Linguistics thread

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-06, 23:04

Naava wrote:Do you mean something like this and this?

Kinda, but including the different "scientific" terms for the concepts and not just the definitions, examples and explanations. The latter is obviously more important, and that's what Wikipedia has, but I mean a list where all the different kinds of evidentiality, "deeper" tenses, etc. are listed in some kind of organised manner and ideally with examples of how they combine in different languages and maybe even what's hypothetically possible but doesn't happen in any natural language. Not sure if I'm making any sense, but like, there have to be more "scientific" terms than "hearsay", etc. when they're part of a language's grammar... right?

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby razlem » 2018-11-07, 6:49

Vlürch wrote:Kinda, but including the different "scientific" terms for the concepts and not just the definitions


Maybe something like WALS can put you in the right direction? There's probably not a list of verb conjugations because not all languages treat verbs the same way. Even the existing noun declensions on Wikipedia are iffy and euro-centric.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby Vlürch » 2018-11-09, 0:04

razlem wrote:Maybe something like WALS can put you in the right direction? There's probably not a list of verb conjugations because not all languages treat verbs the same way.

Well, there are lots of interesting things but not exactly lists with the terminology. Thanks, though, because I always forget about WALS... :oops: Anyway, I did randomly stumble upon exactly what one of the terms I wanted to know was in the description of the conlang of a user on another forum: "egophoric" for direct knowledge.
razlem wrote:Even the existing noun declensions on Wikipedia are iffy and euro-centric.

How, though? There are examples of cases found exclusively in some Native American languages, Dravidian languages, languages of the Cacasus, etc. :hmm: Or are yo referring to something other than this list of grammatical cases?

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-11-09, 6:29

Luís wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:Penso che lui sia una persona interessante = I think he's an interesting person (here you have to use the subjunctive because it's a relative clause)


Interestingly enough, you could use both moods in Portuguese here :

Penso que é uma pessoa interessante = I think he's an interesting person (I'm pretty sure he's an interesting person)

Penso que seja uma pessoa interessante = I think he might be an interesting person (I think he's an interesting person, but I'm not really sure)

In French, with verbs such as penser and croire, you only have the option to use the subjunctive if the independent clause is negative or a question (and then only a certain question syntax).

Je pense qu'il est une personne intéressante = I think he's an interesting person. (indicative required)

Je ne pense pas qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante = I don't think he's an interesting person. (indicative or subjunctive)

Pensez-vous qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative or subjunctive)

Est-ce que vous pensez qu'il est une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative required; only questions formed with inversion allow subjunctive)
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-09, 17:38

Dormouse559 wrote:
Luís wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:Penso che lui sia una persona interessante = I think he's an interesting person (here you have to use the subjunctive because it's a relative clause)


Interestingly enough, you could use both moods in Portuguese here :

Penso que é uma pessoa interessante = I think he's an interesting person (I'm pretty sure he's an interesting person)

Penso que seja uma pessoa interessante = I think he might be an interesting person (I think he's an interesting person, but I'm not really sure)

In French, with verbs such as penser and croire, you only have the option to use the subjunctive if the independent clause is negative or a question (and then only a certain question syntax).

Je pense qu'il est une personne intéressante = I think he's an interesting person. (indicative required)

Je ne pense pas qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante = I don't think he's an interesting person. (indicative or subjunctive)

Pensez-vous qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative or subjunctive)

Est-ce que vous pensez qu'il est une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative required; only questions formed with inversion allow subjunctive)

Thanks for sharing that; I never knew that.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-11-09, 18:45

Dormouse559 wrote:
Luís wrote:
IpseDixit wrote:Penso che lui sia una persona interessante = I think he's an interesting person (here you have to use the subjunctive because it's a relative clause)


Interestingly enough, you could use both moods in Portuguese here :

Penso que é uma pessoa interessante = I think he's an interesting person (I'm pretty sure he's an interesting person)

Penso que seja uma pessoa interessante = I think he might be an interesting person (I think he's an interesting person, but I'm not really sure)

In French, with verbs such as penser and croire, you only have the option to use the subjunctive if the independent clause is negative or a question (and then only a certain question syntax).

Je pense qu'il est une personne intéressante = I think he's an interesting person. (indicative required)

Je ne pense pas qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante = I don't think he's an interesting person. (indicative or subjunctive)

Pensez-vous qu'il est/soit une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative or subjunctive)

Est-ce que vous pensez qu'il est une personne intéressante ? = Do you think he's an interesting person? (indicative required; only questions formed with inversion allow subjunctive)


And this proves exactly what I was saying, that my instinct as a native speaker of a Romance language doesn't help me much when it comes to the subjunctive in other Romance languages.

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-11-12, 23:53

In Spanish, I think it's only if the independent clause is negative that you use subjunctive (with pensar and creer), but maybe I'm wrong? :hmm:

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby razlem » 2018-11-14, 3:06

Vlürch wrote:Or are yo referring to something other than this list of grammatical cases?


Oh interesting, looks different than when I had last looked at it (though admittedly that was a while back...)
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby Saim » 2018-11-20, 18:16

vijayjohn wrote:In Spanish, I think it's only if the independent clause is negative that you use subjunctive (with pensar and creer), but maybe I'm wrong? :hmm:


No, that's right. :)

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Pienso que es...
No creo que sea...
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-11-20, 18:46

Is the set of the grammatical cases of a language a completely random happenstance or is there any reason to believe that if in a language, case X arises, then case Y will very likely also arise?

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby md0 » 2018-11-20, 20:30

IpseDixit wrote:Is the set of the grammatical cases of a language a completely random happenstance or is there any reason to believe that if in a language, case X arises, then case Y will very likely also arise?


Just a gut feeling, but there's probably a chain. I will be very surprised if a language had a Nominative and a Genitive or Dative, but not an Accusative/Ergative.

I guess one path you can explore is the whole idea about parametric variation. In that model, it's very easy to argue for dependencies in a branching kind of way, eg "you can only set the Locative case parameter on/off if you have set the Genitive case parameter on first, and you can only set Genitive on if you have already set Accusative on".

I haven't really read anything beyond the basics on P&P (it's not a very popular approach nowadays), but this is relevant maybe: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/ca ... 3C8261A125
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-20, 20:47

md0 wrote:Just a gut feeling, but there's probably a chain. I will be very surprised if a language had a Nominative and a Genitive or Dative, but not an Accusative/Ergative.

You mean like Irish?

(This isn't that unusual an evolution in Indo-European languages. See also Romanian, although it still distinguishes accusative in personal pronouns.)
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby md0 » 2018-11-21, 5:31

We'll have to test how much of a predictive power does it have crosslinguistically.
I would also look if in cases like Irish, the absence of Accusative is because of phonological evolution, or because of a change in the grammar.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby kevin » 2018-11-21, 9:11

Wouldn't the loss of a case always be a change in the grammar?

Anyway, as far as I know, in its final stage, the Irish accusative didn't have separate forms any more, but still caused initial mutations (eclipsis). The development until there is probably in large parts a result of phonological evoution, but I would say that the final loss of the mutations probably isn't, but more some kind of regularisation because nominative and accusative were already close enough? (linguoboy, please correct me.)

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby md0 » 2018-11-21, 10:00

kevin wrote:Wouldn't the loss of a case always be a change in the grammar?

Nominative and Accusative/Ergative are analysed as assigned by the structure of the sentence (eg Inflection assigns Nominative to its Specifier, and that's why the subject which moves to SpecIP is in the nominative). We speak of Nominative and Accusative even when they do not have distinct forms (eg in English noun phrases).
So if Nominative and Accusative have collapsed in a deeper way than how they have collapsed in English, you could see evidence for this in syntax (maybe in Exceptional Case Marking situations).
Other cases (Dative etc) are more superficial as far as syntax is concerned.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby kevin » 2018-11-21, 12:02

Why would you call something a separate case when it never surfaces morphologically? Isn't case a morphological category?

If you define it by syntactic role, then I guess it's not even possible to lose accusative as a separate case from nominative because they have different functions. But I never thought that this defined a case.

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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby md0 » 2018-11-21, 12:38

That's one model of course. I haven't done nearly enough Case Theory and Semantics to be able to make a good argument in favour of this approach, but to the best of my understanding, the basic idea is that there are two different things that we call Case. There's case assigned by verbs to mark thematic roles (Agent, Patient, Experiencer) and then there's another type of case marking which is triggered by certain lexical items (eg in my linguistic varieties, all transitive verbs have direct objects, but only a specific subcategory of them marks those DOs with genitive case).

So yeah, the answer is, as far as I can tell, that yes, under this model Nominative and Accusative are present in all languages that have thematic roles (which as far as we know, that's all human languages).

PS. I suppose there's a third type of Case, it's what we call a specific form of nouns based on an affix they share, with no reference to verb phrases and sentences at all. And that's why we can for example say that nouns in English or Japanese do not inflect for case, or that this or that noun class in Greek has the same form in the Accusative and the Genitive or the Accusative and the Nominative. In all those languages of course the syntactic/semantic functions of Case are present, just expressed in different ways (word order, adpositions, contextually, etc).
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby dEhiN » 2018-11-21, 20:13

But that third type of case, at least as it's applied to East Asian languages such as Japanese, is a result of Western attempts to explain a grammar that's quite different than Indo-European languages. I've encountered several native speakers (of Korean, for example) and learners (of Japanese, for example) who don't agree with the usage of nominative/accusative/etc. for various postpositions (or, if you prefere, particles).

If linguistically, case is considered a syntactic thing as well as a morphological thing, I'm surprised by that. My understanding and everything I've read up to now basically uses case in only a morphological sense for languages that have inflection and use those inflected (case) forms to denote syntactic function more so than sentence word order.

Even the Wikipedia article on grammatical case states that English only uses case for personal pronouns:
Case is a special grammatical category of a noun, pronoun, adjective, participle or numeral whose value reflects the grammatical function performed by that word in a phrase, clause or sentence. In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners, participles, prepositions, numerals, articles and their modifiers take different inflected forms, depending on their case. As a language evolves, cases can merge (for instance, in Ancient Greek, the locative case merged with the dative case), a phenomenon formally called syncretism.[2]

English has largely lost its case system although personal pronouns still have three cases, which are simplified forms of the nominative, accusative and genitive cases. They are used with personal pronouns: subjective case (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who, whoever), objective case (me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom, whomever) and possessive case (my, mine; your, yours; his; her, hers; its; our, ours; their, theirs; whose; whosever[3]). Forms such as I, he and we are used for the subject ("I kicked the ball"), and forms such as me, him and us are used for the object ("John kicked me").


For me, terms like subject/object/etc. are syntactical categories that, although sometimes used colloquially alongside actual case terminology, don't denote the same thing as nominative/accusative/etc.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-21, 20:35

dEhiN wrote:Even the Wikipedia article on grammatical case states that English only uses case for personal pronouns:
English has largely lost its case system although personal pronouns still have three cases, which are simplified forms of the nominative, accusative and genitive cases.

That's one interpretation of what is written here. But it's possible to read "have case" as metonymic for "have morphologically distinctive case forms". Other word classes could still "use case" in a syntactic sense despite lacking those distinctive forms.

Personally I lean against this approach. I think it assumes too much and, furthermore, assigning fixed case roles to English personal pronouns is problematic anyway because of how often they are used disjunctively.
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Re: Linguistics thread

Postby md0 » 2018-11-21, 20:38

But that third type of case, at least as it's applied to East Asian languages such as Japanese, is a result of Western attempts to explain a grammar that's quite different than Indo-European languages.

The third definition of Case is exactly what I say we wouldn't/shouldn't apply to a language like Japanese, which has no noun conjugation for case.

I think that the third definition of Case is case as described by Indo-European philologists after all. Which doesn't mean much when you are discussing syntax.

If linguistically, case is considered a syntactic thing as well, I'm surprised by that

Only nominative, accusative and ergative. My understating is that this is an important distinction for the theoretical syntacticians: syntactic case (Nom, Acc, Erg) and idiosyncratic case (eg genitive, dative, locative etc) behave differently in various circumstances.

My understanding and everything I've read up to now basically uses case in only a morphological sense for languages that have inflection and use those inflected (case) forms to denote syntactic function more so than sentence word order.

I don't think you can go far if you try to map 1:1 a morphological form and a syntactic function. In the simplest scenario it's one-to-many, but it's often many-to-many.

I would be interesting to say if there are morphological accusatives that are not assigned by verbs to their objects. Because if I understand the arguments of the theoreticians well, that's the thing: syntactic case is only assigned by a verb (accusative to its complement, nominative to its specifier, in a simple configuration). Idiosyncratic case can be assigned by other words (a certain proposition might assign dative, nouns can assign genitive and so on).

tl;dr: linguistics and philology share many words, but have different definitions for them. I think for Ipse's question, the syntactic definition makes more sense, because he was wondering if there's a dependency between cases and there's already a parametric approach to syntax. A more philological definition of case that relies on form cannot be used to see if there's a dependency relation, because the same form of a noun might be used in many different environments.
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