What's the name of the Mithun article? I have a huge PDF library (from JSTOR and photocopies made over the years), and may have it.


It's "Understanding and Explaining Applicatives", published by the Chicago Linguistic Society, volume 37 in 2002. I'd really appreciate it if you did have it.

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I'm 99.9% sure I discussed this stuff with Eddy...check the polysynthesis thread; it was probably saved. If not, I can discuss it again, but it'll have to wait until I have the time; right now, I'm limited to scanning threads and making short comments.


I'll have a look and see.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 3:20 pm 
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R_S's example with "put" is more about the fact that obliques may be arguments instead of adjuncts, and arguments may be obliques instead of core. If you have to mention something when using a particular verb, that something is one of the verb's arguments; if you don't even have to have one implicitly in mind, it's an adjunct.

The major difference between core arguments and oblique arguments, AIUI, is that:
* Core arguments are marked for the grammatical and syntactic relations and functions rather than, or at least moreso than, their semantic roles. A core argument's semantic role is likelier to be shown by voice-marking or agreement-marking on the verb.
* Obliques (both arguments and adjuncts) are marked for their semantic roles, not for their grammatical or syntactic functions or relations.

Everything in the core is (theoretically?) an argument, and every adjunct is (theoretically?) oblique; but some arguments can also be oblique, like the "where would you put it?" prepositional phrase in "put" clauses.

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Whether or not the core vs oblique distinction among arguments is actually considered universal, may depend on the school of the linguist you ask.

If it is universal, it means that in every language at least some clauses have at least one core argument, which means that in every language at least some clauses have a subject.

Clearly some languages don't have any core arguments besides subjects.

Also, there's a lot of agreement between, on the one hand, those linguists who think the distinction is universal but is important in some languages and unimportant in others, and, on the other hand, those linguists who think the distinction occurs in many languages but doesn't occur in many others.

At the extremes, there are linguists who think it's universal, and there are linguists who think it occurs only in some languages and is virtually useless even in those.

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As for applicatives:
Note that it's about promoting oblique arguments to "direct or primary object", not about promoting adjuncts.

In some schools, among them "MAPping theory", there are considered to be in many languages such things as "Morphosyntactically-Assigned Argument Positions" or "MAP"s. And one of the main typological parameters for languages is thought to be "How many MAPs does this language have?"

I know you're aware of Klaiman's supertype of "Derived Voice Systems", in which the main function of grammatical voice marking of a verb is to promote various arguments into and demote various arguments out of various grammatical or syntactic relations or functions.

According to Mapping Theory (and some other schools), such valency-rearranging operations (whether or not they raise or lower valency) tend to target either the most-syntactically-privileged MAP or the least-syntactically-privileged MAP. That is, they either move something into or out of the top core position, or into or out of the bottom core position.

Applicativization moves oblique arguments into the second MAP, and may move whatever was already in the second MAP, if it was already occupied, into an oblique position, or else make it implicit.

Whether or not what Mapping Theory says in the paragraph before the last is unconditionally universally true, it's a very strong statistical correlation; Applicativization tends to be restricted to 2-MAP languages (languages with just two grammatical or syntactic relations or functions).

(BTW: Actually, the same is true of dechticaetiativity.)

Languages with three MAPs tend to have valency-rearranging operations like "dative applicativization" (promoting some oblique argument into the 3rd MAP), and/or "dative movement" (promoting what's in the 3rd MAP into the 2nd MAP).

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If a language such as Tagalog, or what David Peterson says the average conlanger thinks is meant by "trigger language", has only one MAP (i.e. the Subject), then the only way to promote an oblique argument into the core is to promote it directly to Subject. So such languages may be "voice-prominent", since the Subject may fill one of many semantic roles and the verb's voice is what tells the addressee which role the Subject fills.

2-MAP languages with applicativization often require two steps to get an oblique argument into the Subject position; applicativization moves it into the Object position, and then passivization moves it from there into the Subject position.

3-MAP languages, OTOH, often need two steps to get an oblique argument into the primary (or direct) object position; "dative applicativization" moves it into the secondary (or indirect) object position, then "dative movement" moves it into the primary (or direct) object position. Whether or not it's then possible to passivize the result and thus move what was originally an oblique argument into the subject position, I don't know; if so, I imagine it depends on the language.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Obviously all the mapping-theory stuff I spoke about applies only to languages which have what Klaiman called "a Derived Voice system". And, if there's more to mapping-theory than what I already said, I haven't found out about it yet.

But, even leaving aside the voice system, it's still possible that a language has one or more MAPs, though it might be that it's hard to conclude how many it has. The "subject properties list" and the "correlates of the absolutive" in your pbwiki and in the Kneequickie are good guides to at least two of them; but note they don't say every language has one.

As you can see from reading them, though, the syntactic subject, if there is one, is highly likely to be a core term (probably the same goes for the absolutive); and, if there are any core terms, it's highly likely that one of them is either a syntactic subject or an absolutive.

But I don't know that a language has to have either a syntactic subject or an absolutive, nor do I know if one has to have a core argument. If a language does have core arguments, I don't know that it must also have oblique arguments.

I highly suspect, though, that it's psychologically easier to speak a language that has either syntactic subjects or absolutives or both, than one that has no such thing. There may be common diachronic forces that frequently cause such things to evolve into core terms or MAPs; I suspect there are, but I doubt they always operate.

In every language, very many clauses cross-linguistically semantically seem to have more than one argument. For a language with only one MAP, such a clause would be easier to express if the remaining arguments could be oblique arguments.

In most languages, a numerous minority of clauses cross-linguistically semantically seem to have more than two arguments. For a language with only two MAPs, such a clause would be easier to express if the remaining arguments could be oblique arguments.

In several languages, a few clauses cross-linguistically semantically seem to have more than three arguments. For a language with only three MAPs, such a clause would be easier to express if the remaining arguments could be oblique arguments.

I've never read any report or rumor of any language anyone has said has more than four MAPs. I also do not know any clause which, no matter what language it's in, would semantically require five or more arguments, though I vaguely remember reading that someone claimed they had one. If that's so, then to express any clause that needs five or more arguments, it's going to be nearly impossible to do it without some of the arguments being obliques.

------------------------------

HTH?


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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 4:55 pm 
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chris_notts wrote:
Presumably in the case of possessive pronouns, there is double marking: once on the verb, and once near the noun? Do these pronoun clitics contain case/role marking at all? And how does this interact with adpositions, if Haida has them? If pronouns associated with adpositions are moved, is anything left behind?
No double-marking. The possessor is on the verb and the noun is elsewhere; simple as that. (The language permits far worse discontinuous 'phrases' than this, too.) But it's uncommon for a Haida clause to have more than one actual noun anywhere in it, and of course lots of nouns in lots of contexts would not make sense to be possessed, so there's surprisingly little potential for ambiguity. I'm not sure how the ambiguity is dealt with (if at all) when it does arise; this hasn't come up yet in my reading.

Most pronouns are not marked for role or case except by the position in which they occur within the clitic string.

I also have not seen addressed yet the topic of what happens with postpositions taking pronouns, but from the example sentences I've looked through (i.e. most of the first volume) such instances do not appear to be common. Postpositions are overwhelmingly found with nouns, not pronouns - which I'm sure has lot to do with the lack of a major core/oblique distinction, though I'd have no idea which way the causality runs.


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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 5:26 pm 
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TomHChappell wrote:
If it is universal, it means that in every language at least some clauses have at least one core argument, which means that in every language at least some clauses have a subject.

Clearly some languages don't have any core arguments besides subjects.


Although the definition of subject is itself a bit hairy! If we take subject to merely mean the primary MAP, then this statement is a tautology. If we take subject to actually have some specific semantic and syntactic properties associated with it, then your statement generally tends to be false unless we take the smorgasbord approach of defining a long list of properties we'd like subjects to have and accepting anything that covers at least some of them. Some of my recent reading (books on Construction Grammar in particular) have made me doubt whether this is the right thing to do.

Quote:
As for applicatives:
Note that it's about promoting oblique arguments to "direct or primary object", not about promoting adjuncts.


Well, in fact applicatives don't necessarily promote arguments to be THE direct object (or whatever the equivalent is - do syntactically ergative languages have a direct object MAP?), just A direct object. As I mentioned in my post, there are plenty of languages where the new object and the 'base' object appear to be more or less syntactically equivalent, so the 'base' object is not displaced. In your terminology, this would mean you have more than one argument occupying the same MAP. Even more confusing is when object properties are split between the base and applicative object, in which case what you have presumably is two new MAPs that make up the old MAP in terms of syntactic and morphological behaviour when added together.

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In some schools, among them "MAPping theory", there are considered to be in many languages such things as "Morphosyntactically-Assigned Argument Positions" or "MAP"s. And one of the main typological parameters for languages is thought to be "How many MAPs does this language have?"


See above for why this number may be large. One of the examples Peterson uses, Hakha Lai, has multiple applicative constructions, with different divisions of object properties for different constructions. The properties which define objects in monotransitive clauses don't divide up neatly in the same way across all applicative constructions.

And in fact, I believe that in most languages you could define many more than two or three MAPs if you really wanted to, especially if any particular MAP need not occur in all clauses (which you must accept as soon as you argue for more than one MAP, since there are clearly intransitive verbs). There are always subtle criteria which can be used to split further if you want to.

Quote:
According to Mapping Theory (and some other schools), such valency-rearranging operations (whether or not they raise or lower valency) tend to target either the most-syntactically-privileged MAP or the least-syntactically-privileged MAP. That is, they either move something into or out of the top core position, or into or out of the bottom core position.


Obviously, this is trivially true for languages with two or less MAPs. Given their definition of MAP, is their sample size of languages with >= 3 MAPs large enough to make any significant conclusions? Also, do they have robust definitions for syntactically more or less privileged?

Quote:
Applicativization moves oblique arguments into the second MAP, and may move whatever was already in the second MAP, if it was already occupied, into an oblique position, or else make it implicit.


See above. There are languages where it's not obvious that anything has necessarily been demoted, and where applicatives are strictly valence increasing.

Quote:
But I don't know that a language has to have either a syntactic subject or an absolutive, nor do I know if one has to have a core argument. If a language does have core arguments, I don't know that it must also have oblique arguments.


I guess a key part of this thread is "what counts as oblique in the first place?".

Quote:
I highly suspect, though, that it's psychologically easier to speak a language that has either syntactic subjects or absolutives or both, than one that has no such thing. There may be common diachronic forces that frequently cause such things to evolve into core terms or MAPs; I suspect there are, but I doubt they always operate.


Well, language does have centralising tendencies, obvious. People like to give similar things similar encodings, because obviously we have limited bandwidth, memory and processing power.

Quote:
In every language, very many clauses cross-linguistically semantically seem to have more than one argument. For a language with only one MAP, such a clause would be easier to express if the remaining arguments could be oblique arguments.

In most languages, a numerous minority of clauses cross-linguistically semantically seem to have more than two arguments. For a language with only two MAPs, such a clause would be easier to express if the remaining arguments could be oblique arguments.


Well, as mentioned above, another perfectly viable solution is just to have more clauses with fewer arguments. This appears to be the case in some american indian languages, where very few clauses have more than one or two overt arguments. This is partly what I was hoping to read more about in the article by Mithun.

A similar solution occurs in languages that like serial verb constructions - normally the SVC is considered to be a single clause, but the fact remains that in many such languages each verb in the clause can potentially introduce an additional argument. In a language which purely uses SVCs, you don't need any verbs that can have more than two arguments, because you can just glue verbs together to get more.

And in symmetric SVCs at least, the object-like arguments introduced by the various verbs are more or less syntactically equal when it comes to the syntactic criteria typically used to define things like MAPs.

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 5:30 pm 
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Radius Solis wrote:
No double-marking. The possessor is on the verb and the noun is elsewhere; simple as that. (The language permits far worse discontinuous 'phrases' than this, too.) But it's uncommon for a Haida clause to have more than one actual noun anywhere in it, and of course lots of nouns in lots of contexts would not make sense to be possessed, so there's surprisingly little potential for ambiguity. I'm not sure how the ambiguity is dealt with (if at all) when it does arise; this hasn't come up yet in my reading.


If it's rare, perhaps you do it with something heavy like a relative clause? E.g. 'the car that my brother owns'.

Quote:
Most pronouns are not marked for role or case except by the position in which they occur within the clitic string.


I guess that's enough for a simple transitive clause - in clauses with only one pronoun, as long as the noun is marked for its role, it's unambiguous.

Quote:
I also have not seen addressed yet the topic of what happens with postpositions taking pronouns, but from the example sentences I've looked through (i.e. most of the first volume) such instances do not appear to be common. Postpositions are overwhelmingly found with nouns, not pronouns - which I'm sure has lot to do with the lack of a major core/oblique distinction, though I'd have no idea which way the causality runs.


If you find out, let me know!

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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 11:30 pm 
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chris_notts wrote:
It's "Understanding and Explaining Applicatives", published by the Chicago Linguistic Society, volume 37 in 2002. I'd really appreciate it if you did have it.


I don't have it on hand; but I was planning on going to the IUPUI library sometime this week for research; I'll see if I can find it, and if so, I'll make you a PDF of it.

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 11:51 pm 
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vohpenonomae wrote:
chris_notts wrote:
It's "Understanding and Explaining Applicatives", published by the Chicago Linguistic Society, volume 37 in 2002. I'd really appreciate it if you did have it.


I don't have it on hand; but I was planning on going to the IUPUI library sometime this week for research; I'll see if I can find it, and if so, I'll make you a PDF of it.


Went to the library today; unfortunately, they don't have that volume (though I did make photocopies of Aubin's PROTO-ALGONQUIAN DICTIONARY and some other goodies you--and/or others--may be interested in). I had a librarian do a search for me--the closest place that has a copy of that book is the University of Michigan, which is several hundred miles away, and I can't get it via inter-library loan since I'm not an IU or Purdue student. Someone else may be able to make a copy for you; just ask around. (U Chicago also has a copy, but their collections are off-limits to outsiders.)

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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 2:16 am 
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vohpenonomae wrote:
Went to the library today; unfortunately, they don't have that volume (though I did make photocopies of Aubin's PROTO-ALGONQUIAN DICTIONARY and some other goodies you--and/or others--may be interested in). I had a librarian do a search for me--the closest place that has a copy of that book is the University of Michigan, which is several hundred miles away, and I can't get it via inter-library loan since I'm not an IU or Purdue student. Someone else may be able to make a copy for you; just ask around. (U Chicago also has a copy, but their collections are off-limits to outsiders.)


Thanks for trying, anyway. I'll just have to keep my eye out and hopefully I'll get a copy eventually.

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PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 4:05 pm 
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chris_notts wrote:
Although the definition of subject is itself a bit hairy! If we take subject to merely mean the primary MAP, then this statement is a tautology.
I suppose so.

The working "definition" of "subject" I came up with myself and have usually been using is the "syntactically most-privileged argument" and/or the "most syntactically-privileged argument". If "most privileged" is what "primary" means for MAPs, then yes, it's nearly* a tautology to say that any language that has MAPs has subjects. *(You also have to assume that some clauses have only one MAP, and/or that for some one MAP is clearly more privileged than any others. But I think that's a safe assumption.)

The idea of Subjects as "core arguments", to me, means that their morphosyntax is mostly about their syntactic position (that is, syntactic relation to the clause and/or the verb) as Subjects, and not so much about their semantic roles. Their case-endings (if they have any) and adpositions (if they have any) just tell that they're Syntactic Subjects; what semantic role they play is indicated by morphosyntax of the verb and VP rather than by the Subject's NP.

"Oblique arguments", OTOH, have a morphosyntax that's mostly about their semantic roles; their case endings (if they have any) and adpositions (if they have any) are mostly about their semantic relation to other NPs, to the verb, to the clause, and to other clause elements; rather than to their syntactic position in the clause (which can usually be summed up as "oblique argument").

The difference between core and oblique is likely IMO to be language-dependent; it's also IMO likely to be fuzzy. For example, there are some very well-known and well-studied languages about which it is still undecided whether they have 2 or 3 MAPs. "Secondary Object" or "Indirect Object" is, in many ways, a lot more like "Oblique Argument" than either "Subject" or "Primary or Direct Object" are.

There are people, inclulding some on the ZBB, who find the distinction between "Argument" and "Adjunct" fuzzy, too.

chris_notts wrote:
If we take subject to actually have some specific semantic and syntactic properties associated with it, then your statement generally tends to be false unless we take the smorgasbord approach of defining a long list of properties we'd like subjects to have and accepting anything that covers at least some of them. Some of my recent reading (books on Construction Grammar in particular) have made me doubt whether this is the right thing to do.
There are many things in Linguistics and other fields that I think are best "defined" by a "Chinese-menu-type" or "DSM-IV-type" "definition". For instance, some physical disorders are diagnosed by listing 14 properties and saying anything that has 7 or more of those properties is that disorder.

IMO "Syntactic Subject" is one of these. I consider "Syntactic Subject", which is what I almost always mean when I say "Subject", to be best "defined" by Keenan's "Subject Properties List"; in any clause the participant which has a majority of those properties, and has at least as more of them than any other participant, is that clause's "Syntactic Subject". (If there is no such participant than there may be no "syntactic subject" for that clause; or, that clause may have more than one participant that are equally good candidates to be considered the "syntactic subject", in which case inter-clausal interactions may determine the issue (or may not).) Most of those properties are not semantic, and most are not pragmatic; most are strictly syntactic or almost-strictly syntactic.

The "smorgasbord approach" for Syntactic Subjecthood is a "smorgasbord" only cross-linguistically, AIUI. Each particular language, if it has subjects, has a particular subset of Keenan's properties list (or of some possibly expanded list perhaps including some properties Keenan omitted) that are relevant to subjecthood in that language; and an ordering by relevance of those properties. That subset and that order are, AIUI, fixed for that language. But they vary from language to language.

(As you can tell, that definition isn't precisely the same as "most syntactically-privileged argument or syntactically most-privileged argument". But I'd say it's close.)

Other linguistic ideas that apparently need a "smorgasbord" "definition" include Dowty's Proto-Agent Macro-Role and his Proto-Patient Macro-Role. He started with a list of four properties for each, and quickly expanded each list to five properties; since then other people (e.g. Jackendoff et al.) have expanded them to about eight properties each. Any participant that has at least as many proto-agent properties as any other is a good candidate to be the Agent (or at least the Actor) of the clause; any that has at least as many proto-patient properties as any other is a good candidate to be the Patient (or at least the Undergoer) of the clause. If a participant has more Proto-Agent properties than it lacks, and also has more than any other participant, then it is the Agent or Actor; sim for Proto-Patient properties and Patient or Undergoer.

A participant could be both the one that has more Proto-Agent properties than any other participant, and also the one that has more Proto-Patient properties than any other. I call such a participant the Semantic Subject unless it's the only participant, in which case I call it the Sole participant. That's possibly different from the Syntactic Subject.

The Proto-Agent, if there is one and only one, is usually the participant which is most controls or performs or effects or instigates the situation described in the clause, or acts most volitionally, or acts most directly upon the Proto-Patient; provided those ideas have any descriptive bearing on that particular clause. The Proto-Patient, if there is one and only one, is usually the participant which is most affected, particularly the one most visibly affected or most physically affected, by the situation described by the clause; again, provided those ideas have any descriptive bearing on that particular clause.

So if a clause with more than one participant has a Semantic Subject, it's describing a situation which is kind-of-sort-of reflexive or middle-diathesis or introversive; the same participant is most controlling (etc.) and most affected (etc.).

Primus came up with the idea of a Proto-Recipient (I think that's a bad name). If a participant other than the Agent/Actor/Patient/Undergoer/Subject is "highly involved", which basically means the sum of its Proto-Agent properties and its Proto-Patient properties is higher than any other participant with the possible exceptions of the Syntactic Subject and/or Proto-Agent and/or Proto-Patient, then, she calls it the Proto-Recipient. "Proto-Recipient" is another semantic term. It corresponds with what Rick Morneau calls "the Focus" and Barry Blake calls "dative"; it's highly, even crucially, involved, but is neither the most controlling nor the most affected. Recipients are entities conscious of being affected; and their participation is at least consistent with their volitional participation. So if the Recipient isn't the Proto-Patient it's usually the Proto-Recipient.

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Well, in fact applicatives don't necessarily promote arguments to be THE direct object (or whatever the equivalent is - do syntactically ergative languages have a direct object MAP?), just A direct object. As I mentioned in my post, there are plenty of languages where the new object and the 'base' object appear to be more or less syntactically equivalent, so the 'base' object is not displaced. In your terminology, this would mean you have more than one argument occupying the same MAP. Even more confusing is when object properties are split between the base and applicative object, in which case what you have presumably is two new MAPs that make up the old MAP in terms of syntactic and morphological behaviour when added together.
I'm sorry I failed to fully absorb that on first reading; I'll read it again.

I do not believe applicativization and ergative alignment go together, do they? Are their any uncontroversially ergative languages that have a process that's uncontroversially applicativization?

Anyway.

Yes, there appear to be languages that have a non-promoting passivization, where the passive-voice verb still "has the same object" as its active-voice counterpart, but "has no subject". The question is, by which meaning of "subject" and which meaning of "object" is that participant still an object and not a subject? By the definition "most syntactically-privileged NP" it must now be the "syntactic subject". By Keenan's Subject Properties List, it may, or may not, now be the "Syntactic Subject". By the morphosyntax of the verb and of the object NP, though, it may still be an Object.

Also, there are sentences in some languages that some grammarians have analyzed as having two Subjects. But many of these have also been alternatively analyzed as Topic-Comment sentences; one "subject" is the Topic, and the other is the subject of the Comment clause.

And, in some languages, ditransitive clauses appear to have two Objects of equal or nearly-equal rank. There's sometimes little or nothing in the morphosyntax to distinguish between them. My possibly-incorrect impression is that most MAP theorists would be able to find subtle reasons one was Primary or Direct and the other Secondary or Indirect, but I personally wouldn't know how, and I could be wrong about them too.

I know that some MAP theorists have analyzed some languages as having four MAPs; one Subject, one Primary Object, and two Secondary Objects of different kinds, (the way your examples have two or more (Direct?) Objects of different kinds).

Until you mentioned your examples I'd never heard of a language with a grammatical clause that had three or more Primary or Direct Objects, nor three or more Secondary or Indirect Objects.

But if non-demoting applicativization can be applied twice to a clause that already had a Primary or Direct Object to begin with, especially in a 2-MAP language (if there even is such a thing -- MAP theorists think so, but I suppose there must be linguists who think "all MAP theory is total bullshit"), the resulting sentence would have three Primary or Direct Objects; and, depending on how applicativization works in that language, there might be nothing in the verb's morphology or the noun-phrases' morphology, and little or nothing in the syntax of the clause, to distinguish one of them as being syntactically Primary or Direct or Secondary or Indirect, in contrast to the others.

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See above for why this number may be large. One of the examples Peterson uses, Hakha Lai, has multiple applicative constructions, with different divisions of object properties for different constructions. The properties which define objects in monotransitive clauses don't divide up neatly in the same way across all applicative constructions.
And in fact, I believe that in most languages you could define many more than two or three MAPs if you really wanted to, especially if any particular MAP need not occur in all clauses (which you must accept as soon as you argue for more than one MAP, since there are clearly intransitive verbs). There are always subtle criteria which can be used to split further if you want to.
I'm not really sure that's not due to a misunderstanding on someone's part; likely yours or Peterson's, maybe someone else's (unless I'm the one that's not getting it!)
AIUI anything in a MAP is a core arguments, and any core argument is in an MAP.
Anything occupying a morphosyntactically-assigned argument position must be an argument, of course; "argument" is what the "A" in "MAP" stands for.
The fact that it's a "position" rather than a semantic role, and that it's "morphosyntactically assigned" rather than pragmatically or semantically assigned, is what makes it a "core position".
I think, maybe, (I'll re-read to check whether I'm talking through my hat now), most of what you're looking at in those subtle distinctions, are more pragmatic and/or semantic than morphosyntactic; and/or, that they apply not to morphosyntactic "positions", but rather to semantic or pragmatic roles or relations.
(If I've misunderstood I'd love to have it cleared up! It would be a rewarding "learning experience".)

However:
I remember reading someone's claim that some North American Native language had grammatical clauses whose verbs had to agree with seven participants. If "the verb has to agree with whatever's in that slot" qualifies as an MAP -- and why shouldn't it? -- then, if that's what that author actually claimed, and if his/her claim was actually true, the stated upper limit of at most 4 MAPs per clause per language would be exceeded. I don't know.

As for "What is a (Syntactic) Object (of a clause)?", one of Trask's definitions -- the one I think is most pertinent here -- is something like "Any ((core argument) or MAP) that isn't the Syntactic Subject". AIUI MAP theory then says a (syntactic) Primary Object is any syntactic Object that's more syntactically-privileged than any other Object; and a (syntactic) Secondary Object is any syntactic Object that isn't a Primary Object.

OTOH you could use Keenan's Correlates of the Absolutive. You could say: "Any participant which has more of these properties than it lacks, and also has more than any other participant, is either the Absolutive Subject or the Direct (or Primary) Object, depending on alignment and on what's happening to the Syntactic Subject and on the clause's case-frame."

If these properties are split up among the non-Subject participants of a clause; or if more than one of them ties at having the most; then maybe the clause has no Primary/Direct Object, or has more than one Primary/Direct Object. I do not know of a theoretical dogma that there must be one and ony one such Primary or Direct Object of any clause that has a core participant or MAP that isn't a or the Subject.

(MAP theory would require that if there is an occupied MAP other than the Subject MAP, then at least one of them must be a or the Primary or Direct Object; but AFAIK it allows more than one, and AFAIK the "Keenan Correlates of the Absolutive" don't require that there be even one.)

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Obviously, this is trivially true for languages with two or less MAPs.
If the starting and ending positions of the promoted and demoted arguments must be MAPs, it's trivially true even for languages with three MAPs.
(Causativization involves putting something that wasn't in the original clause at all, into the top MAP. If it were put into the middle MAP instead, that would be a counter-example. Likewise, if an oblique were promoted into the middle MAP. But, unless there are at least four MAPs, you can't promote or demote anything from one non-top non-bottom MAP into another non-top non-bottom MAP.)
I'm not sure, though, that I correctly stated the remark. It may have been that promotion and demotion had to start at the top or bottom slot; or that promotion and demotion had to end at the top or bottom slot; or some other formula having an "and" where I said "or" or "or" where I said "and".
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Given their definition of MAP, is their sample size of languages with >= 3 MAPs large enough to make any significant conclusions?
I don't know, but I think so.

You may recall that when Comrie and Keenan first proposed the Noun-Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy (which governs which NPs in a clause can be relativized), they thought it also governed which "slots" had to be filled and which "slots" a demoted NP could wind up in. They thought that each clause's nominals had to fill a top segment of that hierarchy, and that when any valency-changing or valency-rearranging operation demoted a participant, it had to be demoted to the highest empty position.

It's now accepted that that's true only of a minority of languages. I don't know what evidence makes that be "now accepted"; but I suspect it involves several 3-MAP languages, since "Indirect Object" is the third item on the NPAH.

Also, Comrie was the one who published evidence and arguments for saying that many languages don't have a third MAP; or, truer to his actual words, that there's no convincing reason to decide that "Indirect Object" should be a separate category in these languages. So, I doubt that whatever evidence makes some of Comrie's and Keenan's initial conjectures about the NPAH no-longer-accepted, would pass Comries (nor even Keenan's) eye unless it included a suitably large sample of languages that uncontroversially do have three MAPs.

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Also, do they have robust definitions for syntactically more or less privileged?
I don't know, but I'm going to guess.
If you don't accept "smorgasbords" as "robust", I'm guessing the answer is "no".
Otherwise, I'm guessing the answer depends on who "they" are. I don't know of one, other than the various "smorgasbords" I've referred to in this post, and maybe others that haven't come to mind at the moment.

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See above. There are languages where it's not obvious that anything has necessarily been demoted, and where applicatives are strictly valence increasing.
I will have to do a better job of "seeing above".

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I guess a key part of this thread is "what counts as oblique in the first place?".
Yes; I was trying to say "core argument" is "any argument in an MAP" and "oblique argument" is "any argument that's not in an MAP". You can re-work that definition to still mean something without accepting any of MAP theory. However you have to either assume that people already know what an argument is, or you have to define it.

As I've been implying, I do not know, or haven't made up my mind about, the answer to your OP. But, I strongly suspect the answer is:
1. The distinction occurs in almost all languages, if not all;
2. The particular definition of the distinction is partly language-specific;
3. In some or many languages the distinction is more-or-less fuzzy.

I think "Topic vs Comment" and "Focus vs Ground" are likelier to be widely-acceptable as "universal" distinctions than "core vs oblique".

Quote:
Well, language does have centralising tendencies, obvious. People like to give similar things similar encodings, because obviously we have limited bandwidth, memory and processing power.
...
Well, as mentioned above, another perfectly viable solution is just to have more clauses with fewer arguments. This appears to be the case in some american indian languages, where very few clauses have more than one or two overt arguments. This is partly what I was hoping to read more about in the article by Mithun.
Quoted just to say I think you're right.

Quote:
A similar solution occurs in languages that like serial verb constructions - normally the SVC is considered to be a single clause, but the fact remains that in many such languages each verb in the clause can potentially introduce an additional argument. In a language which purely uses SVCs, you don't need any verbs that can have more than two arguments, because you can just glue verbs together to get more.
And in symmetric SVCs at least, the object-like arguments introduced by the various verbs are more or less syntactically equal when it comes to the syntactic criteria typically used to define things like MAPs.
I'd love to know more about that.
Everything I've read about SVCs, I've read because you recommended it.
I can see why what you're saying makes sense.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 2:26 pm 
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TomHChappell wrote:
The major difference between core arguments and oblique arguments, AIUI, is that:
* Core arguments are marked for the grammatical and syntactic relations and functions rather than, or at least moreso than, their semantic roles. A core argument's semantic role is likelier to be shown by voice-marking or agreement-marking on the verb.

I am not sure I understand the last sentence above. Any illustrative examples? How voice marking or agreement marking is about "semantic roles" more than about "grammatical and syntactic relations and functions"?

TomHChappell wrote:
* Obliques (both arguments and adjuncts) are marked for their semantic roles, not for their grammatical or syntactic functions or relations.

This sounds like implying that same "semantic roles" will be marked similarly (in each individual language), which doesn't seem to be true. Or else your "marked for" X can be read as "marked for a (formal?) category Y which in a given context implies a (semantic) role" X; but that doesn't seem trivial, then.

TomHChappell wrote:
Everything in the core is (theoretically?) an argument, and every adjunct is (theoretically?) oblique; but some arguments can also be oblique, like the "where would you put it?" prepositional phrase in "put" clauses.

I'd accept this asymmetry as a rough approximation, but it confuses me that a lot of languages (not excluding English, as it may seem) will mark adjuncts like last Monday or every night exactly the same way as they mark direct objects (which I suppose to belong with "core"), and I don't see immediately why the (numerous) tests used to demonstrate that such adjuncts aren't real DO's cannot be all interpreted as tests for "coreness" rather than "argumenthood" (or whatever the right terms are).

TomHChappell wrote:
Clearly some languages don't have any core arguments besides subjects.

Again, an uncontroversial example would be helpful. A conlang might work, too.

Alternatively, a set of conditions which, if fulfilled simultaneously, allow one to unambiguously diagnose a language as having no core arguments other than subjects.

TomHChappell wrote:
As for applicatives:
Note that it's about promoting oblique arguments to "direct or primary object", not about promoting adjuncts.

As I understand, an applicative translatable as 'to use (e. g. a house) as the place to dance (in)' wouldn't look too weird in at least some languages with productive applicatives. Arguably in that house isn't an argument in a sentence like They used to dance in that house.

TomHChappell wrote:
Whether or not what Mapping Theory says in the paragraph before the last is unconditionally universally true, it's a very strong statistical correlation; Applicativization tends to be restricted to 2-MAP languages (languages with just two grammatical or syntactic relations or functions).

This made me think of a Latin example: (aliquod) dē=scrībere, which seems to be derived from dē (aliquā rē) scrībere. OK, I know it's not really a productive applicative in this particular language, but I don't think that's important; what strikes me, though, is that such derivations kinda imply that the language has more than two MAP's (or I've messed things up to an extreme)...

TomHChappell wrote:
If a language such as Tagalog, or what David Peterson says the average conlanger thinks is meant by "trigger language", has only one MAP (i.e. the Subject), then the only way to promote an oblique argument into the core is to promote it directly to Subject.

How can Tagalog be analyzed as having only one MAP? (Might be a good example of the kind I requested above... if only it works.)

TomHChappell wrote:
But I don't know that a language has to have either a syntactic subject or an absolutive, nor do I know if one has to have a core argument.

Conlanging-wise (and other-wise), it would be interesting to see what such a language might look like...

TomHChappell wrote:
If a language does have core arguments, I don't know that it must also have oblique arguments.

I don't understand... I took your previous sentence as posing the question about the necessity to distinguish between core arguments and oblique arguments. What do you mean by core arguments without obliques? I'd analyze this as having just "arguments", without further discriminations...

TomHChappell wrote:
I also do not know any clause which, no matter what language it's in, would semantically require five or more arguments, though I vaguely remember reading that someone claimed they had one.

If "argument" is something needed to describe the lexical meaning of a verb, I'd try 'rent' or somesuch.

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 11:10 pm 
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Quote:
ow can Tagalog be analyzed as having only one MAP? (Might be a good example of the kind I requested above... if only it works.)

AFAIK (and I've been meaning to quiz my Fillipino friends on this for a while now), all nouns except for the trigger appear in the genitive, regardless of whether they would be core or not in anotehr language. The trigger noun is marked as trigger, and it's role is marked on the verb. Choice of trigger is apparently not limited to any kind of noun, and can be chosen by the speaker (for pragmatic reasons which are not well understood). All non-trigger nouns are treat syntactically the same way; only the trigger behaves differently. Thus people analyze Tagalog as having only one MAP, and the rest are all obliques.

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 11:49 pm 
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chris_notts wrote:
vohpenonomae wrote:
Went to the library today; unfortunately, they don't have that volume (though I did make photocopies of Aubin's PROTO-ALGONQUIAN DICTIONARY and some other goodies you--and/or others--may be interested in). I had a librarian do a search for me--the closest place that has a copy of that book is the University of Michigan, which is several hundred miles away, and I can't get it via inter-library loan since I'm not an IU or Purdue student. Someone else may be able to make a copy for you; just ask around. (U Chicago also has a copy, but their collections are off-limits to outsiders.)


Thanks for trying, anyway. I'll just have to keep my eye out and hopefully I'll get a copy eventually.


Actually, I'm at the University of Michigan, and want to read this article now that I've come across the thread..so, I would be happy to go scan it in. I won't be able to do it for at least three or so days, so if you're willing to wait and it's really there, sure thing!


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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 1:12 pm 
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Tengado wrote:
AFAIK (and I've been meaning to quiz my Fillipino friends on this for a while now), all nouns except for the trigger appear in the genitive, regardless of whether they would be core or not in anotehr language. The trigger noun is marked as trigger, and it's role is marked on the verb. Choice of trigger is apparently not limited to any kind of noun, and can be chosen by the speaker (for pragmatic reasons which are not well understood). All non-trigger nouns are treat syntactically the same way; only the trigger behaves differently. Thus people analyze Tagalog as having only one MAP, and the rest are all obliques.


In fact, there's a lot of debate about this. It is true that most non-trigger arguments are marked identically from a case point of view, but there are arguments that actually there are some processes in Tagalog and other Phillipine languages which are controlled by the Agent/Subject even when it ISN'T the trigger. I have read papers previously arguing both sides, but offhand I can't remember the titles so I can't reference them. The point is that while overt marking singles out the Trigger, and so do some syntactic rules (e.g. relativisation), some rules may single out other arguments.

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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 1:14 pm 
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roninbodhisattva wrote:
Actually, I'm at the University of Michigan, and want to read this article now that I've come across the thread..so, I would be happy to go scan it in. I won't be able to do it for at least three or so days, so if you're willing to wait and it's really there, sure thing!


I'd really appreciate it if you could do that. :)

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PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 8:12 pm 
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chris_notts wrote:
In fact, there's a lot of debate about this. It is true that most non-trigger arguments are marked identically from a case point of view, but there are arguments that actually there are some processes in Tagalog and other Phillipine languages which are controlled by the Agent/Subject even when it ISN'T the trigger. I have read papers previously arguing both sides, but offhand I can't remember the titles so I can't reference them. The point is that while overt marking singles out the Trigger, and so do some syntactic rules (e.g. relativisation), some rules may single out other arguments.

I know - I've heard about the debate but I don't know the details. I've never seen the papers, but I'd be interested in it. Basilius asked how Tagalog could be analysed as having only one MAP, so I tried to explain how. It may have more than one though, true.

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PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 4:27 pm 
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Tom, following on from your post, I will try to illustrate what I mean. I'm not sure if I explained myself very well, and as I am not an expert when it comes to MAPs I may have misinterpreted something.

My point was that there are some applicatives that promote don't always demote the existing object. I'll give some examples from some languages Peterson talks about.

Let's start with Bukusu. It is a 'symmetric' Bantu language - this means that the applicative object (promoted) and the original object are syntactically and morphologically treated in a similar way. For example:

1. The verb can agree with either object

wanjala a-mu-kul-il-a sii-tabu
Wanjala 3sS-CL1O-buy-APP-FV CL7-book
Wajala bought her the book (agreement with 'her')

wanjala a-si-kul-il-a omu-xasi
Wanjala 3sS-CL7O-buy-APP-FV CL1-woman
Wanjala bought it for the woman (agreement with 'book')

2. Either object can be the subject of a passive version of the applicative verb

omu-xasi a-kul-il-w-a sii-tabu nee-wanjala
CL1-woman 3sS-buy-APP-PASS-FV CL7-book by-Wanjala
'The woman was bought the book by Wanjala'

sii-tabu sy-a-kul-il-w-a omu-xasi (?nee-wanjala)
CL7-book CL7S-TENSE-buy-APP-PASS-FV CL1-woman (?by-Wanjala)
'The book was bought for the woman (?by Wanjala)'

3. Either object can be relativised on using the normal direct object relativisation strategy

omu-xasi ni-ye wanjala a-kul-il-a sii-tabu
CL1-woman REL-CL1 Wanjala 3sS-buy-APP-FV CL7-book
'the woman who Wanjala bought the book for'

sii-tabu ni-sy-o wanjala a-kul-il-a omu-xasi
CL7-book REL-CL7-REL Wanjala 3sS-buy-APP-FV CL1-woman

Sometimes, each object may display different object properties at the same time. In the following sentence, one object has been promoted by the passive, while the other is represented by object agreement on the passivised verb:

omu-xasi a-si-kul-il-w-a nee-Wanjala
CL1-woman 3sS-CL7O-buy-APP-PASS-FV by-Wanjala
'The woman was bought it by Wanjala'

So as you can see, while the applicative object has been promoted, it doesn't follow that the original object has necessarily been fully demoted. There is, however, one way in which the two objects differ: if both are represented by NPs in the clause, the immediately post-verbal one must be the applicative object, not the original object.

So: most of the major morpho-syntactic properties of objects are available to both the base and applicative object in Bukusu. The only exception is that the applicative object has first dibs on post-verbal position if both are represented as NPs.

Later (maybe tomorrow) I will post a summary of Peterson's other major example, Hakha Lai. That is an even more interesting example, with a much muddier picture of how object properties are distributed in applicative clauses.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:52 pm 
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Also, as I said, in some languages the applicative can introduce a new agreement slot, so agreement with base and applicative objects is not either/or. Here is an example from Chichewa:

yohani y-a-yi-mw-oher-ej-e
John HE-past-IT-HER-send(APP)-R-ASP
'John sent it to her'

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:27 pm 
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Now for the Hakha Lai examples of applicatives. Hakha Lai has a number of applicatives:

-piak benefactive/malefactive
-tse?m benefactive
-pii comitative
-hno? malefactive
-ka?n prioritive
-taak relinquitive
-naak instrumental

The object properties which Peterson talks about are as follows:

CASE MARKING

A feature shared by all applicative constructions is that the applicative object loses whatever oblique case marking it would have had in the non-applicative version of the clause.

The original object is NOT marked as an oblique in applicative constructions.

OBJECT ORDER

Either order for the two objects appears to be acceptable.

RELATIVISATION

Either object can serve as the head of a relative clause using the same construction. The exception is instrumental applicatives, where the relativisation strategy for the applicative (instrumental) object appears to be different to the strategy for the base object.

OBJECT AGREEMENT

Object agreement is generally with the new, applicative object. However, there is a suffix -hnaa which marks object plurality, which may be used if the base (original) object is plural even if the applicative object is singular.

The instrumental applicative is an exception, because agreement is always with the base object rather than the applicative object.


DISCOURSE DEIXIS

There are a set of markers which function both as demonstratives and as topic markers. I won't summarise much of this because there doesn't seem to be much to differentiate between base and applicative objects here, apart from the fact that in instrumental applicative constructions ONLY the applicative object can be marked in this way.

LEFT DISLOCATION

In all applicative constructions except the instrumental, the base object cannot be left dislocated without further marking, only the applicative object can be. To left dislocate the original object, the applicative object must be marked by one of the demonstrative/topic markers mentioned above.

For instrumental applicatives, it appears that only the applicative object can be left dislocated, even if further marking is used.

RECIPROCALIZATION

For most applicative constructions, the reflexive/reciprocal verbal affix means that the subject is coreferential with the applicative object, NOT the base object. The exceptions are:

In prioritive applicative constructions, it doesn't appear to be possible to use the reflexive/reciprocal affix at all.

In instrumental applicatives, it is the base object which is coreferential with the subject.

PURPOSIVE CONTROL

Hakha Lai has a subordinate purposive clause type in which the subject of the purpose clause may be coreferential with the object in the main clause. Here is an example:

haaw-kaa leeŋ ʔa-kal-khoʔ-naak tsaa diŋ=ʔaʔ hŋaaktshiapaa ka-0-tsooy
fence-door outside 3s-look-able-NOMLZR sake PURP-LOC 1sS-3sO-lift
"I lifted the boy so that he could see over the gate"

For all applicative apart from the instrumental, only the applicative object can be corefential with the subject of the purpose clause.

SUMMARY

For most applicative constructions, the applicative object does possess most/all of the object properties examined. The base object, however, is not marked as oblique and can trigger more limited verbal agreement (suffixal number marking).

The exceptional construction is the instrumental applicative. In the instrumental applicative, the instrument loses its oblique case marking, and has exclusive access to some object topicalisation strategies, BUT it gains control of far fewer other object properties. Instead the base object retains most of its original properties.

So in all the applicative constructions, neither object is really a normal oblique, although one object is clearly more object-like than the other.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:13 pm 
Šriftom
Šriftom

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Basilius wrote:
I am not sure I understand the last sentence above. Any illustrative examples? How voice marking or agreement marking is about "semantic roles" more than about "grammatical and syntactic relations and functions"?
In English and many other languages, if a usually-transitive verb is in the Active voice its subject is its Agent, while if a verb is in the Passive voice its subject is its Patient.
In syntactically ergative languages if a usually-transitive verb is in the default voice its absolutive argument is its Patient, while if the verb is in the Anti-Passive voice its absolutive argument is its Agent.
In a language with Hierarchical MSA and Direct/Inverse voice system, if a transitive verb is in the Direct voice its higher-ranking participant is its Agent and its lower-ranking participant is its Patient; while if such a verb is in the Inverse voice its higher-ranking participant is its Patient while its lower-ranking participant is its Agent.
In Tagalog, the nominal marked by the nominative-preposition-cum-definite-article "ang" is not marked to show its semantic role; instead it might be considered that whatever nominal phrase is marked by "ang" is the verb's and clause's Subject. The verb, OTOH, is marked in a regular fashion to show what semantic role the "ang"-marked nominal/phrase occupies in the clause.
Look at Lingua Questionnaire 2. Morphology 2.1. inflection 2.1.3. Verb-inflection 2.1.3.1. Voice.
At the moment I can't think of a good example in which agreement marking shows the semantic role. But see Lingua Questionnaire 2. Morphology 2.1. inflection 2.1.3. Verb-inflection 2.1.3.6. Person/number/etc. (cf. 2.1.2.1).

Basilius wrote:
This sounds like implying that same "semantic roles" will be marked similarly (in each individual language), which doesn't seem to be true. Or else your "marked for" X can be read as "marked for a (formal?) category Y which in a given context implies a (semantic) role" X; but that doesn't seem trivial, then.
I am unclear about what distinction you are drawing.
Different languages frequently don't align their markings with the semantic roles in exactly the same way.
However unless you accept the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (and maybe even then) every natural human language "has the same set" of semantic roles as any other natural human language.
Suppose you accept Charles J. Fillmore's 1967 list of 30 semantic roles as complete and non-redundant. Still, a language might have only, say, ten (10) cases, and maybe Nominative, Accusative, Dative, and Genitive are four of them. Nominative may be for Subjects whatever their semantic role; Accusative may be for Primary Objects whatever their semantic role; Dative may be for Secondary Objects whatever their semantic role; Genitive may be for nominal attributes of other nouns whatever their semantic role. There may also be an Instrumental case (for instruments), a Benefactive case (for beneficiaries and "maleficiaries"), an Adessive/Locative case (for locations), an Allative case (for goals), an Ablative case (for sources), and a Perlative case (for paths).
But, each case may have more than one use. Perhaps everyone knows that certain verbs' primary objects are always in one semantic role whereas other verbs' primary objects are in a different one. Or, adpositions applied to the noun may change the semantic role indicated by a certain case, just as changing the case may change the semantic role indicated by the adposition. Maybe Allative and Dative are "the same case" (that is, have the same morphology), the difference being that Datives are always animate and Allatives are always inanimate. Or maybe Agents and Forces are the same morphology, differentiated also by their animacy. Or maybe Causees (agents-of-effect) and Instruments are the same morphology, but Causees are animate and Instruments are inanimate. Maybe Instruments and Paths have the same morphology.
Look at Lingua Questionnaire 2. Morphology 2.1. inflection 2.1.1. Noun-inflection. With six case-endings, six prepositions, and six postpositions, that could all be combined, a language could indicate up to 216 different semantic roles and syntactic roles of the types mentioned here.

Does that explain what I meant?
"Syntactic" "adverbial" cases, such as Nominative, Accusative, and Dative, tend to have as their main, or one of their main, uses, the indicating that their thus-cased nominals occupy given grammatical relations or core argument positions; it's up to the verb to indicate what semantic role the occupant of that argument position has. (The other case usually considered "syntactic" is the Genitive, which is considered an "adnominal" case rather than an "adverbial" case.)
Cases that aren't (considered) "syntactic" are usually (almost always) considered "semantic"; they indicate what semantic role their thus-cased nominal has in relation to the verb or the clause or some other nominal or some other part of the clause.
There is often overlap; in general in most languages at least one case that has a "syntactic" function also has a "semantic" function.
This really applies however the "case" is indicated, whether it's actually inflection of the noun or is instead the use of adpositions or some combination thereof.

I don't mean to imply that if two semantic roles are marked by the same case-inflection or adposition in one language, they'll also be marked by the same case-inflection or adposition in another language. That's not true, as a general rule.

Basilius wrote:
I'd accept this asymmetry as a rough approximation, but it confuses me that a lot of languages (not excluding English, as it may seem) will mark adjuncts like last Monday or every night exactly the same way as they mark direct objects (which I suppose to belong with "core"), and I don't see immediately why the (numerous) tests used to demonstrate that such adjuncts aren't real DO's cannot be all interpreted as tests for "coreness" rather than "argumenthood" (or whatever the right terms are).
The fact that you are confused shows that you know at least as much as I do. If you know of some proposed answers, I'd like to read them. Are there any you're not certain are wrong? If not, what are the best ones and why are they wrong?

Basilius wrote:
Again, an uncontroversial example would be helpful. A conlang might work, too.
AIUI Tagalog is an uncontroversial example of a language which has at most one grammatical relation, viz. the Subject. The controversy seems to be limited to the question, does it even have that many?
Basilius wrote:
Alternatively, a set of conditions which, if fulfilled simultaneously, allow one to unambiguously diagnose a language as having no core arguments other than subjects.
The most writing seems to have been about whether a language has two or three MAPs; that is, whether or not it has a third GR. Comrie criticized the analyses of several languages which had been analyzed as having a 3rd GR, and came to the conclusion that for many of them there was at best insufficient evidence for deciding that they did have one.
I do not have Comrie's article(s) and/or chapter(s) about that issue memorized; I bet I couldn't look it up or borrow it any faster than you.
In my view, Keenan's lists of "Subject Properties" and "Correlates of the Absolutive" are reasonable menu-type "definitions" of one to two GRs. If you don't like menu-type "definitions" then you won't find that an answer to your question. But, in a clause with several arguments/participants, if one is "most Subject-like" and a different one is "most Absolutive-like", then chances are, if that language has at least two GRs, those two participants fill the first two GRs in that clause.
However we also need a workable definition that will let us decide whether a given participant of a given clause in a given language occupies a GR or MAP or doesn't. Essentially that's the same as having a way of deciding whether a given argument is a core term or is instead an oblique argument.
It is my opinion that the decision will always (or maybe just almost always) involve some appeal to interclausal phenomena; phenomena of shared reference and/or shared participants.
However it is also my opinion, and indeed my proposal on this thread, that the main part of the decision has to do with whether the given participants' semantic role is marked on the participant nominal (whether morphologically via case-marking, syntactically via word-order, or lexically via adpositions) or instead is marked on the verb itself (again, whether morphologically via voice-marking (possibly coupled with agreement-marking) or lexically via auxiliaries or some other way).

As for how to decide if a language has two or more GRs; I'd say if the language contains any grammatical clauses in which two different highly syntactically-privileged arguments have different privileges, it must have at least two GRs; while if no clause in the language has more than one highly-(syntactically)-privileged argument the language may perhaps have not more than one GR.

(Likewise, to decide if a language has three or more GRs; I'd say if the language contains any grammatical clauses in which three different highly syntactically-privileged arguments have different privileges, it must have at least three GRs; while if no clause in the language has more than two highly-(syntactically)-privileged arguments the language may perhaps have not more than two GRs.)

All of that, of course, is related to the question(s) of "What is a Morphosyntactically-Assigned Argument Position anyway? And what's a Grammatical (or syntactic) Relation (or function) anyway? And what's the difference between a Core Argument and an Oblique Argument anyway?"

Basilius wrote:
As I understand, an applicative translatable as 'to use (e. g. a house) as the place to dance (in)' wouldn't look too weird in at least some languages with productive applicatives. Arguably in that house isn't an argument in a sentence like They used to dance in that house.
I'm afraid I've missed your point. Are you supporting what I said, or objecting to what I said, or just adding extra information to what I said? If you're supporting it or objecting to it, how does what you've said do that?

Basilius wrote:
This made me think of a Latin example: (aliquod) dē=scrībere, which seems to be derived from dē (aliquā rē) scrībere. OK, I know it's not really a productive applicative in this particular language, but I don't think that's important; what strikes me, though, is that such derivations kinda imply that the language has more than two MAP's (or I've messed things up to an extreme)...
I don't know if Comrie or other moderns would agree, but Latin has traditionally been thought to be a 3-MAP language.
Some 3-MAP languages have "dative applicativization", in which an oblique argument is promoted into the 3rd GR, instead of "applicativization"; some of them don't allow promotion of an oblique argument into the 2nd GR if the 2nd GR is already full.
As I said it seems to be a statistical correlation; I have not stated that it's a conditional but non-statistical universal. I don't know whether anyone has stated that it's a non-statistical conditional universal. By that I mean to include also that I don't know that no-one has so stated.

Basilius wrote:
How can Tagalog be analyzed as having only one MAP? (Might be a good example of the kind I requested above... if only it works.)
Well, as I understand it, the argument is between the majority who don't know and/or don't care, the larger minority who think it has only one, and the smaller minority who think it doesn't have any at all. I've never seen an argument that it has two or more; so I've never seen anyone tear up such an argument. I've only seen arguments of "No it doesn't have one!" and "Yes it does too have one!" and their rebuttals of each other, and, really, not much in the way of rebuttals in either direction. And I don't have any of those memorized. I expect you could find them as quickly as I could.
In short it had just never occurred to me to wonder whether Tagalog could be considered to have two or more GRs or MAPs.

Basilius wrote:
Conlanging-wise (and other-wise), it would be interesting to see what such a language might look like...
Exactly so. Trying to come up with such a language and make it all work like a language should work, might give a conlanger a good hint as to why most langauges seem to have two or three GRs and, apparently, almost all have at least one and none (or almost none?) have more than four.
If we want to see it done we probably shouldn't wait on me, though.
Daquarious P. McFizzle's thread about "Lack of syntactic roles" makes me think that he's up for the job, at least in terms of enthusiasm.
I think "Topic vs Comment", "Focus vs Ground", "Given vs New", "what you should remember from what I've said before vs. what you'll need to remember for what I'm going to say next", and other pragmatic alternations, may turn out to be more universal than GRs.
So a language without GRs -- which perforce would also be a language without Subjects -- might have lots of Topic-marking (syntactic or morphological or lexical) and/or Focus-marking (syntactic or morphological or lexical) etc. instead.
And, of course, in such a language, semantic roles would have to be marked on the referents' nominal-phrases rather than on the verb. Or left unmarked for the addressee to guess at based on what seems most sensible and likeliest, given what they already know. Or ask about to disambiguate.

Basilius wrote:
I don't understand... I took your previous sentence as posing the question about the necessity to distinguish between core arguments and oblique arguments. What do you mean by core arguments without obliques? I'd analyze this as having just "arguments", without further discriminations...
Perhaps that would be the best way to think of it.

OTOH, I was thinking of "core arguments" as "arguments whose semantic role is marked on the verb instead of on the nominal, but whose syntactic role may be marked on the nominal or the verb or both", and "oblique arguments" as "arguments whose semantic role is marked on the nominal instead of on the verb, and whose syntactic role is not marked at all".

If you/we choose to think of it that way -- and that's what I've proposed, though as far as I know no-one has accepted it yet -- then there's nothing in the "definitions" above to prevent a language from having all of the arguments of all of its clauses be "core arguments", in the sense that every argument of any clause fits in a GR, is marked on the nominal as being in that GR but not as having any particular semantic role, and has its semantic role marked on the verb. That would be a language with core arguments but without oblique arguments.

Likewise, there's nothing in the "definitions" above to prevent a language from having all of the arguments of all of its clauses be "oblique arguments", in the sense that no clause has any GRs, and every argument of every clause is marked on the nominal for its semantic role, and no argument of any clause is marked, either on the nominal or on the verb, as fitting a certain syntactic role (may be what McFizzle means by "Lack of Syntactic Roles"?). That would be a language with oblique arguments but without core arguments.

True, within the given language, we'd just speak of "arguments". It's only cross-linguistically that there might be some interest in distinguishing a core-arguments-only language from an oblique-arguments-only language.

Basilius wrote:
If "argument" is something needed to describe the lexical meaning of a verb, I'd try 'rent' or somesuch.
Perhaps. Lessor, Lessee, Demesne(is that the right word?), Fee -- what's the fifth argument? Term-of-Lease?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tengado wrote:
AFAIK (and I've been meaning to quiz my Fillipino friends on this for a while now), all nouns except for the trigger appear in the genitive, regardless of whether they would be core or not in anotehr language. The trigger noun is marked as trigger, and it's role is marked on the verb. Choice of trigger is apparently not limited to any kind of noun, and can be chosen by the speaker (for pragmatic reasons which are not well understood). All non-trigger nouns are treat syntactically the same way; only the trigger behaves differently. Thus people analyze Tagalog as having only one MAP, and the rest are all obliques.
Thanks, Tengado.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

chris_notts wrote:
...(interesting things)...
As Mr. Spock said: Fascinating!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:47 pm 
Sumerul
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I followed this thread with interest (although some of the concepts discussed are ones that I'm still getting my head around), but above all, I wanted to thank Chris for including the link to Mithun's handout in his original post; I had wondered how a language like Mohawk handled some of these constructions, and the handout provides some good examples. 8) Thanks again!

p@ (a deep bow with a flourish),
Glenn


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:32 pm 
Šriftom
Šriftom

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Glenn wrote:
... the link to Mithun's handout ...

Note that Mithun's analysis of Mohawk does include adjuncts. It doesn't include oblique arguments, but it does include obliques if it is accepted that all adjuncts are obliques. According to Mithun's analysis in some languages (in particular Mohawk) all arguments are core arguments and all obliques are adjuncts; and in some languages (in particular Mohawk) obliques/adjuncts are very rare.
Although her paper is entitled "The Non-universality of Obliques" she is using a different definition of "oblique" than we are using in this thread; by the terminology we have been using, her title means "The Non-universality of Oblique Arguments".

But I agree with Glenn: Thanks awfully, @Chris_Notts, for letting us know about http://email.eva.mpg.de/~cschmidt/SWL1/handouts/Mithun.pdf.

-------------------------------------------

And, I still think that "what you probably should remember from what I've already said before vs. what you're going to need to remember for what I'm going to say next" may turn out to be more universal than "core vs oblique" or even "argument vs adjunct".


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