Friday, April 23, 2021

Ŋʒädär: Indefinite Address

Indefinite address in Ŋʒädär differs from that of English significantly. Indefinite address does reuse parts of the indefinite pronoun system for some constructions - but only because the dedicated indefinite second person address pronouns lack certain case forms.

1. Indefinite 2nd person

Besides the usual second person pronoun vär, Ŋʒädär has a rather special second person indefinite pronoun, 'jusa(n)' (absolutive), 'jusam' (dative). It has a rather simplified case morphology, but has a specialized morphological system. It seems fairly clear it originates with the imperative "jus", listen up.

1.1 Use

The pronoun is used when addressing (at least) one individual out of a group, such that the speaker is not aware of the identity, but is able to deduce the existence of, or at the very least suspects the existence of, a person that fulfills some given criteria. In writings, it an also address any reader that has some quality, or any reader in general. With the spread of literacy, it has especially taken to being the term of address employed when instructing any reader to do something - in letters to a specific reader, the second person is used instead.

1.2 Morphology 

The pronoun only distinguishes two cases, the absolutive and the dative. Other cases are conflated either with the second person pronoun vär, or some  indefinite pronoun (depending on context, style, time, personal preference of the speaker, etc).

However, jusa(n) has some special morphology, with some amount of syncretism in the system. It is similar to the indefinite pronouns lisar and nusar, with the exception that lisar and nusar have a full case system (with some syncretism).

absolutivejusar, lisar
jusada, lisada
sajusan, salisan
dativejusam, lisam
jusada, lisada
jusam, lisam

Forms such as jusaŋa, jusus, jusuk, jusluno etc do appear in speech, but rather infrequently. They do seem to elicit a certain sense of "wrongness" whenever used, both in most hearers and speakers. 

The adnominal can refer to an adjective or a noun.

jusar ŋator ('someone fast (among you)')
jusar kamma ('a/the chieftain (among you)')

lisar ŋator (someone fast)
nusar ŋator (something fast)

If it is known that at most one such individual can exist, the 2nd person plural possessive often marks the noun or adjective, i.e.

jusar kamma-un ('your chieftain' - assumed to be present)
jusar ŋator-un ('the fastest person among you')

Sometimes, the complement case is used both for adjectives and nouns:

jusar ŋatoɣuv (in northwestern: jusaɣ ŋat:wuo)
jusar kammo-ɣuv (in northwestern: jusaš kaŋ:wuo)

In early modern Ŋʒädär and still in northern and northwestern Ŋʒädär, this marks a weakened certainty of the presence of such a person. In central and southwestern, it has rather come to be used with irrealis verb forms and questions.

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