Thursday, February 21, 2019

The deal with predicate fronting

Returning to the final concern of the previous post, let’s take a careful look at fronted predicates. Since some afternoon in the early 20-teens at the Bayfair BART station I've been saying things like

Koa ko... "It’s good that..."
Tota ko... "It’s true that..."
Te tai ko... "It’s possible that..."
Io ika ko... "Okay, let’s accept that..."

So what is actually happening here? Are we fronting the predicate because it’s focused? Or some other pragmatic reason? Is there something presentative about this, like as if we were saying

Vo te tai ko tia lu te tota! "Hey look, guys, it's possible this could be true!"

Hm. I feel like there’s something else going on. Can any of these expressions be followed by a simple predicate? Uh...I’m not sure. Maybe we first need to start out with the principle that any predicate can appear on its own, as if preceded by i. [i] koa “it’s/that’s good,” [i] mesúa “it’s sunny,” etc. So how would we append further information to that predicate?

Immediately I think of ve, in the sense “it’s good ‘how’ X”:

Koa ve ta si lai! “It’s good that she’s come back!”

But...in all other circumstances explored so far, ve is interchangeable with ko if we make the referenced clause intransitive. Is that the case here?

TIME OUT: I think I might have grasped it. The clause is actually modifying the initial predicate! If we start with “it’s good,” we could then ask “what kind of good?” And the answer here is a “her having come back” kind of good. If this is so, then there’s no problem switching to ko as I suggested above, because it ends up having just the same meaning:

Koa ko ta si lai! “It’s good that she’s come back!”

But what, semantically or pragmatically, is the difference between that and

Ko ta si lai i koa / Koa sa ko ta si lai?

The latter in particular is so straightforward: it’s a focused predicate. And it feels equivalent...but maybe that’s because I’m not thinking clearly about the pragmatics, and/or because I’ve been using sa wrong in some contexts in the past. Is “it’s good” necessarily new information?

“So Mary came back yesterday. Is that going to be a problem?”
“Actually, I think it’s good that she’s come back!

In that dialog, koa sa feels like the right translation because in context we are genuinely focusing on new information that the speaker is contributing. So what are other possible contexts?

“But she only just came back yesterday...I’m afraid if I tell her how I feel she’ll just leave again.”
“Well, it’s good that she came back, but your feelings are still real and valid and she needs to have accountability for her impact on them.”

“Well you’re certainly cheerful this morning! What’s got you smiling so wide?”
It’s good to have her back!

Actually, I feel like in most contexts phrases like this are kind of neutral in focus, like the contribution of the whole proposition to the discourse is more important than the relationship of any particular constituent to the discourse stage. Maybe more relevant to the question of structure is just balance, style, flow — an aesthetic consideration? Regardless of focus, (A) the critical piece of information being communicated is the predicate and as such it’s weird to bury it under a whole clause, and (B) if the subject is the dependent clause, an issue of parsing arises where we have to figure out where we’ve rejoined the matrix clause again, potentially pretty far down the line if the dependent clause is complex. It’s just a lot easier to understand with that bit of information out in front.

Two main points:

1. Te tai ko-type clauses are motivated by existing Koa principles and clearly grammatical
2. Their use is reasonable both for pragmatics and style and not just an IE calque.

However note: it’s also become apparent in the course of writing this that in the past I’ve unintentionally used sa as a kind of presentative particle which I think is not motivated by pragmatics. I need to be careful and remember that bare-stem predicates carry meaning on their own!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Grand Unified Theory of dependent clauses

In honor of Koa's impending 20th anniversary, I hereby announce a concerted effort to figure out, once and for all, what is going on with dependent clauses: or in Koa-specific terms, as I now realize, clauses used as predicates. This includes nominal (or content) clauses, adverbial clauses, relative clauses, any situation in which a clause is being integrated into syntax in other than a free-standing way.

Further: my instinct going into this is that it's going to turn out that all these various "types" as our traditional grammars consider them actually break down to pretty much identical Koa structures, in the same way that Koa collapses the difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. as IE languages conceive them.

I think the current state of dependent clauses in Koa is represented here, and with much greater sophistication than I had realized before I reread it. This gets us pretty close to a model that can be expanded and adapted to serve all needs coherently and transparently, but there are one or two apparent possible IE holdovers that need to be reconsidered. A summary:

  • Clauses can be made non-finite by deleting the 3rd-person finiteness marker i.
  • Nominal clauses can be preceded by ko (non-finite), or by ve (finite).
  • Adjectival clauses can be internally-headed with the head marked by ke (finite), or optionally preceded by u and gapped (non-finite).
  • Adverbial clauses can be preceded by ko (non-finite), or by ve (finite), following whatever other marking indicates the role of the clause.
  • Verbal clauses — which is to say basically clauses used as stative verbs — are simply non-finite.

Here's the thing: what we're talking about here at base is clauses being used as predicates. In all other cases in Koa, there is an extremely solid system for the use of a predicate as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc., and this differs from the approach discussed above! For example, most particularly, why are adjectival clauses marked differently than nominal clauses?

Clearly, in Indo-European languages, adjectival (i.e. "relative") clauses are treated entirely differently than nominal ones, and that has equally clearly affected my thinking about this topic from the very beginning. Is there in actuality any meaningful way, however, that a relative clause can be said to be "different" from a nominal clause beyond any other predicate when used as an adjective versus a noun?

After some serious brain-twisting thought, and some delightfully old-school conversation with Allison, I have to conclude that the answer is actually no. Despite the way that this screamingly defies my IE intuition, I can't muster a single argument for treating them differently in Koa. Turkish, incidentally, agrees:

Aygül-Ø ekmeğ-i ye-diğ-imiz-i söyle-di-Ø
Aygül-NOM bread-ACC eat-PART-1PL-ACC say-PAST-3P
"Aygül said that we ate the bread"

ye-diğ-imiz ekmek
eat-PART-1PL bread
"the bread we ate"

Translating literally into English, the dependent clause here — yediğimiz ekmek or ekmeği yediğimiz — has a feel sort of like "the our-eating bread": "Aygül said the our-eating bread," etc. Traditionally, and as described by the principles above, these would be translated into Koa in distinct ways:

Áikulu i sano ko/ve [ nu suo ka lepa ]
Aygül FIN say SPEC/COMP [ 1PL eat DEF bread ]
"Aygül said that we ate the bread"

ka lepa (u) [ nu suo ]
DEF bread (REL) [ 1PL eat ]
"the bread we ate"

For the life of me, though, I just cannot rationally motivate the presence of u above. Why not instead:

ka lepa (ko/ve) [ nu suo ]
DEF bread (SPEC/COMP) [ 1PL eat ]
"the bread we ate"

Depending on whether we're calling the dependent clause finite or not, the literal translation comes out sounding something like "the bread of our eating" or "the bread such that we ate it." Either way it looks like very solid Koa of the usual variety in which there is no difference between traditional lexical classes! And as such we can apply this equally well to simple predicates:

ka sivu vihe
DEF leaf green
"the green leaves"

ka sivu ko/ve vihe
DEF leaf SPEC/COMP green
"the leaves that are green"

It appears that u is out of a job.

If this is so, we can rearticulate the principles of dependent clauses as follows:

  • Clauses used as predicates have an optional marker ko when non-finite, a mandatory marker ve when finite.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the way we like it in Koa. Here are some examples of complex predicates being used in different roles...

ADJECTIVAL: "a mommy-not-feeling-well night"

ivo (ko) [ ka mama na mai koa ]
night (SPEC) [ DEF mom NEG feel good ]

ivo ve [ ka mama i na mai koa ]
night COMP [ DEF mom FIN NEG feel good ]

NOMINAL: "she said that mommy's not feeling well"

ta sano (ko) [ ka mama na mai koa ]
3SG say (SPEC) [ DEF mom NEG feel good ]

ta sano ve [ ka mama i na mai koa ]
3SG say COMP [ DEF mom FIN NEG feel good ]

VERBAL: "this night is mommy-not-feeling-well-ish"

ti ivo i [ ka mama na mai koa ]
DEM night FIN [ DEF mom NEG feel good ]

ti ivo i ve [ ka mama na mai koa ]
DEM night FIN COMP [ DEF mom FIN NEG feel good ]

ADVERBIAL: "while mommy's not feeling well"

he (ko) [ ka mama na mai koa ]
TIME (SPEC) [ DEF mom NEG feel good ]

he ve [ ka mama i na mai koa ]
TIME COMP [ DEF mom FIN NEG feel good ]

Adjectival clauses do still have a third, internally-headed option that I don't think is extensible to the other types:

ka talo (ko) [ le Iako si ete ]
DEF house (SPEC) [ QUOT Jack ANT make ]
"the house that Jack built"

ka talo ve [ le Iako i si ete ]
DEF house COMP [ QUOT Jack FIN ANT make ]
"the house that Jack built"

le Iako i si ete ke talo / ke talo sa le Iako i si ete
QUOT Jack FIN ANT make QU house / QU house FOC QUOT Jack FIN ANT make
"the house that Jack built"

Wait. Why does this exist, again? Just for fun? Greater trans-typological intuitiveness? Now that I'm looking at that, it doesn't seem to make any sense at all. I keep wanting to reduce it to ke talo le Iako si ete, as in ke talo le Iako si ete i sulu "the house that Jack built fell down." That agrees with my IE intuitions. But what in God's name is the difference between that and ka talo le Iako si ete i sulu as described earlier? And again, why should relative clauses be treated differently than other dependent clause types?

Okay, I reserve the right to bring this back should circumstances seem to require it at some point in the future, but for the moment I see absolutely no motivation for its continued existence.

A few final points:

1) For the type of clause that in English winds up headless, like "I want to know who said that," Koa syntax using the above principles gets a little muddy. It could be non-finite:

ni halu ilo (ko) keka sa sano toa
1SG want know (SPEC) who FOC say that

...which raises the heretofore never considered question of whether a clause with a focused constituent can be nominalized: an issue for another day. Sa could be left out of the above clause anyway without changing the semantics. In any event, that seems vaguely acceptable if perhaps a little IE-calquish; on the other hand the theoretically equally allowable finite version feels fairly bizarre:

ni halu ilo ve keka sa sano toa
1SG want know COMP who FOC say that

Something seems frankly wrong with this but I can't puzzle it out at the moment. Should ve be le? I don't know. HOWEVER, the point I want to make is that I think the most natively Koa way of expressing this actually avoids all of these structures entirely:

ni halu ilo ka sano toa
1SG want know DEF say that

Literally this is something like "I want to know the sayer of that," and it's a lesson that we really have to remember that Koa can do this and explore the scope and power of it more fully (or at all, really).

2) What's the pragmatic difference between finite and non-finite dependent clauses? Why choose one over the other? I think it's good to have both options, but at this point I don't have any sense of comparative uses.

3) I've said that the marker for non-finite dependent clauses is optional, but under what circumstances would/should it be omitted and retained? It's clearly going to have an impact on clarity and style. Part of me is wondering whether it should actually be optional at all. More later.

4) In the earlier post I referenced above, I was fretting a bit about te tai ko... types of clauses. Just to reassure my past self, I don't think there's any issue here, and we can phrase them either finitely or non-finitely:

te tai ko/ve ta lu lai he leo
ABL be SPEC/COMP 3SG IRR return TIME today
"maybe she'll come back today"

On the other hand, the way this is structured makes it look like a verbal structure like te tai is transitive, in that it accepts a complement! What's actually happening here syntactically? Apparently we can also say things like

koa ko/ve ta lu lai he leo
good SPEC/COMP 3SG IRR return TIME today
"it's good that she's coming back today"

Is this something other than fronting the predicate (as in, is the pre-transformation form really ko ta lu lai he leo i te tai)? Can we do that? When?

?iso to kunu
big DEM dog
"it's big, that dog"

?ma polo la koto ni
DUR run 1SG to home
"here I am running home..."

Should this be focus instead, like te tai sa (ko)/ve ta lu lai he leo? Or is something completely different going on? Um. Let me get back to you.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What a day!

As I was walking down the street this week on an unseasonably warm morning, I found myself trying to say "What a warm day!" in Koa. This turned out to be a much more complicated proposition than I had initially expected. My first instinct was a calque on broadly Indo-European and particularly Romance structures, something like

pai lami kea sa!
day warm what FOC
"what kind of warm day is it!"

or

ke pai lami sa!
INT day warm FOC
"which warm day is it!"

Clearly these structures is entirely arbitrary, though, and as such feels pretty un-Koa-like; or more to the point, they're assuming that we can use question words for affective value (NB apparent questions with explanation points at the end), which I'm not at all sure is true. I really want something solidly, natively Koa to express a concept like this. So what is a statement like "What a warm day!" really saying?

I'm pretty sure that there are two things going on here from a Koa standpoint: we're pointing something out (presentative - vo), and we're expressing that that thing is unexpected (mirative - ho). How exactly to combine these into a sentence, though? If it were a complete clause, somehow it would feel simpler:

vo ta ho lalu kali!
PRES 3SG MIR sing beautiful
"how beautifully she sings!"

Literally this is something like "Whoa, look, she sings beautifully!" ...which sounds pretty much perfect for my warm day: "Whoa, look, it's a warm day!" So I'm happy with that. But again, how exactly to say it? There's a parallel structure to the preceding example:

vo ti pai i ho lami!
PRES DEM day FIN MIR warm
"my, but this day is warm!"

...and that's fine, but it's so much wordier, so much more...syntaxful...than the English expression and, I think, than the emotional situation requires or suggests. And after all we can say things like

vo ka ávale se
PRES DEF key 2SG
"here's your keys"

with no verb in sight. So what if we combine the relevant particles into a compound that's tailor-made for this specific affective situation: voho?

voho pai lami!
PRES-MIR day warm
"what a warm day!"

We could potentially even use this for clauses with a finite verb, I think, maybe?

voho ta lalu kali!
PRES-MIR 3SG sing beautiful
"how beautifully she sings!"

and even

voho ti pai i lami!
PRES-MIR DEM day FIN warm
"my, but this day is warm!"

This also gives us a lovely new exclamatory word which is satisfyingly deeply rooted in the particle system, voho! "whoa!" I wonder if this could even be a predicate, meaning...what, exactly? Unexpected? Noteworthy? Noteworthily unexpected? Unexpectedly noteworthy? I think I may like it!

to pai i lami mo voho
DEM day FIN warm SIM noteworthy
"it was an unexpectedly warm day"

I mean, if we don't do that then voho ends up having to mean something else, and we potentially encounter sentences like

voho voho púano
PRES-MIR fashion-sense bad.AUG
"what dreadful taste"

which would clearly be much too silly...beyond which I'm all for accidentally creating predicates that end up being both useful and internally motivated. So there it is!

(Okay, no, I know, "taste" wouldn't be expressed monomorphemically like that, it was just a joke. It would be something like...hm...kopavapíta, if pita meant "like" or "appreciate": "quality of that which is habitually liked!")


Friday, February 2, 2018

Pronouns into predicates

I was just reading my Nahuatl grammar and serendipitously reached the chapter in which they introduce the emphatic pronouns and describe them as basically a slightly anomalous kind of predicate. Nahuatl being one of only a handful of languages I'm aware of that handle lexical classes like Koa, I feel like it's worth taking note of how it uses these kinds of forms.

From what I just skimmed and what I recall from previous readings, the main uses to which Nahuatl puts its emphatic pronouns are topic/focus constructions and, sort of formally overlappingly, when the pronoun needs to be used as a predicate. For example:

ca nèhuātl
DECL 1SG
"It's me" (pronoun as predicate)

(ca) nèhuātl in ni.qu.i in ātl
(DECL) 1SG DEF 1SG.3SG.drink DEF water
"I'm the one drinking the water" (focus...hopefully I got this right)

I'm wondering whether these could be directly calqued to Koa and what that would look like! Remaining agnostic on the form of Koa emphatic pronouns but using the reduplicated ones just for the moment, the first could be put as i nini or more likely nini sa and the second as nini sa ka ma ipo ka anu.

This isn't why I started writing just now, but I can't resist comparing the syntax of that last form (1A) with the usual way we handle focus (2A):

1A. nini sa ka ma ipo ka anu
1SG FOC DEF IMPF drink DEF water
"I'm the one drinking the water"

2A. ni sa ma ipo ka anu
1SG FOC IMPF drink DEF water
"It's me who's drinking the water"

I glossed these differently but I think they're semantically equivalent. I also think there's no reason type 1 above could logically be disallowed, which means we need to figure out (as usual) the kinds of conditions that would determine its use. Most worthy of note here, though, I think, is that what's going on between these seemingly extremely similar sentences is in fact surprisingly different formally.

In type 1, nini is actually the predicate: without focalization, the clause could be rearranged as

1B. ka ma ipo ka anu i nini
DEF IMPF drink DEF water FIN 1SG
"The one drinking the water is me."

Therefore, if we were to say that in Koa, as in Nahuatl, an emphatic pronoun is required in order for it to play a predicative role, then type 1 clauses would have to appear as above and not, for example, as *ni sa ka ma ipo ka anu.

In type 2, what's going on is simple movement of the focus into initial position followed by sa, without structural change from the theoretical matrix clause: that is to say, the pragmatically neutral clause would be

2B. ni ma ipo ka anu
1SG IMPF drink DEF water
"I'm drinking the water"

Um...wait just a second, though. I previously said that ni sa ka ma ipo ka anu would be incorrect, but check out these three sentences:

1B. ka ma ipo ka anu i nini
DEF IMPF drink DEF water FIN 1SG
"The one drinking the water is me."

1C. nini i ka ma ipo ka anu
1SG FIN DEF IMPF drink DEF water
"I am the one drinking the water."

1D. ni ka ma ipo ka anu
1SG DEF IMPF drink DEF water
"I am the one drinking the water."

If focalizing nini, 1B and 1C would both yield the identically same clause, nini sa ka ma ipo ka anu! And focalizing ni in 1D would give us ni sa ka ma ipo ka anu...which means it's not incorrect after all. However, though, what on earth is the pragmatic difference between 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 2A, five different ways of expressing (seemingly) the exact same thing? Just for clarity, with apologies for what I've just realized is the total lameness of the example sentence I'm using here, here's that lineup all together, all saying something like "I'm the one who's drinking the water":

1A. nini sa ka ma ipo ka anu
1B. ka ma ipo ka anu i nini
1C. nini i ka ma ipo ka anu
1D. ni ka ma ipo ka anu
2A. ni sa ma ipo ka anu

First of all, I have no clue how to differentiate pragmatically between 2A and 1ACD. 1B is, I think, slightly different from the others in a way that might make its use a little clearer. Okay, like...maybe the choice between all the 1's and 2A is whether "the one drinking the water" is already an identifiable entity on the discourse stage. In Nahuatl, of course, this kind of structural strategy is the only way they can pull off focus, but Koa can introduce this kind of subtlety because it also has fronting à la Yoruba. This can be filed in that general folder of Advanced Koa Pragmatics...as to which, whatever happened to that document where I was trying to list every possible way of expressing the same transitive clause so we could try to determine how they were different? I think I might have burned out after the 25th permutation.

ANYWAY, none of the above is what I intended to write about here! What I wanted to point out is that, if a primary purpose for emphatic pronouns is providing a form to use as a predicate where required, we do actually already have an entirely different and extremely well-established way of doing this with a different set of pronouns: ti/to/ke. Here we have

na ipo to sahi!
NEG drink that wine
"don't drink that wine!"

but, I now realize

na ipo to.a!
NEG drink that.PRON
"don't drink that!"

This raises two questions for me: (1) could/should emphatic personal pronouns be done like this as well, i.e. nia, sea, taa, nua, soa, tua? and (2) going the other direction, could/should ti/to/ke be used as pronouns independently, e.g.:

ke sa se halu?
what FOC 2SG want
"what do you want?"

na ipo to!
NEG drink that
"don't drink that!"

...alongside the traditional

ke.a sa se halu?
what.PRON FOC 2SG want
"what do you want?"

na ipo to.a!
NEG drink that.PRON
"don't drink that!"

I'm not sure. This is a pretty big potential change, so we need to take the time to make sure we're clear on what this really means. Both of these sets of particles can be used directly with a predicate without an article -- i.e. they essentially replace the article -- as in

ti tako
this octopus
"this octopus"

ke tako?
what octopus
"which octopus?"

ni tako
1SG octopus
"my [inalienable] octopus" (incidentally also "I am an octopus")

I'm really into this strange little conversation I've just accidentally created. But the point is that the two sets have different meanings when used in this way: the demonstratives have deictic force, whereas the pronouns are possessive. As such I'm not whether what the predicates in -a when applied to pronouns should actually mean: should nia be emphatic "I," or just "mine?"

Maybe a way to think about this is that the personal pronouns actually -- at least superficially -- have two entirely different meanings when prefixed to a predicate, as in ni tako above, so there needs to be a way to create a predicative form for each of those meanings. This is getting kind of crazy, but what if we had nia "mine" AND nini "I"?

Although...this makes me think that titi and toto (uh-oh) should also exist, meaning...um...what, exactly?

In summary, I've settled absolutely nothing, but these are some interesting questions...


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Nominalized pronominal possessives rescued

In this post I made the suggestion that ka ni must mean "mine" (i.e. "my one") in the same way that ka ka kunu means "the dog's (one)." I was uncomfortable with this for reasons I still can't articulate but which remain emotionally compelling and suggested ka asi ni -- literally "my thing" -- as a possible substitute. It turns out that we actually do already have a solution that I had forgotten about by 2016 when I was typing up that entry!

First of all, I want to note that because ni is a particle, structures with it are not necessarily going to be the same as with predicates: ka ni doesn't actually have to be admissible. I think. We'll just accept this for now for the sake of argument.

Anyway, what we do in fact have that we can use instead is keme "attribute, possession," which gives us a neat keme ni for "mine." For example:

ti kunu i keme ni
this dog FIN possession 1SG
"this dog is mine"

ka keme ni i puna
DEF possession 1SG FIN red
"mine is red"

kunu keme ni
dog possession 1SG
"my dog (?)", "a dog which is mine, my property"

This does raise the question of what exactly the difference is between ka kunu ni and ka kunu keme ni, but I think I have an intuitive sense of it...in vague terms, the salience of the possession, or the relationship of possession, is being emphasized.

Similarly, though, what's the difference between ka ka kunu and ka keme ka kunu? Both seem to mean "the dog's one." Could they be entirely semantically equivalent, just different structural options that one might choose based on considerations of aesthetics or clarity?

WAIT.

I had already posted this but had to come back. I was just practicing vocabulary and came across nini, which I apparently had still never changed to nii for the reason that I never actually liked that decision, when it occurred to me: if we really did have predicate-form emphatic pronouns, which as I'm sitting here I'm beginning to feel overwhelmingly that we should, then those would be used in any structural situations in which a predicate would ordinarily be called for...like nominalized possessors. If we did this, we could have:

ka nini i puna
DEF 1SG FIN red
"mine is red"

kunu nini
dog possession 1SG
"my dog"

ti kunu i nini
this dog FIN possession 1SG
"this dog is mine"

Whoa. That last one really took me by surprise. If we did this, would that then mean the emphatic pronouns would actually sort of have possessive value? Or am I messing something up here? Let's run through this again using ka kunu instead of ni as the possessor.

ka ka kunu i puna
DEF DEF dog FIN red
"the dog's is red"

lelu ka kunu
toy DEF dog
"the dog's toy"

ti lelu i ka kunu
this toy FIN DEF dog
"this toy is the dog's"

Ah. So the issue is that, if nini just means "I," then I'm apparently allowing that one predicate to be used without particles! If we want to be consistent then we have the choice of either having nini mean "mine," or saying ka nini as the emphatic form rather than just nini: so like... Loha ka nini! "Love me!" ...i.e., "love the me one!" That is really incredibly weird and now I'm unsure again about the entire thing.

Obviously this is making a mess of my Indo-European intuition, but let's sit with it a bit longer. Maybe it's not as bizarre as it initially seemed...like, we could write it as one word, kaníni, which might help a bit. Plus I was just realizing, if we did this we could have words like ko nini that would be so wonderful for philosophical conversations, meaning something like "the quality/experience of being me."

Another option: perhaps these are predicates but with slightly different rules -- since they are pronouns, after all -- and "assume" the presence of ka unless a different particle precedes. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.

Issue #17: I was just thinking we could also have mo nini "my way, à la me." But then, we use particles with the particulate (?!) form of pronouns all the the time, like tule me ni "come with me." Are we suggesting this should be tule me nini? Or that "my way" could equally be stated as mo ni? Why do these not seem equivalent to me?

My thoughts are thoroughly tangled up now so I'm going to just let this percolate for a while. One note in the mean time: if we do want full-form pronouns like this, maybe we could have tata mean "he/she/it (emphatic)" and let go of tata "dad" in favor of papa. I really really really really didn't want to do this in past years, but...maybe it's time.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Reduplication types

I've discussed (at least) four different types of reduplication in Koa over the years, but never written them down in one place or really thoroughly explored/documented what they should mean. Here are the types I've talked about so far:

1) Whole-word reduplication, normal stress on first element

kuma > kúmakuma
loe > lóeloe
ake > ákeake

Meaning: intensifier (very hot, very cold, very sharp)
Notes: We talked about this here near the bottom, only written as two separate words without clear intentions about stress...though I have to admit that when I read Ni loha loha se aloud I stress the second. Hm.

2) Reduplication minus onset, stress on second element

kuma > kumaúma
loe > loeóe
ake > akeláke (note L-insertion)

Meaning: affective/minimizing diminutive, "ish." (warmish, chilly, ...pointy? dunno). Minaína "gal."
Questions: (1) How is loeóe different from lóeki? (2) Is this too similar to the first type given the fact that they kind of have the opposite meaning? (3) Is that L-insertion -- the only thing saving the opposite of ákeake from basically and laughably being akeáke -- too ad-hoc?

3) First syllable, stress on full word

kuma > kukúma
loe > lolóe
ake > aáke (aháke?)

Meaning: unknown

4) Reduplicate medial consonant with -a, stress on reduplicand

kuma > kumáma
loe > loáe
ake > akáke

Meaning: From here, "I was thinking this might serve to make the noun more euphemistic, more gentle, less objectionable, or something. So a pragmatic rather than semantic value."

Just for reference, here are the three sample words with each reduplication type in turn for comparison:

kúmakuma, kumaúma, kukúma, kumáma
lóeloe, loeóe, lolóe, loáe
ákeake, akeláke, aháke, akáke

This is going to require some thought, and maybe some study of what reduplication tends to be used for cross-linguistically. Just impressionistically, though:

* I don't like type 1 at all; as I alluded to before, my instinct is that these should sort of be separate words with the stress on the second one. Then, maybe weirdly, I feel like type 3 might be synonymous with type 1.

* If type 1 becomes separate words with stress on the second as I just suggested, type 2 kind of gets sabotaged. I always liked this one, though! Loeóe for "chilly" seems perfect...but on the other hand maybe lóeki really is enough here.

* Type 4 is really great for certain things (like luái) and I think it's valuable for a living language, though at the moment I'm not thinking of a lot of specific uses for it other than euphemisms. Could it also take on the meanings of type 2? I'm not sure. Thinking just of getting it on, I feel like there's an important difference between lúiki and luái!

Another thought I'm having here is that, just because a particular reduplication type technically has to be available for every word doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be equally common with every word...so for example if mina mina means "a real woman" or whatever, and minaína means "gal," that doesn't have to entail that that type-2 strategy is now going to be used ALL the time and confuse everything.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Experiencer vs agent in verbs of perception

Just a note: I had said in a previous entry that the difference between "I see" and "I look at" is essentially aspectual, i.e. ni nae vs ni ma nae. I've realized since that the core semantics of a statement like "I see" require some reanalysis of the corresponding Koa structures.

A primary thing that makes "I see you" and "I'm looking at you" different is agency, of course, and therefore the semantic role of the subject. Koa doesn't mark agents and experiencers differently, but one could easily reframe this in terms of ability, which Koa does mark. In other words, "I see you" has approximately the same semantic content as "I can see you." The emphasis may be different, but that's the core idea.

I would now therefore list the basic and embellished possibilities for this phrase like this:

ni nae se
1SG see 2SG
"I see you" or "I looked at you" or (weakly) "I can see you"

ni ma nae se
1SG IMPF see 2SG
"I am/was looking at you"

ni te nae se
1SG ABIL see 2SG
"I can see you" or just emphasizing the experiencer interpretation "I see you"

ni voi nae se
1SG can see 2SG
"I can see you," emphasizing the abilitative interpretation

And to clarify, this isn't actually a change: it's just me getting clear on what my Koa words must actually mean.

On a somewhat different topic, I just want to mention that I made an error in that same entry with my glosses involving ipo sahi. I failed to notice that, because the object is incorporated in these VP's, they've just become intransitive and more like states in terms of Aktionsart category. Therefore:

ni na ipo sahi
1SG NEG drink wine
trad "I don't drink wine"
wrong "I didn't drink wine" or "I'm not drinking wine," depending
right "I don't drink wine" or "I am not a wine drinker"

ni na si ipo sahi
1SG NEG ANT drink wine
trad "I didn't drink wine"
wrong "I hadn't drunk wine"
right "I didn't drink wine" or "I wasn't a wine drinker"

To get the incorrect interpretations from above, you would need an article on "wine," thus:

ni na ipo hu sahi
1SG NEG drink EXIST wine
"I didn't drink (any) wine"

ni na si ipo hu sahi
1SG NEG ANT drink EXIST wine
"I hadn't drunk (any) wine"