LINGUIST List 6.298

Sun 26 Feb 1995

Qs: Ergativity, Tutor, Bound copulas, Modality and negation

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  1. , Query: Ergativity
  2. , looking for tutor (psycholinguistics grad. class)
  3. , Query: bound copulas
  4. (, On modality and negation again

Message 1: Query: Ergativity

Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 17:04:26 Query: Ergativity
From: <JMCliftonaol.com>
Subject: Query: Ergativity

I am posting the following query for a colleague who is not a subscriber. He
is working in a Papuan (non-Austronesian) language of Papua New Guinea which
has ergativity, and is interested in comparative studies of ergativity,
especially any including Papuan languages. You can respond to me and I'll
forward any references to him. I'll also post a summary if responses merit
it.
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Message 2: looking for tutor (psycholinguistics grad. class)

Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 23:10:36 looking for tutor (psycholinguistics grad. class)
From: <g5468lbakeumbsky.cc.umb.edu>
Subject: looking for tutor (psycholinguistics grad. class)

Boston area student seeks tutor for a psychlinguistics course.
The focus is mostly on second language acquisition.
We are using the textbook "Psycholinguistics" by Gass and Selinker.
I want to clarify concepts and terms and get help with exam prep.
Please send qualifications and fee requirements by email to
g5468lbakeumbsky.cc.umb.edu .
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Message 3: Query: bound copulas

Date: Sat, 25 Feb 1995 11:06:38 Query: bound copulas
From: <DDEVITToavax.csuchico.edu>
Subject: Query: bound copulas

Content-Length: 1697

I am trying to gather information about languages in which copula
constructions are formed by directly affixing verbal morphology
(such as agreement marking, tense or aspect) to the predicate
nominal. Some examples of the phenomenon that I am interested
in are listed below. (Please forgive the lack of proper diacritics.)

1. BURIAT (Ural-Altaic): bi bagsa-b
 1S teacher-1S
 "I am a teacher."
2. KUI (Dravidian): ianju kuenju
 this.man Kui.3MS
 "He is a Kui person."

I am primarily interested in the grammatical catgories that are used
in these constructions and the sort of relations that are expressed
in these constuctions (i.e. identity/equivalence; class membership;
location). I would be happy to have bibliographic reference or
personal communication about languages that you have direct knowledge
of. Thanks.

Dan Devitt (ddevittoavax.csuchico.edu)
Dept. of English
CSU, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0830
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Message 4: On modality and negation again

Date: Sat, 25 Feb 1995 00:22:00 On modality and negation again
From: ( <GCA01363niftyserve.or.jp>
Subject: On modality and negation again

Content-Length: 2829

Dear Linguists,
 A friend of mine asked me to post a query on this discussion list
again about "modality and negation." Please give a reply to me
directly. Here is his query below:

********************************************************************

 I have been thinking about 'It be (im) possible for NP to VP'
and 'It be (im)possible that S' constructions. I asked fourteen
native English speakers about this construction on this list
a couple of months ago, and found that the six of them do not
permit 'It be impossible that S' construction like (1) below:

 (1) It is _impossible_ that she knew about his success.

This was very surprising. Among them, two people pointed out
that (1) is not acceptable, whereas (2) is acceptable:

 (2) It is _not possible_ that she knew about his sucess.

 The fact reminded me of Halliday's (1970) paper titled
'Functional diversity in language as seen from a consideration
of modality and mood in English.' On the page 333 of the paper,
he writes: "There is no such thing, therefore, as a negative
modality; all modalities are positive."

 I think that (1)'s unacceptability for some native speakers
is precisely because _impossible_ in (1) is a negative modality.
On the other hand, it is precisely because _not possible_ in (2)
is, to use Halliday's terminology, a modality negative that (2)
is acceptable.

 Then, why do many native English speakers accept sentence (1)?
In my view, this fact can be explained by saying that many native
speakers do not neessarily distinguish the meaning of _impossible_
from that of _not possible_ in everyday language use. Therefore,
it seems to me that the use of _impossible_ in (1) is not correct
on the level of competence (as oppsoed to performance). I would
be grateful if you comment on my view about this problem.
***************************************************************

Thanks a lot in advance (istead of my friend).

Best wishes,

Hiroaki Tanaka,
Associate Professor, Faculty of Integrated Artsand Sciences,
Tokushima University, Japan.
GCA01363niftyserve.or.jp
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