Archive for November, 2017

1st Lexember Word

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

yóy [ˈjo̞͡ɪ], alienably possessed noun: “cold, low temperature“

image

Originally posted by png-saturnanimal

So, here we are, Lexember has finally arrived! And for the first word of this month, let’s have something cool :-P.

Seriously, yóy refers to the fact that things can be cold, i.e. objects can have a low temperature. It does not refer so much to the cold sensation nor to a cold weather (we’ll see how Haotyétpi does that in a few days) as to “cold” in general, the property that all cold objects share.

This noun is not commonly used, as one does not usually talk about the concept of cold itself separately from it use to indicate a sensation or a weather phenomenon. However, it is used as the basis for quite a few other words, so I thought it necessary to introduce it first.

No example today due to lack of time. I’ll try to make it up tomorrow :).

(And sorry for the empty post earlier. Unfortunately, IFTTT still seems to have problems with copying the contents of a Tumblr post to Blogger. I'll look into that)

A Question of Alignment VIII: Relativization

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

In this series of blog articles—taken (more or less) straight from the current working draft of chapter 5.4 of the new grammar for better visibility and as a direct update of an old article (“Flicking Switches: Ayeri and the Austronesian Alignment”, 2012-06-27)—I will finally reconsider the way verbs operate with regards to syntactic alignment.


Kroeger (1991) observes that in Tagalog, only nominative arguments may be relativized. He refers to Keenan and Comrie (1977)’s accessibility hierarchy of NPs, according to which, he reports, “if only a single argument of any clause can be relativized, that argument must be the subject” (Kroeger 1991: 24). That is, the argument in the main clause which is modified by a relative clause must be the nominative argument, and additionally, Tagalog requires that there must not appear an overt nominative argument in the relative clause itself. The verb in the relative clause carries inflection for the role of the relativized argument in the relative clause, which is itself gapped. Thus, (1a) is grammatical, while (1b) is not.

  1. Tagalog (Kroeger 1991:24, from Foley and Van Valin 1984: 141–142):
    1. bata=ng b-in-igy-an ng=lalake ng=isda

      child=LNK PFV-give-DV GEN=man GEN=fish

      ‘the child which was given fish by the man’

    2. *isda=ng nag-bigay ang=lalake sa=bata

      fish=LNK AV-PFV-give NOM=man DAT=child

Ayeri, however, has no such restrictions. Non-topic NPs may be relativized, and relative clauses not uncommonly contain their own agent NP. The relativized NP may even be referred to in the relative clause by a resumptive pronoun or pronominal clitic, since verbs must not go uninflected. Since all NPs are accessible for relativization, it is not a suitable criterion for testing the subjecthood of what we so far identified as the topic NP.

  1. {Ang ilya} inunley ganyam inunaya si gumasayāng edaya.

    ang=il-ya inun-ley gan-yam inunaya-Ø si gum-asa=yāng edaya

    AT=give-3SG.M fish-P.INAN child-DAT fisherman-TOP REL work-HAB=3SG.M.A here

    ‘The fisherman who used to work here, he gave fish to the child.’

In (2), inunaya ‘the fisherman’, is both the topic of the clause and modified by a relative clause. He is referenced anaphorically by the 3SG.M.A suffix -yāng on the verb in the relative clause, since he is the actor in both. However, as the next examples show, these circumstances are not requirements for grammatical statements.

    1. {Ang ilya} inunaya inunley ganyam si {ang pyabasaye} benanya-hen.

      ang=il-ya inunaya-Ø inun-ley gan-yam si ang=pyab-asa=ye.Ø benan-ya=hen

      AT=give-3SG.M fisherman-TOP fish-P.INAN child-DAT REL AT=pass.by-HAB=3SG.F.TOP morning-LOC=every

      ‘The fisherman, he gave fish to the child which passes by every morning.’

    2. {Ang ilya} inunaya ganyam inunley si petigayāng hiro.

      ang=il-ya inunaya-Ø gan-yam inun-ley si petiga=yāng hiro

      AT=give-3SG.M fisherman-TOP child-DAT fish-P.INAN REL catch=3SG.M.A freshly

      ‘The fisherman, he gave fish which he caught freshly to the child.’

In (3a), the recipient NP ganyam ‘to the child’ is not the topic of the clause, but it is modified by a relative clause anyway. The relativized NP is again represented within the relative clause by means of verb morphology. The topic marker on the verb identifies the person suffix on the verb as the clause’s topic. In (3b), it is likewise not the topic NP which is relativized, but the patient NP inunley ‘fish’. This NP, however, is not represented in the relative clause because the verb does not inflect for the role of the patient, which the relativized NP carries in the relative clause as well. There is no morphology to alter the voice of the verb in such a way that the matrix clause’s patient NP becomes the subject of the relative clause.

  1. {Ang ilya} inunaya ganyam inunley si hiro nay lepan.

    ang=il-ya inunaya-Ø gan-yam inun-ley si hiro nay lepan

    AT=give-3SG.M fisherman-TOP child-DAT fish-P.INAN REL fresh and tasty

    ‘The fisherman, he gave fish which is fresh and tasty to the child.’

Relative clauses in Ayeri may even just consist of a predicative adjective, as (4) illustrates. In these cases, there is no case-marked noun or topic contained in the relative clause.

  • Foley, William A. and Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. Functional Syntax and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984. Print.
  • Keenan, Edward L. and Bernard Comrie. “Noun phrase accessibility and uni­versal grammar.” Linguistic Inquiry 8 (1977): 63–99. Print.
  • Kroeger, Paul R. Phrase Structure and Grammatical Relations in Tagalog. Diss. Stanford University, 1991. Web. 17 Dec. 2016. ‹http://www.gial.edu/wp-content/uploads/paul_kroeger/PK-thesis-revised-all-chapters-readonly.pdf›.

Detail #361: Auxiliaries for Voices

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
Consider a language where even pretty 'simple' voices like reflexives and reciprocals are expressed using auxiliaries. This provides an interesting space for introducing the distinction between reciprocals and reflexives - number congruence!

If there is some form of person marking possible on infinitives as well, one could imagine having the infinitive take singular marking for reciprocals (or maybe vice versa); however, one could also imagine using just plural verb forms for plural reciprocal subjects, and singular verb forms for plural reflexive subjects.

What if we want the reflexivity or reciprocality not to be with regards to a direct object? Maybe the auxiliaries for voice can stack, and some of them give applicatives and circumstantial voices. Maybe the relevant case-marker (adposition, whatever) can be incorporated in the auxiliary, or turned into an argument of the verb?

Also: UPDATE:
I've been doing really gruelling work on the historical sound changes of Ćwarmin and Ŋʒädär, and will soon post some updates on those. Expect pretty detailed stuff.

Detail #361: Auxiliaries for Voices

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
Consider a language where even pretty 'simple' voices like reflexives and reciprocals are expressed using auxiliaries. This provides an interesting space for introducing the distinction between reciprocals and reflexives - number congruence!

If there is some form of person marking possible on infinitives as well, one could imagine having the infinitive take singular marking for reciprocals (or maybe vice versa); however, one could also imagine using just plural verb forms for plural reciprocal subjects, and singular verb forms for plural reflexive subjects.

What if we want the reflexivity or reciprocality not to be with regards to a direct object? Maybe the auxiliaries for voice can stack, and some of them give applicatives and circumstantial voices. Maybe the relevant case-marker (adposition, whatever) can be incorporated in the auxiliary, or turned into an argument of the verb?

Also: UPDATE:
I've been doing really gruelling work on the historical sound changes of Ćwarmin and Ŋʒädär, and will soon post some updates on those. Expect pretty detailed stuff.

Once Again, Lexember is Close at Hand!

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

So the weather is getting colder, and the days are getting shorter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). You know what this means: Lexember is upon us!

As I did in the last two years, I’ll participate with Haotyétpi. That language is still very much in its infancy, vocabulary-wise, and a 31-new-word injection would do it good!

Once again, don’t expect me to follow the themes or topics proposed by others, although I will definitely have a look at everyone’s entries and I’ll get inspiration from them as needed :). Haotyétpi still needs some very basic vocabulary, so I’ll try to focus on that.

As usual, all my Lexember posts will be tagged as such, so filter away if you only want to check those out. Also, I’ll post my words on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as on my Blogger blog (if the IFTTT applet I set up deigns to work), but Tumblr is very much the first place where they will appear.

I’m looking forward to see everyone’s entries. Let’s make this a success again!


from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2AbuCse
via IFTTT

Once Again, Lexember is Close at Hand!

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

So the weather is getting colder, and the days are getting shorter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). You know what this means: Lexember is upon us!

As I did in the last two years, I’ll participate with Haotyétpi. That language is still very much in its infancy, vocabulary-wise, and a 31-new-word injection would do it good!

Once again, don’t expect me to follow the themes or topics proposed by others, although I will definitely have a look at everyone’s entries and I’ll get inspiration from them as needed :). Haotyétpi still needs some very basic vocabulary, so I’ll try to focus on that.

As usual, all my Lexember posts will be tagged as such, so filter away if you only want to check those out. Also, I’ll post my words on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as on my Blogger blog (if the IFTTT applet I set up deigns to work), but Tumblr is very much the first place where they will appear.

I’m looking forward to see everyone’s entries. Let’s make this a success again!


from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2AbuCse
via IFTTT

Conlangery #133: Language and Identity

Sunday, November 26th, 2017
Jake and Kaye come on to talk about how language can interact with identity, across ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and class identities. Top of Show Greeting: Faikari. /ˈvɐ͡ɪ.kʰɒ.ˌʁi/ Links and Resources: Plural you Key and Peele skits 1, 2 Stigmatization of speech associated with women “Sounding gay” Journal of Gender and Language Mondorf, B. (2002)... Read more »

A Question of Alignment VII: Quantifier Float

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

In this series of blog articles—taken (more or less) straight from the current working draft of chapter 5.4 of the new grammar for better visibility and as a direct update of an old article (“Flicking Switches: Ayeri and the Austronesian Alignment”, 2012-06-27)—I will finally reconsider the way verbs operate with regards to syntactic alignment.


Another property usually associated with subjects is the ability of quantifiers referring to the subject NP to ‘float’ into the VP. This is possible also in English, consider, for instance:

    1. All the children are writing letters.
    2. The children are all writing letters.

Both of these sentences are equal in meaning: for all children in the set, every child is writing an unspecified amount of letters. It is not the case in (1b) that for an unspecified amount of children, together they write the total amount of letters. All refers to the children in both cases, even though all is not placed in the subject NP, the children, in (1b). Kroeger (1991) mentions an example from Schachter and Otanes (1972) concerning lahat ‘all’, which is also able to float into a position right after the sentence-initial verb from the NP it normally modifies and which it would normally occur in:

  1. Tagalog (adapted from Kroeger 1991: 22, from Schachter and Otanes 1972: 501):
    1. sumusulat lahat ang=mga=bata ng=mga=liham

      AV.IPFV-write all NOM=PL=child GEN=PL=letter

      ‘All the children are writing letters.’
      Not: *‘The children are writing all the letters.’

    2. sinusulat lahat ng=mga=bata ang=mga=liham

      IPFV-write-OV all GEN=PL=child NOM=PL=letter

      ‘The/some children write all the letters.’
      Not: *‘All the children are writing letters.’

In (2a), lahat ‘all’ refers to the children, which constitute the subject NP according to voice and case marking, while we get the opposite case in (2b), where it refers to the letters, which are marked as the subject this time. Of course, it is equally possible in English to say The letters are all written by the children, where the letters is the subject that the floated all refers to.

A lot of clitic quantifiers in Ayeri have a double meaning as intensifiers. For instance, -ikan can refer to both quantities and qualities, meaning ‘much, many’ or ‘very’ depending on context. Thus, many of the suffixed quantifiers, if appended to the VP, are understood to modify the verb as an intensifier and are thus unsuitable for floating. The only exception is -aril ‘some’, which only pertains to NPs as a quantifier. However, since the floating of suffixed quantifiers would produce readings which are ambiguous at best, floating of -aril is avoided as well. Example (3) shows an attempt to float -hen ‘all’ into the IP, resulting in a meaning different from the sentence with the unfloated particle for the reasons just stated above.

    1. {Ang tahanyan} ganye-hen tamanyeley.

      ang=tahan-yan gan-ye-Ø=hen taman-ye-ley

      AT=write-3PL.M child-PL-TOP=all letter-PL-P.INAN

      ‘The children, all of them are writing letters.’

    2. {Ang tahanyan-hen} ganye tamanyeley.

      ang=tahan-yan=hen gan-ye-Ø taman-ye-ley

      AT=write-3PL.M=completely child-PL-TOP letter-PL-P.INAN

      ‘The children, they are completely writing letters.’
      Intended: ‘The children, they are all writing letters.’

Besides suffixed quantifiers, Ayeri also has free quantifiers like sano ‘both’ or diring ‘several’, however. These free morphemes only have a quantifying reading, not an intensifying one, and are thus suitable for floating, since they do not produce ambiguities with regards to what is being modified.

    1. {Ang apayan} yan sano layjya.

      ang=apa-yan yan-Ø sano lay-ye-ya

      AT=laugh-3PL.M boy-TOP both girl-PL-LOC

      ‘The boys, both of them are laughing at the girls.’

    2. {Ang apayan} sano yan layjya.

      ang=apa-yan sano yan-Ø lay-ye-ya

      AT=laugh-3PL.M both boy-TOP girl-PL-LOC

      ‘The boys, they are both laughing at the girls.’

Since, as described above, topicalization has no impact on what constitutes the subject, meaning does not significantly change when the topic of a sentence like (4b) is switched to the patient in example (5a). Unlike in Tagalog in (2b) above, yanang ‘boy(s)’ as the agent NP remains as the subject, and the floated sano still refers to this NP rather than the locative NP, layye ‘(at) the girls’. This fact is also reflected in the lack of plural marking on yanang, since sano indicates the NP’s plurality. We would expect the forms yanjang and lay if sano were to refer to ‘the girls’ rather than ‘the boys’, as in (5b).

    1. {Ya apayan} sano yanang layye.

      ya=apa-yan sano yan-ang lay-ye-Ø

      LOCT=laugh-3PL.M both boy-A girl-PL-TOP

      ‘The girls, the boys are both laughing at them.’

    2. {Ya apayan} yanjang lay sano.

      ya=apa-yan yan-ye-ang lay-Ø sano

      LOCT=laugh-3PL.M boy-PL-A girl-TOP both

      ‘The girls, the boys are laughing at both of them.’

As we have seen above, the modification of subject pronouns with clitic quantifiers is avoided due to many of them serving a double role as intensifiers with related meanings which could be readily understood as referring to the verb instead of the pronoun. With free quantifiers, this problem does not arise, however, so that there is no problem in placing them right after the finite verb. Ambiguity may be in the phrase structure of the clause here, but not at a functional level, as it is clear that the quantifier modifies the subject pronoun from semantic coherence.

  1. {Ang girenjan} sano bahalanya.

    ang=girend=yan.Ø sano bahalan-ya

    AT=arrive=3PL.M.A both finish-LOC

    ‘They arrived both at the finish.’

It is possible in Ayeri for pronouns to be modified by enclitic intensifiers indirectly by using sitang ‘self’ as an indeclinable dummy pronoun to carry the clitic so as to avoid ambiguity created by floating the clitic right after the finite verb. This is also possible for the purpose of quantification of pronouns with clitic quantifiers.

    1. {Ang girenjan} panca sitang-hen bahalanya.

      ang=girend=yan.Ø panca sitang=hen bahalan-ya

      AT=arrive=3PL.M.A finally self=all finish-LOC

      ‘All of them finally arrived at the finish.’

    2. {Ya girendtang} panca sitang-hen bahalan.

      ya=girend=tang panca sitang=hen bahalan-Ø

      LOCT=arrive=3PL.M.A finally self=all finish-TOP

      ‘The finish, all of them finally arrived there.’

Since sitang is indeclinable, it is the pronominal clitic which carries inflection for case, as (7b) shows. An analysis of sitang-hen as ‘self.TOP=all’ is therefore not possible. Moreover, -tang sitang-hen does not constitute a clitic cluster, because it is possible to place word material between the verb and sitang-hen, as (7) shows. The question remains, however, whether sitang-hen is stranded at the end of the verb phrase or located in the position a full agent NP would normally occupy.

#510

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

A language in which the metaphor of time as a direction uses absolute directions (e.g. past is east); the direction uttered is always given in relative terms, so if something is in your past, you would say it is to your left if you’re facing south. Even if you’re facing west, you can’t know what your forwards holds in store for you.

A Question of Alignment VI: Syntactic Pivot

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

In this series of blog articles—taken (more or less) straight from the current working draft of chapter 5.4 of the new grammar for better visibility and as a direct update of an old article (“Flicking Switches: Ayeri and the Austronesian Alignment”, 2012-06-27)—I will finally reconsider the way verbs operate with regards to syntactic alignment.


Since we have just dealt with aspects of syntactic alignment in the last installment and found that Ayeri behaves a little oddly with regards to this, it may be interesting to perform another test on declarative statements and their syntactic pivot as well. A simple test which Comrie (1989: 111–114) describes in this regard is to test coreference in coordinated clauses. In coordinated clauses, it seems to be not uncommon for the subject of the second conjunct to drop out. Thus, in English, which behaves very much in terms of NOMACC alignment in this regard, we get the following result:

In the English example in (1), the cat constitutes the coreferential subject in (1d). This NP is the intransitive subject S of (1b) and the agent A of (1a). English thus typically has NOMACC alignment, since it treats S and A alike. In an ERGABS language, then, we would expect the opposite case: S and P should be treated alike. In Dyirbal, we find the situation depicted by the examples in (2).

  1. Dyirbal (adapted from Comrie 1989: 112):

In (2), we find that balan dʸugumbil ‘the woman’ is coreferential in (2d). This is the S of (2c), and the P of (2a). Dyirbal, thus, treats S and P alike, as predicted for an ERGABS language—at least in this case, since Comrie (1989: 113) also explains that 1SG and 2SG pronouns in Dyirbal behave in terms in terms of NOMACC. Comrie (1989) also notes that some languages do not show a clear preference for whether the A or P of the transitive clause in the first conjunct is the preferred reference of the S of the intransitive clause in the second conjunct.

For Tagalog, as Kroeger (1991) explains, “the deletion is not obligatory but null nominative arguments are always interpreted as referring to the nominative argument of the main clause” (30). Due to the way Tagalog treats subjects, however, the nominative argument can be formed by either NP in (3) with the voice marked accordingly on the verb.1

  1. Tagalog (adapted from Kroeger 1991: 31, from Ramoscena 1990: 151–152):

What can be observed in Tagalog is that in (3a), the dropped S argument in the second conjunct, bago umalis … ‘before … leaves’, is coreferential with Marvin, since he is marked as the subject of the first conjunct. Since Marvin is the theme (above marked P for ‘patient’ more generally) of tanong ‘ask’, the clause needs to be marked for objective voice. On the other hand, in (3b), it is Derek who is the subject of the clause, so it is also he who leaves; the verb in the first conjunct clause is marked for active voice according to the asker as the actor (A) being the subject.

In order to now investigate what the situation is in Ayeri, let us return to our initial set of examples. These examples feature two animals which are treated both as animate neuters. Anaphoric reference is thus potentially ambiguous between paral ‘cat’ and prabara ‘mouse’.

While it is possible in Ayeri to not repeat the coreferential NP in a conjunct clause verbatim, Ayeri still appears to avoid an empty subject slot. Thus, the verb sahayong ‘it comes’ in (4b) displays a pronominal clitic, -yong ‘it’, which constitutes the resumptive subject pronoun of the clause. In (4d) at least, this pronoun is coreferential with the subject in the first conjunct, paral ‘cat’. Seeing as Tagalog switches the subject around by altering the voice marking on the verb, it is certainly illustrative to check how Ayeri fares if the topic is swapped to prabara ‘mouse’.

In (5), the resumptive pronoun is indicated to not refer to the first conjunct’s agent/subject, paral, but to its theme/object, prabara. This may be explained by topicalization: the sentence is about the mouse, so the underspecified argument in the second conjunct, in absence of topic marking that would indicate otherwise, corresponds to the topic. Interestingly, the result is structurally similar to the example of Tagalog in (3) above. It is too early yet, however, to conclude that what was called ‘topic’ so far is the subject; Ayeri is merely not completely unambiguous in this context. Since Tagalog allows any NP of a clause to be the subject, as illustrated by (1) of installment 4 in this series, let us test whether the behavior just described for Ayeri also holds in other contexts of topicalization. The following example presents sentences of differently case-marked topic NPs each, but in every case, the agent NP and the topicalized NP consist of a human referent. Both referents share the same person features so that the verb in the coordinated intransitive clause can theoretically license either of them as its antecedent.

    1. {Yam ilya} {ang Akan} ilonley Maran nay sarayāng.

      yam=il-ya ang=Akan ilon-ley Ø=Maran nay sara=yāng

      DATT=give-3SG.M A=Akan present-P.INAN TOP=Maran and leave=3SG.M.A

      ‘Maran, Akan gives him a present, and he leaves.’ (Maran leaves)

    2. {Na pahya} {ang Maran} ilonley Diyan nay sarayāng.

      na=pah-ya ang=Maran ilon-ley Ø=Diyan nay sara=yāng

      GENT=take.away-3SG.M A=Maran present-P.INAN TOP=Diyan and leave=3SG.M.A

      ‘Diyan, Maran takes the present away from him, and he leaves.’ (Diyan leaves)

    3. {Ya bahaya} {ang Diyan} Maran nay sarayāng.

      ya=baha-ya ang=Diyan Ø=Maran nay sara=yāng

      LOCT=baha-3SG.M A=Diyan TOP=Maran and leave=3SG.M.A

      ‘Maran, Diyan shouts at him, and he leaves.’ (Maran leaves)

    4. {Ri su-sunca} {ang Diyan} ilonley Sedan nay sarayāng.

      ri=su~sunt-ya ang=Diyan ilon-ley Ø=Sedan nay sara=yāng.

      INST=ITER~claim-3SG.M A=Diyan present-P.INAN TOP=Sedan and leave=3SG.M.A

      ‘Sedan, Diyan reclaims the present with his help, and he leaves.’ (Sedan leaves)

    5. {Sā pinyaya} {ang Maran} tatamanyam Sedan nay sarayāng.

      sā=pinya-ya ang=Maran tataman-yam Ø=Sedan nay sara=yāng

      CAUT=ask-3SG.M A=Maran forgiveness-DAT TOP=Sedan and leave=3SG.M.A

      ‘Sedan, he makes Maran ask for forgiveness, and he leaves.’ (Sedan leaves)

In each of the sentences in (6), it is the topicalized NP which is identified as the antecedent for sarayāng ‘he leaves’. Does this mean Ayeri does, in fact, use Austronesian alignment? While the above examples certainly suggest it, let us not forget that the verb in the coordinated clause could theoretically pick either the agent NP or the topicalized NP as its controller. Things look slightly different, however, if the reference of the verb is unambiguous, for instance, because the topicalized argument cannot logically be the agent of the coordinated clause:

In (7), the first conjunct’s verb, as the head of its clause, specifies that the topic of the clause is the patient (P), which is embodied by ilon ‘present’. This NP, however, is not a very typical agent for the verb in the second conjunct, sara- ‘leave’. Besides, this verb is conjugated so as to require an animate masculine controller, whereas ilon is inanimate, as shown by the topic marker le. Ilon is thus not a suitable controller for sarayāng, since their person-feature values clash with each other—the ANIM and GEND values in particular:

    1. ilon N
      (↑ PRED) = ‘present’
      (↑ INDEX) =
       (↓ PERS) = 3
       (↓ NUM) = SG
       (↓ ANIM) =
       (↓ GEND) = INAN
    2. sarayāng I
      (↑ PRED) = ‘leave ‹(↑ SUBJ)›
      (↑ SUBJ) =
       (↓ PRED) = pro
       (↓ PERS) = 3
       (↓ NUM) = SG
       (↓ ANIM) = +
       (↓ GEND) = M
       (↓ CASE) = A

As before, there are two masculine NPs in the first conjunct which form suitable antecedents on behalf of being animate masculine as required: the agent (A) Akan and the recipient (R) Maran. Of the remaining non-topic NPs, Ayeri considers the agent to rank higher as a secondary topic on the thematic hierarchy than the recipient. The agent hence forms the preferred controller for sarayāng.

  1. Thematic hierarchy (Bresnan et al. 2016: 329):

    agent > beneficiary > experiencer/goal > instrument > patient/theme > locative

In cases where the topic in the first conjunct can safely be ruled out as the controller of the pronominal in the second conjunct, the syntactic pivot, thus, defaults to the highest-ranking semantically coherent NP. In most cases, Ayeri will therefore group the intransitive subject and the transitive agent together. For most verbs, this is also reflected by case marking, as we have seen above in (4): the S of an intransitive clause receives the same case marker as the A of a transitive clause: -ang/ang for animate referents, and reng/eng for inanimate referents. The case described initially, where the topic marking basically determines the controller of the coordinated intransitive clause, which is reminiscent of Tagalog’s syntax, is essentially a strategy to disambiguate between two possible controllers for the same target.

When only one of the referents in the transitive conjunct is eligible as the controller of the subject of the intransitive conjunct at the same time, A and P are regularly indicated by person agreement, since Ayeri requires a resumptive pronominal clitic in the intransitive clause, as indicated above. The affix on the verb thus has the status of a pronominal predicator, compare (10).

In (10a), the verb in the second conjunct, sarayāng ‘he leaves’ is marked for a masculine third-person subject. The only available controller in the first conjunct is Lita on behalf of being male, since Kumang is female. Hence, in (10b) the verb of the intransitive conjunct, sarayeng ‘she leaves’, finds its controller only in Kumang.

  • Bresnan, Joan et al. Lexical-Functional Syntax. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2016. Print. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics 16.
  • Comrie, Bernard. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. Syntax and Morphology. 2nd ed. London: Blackwell, 1989. Print.
  • Kroeger, Paul R. Phrase Structure and Grammatical Relations in Tagalog. Diss. Stanford University, 1991. Web. 17 Dec. 2016. ‹http://www.gial.edu/wp-content/uploads/paul_kroeger/PK-thesis-revised-all-chapters-readonly.pdf›.
  • Ramos, Teresita V. and Resty M. Cena. Modern Tagalog: Grammatical Explanations and Exercises for Non-native Speakers. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 1990. Print.
  1. Thus, compare the English passive sentence Marvini was asked by Derekj before hei left with (3a). In English, the reference of he is ambiguous between the syntactic subject Marvin and the agent Derek, however. As we have seen above, though, Tagalog would also be able to make a subject of an oblique argument, not just of the patient/theme or the recipient. The actor of the Tagalog sentence is also basically an object, not demoted to an adverbial as in English (Kroeger 1991: 38–44).