LINGUIST List 2.395

Saturday, 10 August 1991

Qs: Martuthunira demonstratives, Hausa informant

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  1. , Martuthunira Demonstratives --- Help?
  2. Tony Davis, Hausa informant wanted

Message 1: Martuthunira Demonstratives --- Help?

Date: Thu, 8 Aug 1991 11:31:36 +0800 (SST)
Subject: Martuthunira Demonstratives --- Help?
Martuthunira Definite Demonstratives
I am wrestling with a labelling problem in the
description of the demonstrative system in Martuthunira,
an Australian language. Demonstratives come in a number
of flavours. The basic system is as follows.
1.	There is a distinction between proximal (here) and
distal (there) forms.
2.	There is a distinction between adnominal (this/that)
and adverbial (here/there) forms. Within these two
categories there is some elaboration.
3.	Adnominal forms either 'modify' a head nominal in an
NP (there is no formal distinction between adjective and
noun in this language - whether or not there's a semantic
difference is a question of faith), or may be heads
themselves. There is no class of third person pronouns
(though there is an old plural third person pronoun which
demands set identity between itself and some plural
antecedent). Adnominal demonstratives inflect for case
and number.
4.	There are three different adnominal demonstrative
classes. The plain vanilla demonstratives function like
either 3rd pronouns or definite articles.
5.	There are special 'topic-tracking' subject and
object forms. The speaker selects some participant as
central to the narrative and marks this by using the
'topic-tracking' forms. The selected participant may
switch, either indicated by the use of a proximal (ie.
foregrounding presentative) demonstrative or simply by
the selection of 'topic-tracking' forms for a different
6.	There is another demonstrative which I have
(tentatively) labelled 'definite demonstrative' and which
is continuing to give me headaches. The *plain*
demonstrative indicates that a referent fulfilling a
description, or the syntactic role of the NP in which the
form occurs, may be found by the addressee. The *topic-
tracking* form adds the extra information that this
referent is "the thing that the speaker is talking
about". The *definite* demonstrative indicates the
existence of a 'particular' referent which can be found
in either the immediate linguistic context or in the
immediate extra-linguistic context. In comparison with
the other two demonstrative types, it reduces the set of
possible demonstrative antecedents yet further.
Some examples (by English gloss - for your protection)
are: (the offending forms are indicated thus:
a.	You take *this* spear [offering it] for an emu.
b.	That [hill] saved not just a few people. Some poor
	fellows used to go frightened being chased by some
	other mob, frightened of getting stabbed, and climb
	*that* [the hill], and sit on top.
c.	The two fellows with us still aren't listening to	us
	talking here. What are they thinking? That they're
	being abused?
	We won't insult *this-DUAL* [ie. them].
7.	The most commonly occurring form of the 'definite
demonstrative' is the genitive distal form which bears a
strong resemblance to the Latin possessive adjective
suus, suum, "his own". The antecedent must be found in
the immediate linguistic context and is most often an
argument (typically subject) of the same clause. The
following examples illustrate:
d.	That man(i) is waiting for *his(i)* clothes to dry.
e.	He(i) stayed for a while, got homesick. Then thought
	about returning to *his(i)* camp.
f.	My big brother(i) didn't eat any meat, too full.
	So I ate *his(i)* meat.
g.	The two of us(i) [1DLexclusive pronoun] sat side by
	side, *his(i)* children were shouting, keeping all
	of us awake.
h.	I chased that kangaroo(i). *Its(i)* little one was
	speared by the other man.
i.	They(i) didn't know that those(j) young men keeping
	*those things of theirs(j)* were going to kill
In (d) and (e) the genitive demonstrative is part of a
non-subject NP and the antecedent is the subject of the
same clause. In (f) however, the 1sg subject of the
clause is not a possible antecedent of the third person
genitive and here the antecedent is the subject of the
preceding clause. In (g) the genitive is part of the
subject NP and the antecedent is the third person
included within the reference set of the first person
exclusive pronoun subject of the preceding clause. In
(h), the 1sg subject of the preceding clause is not a
possible antecedent and the object of that clause is the
antecedent. In (i) the demonstrative is embedded within
an adnominal (proprietive) modifier in a complex NP and
the antecedent is the head of that NP.
The following examples show the difficulty in writing any
strict rule for seeking the antecedent:
(j)	That man(i) hit my dog. I never used to hit *his(i)*
(k)	That child was sneaking up on a parrot(i). *Its(i)*
	[nest hole] is in the top of the tree.
For the moment my problem is not so much in understanding
the nature of this beast as in finding a label for it.
Much as they resemble the Latin suus, I hesitate to call
these things reflexive - they are not. First, there is a
separate reflexive nominal (glossed simply as "self").
Second, these demonstratives are not bound in their
governing domain.
But I would be interested in comments and suggestions.
And in case anyone is tempted to ask, "Can you say ...",
How would you say, ...", I should point out that my
intuitions for this language are not that well developed,
and the last fluent speaker is 80 years old and somewhere
uncontactable in the outback of Western Australia.
Alan Dench
Department of Anthropology
University of Western Australia
Nedlands, WA 6009
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Message 2: Hausa informant wanted

Date: Wed, 7 Aug 91 17:13:09 PDT
From: Tony Davis <tdavisCsli.Stanford.EDU>
Subject: Hausa informant wanted
I'm looking for a native speaker of Hausa, prefereably from the Kano
area but others would be OK, who could serve as an informant. I have
a fairly small number of questions that could probably be answered
via e-mail. If you know of anyone who could help, please contact me
Tony Davis
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