Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Ćwarmin "Gender"/Number-Discongruence Thing

Although Ćwarmin does not have grammatical gender, some nouns and adjectives essentially have some form of "natural" gender. These include words such as "husband", "wife", "father", "son", "sister", "boy", "friend (male)", "friend (female)" etc, and among adjectives we have "handsome", "beautiful", "strong-willed (man)", "strong-willed (female)", "tall (man)", "tall (female)", "friendly (male)", "friendly (female)", "push-over (male)", "push-over (female)", ...

Sometimes, there is a gender/number discongruence thing going on, when one out of a pair of persons is described as being in relation to the other, or when two persons' relation is described in terms of such a noun, i.e.

I am brothers with her|him
śen itiś* kesr-il-cə
I 3sg_com brother_pl_compl

I am friends with him|her
śan utuś* ator-ul-co
I ... friend_pl_compl

(s)he is friends with him|her**
u totuś ator-ul-co
* or tetiś/totuś
** if both pronouns refer to females, aksan, female friend, is expected.
Funnily enough, "I" lacks this type of grammatical gender altogether, and the selection of noun can therefore get somewhat weird:
I am wives with 3sg
san utuś uvan-ul-co
As far as the speakers of the language go, they actually tend to parse the meaning of these kinds of constructions as whichever out of
I (and she), I am (such that) she is (my) wife. (male speaker's utterance)
I (and he), we are (such that) I am (his) wife (female speaker's utterance)
makes sense of the biological gender of the person given cultural assumptions. The plural of the complement agrees accidentally with the two implicitly plural subjects.

Essentially,  'with her' is parsed as the NP that is being predicated, and the subject is rather topic-like. This is basically only permissible with first and third person nouns, however - second person only permits readings where the subject is predicated:
you are husbands with her
bac utuś nogd-ul-co

you are wives with him
bac utuś uvan-ul-co
With coordinated subjects, whichever comes first usually "wins", whereas if there's a pronoun that refers to a mixed pair (or group), the male noun/adjective usually wins, but exceptions exist - "wife", "friendly (female)" and "beautiful", for instance. The example with "wife" probably has to do with the wife being considered the 'central' part of marriage – undoubtedly due to the wife being the person giving birth to children.

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