Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

3rd person vs. personeless vs. unsuffixed (was Re:Response to Fauskanger's "Reconstructing the Sindarin Verb System")

Expand Messages
  • Andreas Johansson
    In regard to the controversy whether Sindarin verbs with no person marker present should better be called 3rd.sg. forms or personless forms, I d like
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 30, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      In regard to the "'controversy'" whether Sindarin verbs with no person marker
      present should better be called "3rd.sg." forms or "personless" forms, I'd like
      to question the relevance of both terms.

      As examples like _Im ... echant_ (Moria Inscription) and _Ónen ..._ (Gilraen's
      linnod) makes clear, in at least LotR-style Sindarin, the ending _-n_ is only
      used when no independent pronoun is present (or at least is not compulsory when
      one is present - only a direct statement by Tolkien could rule out absolutely
      the grammaticallity of *_Im echannen_, assuming that's indeed what _-ant +en_
      would give - I am aware of no Tolkienian example). This would seem to suggest
      that it is better thought of as a cliticized pronoun than a person agreement
      marker.

      I would thus suggest that to minimize the potential for confusion, we should
      refer to Sindarin's suffixed pronominal markers simply as suffixed pronouns,
      and, when necessary to single them out, to forms without a suffixed pronoun
      simply as without a suffixed pronoun. While this would clash with Tolkien's
      characterization of _tôg_ as "3 sg.", it would be in agreement with how the
      pronominal system of Q is frequently described (for instance in Mr Fauskanger's
      Ardalambion article on Q), and, IMHO, less prone to cause confusion.

      Andreas

      [I appreciate Andreas's point, but my own "vote" remains for "personless",
      because it is more precise: the point of these forms is not just that they
      are unsuffixed, but that what they are lacking is, specifically, any
      indication of the person of their subject. Also, if we adopt the suffixed vs.
      unsuffixed terminology, won't that be confusing in the plural, where
      there is a suffixed number marker (but, again, no marker for person)?

      I would also point out that there is indirect evidence, from Quenya, that
      prefixed subjects can nonetheless have personal endings: _elle hiruvalle_
      occurs in one of the typescript drafts of Galadriel's Lament (cf. VT41:4). CFH]
    • Pavel Iosad
      Hello, ... [...] So would I. This is indeed a question of terminology. Personally, I d vote for unmarked or {un|under}specified . It would mean that an
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 2, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        Hello,

        Andreas Johansson wrote:

        > In regard to the "'controversy'" whether Sindarin verbs with no person
        > marker present should better be called "3rd.sg." forms or "personless"
        > forms, I'd like to question the relevance of both terms.
        [...]

        So would I. This is indeed a question of terminology. Personally, I'd
        vote for 'unmarked' or '{un|under}specified'. It would mean that an
        underspecified form such as _tôg_ or _echant_ will be interpreted as a
        3sg. form, unless there are indications of the contrary (i. e. an overt
        non-3rd person pronoun). Carl's 'personless' runs along these lines, but
        is somewhat confusing: 'personless' vs. 'impersonal'.

        [But "unmarked" or "underspecified" have the same deficiencies I
        noted for "unsuffixed": first, they immediately raise the question,
        "unmarked" or "underspecified" for what? and second, they break
        down in the plural, where they are indeed marked and specified
        for _number_. As for impersonal, that already has a meaning in
        linguistics that doesn't really fit the situation here, sc. of verbs
        and constructions for which there is no actual subject/agent, as
        in "it is raining". "Personless" is, so far as I have yet seen, the
        only term that avoids all the problems. CFH]

        And Carl commented:

        > [I would also point out that there is indirect evidence, from
        > Quenya, that prefixed subjects can nonetheless have personal
        > endings: _elle hiruvalle_ occurs in one of the typescript drafts of
        > Galadriel's Lament (cf. VT41:4). CFH]

        Neither are overt pronouns and agreement markers in complementary
        distribution in Sindarin: cf._le linnon im Tinúviel_ (IV:354). The
        subject is not exactly 'prefixed', but this seems to present a
        counterexample to Andreas' hypothesis.

        Pavel
        --
        Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

        Nid byd, byd heb wybodaeth
        --Welsh saying
      • David Kiltz
        ... I think it is very relevant as we are dealing with two different entities. Clearly, they coincide in form (seemingly, I ll write more on that later) but
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 2, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          On 02.11.2003, at 17:58, Pavel Iosad wrote:

          > Andreas Johansson wrote:
          >
          >> In regard to the "'controversy'" whether Sindarin verbs with no person
          >> marker present should better be called "3rd.sg." forms or "personless"
          >> forms, I'd like to question the relevance of both terms.
          > [...]

          I think it is very relevant as we are dealing with two different
          entities. Clearly, they coincide in form (seemingly, I'll write more on
          that later) but not in function. So, they should be called what they
          are according to their respective function in a sentence. Surely, it
          doesn't make sense to call _echant_ in "Im... echant" a 3rd sg.,
          because it isn't.

          > This is indeed a question of terminology. Personally, I'd
          > vote for 'unmarked' or '{un|under}specified'. It would mean that an
          > underspecified form such as _tôg_ or _echant_ will be interpreted as a
          > 3sg. form, unless there are indications of the contrary (i. e. an overt
          > non-3rd person pronoun). Carl's 'personless' runs along these lines,
          > but is somewhat confusing: 'personless' vs. 'impersonal'.

          I'd stick with 'personless' as the best term for reasons pretty much
          along the line with what Carl has said. 'Unmarked' doesn't seem to fit
          as it does not mean 'lacking a marker' but rather 'not unusual', 'not
          sticking out'. 'Underspecified' conveys (to me) the notion of 'lacking
          a substantial marker', which is not the case. 'Unspecified' doesn't
          work because the forms are specified, just not for person, hence
          'personless'.

          Lastly, 'impersonal' is indeed in use for similar forms but should be
          avoided because it is too ambiguous. In fact, it does not only refer to
          things like "it is raining" but also to French/German "on voit/man
          sieht", Spanish "se nota", Breton "greer", OldIndic "vidé" etc..

          David Kiltz
        • Andreas Johansson
          ... Indeed it does. (Standard disclaimer; in at least one moment in time, Tolkien appears to have envisioned Sindarin not to work like I assumed!) But as Im
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 3, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            Quoting Pavel Iosad <edricson@...>:

            > Neither are overt pronouns and agreement markers in complementary
            > distribution in Sindarin: cf._le linnon im Tinúviel_ (IV:354). The
            > subject is not exactly 'prefixed', but this seems to present a
            > counterexample to Andreas' hypothesis.

            Indeed it does. (Standard disclaimer; in at least one moment in time, Tolkien
            appears to have envisioned Sindarin not to work like I assumed!)

            But as "Im ... echant" demonstrates, they're not simply obligatory agreement
            endings either.

            I did not actually suggest the forms be called "unsuffixed" - in the past
            tense, these verbs of course commonly display a _tense_ suffix - but "without
            a suffixed pronoun", which we would surely shorten as "pronounless" or some
            such. I still think this is an acceptable conclusion - Pavel's example may
            perhaps be interpreted as having a duplicated pronoun for emphasis - but if
            the choice is between "3rd sg" and "personless", I think the later is the less
            confusing option.

            Andreas
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.