Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bryatesle: Case Usage: The Nominative and Some Subcases

The case system of Bryatesle has never been quite exhaustively described - the very obsolete grammar basically amounts to me jotting down what I plan to do with them. So, I figure it is time to go and present it in some detail. This is the first out of several posts.

Color coding: black x show that a form is by and large unique (with at most mergers for some gender-number combinations), any other color is shared by at least two cells, and indicates that the forms are identical, or widely identical for those cells. If a cell has both a black x and another x, this usually means that the neuter conflates these forms, but other genders do not.
In for a bit more detail. Since the nominative is a somewhat exceptional case, the subcases may behave somewhat distinctly with it compared to how they behave with the other three cases. Among those three, the accusative is sometimes also likely to be exceptional. For this reason, some of the case combinations are dealt with in their own subheadings.

The Nominative

The nominative marks most subjects, neuter objects, objects of some comparisons, subject complements and sometimes things or persons that accompany the subject (a kind of morphologically unmarked comitative or instrumental) of an intransitive verb or a verb for which the noun semantically doesn't fit as subject. Such nominatives often go on the right side of the verb.
Eŗym biŗai : Erym(.NOM) wait.3sg-TELIC ≃ Erym waited, Erym will wait, Erym waits (faithfully)
Vŗih tir guşpu : rain fall.3sg.neutATELIC thunder.neut-nom ≃ rain is falling/was falling and there is/was thunder
 Eŗym zeļei tebyhaņ: Erym dance.3sg-ATELIC sandal.plur-masc-nom ≃ Erym dances (wearing) sandals
In noun phrases, the nominative can sometimes be an attribute of a noun in any case. This is mostly the situation with names before titles or other designations.
Kaŗum maxbuşŗ : Karum the baron
Gyţŗi ņedvuļy : Gytri the priest 
Lepxi gudze : Lepxi the hunter 
The title may be in any case, depending on what role the full NP has in the sentence.

The Definite

The definite corresponds fairly closely to English 'the' but is more restricted in where it can go in a sentence. The same usages as can be found with the 'naked' nominative is permissible with the definite nominative as well. However, it often implies stronger telicity, stronger likelihood of implicit past tense as well as stronger likelihood of perfective aspect. It can only be used for possessive attributes, never as any other type of nominal attribute.
maxbuşŗyņe : the baron, maxbusurven: the barons
guşpeş : the thunder, the thunderstrike, guspuvu: the thunderstrikes 
vŗiheş : the rain
tebyhveņ : the sandals, tebyhune, tebuhune : the sandal
With cases other than the nominative, it only has a comparable effect on the implicit telicity or tense if the noun is a direct object or a quirky case subject or object.

The Partitive

The partitive nominative implies even less telicity, less volitionality, a lower likelihood for perfectiveness, slightly reduced likelihood for implicit past tense. It may convey that the subject is not particularly committed to the action, or in the plural that only some of the group participate.
maxbuşŗu: some baron, a baron, (the baron), maxbuşŗute: some barons, barons, (the barons)
guşpur: some thunder, a thunderstorm, 'thunder (sometimes)', guşpuxa: some thunderstorms, some thunderstrikes, thunderstorms or thunderstrikes, (the) ...
vŗihuŗ: some rain, rain, a rainstorm, vŗihuxa: some rainstorms, a huge lot of rain
If there is a complement, the partitive on both the subject and complement can mark that the subject consists of the noun given as complement:
tebuxur deļyņu gahniŗ - cake.neut_part dough.fem_part bake.3sg_neut
cake is baked from dough
With copulas, subjects in the partitive might also imply that the subject only 'shares in' the qualities of the noun or that the subject only partially is such a thing. If the subject is not in the partitive but the nominal complement is, the implication rather is that the subject is increasingly such a thing.

The partitive has a somewhat similar function with regards to the direct object. With the oblique case, it mainly agrees in partitive marking with the subject or object, unless the oblique noun is marked for some other secondary case or it is individuated and known to the speaker or a topic. Such partitive agreement to subjects or objects only extends to arguments of the verb and not to attributes of nouns.

The Possessed Noun

Possession is marked on the possessee in Bryatesle. This marking is fusional with all the four main cases. The possessor may appear in the (sometimes definite) nominative, dative or ablative depending on various factors.

maxbuşŗ|maxbusze|maxbuszity ţeneļa : the wife of the baron
(ţaiņi|ţaiņe)|ţaineţa şaŗḑuvu : the nun's vows
ŗaga kinivi : the people's rights
people rights-POSS
Bryatesle avoids chains of possession - if one has to express that something is the X of the Y of Z, this would normally be done by apposition:
ŗagaveņ kinivi, (ţivi) Pargi du 
people-DEF rights-POSS, (they) Pargi associated_with
the rights of the people of Pargi
In this construction, the definite article is almost always used on the possessor. As for combinations of the possessee-marking and the other three cases, there is not particularly much to say.

Any non-subject may be marked as possessums without an explicit possessor. This implies that the subject (which may even be pro-dropped) or a topic or something marked by the secondary-subject case is its possessor.

 The Secondary Subject / Nominative

A secondary subject is a noun-phrase that carries out some action, but is not the primary agent OR whose agency is limited in some other fashion OR sometimes whose agency is just somehow not the default agency it is expected to have (may be increased!). Primacy as for agents is determined by several different factors:
  • the causer in a causative construction is mostly primary
  • the possessor in a construction where the possessee is unmarked for possession is secondary (e.g. kaļbunişŗ duşŗu faxḑa - fisherman-NOM-2ndsubj boat-NOM sink-TELIC), this especially if the possessor is greatly affected but unlikely to have any control over the event. If the possessor instigates his possessees to do things, the possessee is more likely to be marked for this case, and the possessor is then subject. In both situations, the possessor is likely to precede the possessee, so word order distinguishes their relation, and case marking the agency and effect.
  • a subject of verbs that are more adverb-like than predicate-like in the information structure of the sentence is always secondary (tegunişŗ bizei raga baḑies - musician-SECSUBJ play-3sg people dance-3PL - while the musician plays, the people dance; the musician playing, the people dance.)
  • marking the subject if the instrument has been promoted to subject (tegunişŗ beļţa haute bizeŗ: musician's lute well play ~ the musician plays well by his lute
  • the subject of an embedded verb (e.g. run in 'I saw her run' - (nem) vemişŗ ļelei biţaţ  ((I) her-2ndsubj run-3sg_atelic see-1sg_telic)
  • subjects demoted due to voice operations
  • non-subject possessors of the object (which are generally left-dislocated)
With the other cases, the secondary subject behaves sufficiently differently that it will be dealt with in separate entries.

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