Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Detail #27: Pronoun duplication

Pronoun duplication to mark perfect or perfective aspect. There may be a lot of room for designing the strategy by which the pronoun to duplicate is picked - e.g. something simple like subject twice, or then something like object if there is one, otherwise subject. The language should probably have some case morphology, at least on the pronouns.

Strategies if all arguments are full noun phrases could include: doubling the subject (or object) - once as a noun phrase and once as a pronoun, omitting aspect marking altogether, or having the noun phrase be a topic and having the doubled pronouns within the main part of the sentence. There's space for rules dealing with potential confusion due to extra pronouns possibly being ambiguous as to whether they refer to some NP outside the current verb phrase or whether they refer to an already present object/subject, depending in part on how much case morphology and such helps disambiguate. In such instances, aspect may be considered entirely unmarked. Of course, if the language has some kind of proximative/obviative pronoun distinction that is no problem.

The doubled pronouns do not occur in sequence. One is usually catapulted to the end or beginning of the sentence, or to the other side of the verb.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Detail #26: Small set of vocabulary items

In a language with about English levels of inflection (well, maybe German, rather), a set of particles used for short subclauses along the lines of
... as did I
... than you are
... than he/she/it was 
 ... and so did you
... and so, he was [...]ed ... 
... and so, I ...
... than me  or ... than I, both distinct as they would be if the prescriptivist idea that the complement of than is subject or object of an omitted VP were correct. 
These would be formed from pronouns with verbal endings on them, with maybe some morphemes that are not used in any regular way in other verbs, coding for transitivity (do vs. be), type of use (comparison vs. inclusion ("as did I!")  vs. temporal sequence (and so, I ..., followed by inflected verb) vs. maybe some other usages), voice (active vs. oblique? active vs. passive vs. oblique? Where oblique stands for the pronoun being anything but subject or object;

As for voice, it would be nice if that were marked unlike how voice normally is marked in the language, and distinguished the two or three voices somewhat differently from the other voices in the language. I also imagine gaps in the paradigm would exist - first, the voice and transitivity markers would clearly be somewhat fusional, and I figure intransitive would mark obliques with the same morpheme the transitive equivalents use for direct objects. However, I also find the idea of having, say, some person lack some specific combination of use * transitivity * voice to be very appealing, like, maybe, lack of transitive oblique temporal sequence for first person or somesuch.

Historically, I imagine this would come about by reduced verb forms assimilating worn down pronouns in short subclauses.