Print

Print


On Mon, 10 Apr 2017 19:50:46 +0000, The Scribbler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I've been doing a ton of it and I have run across one particular source that seems to flummox me. Are there any tips on how to reconstruct a pronoun system from a thoroughly reduced set of polypersonal agreement markers and a handful of pronouns that clearly don't line up entirely with the original?

One option to bear in mind is: wait!  The agreement markers can go back to agreement markers in the proto-language, and indeed, if the inflection system is short and synthetic, some of it should.  You don't have to "solve" every last piece of morphology immediately by finding an origin in grammaticalisation; some of it might just be conserved as morphology.  Maybe the system even gets more complicated before it gets simpler.

In the long term, of course, you're right, pronouns are nearly universally the source of agreement markers.  But e.g. trying to relate the modern English third-person /-z/ to modern pronouns would be totally quixotic.  Even in PIE their fusion with the verb wasn't recent!

>I know that the primary agreement marker series goes
>
>1st agentive - a
>1st patientive - á or e
>2nd agentive - o
>2nd patientive - ó or u
>3rd agentive - i
>3rd patientive - í or (rarely) e

What does acute accent mean?  What conditions the choice where you write "or"?

>There's the complication of the associative first person ae / é / ae seeming to be tied to the original 3rd, as evidenced by the vestigial 3rd person e's floating around everywhere and it's continuing to be used as a third person generic when the speaker is "associating" themselves with the generic group referenced. "We should always bide our time." vs. "One should always bide their time."

Hm, the semantic distinctions 1 :: 1.assoc :: 3.generic are very fine, on the grounds of your examples.  I think they're easily the sort of thing that could have an ex-nihilo origin.  Suppose that for some reason (to be invented) the "associative first person pronoun" used to take third-person agreement, but also that there were two allomorphs of the third-person agreement markers bopping around.  One of them might just by some chance (being used in a proverb? phonetic resemblance? etc.) become fixed as the first person associative marker, leaving the other to be the third person marker.

>The pronoun system though is... well, not quite aligned with that:
>
>1st agentive / patientive - aemene / aementer
>2nd agentive / patientive - usha / ushar
>3rd agentive / patientive - ih / ih

Bearing in mind that grammaticalisation loves to throw material away, these forms are exceedingly close to your agreement markers!  You had me expecting something more different.

>Third person pronouns don't decline and the associative first pronoun has taken over the regular first altogether. 

i.e. free rein to invent the form of the older "regular" first person pronoun.  But do try to give it some reason to have been eliminated.  Pernicious homophony?  A difference of politeness or social connotation?

>The second person pair uses the patientive vowel, despite still applying the patientive case ending only where expected. 

Eh, the /u/ in the free pronouns could be secondary...

>I mean, obvs. this is a conlang and it could be I just have to overhaul the thing, but mostly I'm wondering how I can reconstruct an original pronoun system from this. My only start is that aemene looks like a nominalized 1st person plural and that ih probably was some sort of distal or inanimate pronoun that got promoted when aemene drifted into a secondary 1st person position. And how it just moved on over is interesting in itself but kind of makes sense in the way proximity promotes/demotes person positions in discourse. Kind of.

Well, not knowing the rest of your grammar or lexicon, I can't play "looks like" with you.  But it sounds like the crux of the matter is the distinction between agentive and patientive agreement markers, and it's that distinction you need to explain.  

You don't have to be too manacled by the case forms of the free pronouns for this.  If case is marked by suffixes, these may just have eroded off in grammaticalisation.  Or maybe back then the case system on free pronouns was different too.

My suspect is that some other morph will be involved in the story.  For example, if the patientive was marked by vowel raising, maybe the story is that there used to be a backgrounded agent suffix -C which appeared after the object morphs, which at this stage were identical with the subject morphs.  Now assume a sound change that raises vowels before -C, and then lose the agent suffix.

This brings to mind another relevant question: what happens synchronically in your language if an agent *and* a patient are agreed with?  Or does that not happen?

Alex