tgivon at uoregon.edu
Sat Oct 2 12:12:00 UTC 2010
Speaking of extreme typological cases, how about Southern Arawak
(Machiguenga, Asheninka), where ALL SR's ('thematic relations') are
coded on the verb even in MAIN clauses (except for one skinny, bleached
locative preposition)? So you can ONLY say the equivalent 'I talked-to
the-woman', 'I worked-with the-knife', 'I ran-from the-house', etc.
Never on the noun, only on the verb. Does it fit the zero-anaphora
pattern? Well, if you think for a minute, it does too. S.A. does have
pronouns, but 'discourse' zero-anaphora is most prevalent. So when you
say high-frequency things like 'I talked to her' or 'I worked with it',
schematically you have, in context, ['I talked-to 0'] or ['I
worked-with 0']. In other words, in these high-frequency anaphoric
expressions there is no place to hang the adposition BUT on the verb.
And the diachronic process of cliticization is driven by these
frequencies (and adjacencies, and word-order).
The upshot of this is that we can classify atomic facts and quit there.
Or we can try to classify them within broader patterns( of facts!) that
show wider, interesting commonalities, and then look for some
explanatory principles. The second mode of classification is admittedly
more ambitious, so if it doesn't turn you on, sorry. (There is an
offensive expression in Hebrew I won't cite here, straight out of
Ecclesiastes. Eitan Grossman would identify it, I'm sure). But maybe
ambitious stuff is too much, maybe it's not your stuff. See, this second
mode of 'classification' is highly theory-dependent, it is not as
theory-neutral as some people might prefer. It strives, in science in
general, not only to describe but --at the same time--explain, through
the constant interplay between data & theory. Yes, we've had this
discussion many times before. We seem to be hung up on an impoverished
brand philosophy of science. Cheers, TG
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