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Re: Existential voice

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  • Gregory Gadow
    John Quijada wrote ... For the most part, that is the case. Some verbs couldn t use this, however, just as there are some verbs in English that can not be put
    Message 1 of 27 , May 2, 2005
      John Quijada wrote

      > Gregory Gadow wrote:
      >>* Any suggestions on how I can extend to other uses I haven't thought of?
      > ---------------------------
      > Since the answers you've already received were quite thorough, I will only
      > comment on the above question you asked. IMO, whatever morphological or
      > morpho-syntactic solution you finally decide upon, it should extend to
      > EVERY verb that can describe a state, act, or event, translatable as
      > "X-ing is occurring" or "There's X(-ing) going on."

      For the most part, that is the case. Some verbs couldn't use this,
      however, just as there are some verbs in English that can not be put in
      the passive voice. Eventually, I will be defining most verbs as having a
      non-transitive form, used to create this voice.

      > I would even consider using something other than Voice as the
      > meta-category
      > it fits into, because it can be extended to other voices themselves, e.g.,
      > passive voice as in "Having been X'ed is occurring" or "There's being-X-d
      > going on."

      Not really. When I have finished the section on voice, I'll post a link to
      the list; that should make it a bit clearer.

      Gregory Gadow
    • Herman Miller
      ... Interesting idea. Minza verbs are classified by the number of required arguments; most are v1 (intransitive) or v2 (transitive), but there are a handful of
      Message 2 of 27 , May 2, 2005
        Gregory Gadow wrote:
        > What has my attention at the moment is the "existential voice." The
        > construct in English of "it is raining" has always bothered me: what is
        > "it", and why should "it" be raining and not me or the dog or Aunt
        > Matilda's Studebaker? My solution was to create a distinct voice for when
        > a verb has no specific do-er or done-to, the existential voice. It is
        > expressed by putting the verb in a special form (the "indefinite"
        > inflection); the verb can take modifiers (definitiveness, tense, "nowness"
        > and duration) and qualitatives (a generic grammar class that includes
        > adjectives and adverbs) but has no nouns associated with it. Thus:
        >
        > plüva'n [pluvA'n] - to sprinkle (water)
        > plüvawne [pluva'h\nE] - it is raining
        >
        > Rather than creating something just for weather, I want to extend this
        > voice to include political and social climate. That would give expressions
        > that are succinct in Glörsa but a bit awkward to translate in to English:
        >
        > dhëghösan [DeGo'sAn] - to make war on
        > dhëghösawne [DeGo'sAh\nE] - "it is warring" (the countryside is at war)

        Interesting idea. Minza verbs are classified by the number of required
        arguments; most are v1 (intransitive) or v2 (transitive), but there are
        a handful of v3 like "give" and "assign", and a small number of v0,
        currently only represented by weather vocabulary (e.g. jönzhi "to
        rain"). Like much of the early Minza vocabulary, this idea comes from
        Lindiga; most of my other languages have a noun for "rain", and you have
        to say something like "rain is falling". Minza also has prefixes for
        valence-decreasing operations (antipassive and middle voice), but I've
        only applied them to transitive (v2) verbs. It'd be interesting to try
        using them as a general valence-decreasing prefix, which could also
        convert v3's to v2 or v1's to v0.

        > yövïnan [jovi'nAn] - to harvest
        > yövïnawne [jovi'nAh\nE] - "it is harvesting" (the crops are ripe and
        > everyone is busy harvesting them)

        If Descartes had had this verb form, he could have started with "it is
        thinking" (which seems to avoid the circular reasoning, but then I'm not
        sure if you can really get anywhere from there without some extra
        assumptions about the way that thinking works....)

        > I know what I'm trying to say, but the use looks very strange. Even
        > stranger was when I put the verb "to hope" in this voice and adding the
        > modifiers for strong definitiveness (föle) and habitual action (zëthe):
        >
        > hütawne föle zëthe [hutA'h\nE fo'lE ze'TE]
        >
        > This sentence could be translated as, "it has a habit of repeatedly
        > hoping, most definitely" or more loosely, "hope springs eternal."
        >
        > What I would like to ask is,
        >
        > * Am I using the term "voice" correctly?
        > * Given my description, does it look like I'm using this voice correctly?
        > * Are there any natlangs with something similar that I could use as a model?
        > * Any suggestions on how I can extend to other uses I haven't thought of?

        It's probably better to define it as a valence decreasing operation. I
        don't know if any language that does this ... Thomas E. Payne gives
        examples of "impersonal passives" which can make the subject of an
        intransitive verb unspecified, but this wouldn't work with transitive
        verbs like your two examples. (He also writes "We know of no languages
        that employ specific morphology just for impersonal passives". Is it
        possible that this verb form has other uses besides the "existential
        voice"?)

        Then again, I don't know of any really good reason not to call it a voice.
      • Gregory Gadow
        ... The verb form is one I call the impersonal inflection. Its other two uses are to create the passive voice (the verbs to do or to be are put in the
        Message 3 of 27 , May 3, 2005
          Herman Miller wrote:
          >
          > It's probably better to define it as a valence decreasing operation. I
          > don't know if any language that does this ... Thomas E. Payne gives
          > examples of "impersonal passives" which can make the subject of an
          > intransitive verb unspecified, but this wouldn't work with transitive
          > verbs like your two examples. (He also writes "We know of no languages
          > that employ specific morphology just for impersonal passives". Is it
          > possible that this verb form has other uses besides the "existential
          > voice"?)

          The verb form is one I call the impersonal inflection. Its other two uses
          are to create the passive voice (the verbs "to do" or "to be" are put in
          the passive inflection and the main verb is inflected to agree with the
          agent. If there is no agent -- the ball was hit -- the main verb is put in
          the impersonal) and to create verb phrases like "John, thinking about his
          upcoming vacation, walked in to the wall", where "thinking" would be in
          the impersonal to distinguish it from the main verb "to walk."

          Gregory Gadow
        • Ray Brown
          ... You re welcome. ... Now you can add Zeus & his chamber pot to the other amusements :) ... I agree about the dummy subjects - I don t like em either! ...
          Message 4 of 27 , May 3, 2005
            On Monday, May 2, 2005, at 09:17 , Gregory Gadow wrote:

            > Thanks for the comments, Ray.

            You're welcome.

            > As for my joke about why not me or the dog raining, I was just pointing
            > out an oddity of idiomatic English that has always amused/annoyed me ;-b

            Now you can add Zeus & his chamber pot to the other amusements :)

            > I am trying to grammaticalize a verb form with no participant roles. As
            > I'm refining the rules for creating the active and passive voices, I found
            > that I needed some kind of regularity in how to express a situation such
            > as "it is raining." My current grammar requires a "before phrase" for
            > active and passive verbs, and I want to avoid using a dummy subject;

            I agree about the dummy subjects - I don't like 'em either!

            > that
            > means coming up with a voice that is neither active nor passive and thus
            > does not require a "before phrase." (In Glörsa, the "before phrase" --
            > kizakinwes [kIzA'kInh\Es] -- would be the subject of an active voice verb
            > and the object of a passive voice verb.)

            Umm - sounds a bit like ergativity :)

            > It sounds like I'm on the right path, even if it is a bit unbeaten.

            Yep - if, for whatever reason(s), Glörsa active & passive require such
            preverbal NPs, and you do not want to have non-referential dummy preverbal
            NPs, I guess you are.
            =========================================

            On Tuesday, May 3, 2005, at 05:56 , Herman Miller wrote:

            > Gregory Gadow wrote:
            [snip]
            >> yövïnan [jovi'nAn] - to harvest
            >> yövïnawne [jovi'nAh\nE] - "it is harvesting" (the crops are ripe and
            >> everyone is busy harvesting them)
            >
            > If Descartes had had this verb form, he could have started with "it is
            > thinking"

            But Descartes DID have hve just such a verb form available. Don't forget
            he wrote in Latin.

            _cogitatur_ has precisely that meaning - thinking is happening, without
            specifying any thinker or what is being thought.

            > (which seems to avoid the circular reasoning, but then I'm not
            > sure if you can really get anywhere from there without some extra
            > assumptions about the way that thinking works....)

            Umm - but if René had written _cogitatur_ instead of his famous _cogito_,
            what we he have put next? _sum_ hardly follows.

            Cogitatur (ergo) estur ?
            (I recall that Christophe argued at some length that René Descartes wrote
            'cogito sum', not 'cogito ergo sum' :)

            Thinking is going on, (therefore) being is happening - without specifying
            any "be-er" or entity. But 'being' surely presupposes that something or
            someone exists?

            In any case, this seems to me no less circular reasoning than the
            canonical _cogito (ergo) sum_ and if you are not likely to get anywhere
            without some assumption about the way thinking works, I think it is
            probably even less likely you can proceed without making some assumption
            about being?

            >
            >> I know what I'm trying to say, but the use looks very strange. Even
            >> stranger was when I put the verb "to hope" in this voice and adding the
            >> modifiers for strong definitiveness (föle) and habitual action (zëthe):
            >>
            >> hütawne föle zëthe [hutA'h\nE fo'lE ze'TE]
            >>
            >> This sentence could be translated as, "it has a habit of repeatedly
            >> hoping, most definitely" or more loosely, "hope springs eternal."
            >>
            >> What I would like to ask is,
            >>
            >> * Am I using the term "voice" correctly?
            >> * Given my description, does it look like I'm using this voice correctly?
            >> * Are there any natlangs with something similar that I could use as a
            >> model?
            >> * Any suggestions on how I can extend to other uses I haven't thought of?
            >
            > It's probably better to define it as a valence decreasing operation. I
            > don't know if any language that does this ... Thomas E. Payne gives
            > examples of "impersonal passives" which can make the subject of an
            > intransitive verb unspecified, but this wouldn't work with transitive
            > verbs like your two examples.

            But it does! In what way do _metitur_ and _speratur_ not mean the same as
            Gregory's "yövïnawne" and "hütawne" respectively?

            These make both the subject and the object of transitive verbs unspecified.

            > (He also writes "We know of no languages
            > that employ specific morphology just for impersonal passives". Is it
            > possible that this verb form has other uses besides the "existential
            > voice"?)

            AFAIK this is so. It is true that the passives of transitive verbs I have
            given above may be used impersonally, i.e. with a subject which, in the
            case of the passives, is the 'done-to' entity; but they may also have
            subjects, for example:
            frumentum metitur - the corn is being harvested
            pax ardenter speratur - peace is ardently hope for
            haud cogitandum cogitatur - the unthinkable is being thought

            What Gregory appears to want is a verb form that must be used impersonally
            and cannot have a subject NP.

            > Then again, I don't know of any really good reason not to call it a voice.

            I agree - if a language employs specific morphology just for 'impersonal
            passives' and for no other use then - as I have argued in a previous mail
            - it could be considered a voice. My only query is why it would be
            necessary to do this - but I guess Gregory has answered that.

            Ray
            ===============================================
            http://home.freeuk.com/ray.brown
            ray.brown@...
            ===============================================
            Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
            which is not so much a twilight of the gods
            as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]
          • Herman Miller
            ... That s good to hear! Since I don t know much about Latin, I didn t suspect that anything like that existed. The examples in _Describing Morphosyntax_ are
            Message 5 of 27 , May 3, 2005
              Ray Brown wrote:

              >> It's probably better to define it as a valence decreasing operation. I
              >> don't know if any language that does this ... Thomas E. Payne gives
              >> examples of "impersonal passives" which can make the subject of an
              >> intransitive verb unspecified, but this wouldn't work with transitive
              >> verbs like your two examples.
              >
              >
              > But it does! In what way do _metitur_ and _speratur_ not mean the same as
              > Gregory's "yövïnawne" and "hütawne" respectively?
              >
              > These make both the subject and the object of transitive verbs unspecified.

              That's good to hear! Since I don't know much about Latin, I didn't
              suspect that anything like that existed. The examples in _Describing
              Morphosyntax_ are things like "Es wird hir getanzt", with intransitive
              verbs.
            • Ray Brown
              May the 4th be with you! Ray =============================================== http://home.freeuk.com/ray.brown ray.brown@freeuk.com
              Message 6 of 27 , May 3, 2005
                May the 4th be with you!

                Ray
                ===============================================
                http://home.freeuk.com/ray.brown
                ray.brown@...
                ===============================================
                Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
                which is not so much a twilight of the gods
                as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]
              • Mark J. Reed
                ouch. bad, bad, bad. It is also Bongwater Day, for any Bobs fans in the audience . . . although there s some controversy there. The song says This year it
                Message 7 of 27 , May 4, 2005
                  ouch.  bad, bad, bad.

                  It is also Bongwater Day, for any Bobs fans in the audience . . . although there's some controversy there.  The song says "This year it falls on the 4th of May", implying that it sometimes falls on other dates, but since the song doesn't change from year to year, May 4th has been more or less officially established as perpetual Bongwater Day.


                  On 5/4/05, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:
                  May the 4th be with you!

                  Ray
                  ===============================================
                  http://home.freeuk.com/ray.brown
                  ray.brown@...
                  ===============================================
                  Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
                  which is not so much a twilight of the gods
                  as of the reason."      [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]



                  --
                  Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
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