Fwd: Re: Case marking in some Dravidian languages

Tue Jul 23 17:25:28 UTC 2002

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Dear Dr. Clements,

This is a second and delayed response to this message (enclosed below)
about causatives you sent to Vyakaran. I'm working on Betta Kurumba, a
minority Dravidian language spoken in an area overlapping the Kannada,
Tamil, and Malayalam areas. This language has similar causative sentences
to the ones you mention, except that it has a third form as well. The three
forms are given below; the third contains an instrumental postposition. The
first implies that Bomman was coerced into grinding the flour; the second
implies that he had greater scope for volition (sort of assigned to do the
task, agreed to do the task). In both these, the implication is that Bomman
himself did the job. In the third, which has the instrumental, Bomman plays
a role in getting the job done, but he does not necessarily do the job
himself -- he could either have got someone else to do it or done it
himself. I therefore see the use of the instrumental as a way of reducing
the role of the causee.

1)      nawI bommIn-a ma:wI yari-si-s-IdI
         1SG.NOM Bomman-ACC. flour grind-CAUS-PAST-SG.
         I made Bomman grind the flour.

2)      nawI bommIn-a ma:wI yar-pisi-s-IdI
         1SG.NOM Bomman-ACC. flour grind-CAUS-PAST-SG.
         I got Bomman to grind the flour.

3)      nawI bommIn ipIli ma:wI yar-pisi-s-IdI
         1SG.NOM Bomman INSTR flour grind-CAUS-PAST-SG.
         I got the flour ground through Bomman.

There are other verbs with which all 3 forms are not possible, only 2 are
possible -- either of (1) or (2), plus (3) (the choice of (1) or (2)
relates to a non-past tense marker actually). With those verbs, the issue
of coercion vs. volition depends on context or the semantics of the verb.
The 3rd form (containing the instrumental) is normally used to imply that
the causer did not necessarily do the task himself. I wonder if that
applies also to the sentence you have with the instrumental -- that your
Kannada sentence implies that "I" was the instrument of getting the
biscuits eaten, but did not necessarily eat them myself ... not sure if it

Gail Coelho

>At 04:09 PM 12/27/01 -0500, J. Clancy Clements wrote:
>>In Kannada, one finds the dative relation marked by the dative or the
>>instrumental suffix, as in the examples below.
>>Avanu-0 nana-ge bisket-annu tin-is-id-anu
>>'He fed me the biscuit.'
>>Avanu-0 nana-inda bisket-annu tin-is-id-anu
>>'He had me eat a biscuit.'
>>This is the type of marking I'm interested in.
>>My questions are:
>>1) Regarding Malayalam, is there a difference in meaning (e.g. logical or
>>conversational implicatures) between marking an indirect object with a
>>dative or comitative marker?  If so, how would one describe the difference?
>>2) Does Tamil have this type of marking, where the indirect object is
>>marked by a dative suffix or by an instrumental or comitative suffix?  If
>>so, are there differences in meaning expressing by using one or the other
>>marker?  If so, how would one describe them?
>>3) Does Telegu also have this type of marking??
>>Any information on these questions would be greatly appreciated.
>>Thanks very much,
>>Clancy Clements
>>                 *********************************************
>>                 J. Clancy Clements
>>                 Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
>>                 Adjunct Associate Professor of Linguistics
>>                 Director of Undergraduate Studies
>>                 Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, BH844, IU-B
>>                 1020 East Kirkwood Avenue
>>                 Bloomington, IN 47405
>>                 Tel 812-855-8612; Fax 812-855-4526
>>                 http://www.indiana.edu/~spanport/clements.html
>>                 *********************************************

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