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At 9:28 pm -0800 14/2/00, Keolah Kedaire wrote:
>On Mon, 14 Feb 2000, Roger Mills wrote:
>
>> In a message dated 2/14/2000 2:03:38 PM Eastern Standard Time,
>> [log in to unmask] writes:
>>
>> << Here's one sentence, written three ways..
>> (1) azaru ka nu zari na mibi - "Sing a song did the gnome"
>> (2) azari vu zaru ka na mibi - "The song is sung by the gnome"
>> (3) amibi va zaru ka nu zari - "The gnome sings a song"
>>
>>  zar - root for 'sing'
>>  mib - root for 'gnome'
>>  ka - present tense
>>  na - this noun is performing the action
>>  nu - the action is performed upon this noun
>>  va - the noun performs this action
>>  vu - this action is performed upon the noun >>
>>
>> Very interesting.  It seems to be a variant of a "trigger system" that
>>others
>> have been discussing (I tend to call this "focus system" but the terms seem
>> equivalent).  So would it be correct that (1) is the neutral, unmarked word
>> order? (2) shows focus on "song" object focus, or passive in English terms?,
>> and (3) shows agent/actor focus?

Sorry - I'm confused.

I thought - tho I may be wrong - that trigger systems were to do with
fronting the 'topic' (or 'theme') as in, e.g. Japanese, Samoan and, closer
to home, German.  The English passive is surely an example of
topicalization, not focus.

Welsh is a focus fronting language; but such languages seem to be much less
common than topic fronting ones.

Of course from Keolah's three sentences taken out of context, it's not
possible to tell whether we have focus fronting or topic fronting.  But the
English translations suggested the latter to me.

>Hmm, not sure what you mean about (1),

The 'normal' sentence order when there is no marked emphasis upon either
topic and/or focus.

>but yeah, something like that.
>(I've been calling this a "focus system" myself, funny you should mention
>that.)
>
>It seems to me that putting the focus on different things allows
>different things to be done. For instance, if the verb is the focus, there
>can be a string of nouns ten miles long listing what is doing it and

[snip]

>Now, if a noun is the focus, it can have a string of verbs after it
>listing any actions it is performing and being performed on it, and

[snip]

Sounds more like topic + comment (theme + rheme) to me - not focussing.

[...]
>they are doing or being done to them. Even then it could get confusing...

Yep  :)

>eg. amibi ka va zaru vu saku - "The gnome sings and gets shot" ;)

Surely topic and comment.

Ray.

PS - as the topic/comment and focus business comes up again & again on the
list, is there a Conlang FAQ somewhere that explains these terms?



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A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                   [J.G. Hamann 1760]
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