query: V/N parallels in agreement paradigms

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Sun Feb 17 09:46:59 UTC 2008

Dear David,
I am not quite sure whether I have got your question right. But in case 
you also want to consider class/gender agreement, you should look more 
closely to some of the East Caucasian languages (ECL) that use class 
markers in clausal and (noun) phrasal agreement. The pattern would be:

TRANS:       NP:A       NP:O[Class:X]       V:AGR:X
INTRANS:                   NP:S[Class:X]       V:AGR:X  
NP:               Noun[Class:X]                      Det:AGR:X  
[usually, the word order is DetN]

[Class:X] means that the noun itself is not marked for AGR but only 
triggers AGR (covert class marking technique). From the point of view of 
AGR and CASE, it is S=O which can be called the 'subject' (although I 
prefer not to use the term when describing ECLs). Note that in those ECL 
that have NP internal class agreement the type of DET may be decisive: 
For instance, in some Andian languages, a P(ossess)or-DET  takes AGR (in 
reference to the Possessum) if Por (= Possessor) is [+human,+male]. 
Else, we have a genitive case marker. Also, some languages allow a 
deictic DET to take AGR whereas others don't. If you want to have 
concrete data, please let me know...

Very best wishes,

David Gil schrieb:
> Dear all,
> This query is about cross-categorial parallels in agreement paradigms, 
> in particular those pertaining to verbs and nouns. In many languages, 
> (subject or object) agreement markings on verbs are similar or 
> identical in form to possessor markings on nouns. In Roon (an 
> Austronesian language of West Papua), a rather different kind of 
> parallelism is evident, represented schematically as follows:
> (SUBJ) agr-V
> [N...]=agr-DET
> In the above, agr represents a prefix encoding agreement with respect 
> to person, number (singular/dual/plural) and (for 3rd person) gender 
> (animate/inanimate). Whereas in the former, clausal case the 
> controller of agreement is the subject NP and its target the verb, in 
> the latter, phrasal case the controller of agreement is the noun 
> itself and its target the determiner. The agreement prefixes are 
> pretty much the same in both cases, the main difference being that the 
> agr-V complex is an independent word whereas the agr-DET complex is an 
> enclitic which attaches to the right edge of the NP.
> (Disclaimer: the above account is based on very preliminary field work 
> and reflects an interim understanding of the facts; it should not be 
> cited in written publications.)
> My question: how common is it cross-linguistically for there to be an 
> apparently complete parallelism between Subject-Verb and 
> Noun-Determiner agreement? Have any other similar cases been 
> documented? (I am familiar only with a description of similar facts in 
> closely-related Biak in a recent PhD dissertation by Wilco van den 
> Heuvel.) Of course, many languages have both Subject-Verb and 
> Noun-Determiner agreement, but usually the agreeing features and/or 
> the forms expressing the features are different.
> Any comments, suggestions and pointers would be gratefully appreciated.
> Thanks,
> David




* Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 


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Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft     

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<mailto:Schulze at fhv.umb.sk>                                                                               

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