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183477Re: Further info on tense marking for nouns

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  • Garth Wallace
    Oct 12, 2011
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      On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 3:48 PM, Adam Walker <carraxan@...> wrote:
      > On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 5:21 PM, Matthew Boutilier
      > <bvticvlarivs@...>wrote:
      >
      >> >
      >> > Now I don't really speak Hebrew, but
      >> > ordinarily I would interpret "Adonai melech," as lord zero-copula king
      >> with
      >> > two nouns juxtaposed to show equation.  But then how to interpret the
      >> > clearly parallel "Adonai malach" and "Adonai yimloch"?  Is this a case of
      >> > tense marking on a noun?
      >> >
      >>
      >> so...in semitic (maybe you know this) you have nouns and verbs and
      >> adjectives and all kinds of parts of speech deriving from triliteral
      >> (three-consonant) roots.  in this it's case it's M-L-K, which gives us both
      >> nouns *and* verbs.  melekh "king" is a noun (in hebrew, after vowels and
      >> when non-geminated, k > kh /x/).  but malakh "to rule" is a *verb* in every
      >> sense.  "adonai malakh" = LORD ruled-3ms.  the inflection goes malakh
      >> (3ms),
      >> mal'khah (3fs), malakhta (2ms), and so on.  yimlokh is a different form on
      >> the same verb.  yimlokh "he rules / will rule," timlokh "she rules / will
      >> rule," etc. kind of weird that in the perfect hebrew uses suffixes but in
      >> the imperfect it uses prefixes to indicate person, number, gender.  but it
      >> does (not uncommon in semitic...but just as a side note i was reading that
      >> this apparently reflects a historical ergativity in proto-afro-asiatic).
      >>
      >> matt
      >>
      >> Yes, but what is there to stop a conlanger from reanalyzing melech as also
      > a verb (or all three as tense marked nouns) in the first example?  and thus
      > setting up a situation where you could evolve a Semitic type language into a
      > nounless (or verbless) language depending on how you developed things and
      > how you described/analyzed them?  I understand that my analysis isn't
      > concidered true of Hebrew in any stage of its development in the real
      > world.  But why couldn't a situation like the one I presented be
      > reanalyzed/engeneered into a situation where you need to analyze it as tense
      > marked nouns something like
      >
      > David melech.  David kings.
      > Davad malach.  David kang.
      > Yidvod yimloch.  David will king.
      >
      > Now do you have three sentences composed entirely of tense-marked nouns, or
      > three sentences composed entirely of verbs -- some of which are proper
      > names?  Either way it's weird, but why couldn't it work?

      If those are the only extant sentences, sure, you could reanalyse
      "melech, malach, yimloch" as all nouns or all verbs because of the
      ambiguity caused by the zero copula *in this situation*. But "melech"
      probably appears in a lot of other sentences where it's unambiguously
      treated syntactically as a noun, and likewise "malach" and "yimloch"
      probably appear in positions that can only be filled with a verb.
      Also, "melech" follows a pattern that is also followed by other nouns,
      while "malach" and "yimloch" follow patterns that are followed by
      other words that are clearly verbs. You can't really re-analyse them
      in a vaccum like that; in the context of the full language, it'd be a
      lot harder to justify that shift. For it to work, I think that
      ambiguity would have to be persistent throughout the language, not
      just in some isolated cases.
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