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?


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
"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.

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