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CONLANG  October 2006, Week 1

CONLANG October 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Infinitives & gerunds

From:

"H. S. Teoh" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 4 Oct 2006 08:45:45 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (178 lines)

On Wed, Oct 04, 2006 at 10:20:57AM +0100, R A Brown wrote:
> H. S. Teoh wrote:
[...]
> >>huu sa  tapa tun   na  ibuneis      arapan      bata.
> >>1sp CVY go   slope RCP CVY:mushroom pick_up:RCP COMPL
> >>I go to the slope (of a mountain) to pick mushrooms.
> >>{/quote}
> >>
> >>I have no problem with these. The words concerned are clearly nouns as
> >>they have the noun case postclitics;
> >Um... actually, they don't. The last word in each clause is the
> >complement, which is connected with the main verb rather than the
> >infinitive.
> 
> D'oh!! (slaps forehead). Mea culpa! (beats breast)
> 
> I must've been having a senior moment when I wrote that. Yes, I knew
> the complements were connected with the main verb and not with the
> infinitive. And as for that horrid hybrid "postclitic" - I feel quite
> ashamed. The word should be 'enclitic' and, in any case, it is not
> relevant to what I intended (but singularly failed) to say.

OK. Don't worry, we all have senior moments every now and then (it
becomes more frequent as I age, as I'm beginning to discover).


> What I meant to say is that the words concerned show inflexion for the
> three core cases of nouns. I was referring to _ka'aman_ and _arapan_,
> which are both inflected for receptive case. If these words have
> receptive case inflexion then, surely, they must in some way function
> as nouns.

Hmm. I think there must be some miscommunication here. These case
inflections do *not* indicate the function of the verb/infinitive in the
main clause, but rather the function of the subject NP in the infinitive
clause. IOW, if the infinitive is receptive, that doesn't mean that it's
receptive wrt. the main verb. Rather, it indicates that the subject NP
in the main clause is to be understood as functioning as a receptive
argument to the infinitive.


> >>but they also have verbal functions in that they have their own verb
> >>arguments. that is, they are verbal nouns - i.e. infinitives.
> > I'm not so sure about the noun part. The case they inflect for not
> >indicating their function in the main clause, but rather the function
> >of the subject NP (the first NP in the sentence) in the subclause.
> 
> That's interesting (as most things seem to be in TF  :)
> 
> So in fact the subclause has no finite verb, but is consists entirely of
> nominal arguments. I like it!
> 
> >Maybe they are more like participles than infinitives? But they can
> >only ever take the subject NP as subject, and they don't agree in
> >case, but instead mark the case of the subject in the subclause.
> 
> I think your second sentence shows why they are not participles. The
> words concerned are inflected for the three core _noun_ cases,
> therefore they must surely be nominal.

But these cases do not indicate the function of the infinitive itself,
but rather how the subject NP is related to the infinitive. I.e., it
indicates what case would be used for the *subject NP* if the clause
were standing on its own rather than as an infinitive clause.


> There are, as I have written in an earlier mail, languages that do
> inflect the infinitive (e.g. Turkish) and, as far as I can see, there
> is no intrinsic reason why they should not be inflected.

How do they inflect their infinitives? Or, more importantly, what do the
inflections mean?


[...]
> >The case clitic is modifying the head noun, not the relative clause.
> >Maybe it's closer to a participle? Or maybe something else
> >altogether.  The way it is constructed is that the clause sits
> >between the head noun and its corresponding clitic, just like any
> >other noun modifier:
> >	baan      sei
> >	old_woman CVY
> >	(The) old woman
> >	baan      duru sei
> >	old_woman slow CVY
> >	The slow old woman
> >	baan      tara' sei
> >	old_woman DEM   CVY
> >	That old woman
> >	baan      ikaren   muras kuinin  sei
> >	old_woman CVY:shoe black own:RCP CVY
> >	The old woman who owns the black shoes.
> >The syntactic nesting of this last is:
> >	(baan ((ikaren muras) kuinin) sei)
> >Since the relative clause is in adjectival position, a literal
> >translation might be something like "the black-shoe-owning woman".
> >Seems more like a participle than an infinitive to me, although
> >again, not agreeing with the head noun in case, 
> 
> Exactly! Therefore IMO not a participle.

Oh?


> >but instead indicating the case of the head noun inside the
> >subclause.
> 
> What it appears to me that we have here is:
> (a) A subordinative verb form which inflects for the three core _noun_
> case, i.e. the infinitive.*
> (b) It is used in clauses like:
>    tara' kei  uenai ibuneis           ka'aman      ia.
>    (she  ORG) want  (AUX_CVY:mushroom eat:INF_RCP) COMPL
> ..where the whole clause functions as a noun, i.e. we have a nominal
> clause. In the familiar SOV langs, it is the object of 'want' - would
> that be receptive in TF?

Ah, I think this is where the misunderstanding is. The receptive case of
_ka'aman_ has no bearing on what case is used for the object of _uenai_;
one could just as easily say:

	tara' kei  uenai nihuu        tsanakan       ia.
	(she  ORG) want  (AUX_RCP:1sp speak:INF_ORG) COMPL
	She wants to speak to me.

Or, for that matter:

	tara' kei  uenai amisanan      itapa       ia.
	(she  ORG) want  (AUX_ORG:city INF_CVY:go) COMPL
	She wants to leave the city (lit., go from the city).

The case marked on the infinitive is actually indicating the role of the
subject ("she") in the infinitive clause: she (receptive) to eat the
mushroom; she (originative) to speak to me; or she (conveyant) to go
from the city.

I think my explanations earlier were too vague on this point. :-/


> (c) It is also used in clauses like:
>    baan      ikaren   muras kuinin  sei
>    old_woman CVY:shoe black own:RCP CVY
>    The old woman who owns the black shoes.
> ..where the whole clause functions as an adjective, i.e. we have an
> adjectival clause.

Correct.


> *I don't think conjugate/conjugation is the right word if we are
> talking about core case forms.

But would it make sense if the case forms indicated not the function of
the infinitive, but the function of the *subject*?


[...]
> I think we need to distinguish between the _function_ of the
> subordinate clauses and the syntax of the individual words in the
> clause. For example in English we have sentences like:
> The man I told you about was arrested last evening.
> 
> 'I told you about' is adjectival and acts as an attribute of 'The
> man', yet no word in that clause is an adjective. There is no reason,
> as far as I can see, to call 'kuinin' anything else than an
> infinitive. Just as there is no adjectival word or participle in
> English, there does not need to be in TF either.
[...]

OK. Then I'm still in the dark as to how I should describe this
particular form of adjectival clause that uses the relative verb forms.


T

-- 
People say that I'm indecisive, but I'm not sure about that. -- YHL

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