Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sargaĺk: Polarity, Relevance and Knowledge

Negation and Intense Affirmation

In most Sargaĺk dialects, negation is done by inserting the particle pin or pic before or after the main verb; it can also be sentence-initial in order to emphasize the negation. An intense form, pinta also exists.

Negation and intense affirmation have certain similarities morphosyntactically.
In most dialects, the markers go after or before the main verb, but can be fronted as well in order to really emphasize the marker. In Savk'e and Tńga dialects, the negation and intense affirmation morphemes are part of the verb morphology, and differ significantly from other dialects. Savk'e and Tńga speakers  generally double their negations when speaking to outsiders, using both the regular pin morpheme as well as their usual affix. 

In Savk'e, pin- forms the root for the indefinite negative pronouns, however, and jok- has been restricted a bit in distribution. In Savk'e, the negative pronoun comes in two forms, pin(s)- and pic-, pin(s)- being the animate negative pronoun and pic- the inanimate one.

There is also an intensive affirmative morpheme that has the same syntactical distribution as pin: sad. Sad is a bit like 'verily', 'certainly', 'absolutely'. Sad- also has nominal forms that emphasize a noun phrase, but also can serve as a very emphatic third person pronoun.

Syntactical differences between negated and positive verb phrases exist:

The Agnostic and Irrelevant Moods

The two usual polarities in Sargaĺk serve as the morphological and syntactical basis for two grammatical modalities – the agnostic mode and the irrelevant mode. These modes actually lack polarity of their own altogether. The markers go where the negative marker pin or the intensive affirmative marker sad would go. For the agnostic mode, ḿt'et'e, əmt'et or even ḿt'e marks that the speaker is not aware of the truth-value of his statement. With a rising intonation, this is one way of forming yes-no questions, although not a very common way.

The irrelevant mode uses the marker gos. It signifies that whether the statement is true or not is not interestinging at all. It uses the same syntactical features as the negated verb, however.

As a reminder to myself, I'll note down here that the Tńga and the Savk'e dialects will deal slightly differently with the agnostic and the irrelevant moods as well.

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