On Sat, Jan 18, 2003 at 06:51:25PM -0500, Josh Roth wrote:
> There is a special property of the trigger noun, but that property is on
> another plane than the semantic and syntactic roles that ergative and
> accusative classification are based on. According to my analysis, you don't
> need every noun's role marked on the verb. See below....

Interesting. Comments below.

> >I'd be curious to find out how you can have an accusative trigger
> >language.
> I think this should illustrate what I mean. Below is a sentence from a
> hypothetical language, based on Eloshtan:
> pe-h       iri-g     kafagla
> person-NOM paper-ACC touch
> iri-h     isi
> paper-NOM fall
> You agree that the above is accusative? Now we'll make it into an accusative
> trigger language. (NT=nominative trigger, AT=accusative trigger)
> pe-t      iri-g     kafagla-hu
> person-TR paper-ACC touch-NT
> pe-h      iri-t     kafagla-gu
> person-NOM paper-TR touch-AT
> iri-t    isi-hu
> paper-TR fall-NT

Aha, I see what you're saying. So you're basically claiming that trigger
marking is simply a mechanism for moving the case marking of a noun onto
the verb. Interesting; I've never thought of that before. :-)

> Compare that to the first language. The languages each have their own way of
> grouping together S, A, and O. All the triggers do is displace the marking of
> a choice argument.

Right. So essentially, trigger marking is orthogonal to accusative /
ergative marking.

This is a very interesting thought. So this means that essentially, I can
add trigger marking to Ebisedian, and still have the same underlying case
system; I just have to select a "focus" noun and displace its marking onto
the verb. Perhaps I could even say that it resulted from the focus noun
incorporating onto the verb, and then detaching later, but leaving behind
the original case marking.

Now as to Ebisedian's case system itself, I still cannot find any
comparable system. (Jesse Bangs claims to have constructed similar systems
before---I'd be curious to know what they are and how they work.) It is
definitely *not* an accusative system, and it is no trigger system either.
I'll be happy if anyone can propose a plausible way to fit it into current
typological theories. :-)

Basically, there are five noun cases.  They are the originative (org), the
receptive (rcp), the instrumental (instr), the conveyant (cvy), and the
locative (loc). In an Ebisedian sentence, there is no mandatory case
(there isn't a subject that must always be present or at least implied).
The 5 case functions almost act like semantic "slots" on the verb that are
optionally filled in by the appropriate nouns.

For example,
        "I spoke to the man" translates into "I(org) speak(v) man(rcp)"

But     "I see a man" --> "I(rcp) see(v) man(org)"
and     "I walk towards the man" --> "I(cvy) walk(v) man(rcp)".

        "I shove the man away" --> "I(org) push(v) man(cvy)"
and     "I propel the man" --> "I(instr) propel(v) man(cvy)".

Active and passive sentences are identical under this system. There is no
direct/indirect object; "I give her a book" --> "I(org) give(v) her(rcp)
book(cvy)", and "I was given a book by her" --> "I(rcp) give(v) book(cvy)
her(org)". (As you can see, this is identical to "she gives me a book".)

Furthermore, there is no transitive/intransitive distinction in verbs; you
can randomly drop nouns from a sentence and it would still be consistent
with the original statement:
        "I(rcp) give(v) book(cvy) her(org)" = "she gives me a book"
        "I(rcp) give(v) book(cvy)" = "A book was given to me"
        "give(v) book(cvy) her(org)" = "she gives a book (to someone)"
        "give(v) book(cvy)" = "the book is given (to someone)"
        "I(rcp) give(v)" = "I was given (something)"
        "give(v)" = "(something) was given"

This system is independent of voice (active=passive), and has no concept
of verb transitivity. Noun case is also invariant under syntactic
transformations: the case of "book" is the same in "I gave her the book",
"the book was given to her", and "I gave the book to her". In fact, these
three sentences are syntactically identical to each other (except for
omitted words) in Ebisedian. I can't explain it; there is something deeply
symmetric in this system that just fascinates me to no end.

How would you describe such an odd system? :-)


If it ain't broke, hit it again. -- Foon