Rawàng Ata #14: Core Alignment and Agreement

No, the #14 doesn’t mean there are 13 previous posts. It’s just a version number I thought I’d use to show myself which things are meant to be compatible with which other things…

[EDIT: darn. We’re not allowed to do interlinear glosses on wordpress, are we? I’ll have to put together a pdf or something, I suppose.]

The issues of voice and alignment in Rawàng Ata are complex. Understanding them must begin with a division of verbs into three kinds: dynamic, stative, and motive. In addressing these categories, it will further be necessary to draw a distinction between fluid and concrete state.

Dynamic verbs are most likely to have semantics of action, alteration, and imposition – they prototypically relate to one entity, the subject, behaving in a way that materially affects a second entity, the object.

The prototypical argument structure (and ordering) of a fluid dynamic verb is S-V-O. S, the subject, is unmarked (‘is in the direct case’); O, the object, is marked with the suffix -ma (‘is in the accusative case’; note that this suffix may also appear as -ba or -na, due to sandhi), unless the object has a first-person or transparent second-person referant. If neither participant is addressed in the first- or second-person, the verb agrees with the subject with one set of prefixes (‘discursive agreement’); if either participant is a first- or second-person, the verb agrees with the subject with a different set of prefixes, and the object with one of two sets of suffixes depending on whether the object is or is not a first- or second-person participant (‘directive agreement’).

 Eg.1    datta  sakkunga  kòmana
datta  sakkung-a  kòma-ma
sailor kick-DEI  girl-ACC
the sailor kicked the girl

 Eg.2       kòma    kusakkunga       dattama
kòma    ku-sakkung-a    datta-ma
girl   3F-kick-DEI      sailor-ACC
the girl kicked the sailor

   Eg.3       shilaì   radurukya   sabajma  kaò
shilaì ra-duruky-a  sabar-ma  kao
paper_scalpel    3A-pierce-DEI    pulping-ACC   flat_expanse
the paper-scalpel pierced the paper
N.B. sabar kaò is a set expression for paper

   Eg.4   ranatuya ōtusakkungawa  kàya
ranatuya    ōtu-sakkung-aw-a    kàya
 
you    2-kick-DEI-1EX     me[f.]
  you kicked me (a woman)
N.B. although the independent pronouns ranatuya and kàya may appear to be in the ergative case, this is not (synchronically) the case

However, there are deviations from this prototypical pattern. Most simply, the object may in some circumstances be given the suffix -ya instead (‘be placed in the ergative case’), typically to convey a partitive or metonymic implication. This has no wider ramifications. Likewise, the suffix may alternatively be -si or -ki instead (the ‘lative’ and ‘prolative’ cases). The use of ergative, lative or prolative cases without further ramifications will be called ‘quirky object’.

Eg.5       shilaì  rahàrta   bokki  lò
shilaì   ra-hàrta     boy-ki     lò
paper_scalpel    3A-carve-DEI      wood-PRO chunk
the paper-scalpel cut lightly into the surface of the wood

A deeper deviation occurs when the action described by the verb is insufficiently semantically transitive. In these cases, S is placed in the ergative case, while O may remain in the accusative case or else be transferred to the lative, prolative, avertive (the suffix -‘jnya) or benefactive (the suffix -‘nga) cases (this process is entirely distinct from the similar phenomenon of quirky object). In discursive agreement, the verb then continues to agree with S as before; in directive agreement, however, the verb only agrees with first- or second-person participants (and first- or second-person objects will be in the direct case).

Eg.6       shilaìya  radurukya  dattasi
shilaì-ya    ra-duruky-a     datta-si
paper_scalpel-ERG  3A-pierce-DEI    sailor-LAT
the paper-scalpel was thrust out toward the sailor

  Eg.7       kòmaya    kusakkunga  dattàjnya
kòma-ya  ku-sakkung-a  datta-‘jnya
girl-ERG   3F-kick-DEI   sailor-AVR
for fear of the sailor, the girl kicked out

  Eg.8       kòmaya   sakkungawa   kàya
kòma-ya  sakkung-aw-a  kàya
girl-ERG   kick-1EX-DEI  me[f.]
the girl kicked me (a woman)

Regardless of transitivity questions, prepositional phrases modifying the verb follow on from the core arguments:

Eg.9       kòma    kusakkunga    dattama   oà dà
kòma ku-sakkung-a    datta-ma   oa   dà
girl   3F-kick-DEI   sailor-ACC  on  deck
the girl kicked the sailor while they stood on the deck of a ship

These fluid dynamic verb phrases can be subjected to considerable reordering. Topical extraction can bring out any element in the ergative or direct cases:

Eg.10     kòma,   kusakkunga dattama oà dà
as for the girl, she kicked the sailor as they stood on the deck of a ship

Eg.11     kàya, kòmaya sakkungawa
as for me (a woman), the girl kicked me

This includes prepositional phrases; however, topical extraction of a prepositional phrase requires correlate-fronting within the comment-structure, redefining the scope of the prepositional phrase. Either S or O can be topicalised, but the verb cannot be fronted. Correlate-fronting with prepositional phrases is only one form of fronting; comment-internal fronting also occurs to show correlation with topics, and simply to show emphasis. Any item may be fronted, including prepositional phrases (which can correlate with topicalised phrases). Correlate-fronting moves the fronted item to the front of the comment clause; emphatic fronting need only move the item in front of all other items that have not been correlate-fronted

Eg.12     kòmaya, kàya sakkungawa
     regarding the girl – she kicked me (a woman)

Eg.13     kòmaya, sakkungawa kàya
    regarding the girl – she kicked me (a woman)

Eg.14     kàya, kòmaya sakkungawa
      as for me (a woman), the girl kicked me
        OR: as for me (a woman), my girl kicked me

Eg.15     kòma, shilaì radurukya   sabajma kaò
     as for the girl, her paper-scalpel pierced the paper

Eg.16     kòma, sabajma kaò shilaì radurukya
      as for the girl, her paper was pierced by the paper-scalpel

Eg.17     kòma, sabajma kaò radurukya shilaì
      as for the girl, her paper was pierced by the paper-scalpel

Eg.18     oà dà, kòma kusakkunga dattama
     on the deck of a ship, a (/the ship’s?) girl kicked the sailor

Eg.19     oà dà, dattama kòma kusakkunga
       on the deck of a ship, a sailor of the ship was kicked by a girl

Eg.20     oà dà, dattama kusakkunga kòma
     on the deck of a ship, a sailor of the ship was kicked by a girl

Eg.21     oà dà, aban baryōng, kòma kusakkunga datta
      on the deck of a ship facing a palace, a girl of that palace kicked a sailor

A fluid dynamic verb must have a subject, but need not always have an explicitly stated object (though failing to do so automatically renders the verb intransitive):

Eg.22     kòmaya kusakkunga
the girl kicked out

This situation can be reversed, however, by placing the verb into the passive tense. This creates a (by default) transitive verb in which the old object is treated as the subject. The agent need not now be stated; if it is stated, it takes the ergative. Passive fluid dynamics have a default S-V-O structure. Passive verbs agree with their subjects, although slightly differently from active verbs (in that feminines need not be agreed with).

Eg.23     kòma    sakkungata
kòma    sakkung-at-a
girl          kick-PASS-DEI
the girl was kicked

   Eg.24     kòma sakkungata dattaya
the girl was kicked by the sailor

First- and second-person arguments are treated just the same (i.e. semantic agents of passives are still in the ergative), but do trigger directive agreement:

Eg.25     kòma kurasakkungata kàyaya
the girl was kicked by me (a woman)

Stative verbs, in contrast to dynamic verbs, typically describe a condition, state, status, tendency, habit, or disposition of a thing. The hallmark of a stative verb is usually that the thing in question is not performing any specific, definite action at the time in question (though stative verbs can refer to habitual behaviours).

The typical syntax of a stative verb is S-V-O, just as with dynamic verbs, but S is typically in the ergative (regardless of transitivity), O is typically in the direct (i.e. unmarked) case, and the verb typically agrees with O via suffixes.

Eg.26     dattaya tawa kòma
      the girl sees the sailor

Eg.27     dattaya                tossasu                boy        lò
   datta-ya              toss-a-su             boy        lò
       sailor-ERG           break-DEI-3I       wood    chunk
the wood has been broken up by the sailor

Some complications can, however, occur. Sometimes the subject will instead occur in the benefactive, causative (-yàn), accusative, or lative case (‘quirky subject’). Topicalisations, and both correlate- and emphasis-fronting can occur, and prepositional phrases are also permitted.

Eg.28     dattayàn tossasu boy lò
      the wood has been broken up thanks ultimately to the sailor

Eg.29     boy lò, tossasu dattaya aban baryōng
    as for the wood, it’s been broken up by the sailor, opposite the palace

Stative verbs can omit the subject without trouble. They cannot, however, omit the object. There is no way to omit the object in fluid stative verbs (i.e. there is no antipassive voice).

‘Motive’ verbs are not limited to verbs of motion – they also include verbs of metaphorical or literal emission, among others. Motive verbs have only one core argument, and hence their phrases have the structure S-V-I. The subject is in the direct case, and the verb agrees with it through prefixes. I is an optional integral oblique, a prepositional phrase intimitely connected with the action, most often a destination, origin, or location; when an integral oblique is present, the noun governed by the preposition is placed into the locative (-òn), ergative or lative case. The meaning of prepositions in these integral oblique phrases may differ from their use elsewhere:

Eg.30     datta     luà      aban     bedùron
    datta     lua-a       aban     bèdur-òn
       sailor     swim-DEI       facing    ship-LOC
the sailor swam toward the ship

Eg.31     datta luà aban bèdur
    the sailor swam while opposite the ship

Eg.32     djajàng rahàdia taòtu kùolusi
    the djajang salivated at the thought of the meat

Any prepositional phrase may be fronted, to topicalise, to emphasise, or to correlate.

Eg.33  aban bèdur, datta luà
opposite the ship, the (ship’s?) sailor swam

  Eg.34     datta, aban bèdur luà
the sailor, while opposite the ship, swam

Motive verbs also have a passive-applicative form, in which the oblique argument becomes the subject. This leaves the preposition behind as a verbal motif. This is only possible with integral obliques (not other prepositional phrases), though they lose their case-marking in the process. The agent is then placed in the ergative.

Eg.35     bèdur, dattaya salùata aban
as for the ship, it was swum toward by the sailor

Eg.36     kùolu, djajàngya sahàdyata taòtu
    as for the meat, the thought of it was salivated at by the djajang

 

The above syntax deals with verbs in the fluid state. In the concrete state, dynamic, motive and stative verbs fall together. Here, the default word order is V-S-O; the verb agrees through prefixes with S; S is in the direct case; and O is in the ergative or locative case. When stative and dynamic verbs are placed into the concrete state, it is important to note that the argument acting as a subject in the fluid state acts as an object in the concrete.

Eg.37     rasakkungan        kòma    dattaya
ra-0-sakkung-an    kòma    datta-ya
3A-C1-kick-C                      girl          sailor-ERG
the sailor kicked the girl

   Eg.38     ranutawan    kòma    dattaya
ra-nu-taw-an    kòma    datta-ya
3A-C3-taw-C     girl          sailor-ERG
the girl was used to seeing the sailor

The object may be fronted to topicalise, or for correlation or emphasis. The subject, however, cannot be fronted, and the object may not be fronted to intervene between verb and subject.

Eg.39     dattaya, ranutawan kòma
as for the sailor, the girl was used to seeing him

  Eg.40     bèdur, dattaya ranutawan kòma
as for the ship, the girl was used to seeing one of its sailors
OR: As for the ship, the girl was used to seeing a sailor (but not the ship itself)

Either the subject or the object may be omitted, or both, although omitting the subject requires a particular agreement prefix.

Finally, there is one small complication with concrete state verbs: any first- or second-person participant is treated as the subject of a verb in the concrete state, is placed in the direct case (or dropped entirely), and is agreed with by the verb through prefixes. If the pronominal argument is the semantic ‘patient’ of the verb, the object will be marked with the ergative or locative case, as is typical; however, if the pronominal argument is the ‘agent’, the object will instead be marked with the accusative case. Where there are two first- or second-person participants, the second-person participant is the subject if present; if there are multiple participants of the same person, the higher status participant is the subject.

Eg.41     ratawan kàya dattaya
I (a woman) saw the sailor

     Eg.42     ratawan kàya dattama
the sailor saw me (a woman)

To summarise, a table may be helpful. Note that in the following the terms ‘agent’ and ‘patient’ merely denote the more and less agentive core arguments, and make no definite assumptions about threshold levels of agency (in particular, not all ‘agents’ as defined for the purposes of this table are considered to have agency as regards transitivity and animacy issues).

VERB TYPE VERB STATE VERB VOICE ‘AGENT’ CASE AND STATUS VERB AGREEMENT ‘PATIENT’
Dynamic Fluid Active Direct or Ergative; Subject With Subject, by prefixes (type 1 when discursive, type 2 when directive); also with Object by suffixes (type 2) when directive Accusative, Lative, Prolative, Avertive, Benefactive, or Ergative; Object; Optional
Dynamic Fluid Passive Ergative; Object; Optional With Subject, by prefixes (type 3 when discursive, type 2 when directive); also with Object by suffixes (type 2) when directive Direct; Subject
Dynamic Concrete Active Ergative; ObjectOR: Direct, Subject (if highest-ranking first- or second-person participant); Optional With Subject, by prefixes (type 3 when discursive, type 2 when directive) Direct; SubjectOR: Accusative, Object (when Subject position has been taken by a (higher-ranking) first- or second-person participant)
Stative Fluid Active Accusative, Benefactive, Causative, or Lative; Subject; Optional With Object, by suffixes (type 1 when discursive, type 2 when directive); also with Subject by prefixes (type 2) when directive Direct; Object
Stative Concrete Active Ergative; ObjectOR: Direct, Subject (if highest-ranking first- or second-person participant); Optional With Subject, by prefixes (type 3 when discursive, type 2 when directive) Direct; SubjectOR: Accusative, Object (when Subject position has been taken by a (higher-ranking) first- or second-person participant)
Motive Fluid Active Direct; Subject With Subject, by prefixes (type 3) Preposition + Locative, Ergative or Lative; Integral Oblique; Optional
Motive Fluid Passive-Applicative Ergative; Object; Optional With Subject, by prefixes (type 3) Direct; Subject
Motive Concrete Active Direct; Subject With Subject by prefixes (type 3 when discursive, type 2 when directive) Preposition + Locative, Ergative or Lative; Integral Oblique; Optional

SEE ALSO:
Verbal Morphology
Concrete and Fluid States
Formation and Use of Cases

Co-ordination of Clauses
Possession (direct possessive structures appear superficially similar to verbal structures)

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