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On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 8:02 PM, Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> On 24 February 2012 09:06, Leland Kusmer <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> > On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Arnt Richard Johansen <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >>
> >> This kind of possessee marking is common in Afro-Asiatic languages.
> >>
> >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construct_state
> >>
> >
> > Beat me to it. (As did several other folks as I wrote this email.)
> >
> > The only examples I have on hand are from Ge'ez (Ethiopic):
> >
> > _wald-a        negus_
> > son-CONS   king
> > "son of the king" / "the king's son"
> >
> > _qalat-a         nabiy_
> > words-CONS  prophet
> > "the words of the prophet" / "the prophet's words"
> >
> > My absolute favorite example is how "Son of Man" (the title commonly
> > used for Jesus) is translated into Ge'ez – as four nouns, the first
> > three in construct:
> >
> > _walda 'egwala 'emma-Heyaw_
> > son.CONS offspring.CONS mother.CONS living
> > "the son of the offspring of the mother of the living"
> >
> > (Where "mother of the living" is a common epithet for Eve.)
> >
> > -Leland
>
> It occurs to me that if the marking here were reversed, it would look
> very much like what Uto-Aztecan has going on with absolute suffixes.
> I.e., if one still had the semantic of the construct-marking, but
> marked construct state with a zero morpheme and the non-construct with
> a suffix; it would not be a genitive, 'cause you'd use it everywhere
> that wasn't construct, and not as an actual possessive.
>
> Wait a minute, is that exactly how Uto-Aztecan absolutes work? Did I
> just have an a-ha moment of final understanding about Uto-Aztecan and
> not realize it?
>

Yes, this is the reconstructed Uto-Aztecan absolutive system.
Congratulations. ː-) Most modern Uto-Aztecan languages don't work this way
anymore. But in an important paper from 1988 Susan Steele showed exactly
this behavior for the absolutive in Luiseno. She used it as the basis for
establishing the lexical categories of the language--you ought to read it.
(I have a copy; stop by sometime if you're interested.)

Dirk