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151898Re: Irrealis mood and non-finite verbs

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  • ROGER MILLS
    Apr 1, 2008
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      Ray Brown wrote:
      >>> Personally, while the realis ~ irrealis distinction may be useful in
      >>>the
      >>> description of some languages................

      Just for interest, here's a "definition" of the distinction from a
      discussion of certain languages of Central Sulawesi (Celebes)--

      "The two modes...[in Proto Celebic] functioned most likely as they still do
      in Kaili and Kulawi. The realis marks the past and present, whereas the
      irrealis marks future, intent and contrafactuals." (Rene van den Berg 1996)

      He also mentions that one language has innovated irrealis after negators.

      Rather slim pickins, no?

      Where it exists, the distinction is shown by different prefixes and/or
      subject-markers on the verb. One language in another group (Mori),
      interestingly, shows it by using different forms of the subject pronouns,
      though I've seen that analyzed as simply a present/past vs. future
      distinction.

      My impression from some of the old (1930s) grammars of these and related
      languages, is that "realis/irrealis" kind-of gets short shrift, as if maybe
      the analysts weren't really too clear as to what is was all about ;-((((( I
      may be doing S.J.Esser (who wrote an extensive 2-vol. grammar of Mori) an
      injustice, however, as it was a quite a while ago that I read him. He also
      wrote brief grammars of the languages (or relatives) mentioned by van den
      Berg.
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