On Tue, 29 Jun 1999, Kristian Jensen wrote:

> Can anyone post samples as to how the relative case is used? That is,
> post samples that show why it is used as an ergative _and_ a
> genitive, or in any other way show why it is termed relative rather
> than ergative or genitive. I've been using the term genitive to
> describe one of the case forms in Boreanesian, but I have this weird
> feeling that the relative case would be a better term to use.

Not exactly a case in point, but a nice bit of data, too, since it
shows of the close relation between ergative, instrumental and genitive:

In Limbu (a Kiranti language spoken in Eastern Nepal, one of the few
Kiranti languages that are not dying), the genitive case suffix is almost
identical to the ergative suffix, to which the instrumental is identical
in form, too.

The ergative suffix is <-le/-re/-lle-?ille>, the genitive is the same but
shows a subtly different morphophonology. A few examples:


kheng-le thik yan lokthik mena-re-n   huk-?o   wap-mna-be-n
that-ERG one  day  one    man-GEN-ABS hand-LOC wear-PP-NOM-ABS

khutt-u-wang lokt-e rece
steal-3P-and run-PT DEPR

It turned ouut that one day he stole a man's wristwatch and made off.


a-mik-le    men-ni-?e   wa-?e.      pan-nen  lok  kheps-u-ng
my-eye-INST npG-see-npG be-1sPS/NPT word-ABS only hear-3P-1sA
I haven't seen it with my eyes. I've only heard it said.


khume? tumma-re       ku-sa?.   angga pakma-re
he     first_wife-GEN her-child I     second_wife-GEN


He's the son of [ouur father's] first wife; I'm the son of
[our father's] second wife.

Of course, this is only a quick grab from the relevant chapters
in _A Grammar of Limbu_, by George van Driem, Mouton de Gruyter,

Boudewijn Rempt  |