LINGUIST List 6.550

Wed 12 Apr 1995

Qs: Various structures, Pronouns, Ergativity, Reference search

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  1. , copula and comparative/superlative structures, pronoun relationships
  2. Bert Peeters, Ergativity in French
  3. Bert Peeters, Faulty reference?

Message 1: copula and comparative/superlative structures, pronoun relationships

Date: Sun, 09 Apr 1995 10:35:39 copula and comparative/superlative structures, pronoun relationships
From: <HARRISDguvax.acc.georgetown.edu>
Subject: copula and comparative/superlative structures, pronoun relationships

Two queries for the linguist list - April 1995
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Query on copula and comparative/superlative structures:
I am somewhat familiar with these structures in a variety of languages.
I am unaware of major differences in comparative/superlatives. The
only two copula structures that seem to differ much at all are Russian and
Arabic with their lack of a verb "to be" in simple present-tense utterances.
Another oddity is that, in Arabic, when a verb "to be" or "to become" is
overtly present, the predicate appears in the direct-object tense. I
think this is just a case of levelling, ie. most verbs have a predicate
in the accusative case, so the few "be" or "become" verbs that there are
simply come to reflect this situation as well. I consider these two
differences to be very minor. Here then are my two questions: I am
interested to know if there are other languages where copula structures
(ie. those that contain a 'to be' or 'to become' verb) or comparative
and superlative structures ("this is bigger than that," "the biggest
in the world etc.") are treated vastly differently. In
addition, I would like to know how each constituent is treated in terms
of thematic roles. I suspect that in both utterances one would use
'theme' and 'goal' (well, maybe not in elatives) but I would like to know if
there are other ways of viewing such structures in terms of thematicization.
Thanks, David Harris,
harrisdguvax.georgetown.edu
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Query on relative and interrogative pronouns and their relationship:
In a cursory overview of the artificial language Novial that was developed
by Otto Jespersen early in this century, I noticed that Jespersen forms
relative and interrogative pronouns separately. In any language I'm
familiar with, both natural and artificial, this is the first time I've
come across one that differentiates between the two. It makes sense to
me to differentiate, because the two are so obviously different.
However, if so many langauges don't differentiate, there must 1] be
some kind of relationship between the two that would have caused this
situation to result in the first place, and 2] not be much of a problem
distinguishing between the two, or two different forms would have
eventually developed (at least in most languages) in order to
increase comprehension. My question is this: Can anyone explain to me
how these forms would have been related? I suspect that relatives develped
quite late, since they are involved in forming more complex
utterances that appear only late in a language's development. But why
would they be based on question words in so many cases? Are there
other languages where they've developed from another form? or, at least,
independent of the interrogative class?
Just curious,
David Harris, harrisdguvax.georgetown.edu
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Message 2: Ergativity in French

Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 09:43:22 Ergativity in French
From: Bert Peeters <Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au>
Subject: Ergativity in French

 I'm getting more and more interested in ergativity/unaccusativity in
 French. I guess I have a reasonably good grasp on the pre-1990 literature
 on the topic (e.g. Oli=E9 1984, Ambrose 1987, Zribi-Hertz 1987, Ruwet,
 Legendre) - but I'm still weak on what's been said after 1990. If
 anyone knows of anything I should know about, will you please share
 your information with me?
 Thanks!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dr Bert Peeters =20
Department of Modern Languages (French) =20
University of Tasmania =20
GPO Box 252C Tel. (002) 202344 +61 02 202344
Hobart TAS 7001 Fax. (002) 207813 +61 02 207813
Australia Email: Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
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Message 3: Faulty reference?

Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 11:02:11 Faulty reference?
From: Bert Peeters <Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au>
Subject: Faulty reference?

Our interlibrary loans people can't trace the following, which they
thought should be readily available in Australia, as it is published
by a major publisher.
*The biological foundations of language development*, N. Krasnegor/
D.Rumbaugh/M. Studdert-Kennedy/R. Schiefelbusch (eds). Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1989.
Could anyone confirm whether the reference is correct, or better still,
confirm whether a paper by E. Bates, D. Thal, and V. Marchman ("Symbols
amd Syntax: A Darwinian Approach to Language Development") is in it,
or has been published elsewhere?
Many thanks.
Bert Peeters
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dr Bert Peeters
Department of Modern Languages (French)
University of Tasmania
GPO Box 252C Tel. (002) 202344 +61 02 202344
Hobart TAS 7001 Fax. (002) 207813 +61 02 207813
Australia Email: Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
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