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zompist bboard • View topic - Alternative way to describe person & number marking on verbs

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:09 am 
Smeric
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About 15 years ago I came up with an idea I thought was interesting, but it died when I decided that Poswa and Pabappa would have no pronouns and would use just a simple three-person setup for marking person on verbs, with no number distinction. Now I've decided to revive the idea for the primordial parent language of those, the .

The idea is to speak no more of number marking on verbs, and rethink the way we mark person. I define the 1st and 2nd person to be singular by definition, since in normal everyday situations one person speaks to one other person. So if I am the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for 1st person.

If you (singular) are the subject of a verb, that verb gets marked for 2nd person.

If we both are acting together as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 1st and 2nd person. This is called by some people "1st person intimate" but for the sake of continuity I will mark it as simply 1+2.

If someone else is acting as the subject of a verb. , that verb gets marked for 3rd person. The third person, unlike the 1st and 2nd, is not confined to the singular, since while most conversations involve one person speaking to one other person, many conversations involve one person speaking about many other people (or animals or objects).

If both I and someone else are acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 1st and 3rd person. This is called the "1st person exclusive plural" by some people, but for the sake of continuity I will mark it as simply 1+3.

If both you and someone else are acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for both 2nd and 3rd person. This corresponds to a 2nd person plural in most languages, because the definition of "you" I am using for this analysis is restricted to a single listener. This may seem odd, but from the standpoint of the listener, the other people in a group considered to be 2nd person plural are actually third parties, not clones of himself, so I think it makes sense.

If I, you, and someone else are all acting as the subject of a verb, that verb is marked for ... you guessed it ... 1st and 2nd and 3rd person. This would be expressed by a "1st person inclusive plural" in other languages, but in this language this is distinct from the aforementioned 1st person intimate, which would also be a 1st person inclusive plural in other languages.

So there are seven person markers on Gold verbs, and no number markers. I didnt choose this system for efficiency ... it basically comes in tied for 1st with every other verb system out there ... I chose it because it seems more natural to me. 1st and 2nd person plural dont really exist ... there's only one of me, and one of you. Anyone else is third person, and it doesn't matter if there are one or twenty of them, because in either case they're equally not-me and not-you.

As for the question of how Gold will handle expressing the 3rd person plural, in the Gold language it isnt a problem because Gold never had third person markers to begin with; instead the verb is inflected with the noun classifier of the entity being described, which in most cases will have had its number declared earlier in the sentence.

I think this analysis could be applied to natural languages too. I dont know if my exact system exists in any living natural language, but I think there are systems that are at least close to it. I thought I once read that PIE verbs had the same endings in the 3rd person plural and singular, but although they are similar, they dont seem to be the same. If such a language exists, it would at least share the trait of having 3rd person be considered "outside the system" and allow reanalysis of the 1st and 2nd person plural forms.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:25 am 
Sanci
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Do you have separate pronouns? Are the markers agglutinative, fusional, suppletive with one another?

While High Lulani does not have verbal agreement, its seem to be similar to those you've described, so probably neither of us are the first to think this way.

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Last edited by Ryan of Tinellb on Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:52 am 
Smeric
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Sounds familiar. I think someone here mentioned similar ideas, but I can't remember who. Also, the whole thing reminds of me of Tok Pisin a bit.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:10 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:21 pm 
Avisaru
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The language I have written about does something ... a bit ... similar. You can see it here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=43029 My first post there also has some notes on minimal-augmented number systems, which you may wish to read. I think some others have discussed similar ideas too.

Essentially the pronoun morphemes on independent and clitic pronouns are highly fused for person and number – as well as deixis for 3d person, which I skip over here.

I do not like to think of the combinations person as seperate persons, but rather combinations of (1) person features: speaker, listener and/or non-speech act participan; and (2) number: minimal or associatively augmented.
So, the person.number series can be arranged as:

1+2 (+2) -- minimal: speaker plus one listener; augmented: speaker associated with more than one listeners.
2+2 (+2) -- minimal: two listeners; augmented: more than two associated listeners.
1 (+3) -- minimal: one speaker; augmented: speaker associated with at least one non-speech act participant.
2 (+3) -- minimal: one listener; augmented: one listener associated with at least one non-speech act participant.
3 (+3) -- minimal: one non-speech act participant; augmented: associated non-speech act participants
Morphologically, the language does not make a 1+2 (+3) distinction or other finer grained variations; however, forms could be easily made with coordination.

Note that minimal and augmented are not the same as singular and non-singular; so, for example, the “first person inclusive” (1+2 below) with two speech act participants is logically a dual but here is a minimal since it patterns with 2nd “singular” (2 below) and 3rd “singular” (3 below). The language also use verbal number marking to note whether a minimum or augmented number of participants are involved; so, for example, |1.min 2.min SAW.min| AND |1st.min 2+3.aug SAW.aug| are valid but |*1st.min 2nd.aug SAW.min| does not.

I would suggest reading the book on Number in the Cambridge series on linguistics.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:05 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:41 am 
Smeric
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Yeah, it was 2+3 clusivity that I was remembering.

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