Some grammar and structures - part 10

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nighean-neonach
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Some grammar and structures - part 10

Postby nighean-neonach » 2007-02-12, 21:29

DISCLAIMER: As I have said before, I am not going to "teach" anything here. I strongly suggest that if you are interested in learning Greenlandic you get some of the materials listed in the other topic.


TRANSITIVE and INTRANSITIVE sentences (ergative structure)

Now, this topic is probably going to be a bit hard, because it focuses on one of the main features of Greenlandic which makes it very different in structure from most European languages: It is an ergative language, see Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergative-a ... e_language
for a general explanation if you like (but it's rather technical).

So far we have only dealt with simple sentences with a subject and verb, like:
arnaq mikivoq = the woman is small
arnaq atuarpoq = the woman reads

Now, what is the difference between these two? Obviously the second sentence can be expanded, adding an object: you will probably say that she reads a book, or the newspaper.
Now, in Greenlandic there is a fundamental difference between using an indefinite or definite object in such a sentence. Using an indefinite object means that the subject stays in focus, but using a definite object moves this word more into focus, so that it takes the grammatical case which the subject otherwise had:

arnaq aviisimik atuarpoq = The woman reads a newspaper (more literally: The woman performs the action of reading, with a newspaper)
arnap aviisi atuarpaa = The woman reads the newspaper (more literally: The woman the newspaper she reads it)

In the first sentence arnaq is in the basic form (absolutive case) while aviisimik is in instrumental case.
In the second sentence arnap is in the relative case (we have already seen that in chapter 3 when we dealt with possession), and aviisi is in the basic form, the absolutive case.

The verb also looks different: In the first sentence it is in the usual form we have already seen. This is actually the intransitive inflection.
In the second sentence it has a transitive inflection ending. These endings mark the subject as well as the object of the sentence, here -paa marks that "she" (a 3rd person singular subject) reads "it" (a 3rd person singular object).
Now, yes, you are guessing correctly, of course each possible combination of persons has their own endings:

atuarpara = I read it
atuarpat = you read it
atuarpaa = he/she/it reads it
atuarparput = we read it
atuarparsi = you read it
atuarpaat = they read it

atuarpakka = I read them
...
Yes, that will be lots of forms, you are right :lol:
There are 32 forms altogether, to cover all possible relations among all grammatical persons.

I suggest sticking to those first 6 ones above for a while and playing around with them a bit until you think you know them alright.
I'm going to put more words in the word box, so you can make sentences to practice this new structure.
Writing poetry in: Scottish Gaelic, German, English.
Reading poetry in: Latin, Old Irish, French, Ancient Greek, Old Norse.
Talking to people in the shop in: Lithuanian, Norwegian, Irish Gaelic, Saami.
Listening to people talking in the shop in: Icelandic, Greenlandic, Finnish.

gabriel「ガブリエル」
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Country: JP Japan (日本)

Re: Some grammar and structures - part 10

Postby gabriel「ガブリエル」 » 2016-02-28, 8:34

Aviisi atuarpat. - Would this be grammatically correct to drop the subject here? Or here? - Aviisi atuarpara.


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