Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Ćwarmin Family Universal

The Ćwarmin-Ŋʒädär family has a morphological universal that might be of some interest: there is a particular structure to nouns derived from verbs.

The structure is essentially as follows:
The significance of this is that instrumental nouns (opener, key, etc) are derived from the agentive form (runner, builder, etc), and locative forms (diner, etc) are derived from patientive forms. The adjutative form (a 'helper' noun with rather varying meanings) and the abstract form are less closely aligned to the agentive and patientive forms - adjutatives almost always, however, are embedded in one or the other, whereas abstract nouns can be more closely related to infinitives, the verb stem or the present tense stem.

One interesting thing with this is that it also applies to suppletive forms. We find that the verbs 'hunt' in Dagurib has a suppletive agentive form:
kinhes (to hunt, infinitive): kinhird (prey) but taʊgab (hunter)
The locative form derives from kinhird (kinhireŋi), but the bow derives from taʊgab - taʊgavlʊk. A similar phenomenon applies throughout the Ćwarmin-Ŋʒädär family. Thus, the agentive of 'to fish' is suppletive in Ćwarmin:
sirpən (to fish, infinitive): sirpist (a catch), but źaŋk (a fisherman)
A good spot for placing one's nets is sirpisəmi, but the tool for repairing the net is a źaŋkasta.

The lack of an adjutative implication might seem to justify leaving it out of the graph altogether, there are some interesting things that justify keeping it. The Dagurib language, for instance, permits productive switching of the adjutative between agentive- and patientive-derived forms with slight difference in meaning, e.g.
malc.ab.oš = co-traveller
malc.ʊrd.oš = enslaved co-traveller
Mostly, the "patientive adjutative" will be less animate than the agentive adjutative, but the pair given above is one out of many exceptions.

In Ŋʒädär, a number of adjutative nouns are derived from the patientive form, although a majority derive from the agentive. The patientive adjutative seems to be more likely to appear with intransitive verbs than with transitive, but it's a minority for both.

In most ĆŊ languages, there are at least traces of the original system where the location and instrument suffix are identical, the difference being whether the intervening morpheme is patientive or agentive.For instance, we have Ćwarmin
toŋovuk - the smith's sledgehammer
toŋluk - the forge
or in Ŋʒädär 
swokaupo - the clergyman's ceremonial stick
swokurpo - the temple

Differentiation has later occurred, though, and different languages have come up with different suffixes to produce these forms, often reduced forms of words like 'thing' or 'place' or 'tool' or 'stone'. 'Stone', funny enough, appears for 'tool' in some ĆŊ languages, and for 'place' in some others, in part due to the importance of stones as markers of property in some areas.

In Ćwarmin, the pseudo-participles are closely related to the agentive and patientive noun forms. This does not necessarily hold for other ĆŊ languages.

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