At 06:49 18/11/98 -0000, you wrote:
>Matt wrote :
>> In some ergative languages (I'm thinking especially of Australian=
>> the ergative and the instrumental are homophonous, and can be considered
>> a single case form.  Participants marked by this case are interpreted as
>> agents if animate, and instruments if inanimate:
>>         John-ERG  knife-ERG  chicken-ABS  killed
>>         "John killed the chicken with the knife"
>> Tokana, it seems, is like PL in that the ergative case is reserved for
>> volitional animates.  Non-volitional and/or inanimate participants are
>> marked with the instrumental case:
>>         Na       Tsion     mukteh      hitol
>>         the-Erg  John-Erg  closed-the  door-Abs
>>         "John closed the door (on purpose)"
>>         Inan      Tsionne    mukteh      hitol
>>         the-Inst  John-Inst  closed-the  door-Abs
>>         "John closed the door (accidentally)"
>>         Itan      suhune     mukteh      hitol
>>         the-Inst  wind-Inst  closed-the  door-Abs
>>         "The wind closed the door"
>Christophe's language is almost like that. Funny that he re-makes nat- and
conlangs he didn't learn.

        That's what we call genius! (I'm kidding!) My own personal opinion
is that the only universal you can find in language (or anywhere else) is:
everything you can think about can exist in reality. That's why I think the
discussion of naturalness against unnaturalness seems meaningless to me:
everything you can create is natural (if not, you couldn't have thought of
it). So I'm not surprised that I re-invent things that already exist, but
that I didn't know.

>My languages also work like that : cases equate voices and derive from the
verbs 'to be' (=3Dequative), 'to have as inalienable feature'=
'to use' (=3Dinstrumental), 'to make' (=3Dcausative), 'to suffer'=
with a tag making them *inalienable attributes* of the predicate :
>I hammer a nail with a stone :
>me-ERG stone-INSTR nail-PAT hammer.
>I flatten field :
>me-CAUS field-EQUA flat-thing.
>I strengthen you
>me-CAUS you-ATTRIB  strength.
>I clothe you with a coat
>me-CAUS you-ATTRIB (coat-INSTR) coat.

        Couldn't it be in some natlangs the origin of their cases? I've read
somewhere that prepositions came often from others nouns or verbs. Imagine
the evolution: verbs->pre-postpositions->case endings (or beginnings). I
think it happened in some languages (at least I think I read so). I also
remember that in some languages, prepositions are conjugated like verbs.

>See the original message at=
                                                Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"R=E9sister ou servir"