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Re: Nominal and Adjectival Predicates

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  • Logan Kearsley
    ... Oo! You have reminded me that Russian also sometimes uses the genitive case in partitive constructions. One could imagine a range of interesting case
    Message 1 of 31 , Jun 17, 2013
      On 17 June 2013 11:49, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:
      > On Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 06:46:43PM -0600, Logan Kearsley wrote:
      > [...]
      >> I think the "they're both equal" argument isn't very strong; if it's
      >> possible to identify one as the predicate and one as the subject, then
      >> clearly they are not both equal, if only because they have different
      >> syntactic roles. And while nominal predicates are sometimes used to
      >> indicate actual equality, they're also used to indicate subset
      >> relations (e.g. "John is a man" == there's a set of men, John belongs
      >> to that set; "John" and "man" are not equivalent).
      > [...]
      > I like this distinction! It makes me wonder if in TF such statements
      > should take the partitive case instead (in TF, the partitive case is
      > used for subset relations, among other things). Perhaps such a usage
      > could have developed in a local dialect! (I've been thinking about TF
      > dialects lately... but more on that in another post.) So instead of the
      > "standard TF":
      > tara' sa sapa'.
      > 3SG CVY:MASC doctor
      > He is a doctor.
      > one would have:
      > *tara' sa sapa'-is.
      > 3SG CVY:MASC doctor-PART
      > He is a doctor. (Lit. he is among the doctors.)
      > In English, though, the subset relation arguably already indicated by
      > the indefinite article _a_; e.g., compare the difference between _that
      > is the Sun_ vs. _that is a sun_. The latter implies the existence of
      > numerous suns, of which the referent of _that_ is but one member.

      Oo! You have reminded me that Russian also sometimes uses the genitive
      case in partitive constructions. One could imagine a range of
      interesting case choices for predicates in a situation where a
      language decides to co-opt some other case for partitive constructions
      and subsequently decides that predicates have the semantics of

      I kind of want to declare that nominal predicates in Celimine will be
      genitive from now on for precisely that reason.

    • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
      With this post, I finally do away with my backlog and am back on track :P . ... I just realised that it is exactly what Japanese does! Predicate constructions
      Message 31 of 31 , Jul 2, 2013
        With this post, I finally do away with my backlog and am back on track :P .

        On 16 June 2013 15:43, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:

        > Yes. A copula complement simply is not a direct object, and
        > this is the reason why IE languages (and many other languages)
        > do not put it in the accusative case. Instead, the complement
        > appears in the "base form", which in IE languages is the
        > nominative.
        I just realised that it is exactly what Japanese does! Predicate
        constructions in Japanese always confused me, but now I understand why!

        As a quick primer, in Japanese both the subject and the object of a verb
        are marked by a particle (_ga_ for the subject, and _o_ for the object.
        Both can be overwritten by the topic marker _wa_, though). However, nominal
        predicates (which in Japanese are mostly nouns and some adjectives) do not
        take either. Instead, they appear naked, and are only followed by the
        copula (which can be omitted, at least in women's familiar speech
        patterns). For instance, the simple sentence "Takuto is a man" becomes in
        Japanese: _Takuto wa otoko da_, with _da_ being the familiar copula (it
        becomes _desu_ in polite speech, or can be omitted).

        So basically that's what's happening here: the nominal predicate takes the
        base form, which in Japanese happens to be neither the subject nor the
        object form, but the stem alone.

        > What regards Arabic, one can argue that the accusative is
        > actually the least marked case, and the nominative a marked
        > one. This pattern (often called "nominative-absolutive")
        > seems to be common in languages of the Afrasian family.
        I wonder whether something similar might be happening in Moten, which would
        explain why "to be" is treated as a normal transitive verb in that language
        (and thus takes predicates in the accusative case). It's true that the
        nominative is actually semantically marked in Moten (although it is
        morphologically the base form): when the subject of a transitive verb is in
        the nominative case, it indicates volition, i.e. that the subject does
        whatever is indicated by the verb willingly and on purpose. To mark
        non-volition, one has to put the subject in the instrumental. This is true
        even of "to be", which with a nominative subject indicates that the subject
        is willingly "being" something or someone.

        Things get a bit more complicated quite quickly though:
        - this pattern (which I call the "split nominative") only exists for
        transitive verbs. Intransitive verbs take a nominative subject whether
        there is volition or not involved.
        - this pattern only works well for animate concepts. For inanimates,
        volition is not an option, and according to the rule above that should mean
        that an inanimate subject of a transitive verb should always be in the
        instrumental. And indeed, in high registers of the language the only known
        native speaker of Moten does just that. But in more familiar registers, he
        tends to slip and use the nominative instead, even though there cannot be
        any volition involved. It's a syllable shorter after all, and as long as
        context makes clear that the subject is inanimate (it's a semantic feature
        in Moten, not a syntactic one), there's no confusion possible.

        I'm still not quite sure what to make of this pattern, but that's how Moten
        works. It looks a bit like this "nominative-absolutive" pattern, except
        with a split for volition, and with the nominative case being the least
        marked morphologically.

        > >
        > > Yes, but, as I observed above, you cannot promote John to
        > > the subject of an equivalent passive: *John is been by him!
        > Indeed not!
        Moten has no passive voice, so this issue is moot here.

        On 17 June 2013 19:49, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:

        > Yeah, this is one of the neat things about Russian: in verbs of being
        > *not* in the present tense, the predicate is in the instrumental case:
        > Я бы-л врач-ом.
        > 1SG.NOM be-PAST.SG.MASC doctor-INSTR
        > I was a doctor.
        > The instrumental also occurs with verbs of becoming:
        > Он ста-л врач-ом.
        > He.NOM become-PAST.SG.MASC doctor-INSTR
        > He became a doctor.
        > It is ungrammatical to use the nominative or accusative in these cases.
        > It seems to me that the instrumental case here is being used in a
        > stative sense, or a transition into a state, as opposed to a mere simple
        > direct object.
        Japanese is similar here. The verb "to become" in Japanese (_naru_) is
        actually intransitive, and what you become takes the particle _ni_, which
        indicates various things like location (at), destination (to) but also the
        person to whom something is given (to). In Japanese you become *to*
        something, emphasising the process rather than the final state.
        Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

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