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"