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Thanks for your replies everyone. I can't believe it but unfortunately NTL
have screwed up again and at the moment a lot of people are having trouble
connecting to their SMTP server (ie I can recieve but not send mail). So for
a couple of days I'll be posting from this address until everything seems to
be working again, and then I'll try to figure out how to remove this address
from the list. Perhaps beg one of the maintainers lol.
Anyway.... I have a detail sketch of phonological changes I'm planning to
make, but the Grammatical changes depend on something I'm not sure about. I
currently have an ergative style verbal agreement and case system where the
verb agrees with the abs argument only. What I want to do is to have an
antipassive suffix be reanalized as unmarked in transitive verbs, thus
generate a more nominative style system. For this to work the way I want I
need the antipassive construction in the protolanguage to shift the true
object into an oblique case instead of deleting it completely (like the
English passive makes the actor oblique but doesn't make it impossible to
mention the actor). I was thinking about shifting the true patient to taking
a dative postposition for animates and locative marking for inanimates (an
animate/inanimate distinction is important to generate some later change).
I'll also start to allow shifting of other oblique phrases into pre-verbal
(the normal patient location) position for focus reasons, dropping the
patient in the process or shifting it to post verbal position.
I'll extend the use of the locative marker to indefinite animates as well.
(This and the next bit is the bit I'm unsure about). I'll then extend the
dative to definite inanimates and reanalize the distinction as definite
object vs indefinite, also (since datives tend to be definite and animate)
neutralizing the grammatical distinction between the recipient and patient,
so they both come to be marked in the same way. After doing this I'll do
what Thomas Weir suggested and reanalyse the phrasal boundary so that the
postpositions in the case of focused obliques, and the def/indef markers in
the case objects in focus position, are grouped with the verb, thus
generating applicatives and, if the direct object in focused,
definite/indefinite object marking on the verb (and since there is no
phrasal boundary between then I guess I'm allowed to apply sound changes
that merge them together a bit). I'll then let the oblique phrase that had a
postposition shift post-verbal as the object did, let the standard word
order shift slowly to a SVO one, and thus I'm getting close to an Object
Promotion system. :) What I'm not sure about is how I can get to a system
where the object/recipient only takes indef/def marking (on the verb), if
its focused. Perhaps I could start dropping the most common prepositions
from non-subject arguments and only have the case of the focused
oblique/object marked, thus getting a semi-Tagalog system? (Apart from the
fact you always know which argument is the Actor). But I'm not sure any
language would just start dropping prepositions like that.
I'll summarize the sound changes involved as well if anyone is interested,
and I would be grateful for suggestions to make this more realistic.

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