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zompist bboard • View topic - Morphosyntactic alignment

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:49 pm 
Sanci
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I've come up with a morphosyntactic system for a conlang I'm working on, and I figured I'd tell it in here to see 1) what pplz think and 2) if it has any natlang precedent. Here goes:

The alignment could overall be considered as active, particularly Split-S: S = A for certain intransitive verbs, and S = P for others. So, morphosyntactically, the conlang (unnamed of now) distinguishes between A and P, S falling in line with either depending upon the verb. The distinction between A and P is determined by word order: The word order of a clause is always AVP, V being the verb.

There's a bit of a twist to all of this. Nouns in my conlang can be classified as either animate or inanimate. This is significant to morphosyntactic alignment because animate nouns are considered be inherently A and inanimate nouns are considered to be inherently P. Example:

Kó lene yarkhe
man wash knife
"The man is washing the knife"

In this sentence, animate noun kó is the agent (A), and inanimate noun yarkhe is the patient (P). This is not only apparent in word order, but from the fact that animate nouns are inherently agents and inanimate nouns are inherently patients. Now, this seems to be illogical: there are definitely instances where an animate noun is the patient, and there are obviously instances where an inanimate noun is the agent. This is where case marking comes in. If an animate noun is used as a patient, it receives the suffix -tl (or its allomorph -ll). Ex:

Tloso mállá kóll
God create-PERF man-CASE
"God created the man"

If an inanimate noun is used an agent, it takes the same suffix -tl/ll. Ex:

Yarkhetl voimá χintxa
knife-CASE cut-PERF bark
"The knife cut the bark"

Both of these suffixes can be used in one sentence if both nouns do not follow their inherent roles. Ex:

Yarkhetl voimá kóll
knife-CASE cut-PERF man-CASE
"The knife cut the man"

Recall that the conlang equates the subject (S) with either the agent or patient depending upon the verb. In the conlang, the verb phos - "to go" equates subject with agent, and the verb íkx - "to sneeze" equates subject with patient. Thus, the -tl suffix may be used with these intransitive verbs if nouns do not follow their inherent roles, like with transitive verbs. Examples:

Yarkhetl phosá
knife-CASE go-PERF
"The knife went"

Íkxá kóll
sneeze-PERF man-CASE
"The man sneezed"

I've been glossing the suffix as "CASE" as I don't know what to call it. Perhaps "inverse case"? The idea is akin to inverse number, whereby nouns have inherent numbers based on animacy, and a suffix is employed to denote that it has the opposite number (or one of the opposites). I don't want it to be confused with direct/inverse verb morphology, which is different, although I can see some parallels in terms of expected roles and what-not.

I haven't determined what I want to do in ditransitive clauses, but I should have that determined soon. Perhaps I think up something else interesting.


Last edited by The Unseen on Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:59 pm 
Lebom
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It sounds like you simply have an inflectional morpheme that marks an animate as a patient and an inanimate as an agent. So, it seems accusative. With an interesting twist, but still accusative.

That said, intransitives have some sort of split-s (aka Active-Stative) system going on.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:12 pm 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:12 am 
Lebom
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:46 am 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:33 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:15 pm 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 11:34 pm 
Sanci
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oookay. So I wrote earlier that I had not thought through how to treat ditransitive clauses, and that I'd think up something interesting. I've come up with it, and it's...

...kinda the same thing. Same thing as the A/P distinction for animate and inanimate nouns, that is. This is because animate and inanimate nouns have inherent/unmarked roles in ditransitive clauses like they do in transitive and intransitive clauses. First off, the subject of a ditransitive is treated like A, so that would mean an animate subject of a ditransitive clause would be unmarked and an inanimate subject would take the suffix tl/ll. To the new stuff:

The other two arguments are called (according to this thread) recipient R and theme T. In the conlang (still unnamed), animate nouns are inherently R and inanimate nouns are inherently T. This makes sense, because animate things much more often receive, and they tend to receive inanimate things. But like the A/P distinction, this is not always the case. When the reverse is true for either noun, the suffix -ra is added, tentatively called the "oblique case." Examples:

Nahe qhá leye éphi
I give-PERF she drink
"I gave her a drink"
(animate leye unmarked b/c in inherent R, inanimate éphi unmarked b/c in inherent T)

Nahe qhá leye ikoánara
I give-PERF she iguana-OBL
"I gave her an iguana"
(animate ikoána marked b/c in "unnatural" T)

Nahe qhá éphira rívi teth
I give-PERF drink-OBL alcohol more
"I gave the drink more alcohol"
(inanimate éphi marked b/c in "unnatural R)

The oblique has two other uses aside from core arguments R and T: as an instrumental and as a genitive. In these examples, the instrumental and the genitive are treated like R. Therefore, animate instrumental and genitive nouns are unmarked, whereas inanimate instrumental and genitive nouns get the suffix. Note: I may or may not use the genitive. Also, there could be an argument for these usages being treated like T instead of R, but I haven't thought of one yet. My argument for R is from looking at a ditransitive clause: "I gave her a drink" could imply that the act of giving was via the use of "her": the action used "her" as an instrument. And for natlang example's sake, IIRC one of the many uses of the dative case in Classical Greek is instrumental. That may not have to do with semantics and instead some other sort of case consolidation, but I'd think it would be the former.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:53 pm 
Avisaru
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I agree that that's interesting.

Your idea that "I give her a drink" is something "I" do to "a drink", using "her" as an instrument, strikes me as wrong, though; it's something "I" do to/for "her", using "a drink" as an instrument, IMO.

But according to Blake, the cases that should get named "dative" are those that mark something necessary to the event described by the clause, that neither control it nor are affected by it; and instruments usually fall into that category. So he would agree with your using the same case for "dative" and "instrumental", I think. (If "a drink" is an instrument in the above clause, though, it is affected; it is moved (at least metaphorically) and probably consumed. So I could be wrong.)

Ordinarily, if the "dative" and the "genitive" are alike, they're locative; a Recipient is like a human (or animate) goal, so dative=allative; and a Possessor is like a human (or animate) location, so genitive=locative.

(And of course "genitive" and "dative" are semantically related; once I've given something to somebody, it's now theirs.) So there's good precedent for "dative" and "genitive" to be "the same case".


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:37 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:57 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:04 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:06 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:55 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:45 am 
Smeric
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Screaming Lord Sutch was a conlanger?

Is it possible to have no morphosyntactic alignment:
Either using word or morpheme order all the time:

sleep he

hit he she

give he she book

thus noone could tell whether the 'he' in "sleep he" is the same as the 'he' or the 'she' in "hit he her"

Or having each different function marked differently:

sleep he-Subject case

hit he-Agent case she-Patient case

give he-Agent case she-Receiver case book-Theme case

?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:15 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:57 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:00 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:20 am 
Smeric
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But in my example there was no showing of if A was grouped with S or if P was grouped with S or if S was a different category from both. Does this still count as morphosyntactic alignment if I only show the distinction between the relevant theta roles but don't show whether the theta roles are connected somehow?

I'm not entirely sure what anaphora has to do with it. Perhaps that's how to tell if they are connected or not?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:46 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:52 am 
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