Re: Verb agreement
- On 05.11.2003, at 08:35, Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Question: are there any known primary world languages that, in aNot that I know of, if you mean something like +"I, Narvi has made
> construction like "I, Narvi, made ...", would use a 3rd sg verb, because
> the appositional noun is treated like the antecedent?
them" but cf. below for a possible explanation.
To me it seems that as the primary reference is to the subject in the
1. person, a 'taking over' of the apposition would be self-contradictory.
Just as in a sentence like "Thou, Jesus, king of the Jews" both appositions
"Jesus" and "king of the Jews" are (in that particular sentence!) 2nd sg. as
they are subordinate to the primary subject "Thou". The whole thing
changes when the actual reference of the verb is something else, namely a
relative pronoun. Cf. below on Breton.
There are languages that do not mark person at all in the verb. Cf., e.g.
Japanese _iku_ 'XY go(es)' depending on what pronoun you use with it
or, indeed, simply the context.
Also, there are Celtic languages that have somewhat similar
constructions. Cf. Modern Irish _tá mé/tú/sé_ 'I am, you are, he is'
where _tá_ is formally == 3rd sg..
This isn't, however, exactly the situation in Sindarin. Maybe this
comes closer: In Breton there is a "conjugaison impersonelle":
_Me a skriv_
_Te a skriv_
_Eñ a skriv_
_ni/c'hwi/i a skriv
which looks a bit like Sindarin. Historically that is '(It is) me who
writes' == I write. Interestingly this has been leveled so that in the
plural the form is still only _skriv_. This form is used when the subject
precedes the verb. Otherwise you have e.g. _eun istor a skrivan_
'I write a story'.
Perhaps in Sindarin a similar development is to be assumed: _Im hain
echant_ for older *_Im i hain echant_ '(It is) I who made them', with
_i_ being left out to avoid confusion between an explicative and a
restrictive relative sentence: *_Firn guinar_ (< *_Firn i guinar_?) 'Dead
live' vs _Firn i guinar_ 'The (particular) dead that live'. Possibly also,
two different relative pronouns where used. So, maybe, likewise
_Im echant_ (< *_im i echant_). Sindarin, like Breton, seems to use
fronting of the personal pronoun as a means to denote emphasis: I,
Narvi ... made ....