Monday, November 12, 2012

Short sketch #2: Participle craziness

A language with more than three dozen different kinds of participles-gerunds, marking things like future religious obligation, current religious obligation, obligation to close kin, active carrying out of an action in contravention of agreement, being the object of an action carried out in contravention of an agreement, having been the witness to a contravention that has been violated, intense desire for performing an act,  etc. No verb can be inflected for all of these participles though, the average verb having less than ten of them, the occasional verb having upwards of twenty. Tense, aspect and even mood feature in various not very regular ('cartesian') combinations, and cultural things factor into the huge set of available participles.

The most basic ones would include:

  • actively, currently carrying out an action ((with much|with some|without] physical exertion)
  • recently having finished carrying out an action (with|without physical exertion)
  • intending to carry out an action (with|without physical exertion)
  • being obliged to carry out an action
The participles can be used as adjectives, as nouns describing the state (with some syntactic restrictions on how they can be used), and as complements of some auxiliaries. Adverbial use is also possible.

Secondary idea that goes well: some auxiliary-like verbs lacking finite forms altogether, and being used for somewhat anaphora-like uses and in some idioms. 

I envision this as being in a language with a relatively small nominal morphology, with a simple TAM system. 

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