Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ANADEWS: Yukaghir: The Core Case System

It turns out that Yukaghir has a rather unusual split-intransitive core case system: Yukaghir combines pragmatic roles with syntactic roles in this cool little system:

So, unlike most languages - which get by with two cases for this (and I mean two cases even for isolating languages - many languages, including English, do have syntactical features that distinguish subjects from objects in a very case-like manner) - Yukaghir has four here. Further, the O-Topic (green) is marked as S/A-topic if the A-topic outranks the O-topic in a person hierarchy (speaker > non-speaker).

A-focus is the least marked form, and apparently for most nominals mostly identical to S/A-topic - third person pronouns being the exception where they're always distinct.

This interacts in weird ways with the verbal system, to which I will return in a follow-up post. For now, grasping this should be a good start.

Elena Maslova, Tundra Yukaghir, Languages of the World/Materials 372, 2003, Lincom Europa.

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