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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:32 am 
Sanno
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I've been working on a language called Telpahke, which has some weird stuff going on with its morphosyntactic alignment. I'm pleased with the resulting system, but I'm having difficulty in analysing what I've come up with here and giving names to the relevant cases and voices.

The noun has three cases which, in order not to prejudice any specific analysis, we'll give the placeholder names Case 1, Case 2 and Case 3. Similarly, the verb distinguishes two voices, which we'll imaginatively call Voice 1 and Voice 2.

So the cases and their functions:

Case 1 (examples: siǝl 'woman', mɛs 'fish (pl.)', sat 'fire') is the least marked of the three. It is used for copular sentences, the only argument of an intransitive verb, and the most "prominent" or "topic-like" argument of a transitive verb. It is also the argument in this case with which the verb exhibits concord.

Case 2 (examples: selé 'woman', masé 'fish (pl.)', sɔtɛ́ 'fire') is used for the most patient-like argument of a transitive verb in Voice 1, to mark the possessor in a genitive construction (e.g. selé mɛs 'the woman's fish') and as the object of a postposition (e.g. sɔtɛ́ he 'inside the fire').

Case 3 (examples: síǝleθ 'woman', mɛ́seθ 'fish (pl.)', sátaθ 'fire') is the most restricted of the three cases. It is only used to mark the most agent-like argument of a transitive verb in Voice 2.

So, with the verbs it gets a bit weird. With transitive verbs, the key point is which of the core arguments is more prominent or topic-like, and this determines which voice is used. For example, in the following sentence the woman is the most prominent argument:

mas
fish
-C2
pak
cook.V1
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman is cooking the fish. (perhaps in answer to the question "who's cooking the goddamn fish tonight?")

While in this sentence, the fish is the most prominent argument:

siǝl
woman
-eθ
-C3
pɔh-
PL-
pak
cook
-ɛ́
-V2
mɛs
fish.C1

The woman is cooking the fish. (answering "what the hell is the woman cooking tonight?")

Moving on to intransitive verbs, the selection of which voice is dependent not on prominence.

Semantically transitive verbs used with only one argument (like English ergative verbs, I guess?) take Voice 1 when the agent is the only argument, but Voice 2 when the patient is the only argument:

pak
cook.V1
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman is cooking. (obviously, she's doing it on purpose.)

pɔh-
PL-
pak
cook
-ɛ́
-V2
mɛs
fish.C1

The fish is cooking. (it doesn't have much choice in the matter)

However, semantically intransitive verbs can either take Voice 1 or Voice 2 dependent on how much "control" or volition the only argument has over the action:

farúǝt
run.V1
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman runs.

tol
sleep
-ɛ́
-V2
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman sleeps.

By and large, this is lexically determined; changing the voice here is not a strategy for speakers to indicate whether something was on purpose or not:

hertɔl
fall
-ɛ́
-V2
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman falls. (by accident)

*hertál
fall.V1
siǝl
woman.C1

*The woman falls. (on purpose)

Now, the thing is: I don't know how the hell to fit all this into a neat box, or name the categories. Transitive verbs seem to have something Austronesian-like going on, while intransitive verbs look like some kind of active-stative setup. What the hell have I created here?

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:12 pm 
Sanno
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Well done; you have independently recreated Austronesia!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:40 pm 
Sanno
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I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

But yeah, transitive verbs- it's basically Austronesian-lite without instrumental or benefactive voices. It's the intransitive verbs that make the classification as "Austronesian" more of a difficulty.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:50 pm 
Sanno
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Dewrad wrote:
I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

But yeah, transitive verbs- it's basically Austronesian-lite without instrumental or benefactive voices. It's the intransitive verbs that make the classification as "Austronesian" more of a difficulty.


Got to go - but that's not a bar to Austronesianness. Will comment further later.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:59 pm 
Sanno
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Right, a couple of things....


- Austronesian vs Philippine - what conlangers typically talk of as "Austronesian alignment" is actually more precisely known as Philippine-type alignment. Philippine alignment, as the name suggests, is found primarily in the Philippines, and some parts of northern Indonesia - and I think some Formosan languages, and arguably Malagasy. The core of Philippine aligment is that there are multiple non-agent voices (or 'focuses') - originally probably three - patient, location, and instrumental/benefactive. Some people add arbitrary additional restrictions to exclude languages like Malagasy.

But most Austronesian languages don't work that way. In particular, many Austronesian languages are (morphologically and syntactically) 'symmetric voice' languages, like Philippine languages, but, like Telpahke, have only two such voices, rather than four or more. Telpahke is thus, in this regard, broadly speaking an 'Indonesian-type' symmetric voice language.



- the really weird thing in my opinion is actually the genitive. In Austronesian, and I believe worldwide, it's very common for the ergative (Case 3) to also be used as a genitive. You instead use the accusative (Case 2) as a genitive, which to me seems really... odd. Is there a particularly reason for this? [is it perhaps a relic of the accusative being used after prepositions, and the preposition of possession has just dropped out somehow?] Is it something to do with a partitive, maybe?


- your "prominent argument" also seems strange to me - you use "topic-like" as a synonym, but in your examples you appear to instead be identifying it with focus, not topic. The topic is old information, not emphasised new information.

For instance, in Austronesian it's common to have a rule saying that only definite nouns can be the subject. This makes sense if you treat the 'subject' as topic-like - topics naturally have to be definite (or something similar), and definite nouns are already somewhat topic-like. But in you example of the answer to "what the hell is the woman cooking?", there's no need for the answer to be definite. Often, it won't be - what the hell is she cooking? Fish is what she's cooking. 'Fish' here is not a topic, and in Austronesian alignments it can't be the subject, but in Telpahke it can be. (Notice that in English, it's more natural to keep 'fish' as the object there (fish is what she's cooking) than to promote it to subject through passivisation (fish is being cooked, fish is what's being cooked) - again because it's a focus, not a topic).
[A question that would provoke a topical 'fish' would be something like "Tell me about the fish?" or "What's happening with the fish" (answer: "It's being cooked (by the woman)" - promoted to subject in English precisely because it's the topic). ]

At least, so I understand it. I don't natively speak a topic-prominent language myself. But it does look like yours is focus-prominent instead, which is indeed very unusual. (does it ever happen?)
[Austronesianists sometimes use "focus" to mean "voice", but that's unrelated]

- split-intransitive: natural enough in Austronesian. People seem reluctant to discuss it openly (because the transitive alignment is much more exciting), but I get the impression that it's not uncommon - transitivity being such a big issue in the family. Himmelmann gives the example of Balinese, which splits its intransitives through voice marking on the verb much like its transitives (with the exception that one of the voices on intransitives doesn't appear on transitives), and of Acehnese, which apparently deals with voice on intransitives exactly as with transitives, and specifically splits its intransitives by the level of control (though the marking is done by having obligatory verbal pre-clitics with agent-like intransitives, and optional post-clitics with patient-like intransitives).

[my own Rawàng Ata, incidentally, works like this fundamentally, though there are also complications]


- have you given any thought to how you will handle dyadic intransitives? Are they like normal transitives, or perhaps like passive intransitives? Are you sure all your 'transitives' are actually transitive (because that could motivated voice changes)? Or are some of your intransitives actually transitives with elided arguments?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:21 am 
Smeric
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Salmoneus wrote:
- your "prominent argument" also seems strange to me - you use "topic-like" as a synonym, but in your examples you appear to instead be identifying it with focus, not topic. The topic is old information, not emphasised new information.


To continue on this point, the underlined prominent arguments are here indeed in focus, i.e. they contain the central new information content of the sentences. Topics are old information carried from earlier in the discourse and the new information is given in relation to them.

Dewrad wrote:
With transitive verbs, the key point is which of the core arguments is more prominent or topic-like, and this determines which voice is used. For example, in the following sentence the woman is the most prominent argument:

mas
fish
-C2
pak
cook.V1
siǝl
woman.C1

The woman is cooking the fish. (perhaps in answer to the question "who's cooking the goddamn fish tonight?")

While in this sentence, the fish is the most prominent argument:

siǝl
woman
-eθ
-C3
pɔh-
PL-
pak
cook
-ɛ́
-V2
mɛs
fish.C1

The woman is cooking the fish. (answering "what the hell is the woman cooking tonight?")


Maybe it's still worth confirming if you meant the structures to work this way round (voice 1 for new information/focus in the agent role and voice 2 for new information/focus in the patient role) or in the opposite direction (voice 1 for agent topic and voice 2 for patient topic).

Working with the present description where the morphosyntax tracks the information focus, I'd like to see how your system generalises to transitive sentences where both the agent and patient and topical and the new information is contained in a third constituent such as a recipient. Do the voices and core cases always track the relative focality of the agent and patient, whether they fall in the primary focus or not, or do these sentence types display some default structure that makes way for bringing a third constituent into focus? How would you translate for example the sentences

The woman is cooking the fish [for me]FOC.
(answering "For whom is the woman cooking the fish?")

and

The woman is cooking the fish [in the kitchen]FOC.
(answering "Where is the woman cooking the fish?")

What about sentences with predicate focus, where the new information is carried by the whole VP or just by the predicate verb itself? Sentences like this would be for example

The woman [is cooking the fish]FOC.
(answering "What is the woman doing?")

and

She [is cooking]FOC it.
(answering "What is the woman doing to the fish?")

Similar information structures exist also for intransitive sentences, so the interaction between predicate or adverbial focus and the split intransitive marking of control has potential to be a fascinating mess. Some test sentences for these cases would be

The woman [is running]FOC.
(answering "What is the woman doing?")

[The woman]FOC is running.
(answering "Who is running?")

and

The woman is running [to the harbour]FOC.
(answering "Where is the woman running to?")

The split intransitivity only involves the voices, so the core cases are still potentially available for tracking the focus. Whatever you decide to do, I'd expect that the information structure marking follows the same principles in both transitive and intransitive sentences.

It's btw somewhat unexpected that in the transitive sentences the unmarked voice corresponds to agent focus and the marked voice to patient focus. The portion of agent focus sentences from all transitive sentences is only a couple of percent* and the rumour is that in Salish they can even be fully prohibited. People simply dislike giving new information as the transitive agent. I'd expect that the unmarked voice would rather appear with the more common patient or predicate focus information structure types. Interestingly, person and noun class agreement and the use of verbal classifiers do have a negative correlation with focality. In Tundra Yukaghir, for example, verbs in subject focus sentences loose nearly all agreement with the subject (transitive and intransitive) and in Yimas all focal core participants are likely to trigger no noun class agreement on the verb while as topics they are required to have it and very often are in fact dropped themselves. It's just that I don't ever recall seeing this pattern with voice morphology. Please fill me in with Austronesian if it has counterexamples.

* Taken from one of the papers on Yukaghir information structure, which I can dig up later if you are interested


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:07 pm 
Sumerul
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Dewrad wrote:
I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

Is that why 'fish' is mɛs, 'fire' is sat, 'cook' is pak, and 'sleep' is tol? (Okay, I'll admit that 'sleep' is probably a stretch at best; I'm thinking of [ˈt̪uːŋgɯ] in Tamil).


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:01 pm 
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Genitive as patient is typologically unusual,yes, as though it had evolved from a verb meaning "of, to belong" which later disappeared. Not impossible but rarer than it's opposite afaik.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:15 pm 
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Slavic languages have something kind of like that.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:22 pm 
Sanno
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Thanks for commenting guys, as always the feedback here is thought-provoking and helps me to clarify my thinking. :)

Salmoneus wrote:
- Austronesian vs Philippine - what conlangers typically talk of as "Austronesian alignment" is actually more precisely known as Philippine-type alignment. Philippine alignment, as the name suggests, is found primarily in the Philippines, and some parts of northern Indonesia - and I think some Formosan languages, and arguably Malagasy. The core of Philippine aligment is that there are multiple non-agent voices (or 'focuses') - originally probably three - patient, location, and instrumental/benefactive. Some people add arbitrary additional restrictions to exclude languages like Malagasy.

But most Austronesian languages don't work that way. In particular, many Austronesian languages are (morphologically and syntactically) 'symmetric voice' languages, like Philippine languages, but, like Telpahke, have only two such voices, rather than four or more. Telpahke is thus, in this regard, broadly speaking an 'Indonesian-type' symmetric voice language.
I kind of knew this. But, as you know, my specialism is IE languages: with Telpahke I wasn't aiming for anything Austronesian-esque at all, so I haven't really done much reading on the topic!

Quote:
- the really weird thing in my opinion is actually the genitive. In Austronesian, and I believe worldwide, it's very common for the ergative (Case 3) to also be used as a genitive. You instead use the accusative (Case 2) as a genitive, which to me seems really... odd. Is there a particularly reason for this? [is it perhaps a relic of the accusative being used after prepositions, and the preposition of possession has just dropped out somehow?] Is it something to do with a partitive, maybe?
"Case 2" is actually a merger of three distinct cases in Telpahke's parent language: the accusative, the genitive and the postpositional. For context, Telpahke's parent language was a fairly unexceptional accusative language with a fairly high degree of inflection. Finite verbs indicated two tenses and had active and passive participles in both tenses. However, soundchange eliminated tense distinctions on finite verbs and Telpahke started making use of participle constructions to mark tense (analogous to the rise of split ergativity in Indo-Aryan languages).

Essentially, "Voice 1" is the old active participle. The ancestral form of masé pak siǝl would have been:

wasi
fish
-s
-ACC
bʰāk
cook
-a
-ACT.PTCP
cʰēli
woman
-NOM

The woman cooking fish

Similarly, "Voice 2" is from the old passive participle siǝleθ pohpakɛ́ mɛs:

cʰēli
woman
-ta
-INST
bʰa-
PL-
bʰāk
cook
-as
-PASS.PTCP
wasi
fish
-NOM

The fish cooked by a woman

Quote:
- your "prominent argument" also seems strange to me - you use "topic-like" as a synonym, but in your examples you appear to instead be identifying it with focus, not topic. The topic is old information, not emphasised new information.
I fucking hate the uses of topic, focus, emphasis etc in linguistics. It confuses the buggery out of me. For some reason I can get my head around perfect/perfective with absolutely no issue at all.

Quote:
For instance, in Austronesian it's common to have a rule saying that only definite nouns can be the subject. This makes sense if you treat the 'subject' as topic-like - topics naturally have to be definite (or something similar), and definite nouns are already somewhat topic-like. But in you example of the answer to "what the hell is the woman cooking?", there's no need for the answer to be definite. Often, it won't be - what the hell is she cooking? Fish is what she's cooking. 'Fish' here is not a topic, and in Austronesian alignments it can't be the subject, but in Telpahke it can be. (Notice that in English, it's more natural to keep 'fish' as the object there (fish is what she's cooking) than to promote it to subject through passivisation (fish is being cooked, fish is what's being cooked) - again because it's a focus, not a topic).
[A question that would provoke a topical 'fish' would be something like "Tell me about the fish?" or "What's happening with the fish" (answer: "It's being cooked (by the woman)" - promoted to subject in English precisely because it's the topic). ]

At least, so I understand it. I don't natively speak a topic-prominent language myself. But it does look like yours is focus-prominent instead, which is indeed very unusual. (does it ever happen?)
[Austronesianists sometimes use "focus" to mean "voice", but that's unrelated]
Sod it. This could be down to me miscommunicating: what I mean to say here is that the "Case 1" argument is the "emphasised" one (please, do not read too narrow a linguistic definition into my use of that word, I mean it in an everyday sense). Not that it's massively helpful, I guess, but in a Celtic language it's the constituent that I would emphasise by left-dislocation. Whether this is focus, topic or quite what I'm unsure.

Quote:
- split-intransitive: natural enough in Austronesian. People seem reluctant to discuss it openly (because the transitive alignment is much more exciting), but I get the impression that it's not uncommon - transitivity being such a big issue in the family. Himmelmann gives the example of Balinese, which splits its intransitives through voice marking on the verb much like its transitives (with the exception that one of the voices on intransitives doesn't appear on transitives), and of Acehnese, which apparently deals with voice on intransitives exactly as with transitives, and specifically splits its intransitives by the level of control (though the marking is done by having obligatory verbal pre-clitics with agent-like intransitives, and optional post-clitics with patient-like intransitives).

[my own Rawàng Ata, incidentally, works like this fundamentally, though there are also complications]
This is reassuring. I thought that the split intransitivity was the weirdest bit and I was just getting carried away.

Quote:
- have you given any thought to how you will handle dyadic intransitives? Are they like normal transitives, or perhaps like passive intransitives? Are you sure all your 'transitives' are actually transitive (because that could motivated voice changes)? Or are some of your intransitives actually transitives with elided arguments?
Is "dyadic intransitive" a field-specific Austronesianist term? I've not come across it before.

Vijay wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

Is that why 'fish' is mɛs, 'fire' is sat, 'cook' is pak, and 'sleep' is tol? (Okay, I'll admit that 'sleep' is probably a stretch at best; I'm thinking of [ˈt̪uːŋgɯ] in Tamil).

The parent language forms of those words are wasi, cʰāḍa, bʰāk- and dʰōl- - not sure what you mean? They certainly look Indic-enough (which was the intention), but the word shapes come from here.

@gach I'll get back to you on the majority of that, but thank you for the food for thought.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:57 pm 
Sumerul
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Dewrad wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

Is that why 'fish' is mɛs, 'fire' is sat, 'cook' is pak, and 'sleep' is tol? (Okay, I'll admit that 'sleep' is probably a stretch at best; I'm thinking of [ˈt̪uːŋgɯ] in Tamil).

The parent language forms of those words are wasi, cʰāḍa, bʰāk- and dʰōl- - not sure what you mean? They certainly look Indic-enough (which was the intention), but the word shapes come from here.

Oh OK, so it's just a coincidence. The Bengali word for 'fish' is [mat͡ʃʰ] ([mas] in probably most Bangladeshi varieties and in Assamese, IIRC; this is probably the form in some other closely related languages, too, like Sylheti, Chittagonian, and Rohingya), and 'to cook' in Hindi is [pəˈkana] (and 'to be cooked' is [pəkˈna]). Sat for 'fire' reminds me of sati/suttee.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:21 pm 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
I was aiming for the Indian subcontinent! :x

Is that why 'fish' is mɛs, 'fire' is sat, 'cook' is pak, and 'sleep' is tol? (Okay, I'll admit that 'sleep' is probably a stretch at best; I'm thinking of [ˈt̪uːŋgɯ] in Tamil).

The parent language forms of those words are wasi, cʰāḍa, bʰāk- and dʰōl- - not sure what you mean? They certainly look Indic-enough (which was the intention), but the word shapes come from here.

Oh OK, so it's just a coincidence. The Bengali word for 'fish' is [mat͡ʃʰ] ([mas] in probably most Bangladeshi varieties and in Assamese, IIRC; this is probably the form in some other closely related languages, too, like Sylheti, Chittagonian, and Rohingya), and 'to cook' in Hindi is [pəˈkana] (and 'to be cooked' is [pəkˈna]). Sat for 'fire' reminds me of sati/suttee.
Hah, yeah coincidence. “Fish” is mačo in Romani, which is the only NIA language I have more than a passing lexical familiarity with. I recall deciding on bʰāk- for “cook” due to its similarity with English “bake”.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:23 pm 
Sumerul
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Yep, mačho is the cognate in Romani AFAIK to [mat͡ʃʰ]/[mas] (perhaps more commonly [mət͡ʃʰˈli] in Hindi, though Hindi does also have [mat͡ʃʰ]). :)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:08 pm 
Sanno
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Dewrad wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
- Austronesian vs Philippine
I kind of knew this. But, as you know, my specialism is IE languages: with Telpahke I wasn't aiming for anything Austronesian-esque at all, so I haven't really done much reading on the topic!

Yeah; my concern here was just to remind everybody that the Philippines exist in a context. A lot of conlangers have vaguely heard of 'Austronesian alignment', and think of it as being the most extreme forms found in the Philippines, without realising that that's the far end of a continuum.
Quote:
"Case 2" is actually a merger of three distinct cases in Telpahke's parent language: the accusative, the genitive and the postpositional.
Quote:
Ah, OK. One of those things that don't seem to make sense because it's just a random merger. I suspect that over time the language would regularise to something more normal, but there's no reason 'over time' couldn't take a long time...
Quote:
For context, Telpahke's parent language was a fairly unexceptional accusative language with a fairly high degree of inflection. Finite verbs indicated two tenses and had active and passive participles in both tenses. However, soundchange eliminated tense distinctions on finite verbs and Telpahke started making use of participle constructions to mark tense (analogous to the rise of split ergativity in Indo-Aryan languages).

Yeah, the participle route seems like such a fasttrack to typological oddities that it's surprising it doesn't happen in reality more often.
Austronesian, FWIW, certainly seems to have had some part-of-speech issues early on - it's debated whethere PAn even distinguished nouns and verbs. The markers for benefactive and locative focus on verbs in the Philippines, for instance, have ended up attached to nouns in the other languages. And there are indications things grew out of a more complex construction originally (like, the fact that there is no unmarked voice!).

In particular, one voice in Austronesian also serves to indicate the perfective - in some languages, this is a connotation, in others it's a requirement, and in others it's become the sole meaning of the affix. It may be that this construction began as, say, a perfective participle that secondarily came to mark the passive.
Quote:
Sod it. This could be down to me miscommunicating: what I mean to say here is that the "Case 1" argument is the "emphasised" one (please, do not read too narrow a linguistic definition into my use of that word, I mean it in an everyday sense). Not that it's massively helpful, I guess, but in a Celtic language it's the constituent that I would emphasise by left-dislocation. Whether this is focus, topic or quite what I'm unsure.

Yeah, topic/focus confuses me too. I think the easiest way to think about it, ignoring terminology, is in terms of foreground and background information - which part is assumed to be familiar, and which part is presumed to be surprising? Humans seem to generally tell new information in the form of information about familiar things, so sentences are usually "about" known things grammatically/narratively (subjects, topics, definites), even though the actual content of the sentence, the purpose of it, usually emphasises new information (objects, focuses, indefinites). "She's cooking fish!" is presented as a fact about her, even though the important new information is the 'fish' bit (or the 'cooking').

Come to think of it, that would be a key assumption to explore for anyone who wanted to make a genuinely non-human language...
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This is reassuring. I thought that the split intransitivity was the weirdest bit and I was just getting carried away.

Yeah, I think you're good there. I don't know enough to be able to say if it's exactly normal, but it's something that makes sense and probably wouldn't shock any Austronesianists.
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- have you given any thought to how you will handle dyadic intransitives? Are they like normal transitives, or perhaps like passive intransitives? Are you sure all your 'transitives' are actually transitive (because that could motivated voice changes)? Or are some of your intransitives actually transitives with elided arguments?
Is "dyadic intransitive" a field-specific Austronesianist term? I've not come across it before.

Good question. I don't know. I think it's probably ordinary words, used in a way that's less relevent in other families. "Dyadic" here just means "having two arguments", so it's basically the same as "bivalent" (don't yell at me, people who know about a tiny technical difference between the two terms!).

Often in Austronesian, transitivity is a big issue - and the things related to it, like agenthood and patienthood. As a result, many languages have ways of showing that a syntactically bivalent verb is semantically intransitive. These are dyadic or bivalent intransitives. They have one argument that is typically treated as S, but a second argument that doesn't qualify as either A or O (it's called E instead). This may be shown on the verb, or on the noun, syntactically, or wherever.

Lack of control and volition, for instance, may in some languages make something not an agent, and hence the sentence intransitive. So we might have:
- dog eats-TRANS cat-ACC [the dog eats the cat - intentionally]
- dog eats-TRANS [the dog eats... something, left to context or syntax]
- cat squashes elephant-ERG [the elephant squashed the cat - unintentionally]
- cat squashes [the cat is squashed by something]
etc

Or, the object can fail to be a proper patient. One way to do that is for the verb to 'fail' in some way, so, eg.:
- man kicks-TRANS dog-ACC [the man kicks the dog]
- man kicks dog [the man kicks AT the dog, but doesn't make contact]

Or, the object can fail to be sufficiently specific and individual - "man eat fish" might mean 'the man eats fish', while "man eat-TRANS fish" might mean "the man eats THE fish".

Or, the intransitivity may be inherent to the verb, if the verb refers to an event that does not actually 'affect' the 'patient'. In English, examples include:
- "I see you"
- "The Earth orbits the Sun"
- "I warned you!"
- "the ballerina supplied the Ostrogoth with drugs"
- "A precedes B"
etc.

All of these could, in some language, be treated as bivalent intransitives.

And this can have implications for word order and alignment. For instance, once analysis of the Philippine languages (though not the only one!) is that "active voice" verbs are actually intransitives, and in many situations they act like dyadic intransitives in terms of their syntax (plus, most canonical monodic intransitives are indeed marked as active). So (using more morphology than is necessary, to make a point), we might have:
women-S hurl-3.pl.fem-PASS Wilberforce-A...... [Wilberforce hurls the women]
but
Wilberforce-S hurl-3.pl.masc-ACT women-E.... [Wilberforce hurls women]

And so on. So many possibilities!


Oh, and looking this up, apparently there is at least some split intransitivity in Proto-Malayo-Polynesian. Because although most 'monodic intransitives' are marked with the active voice, there's a class of 'adversative passives', which are syntactically monodic but marked with the passive. These relate to the subject being afflicted in some way. So, "rain" > "be rained on", "termite" > "be eaten away by termites".

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:55 am 
Smeric
Smeric
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Location: displaced from Helsinki
Dewrad wrote:
@gach I'll get back to you on the majority of that, but thank you for the food for thought.


No problem. Getting your mind around information structure can get confusing so I'm happy if I can make it any clearer.


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