LINGUIST List 10.1236

Mon Aug 23 1999

Qs: Shina: Grammatical Label, Word Order Universal

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  1. Ruth Laila Schmidt, Shina: Searching for a grammatical label
  2. Gert Webelhuth, Word order universal?

Message 1: Shina: Searching for a grammatical label

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 16:27:03 +0200
From: Ruth Laila Schmidt <r.l.schmidteast.uio.no>
Subject: Shina: Searching for a grammatical label

Dear colleagues,

The Shina language has verbal sequences which are superficially like the
noun-plus-verb conjunct sequences familiar in other Indo-Aryan languages.
However the first element in these sequences is not really a noun (nor is
it a verb). Examples:

tam do�k, 'to bathe (to give bathing)'
phal tho�k, 'to throw (to do throwing)'

tam and phal occupy the same position in the sequence as a real
noun-plus-verb sequence like:

al do�k 'to jump (to give a jump)'

- however they are not nouns, cannot be modified by adjectives, do not take
nominal inflections, and occur only in verb sequences, usually with one or
at the most two operator verbs. al, 'jump' on the other hand behaves like a
noun and occurs independently.

On behalf of a colleague and myself I am requesting references to this
phenomenon in other languages, in order to find a descriptive term for
words like tam and phal. We are unhappy with "gerund" because the words are
not derived from verbs. "Verbal noun" is not accurate as they are not
nouns. "Auxiliary" is not accurate because these words do not function like
auxiliaries, and in any case Shina has real auxiliaries. "Main verb" will
not do because these words are not verbs, and in any case, Shina also has
verb-plus-verb compound sequences, for which we would like to reserve the
term "main verb" for the first element. I have been loosely referring to
them as "indeclinable nominals", but would like some better defined term
preferably with a precedent in a description of this phenomenon in another
language.

Kindly send references directly to me at: r.l.schmidteast.uio.no

With thanks and best wishes,

Ruth Laila Schmidt



***********************************************
Ruth Laila Schmidt
Dept of East European and Oriental Studies
University of Oslo
P.O. Box 1030 Blindern
N-0315 Oslo, Norway
Phone: (47) 22 85 55 86
Fax: (47) 22 85 41 40
Email: r.l.schmidteast.uio.no
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Message 2: Word order universal?

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 08:34:31 -0700
From: Gert Webelhuth <webelhuthunc.edu>
Subject: Word order universal?

I am trying to find out if the following empirical claim about word order is
empirically without counterexamples:

"In any given language, all verbs (the same for adjectives and nouns) always
behave alike with respect to the word order of their argument classes, i.e.
there is no language where the verb 'kick' precedes its direct object but
the verb 'hit' follows its direct object."

The claim refers to "argument classes" in order to allow for differences
between different kinds of arguments to verbs, i.e. direct objects are
allowed to behave differently from indirect objects, pronominal arguments
differently from non-pronominal ones, definites differently from
indefinites, etc. as long as all verbs treat direct objects alike, indirect
objects alike, etc. What I am interested in is the claim that in word order
we do NOT find the kind of lexical idiosyncrasy with verbs that we find in
morphology (irregular verbs) or case marking (quirky case marking verb),
i.e. the claim that there is no such thing as a 'quirky word order verb',
namely one that idiosyncratically specifies its word order relative to one
of its arguments.

I am asking this, because the phenomenon I am interested in DOES exist with
adpositions and modifiers: some languages have prepositions and
postpositions (German) and in some languages some adjectives precede the
noun they modify whereas others follow it (French). The same is true for
modifying adverbs (English). And given that verbs can be marked in
item-specific ways in many other domains, it would be an interesting
empirical property if indeed no languages exist where verbs (or
nouns/adjectives) can show lexeme-specific word order with respect to their
arguments.

If you know of any potential counterexamples to the 'no quirky word order
verb' claim, then I would very much appreciate it if you dropped me a line.
I will summarize the information that I receive.

Thank you very much for your help!

Gert Webelhuth
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