Sunday, October 4, 2020

Ŋʒädär: Pondering Participles

These are just some early musings on a part of Ŋʒädär grammar. It is not very structured, but is provided as a sort of glimpse into how it comes along.

I have recently been tinkering with the participle system of Ŋʒädär. To go in a bit of an unusual direction I figured I should use a system of pre- and postposited particles to form them. This would give some nice advantages with regards to coming up with grammar: bracketing strategies, ('dance- and singing', "see -en and -ing"), potentially interesting grammaticalization paths (with the same particles having other uses in other parts of the language), and just a system that generates a lot of text in a grammar.

I want a somewhat "suboptimal system", i.e. one where a subset of possible combinations do not lend themselves to any very smooth construction but require full or near-full forms.

One strategy for reducing the optimality could be having some of the forms that are in complementary distribution have the opposite bracketing type: maybe present participles have postpositions and past participles have prepositions:

en eat -> eaten
eat ing -> eating

Maybe for a few quirky verbs, 'en VERB ing' has a special meaning. 

This far, I think the Ŋʒädär participle system will at its core have two tenses x two voices, but the voices will be integrated with the animacy hierarchy in a way that doesn't make it "passive vs active" but rather something like ...:
intransitives take a low marker with low animacy nouns and a high marker with high animacy nouns.

With transitive verbs
low animacy nouns x low animacy marker: active / reflexive
low animacy nouns x high animacy marker: passive
high animacy nouns x higher animacy marker: passive
high animacy nouns x high animacy marker: reflexive
high animacy nouns x low animacy marker: active

Historically, a preposited particle might be a conjunction and a (dummy?) pronoun or even a noun of some sort. A postposited particle might originate with an auxiliary verb or a postposition. These differences in origin may be reflected in different available markings - TAM, etc. One further type of origin for participle particles could be discourse particles.

Some modal distinctions that are even absent in the finite verb might pop up in the participles, but I think the grammaticalization path for those modalities needs to have a reach that would not have hit the finite verbs.

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