Tag Archives: cases

‘Locational’ Instrumental with Prepositions

I was making up a bunch of words tonight and also some example sentences to go along with them and came across something like this:

Ang
AT
pukay
jump-1SG.TOP
manga
MOT
eyrarya
over
lahanya.
fence-LOC

‘I jump over a fence.’

Now, I’ve long kind of disliked eyrarya ‘over, above’ as a word itself and should maybe replace it with a word I like better sometime.1 However, in relation to an earlier blog entry, “‘Locational’ Dative and Genitive with Prepositions” (Apr 2, 2013), I was thinking about why not making use of a device I came up with to express lative (moving to) and ablative (moving from) motion and extending it to perlative motion (moving through, across, along) with the instrumental, since that also already covers the meaning “by means of”. So another possible way to express the above may well be:

​Ang pukay
(manga)
(MOT)
luga
top
lahaneri.
fence-INS

‘I jump over a fence.’

The motion particle manga may not even be necessary since ‘by means of the top’ in conjunction with the dynamic action ‘jump’ in my opinion already reasonably conveys that the person jumping won’t get stuck straddling the fence. Besides, ‘jump onto’ would normally be expressed like this, since the simple locative conveys a static meaning, i.e. one of resting in a place:

​Ang pukay
manga
MOT
luga
top
savaya.
wagon-LOC

‘I jump onto a wagon.’

Whatever eyrarya may end up as in the future, just describing something resting over a thing would still use that word to make clear that the thing is not sitting on top of something but hovering over it. Alternatively, there would be an opportunity here to get rid of dedicated words for ‘over’ and ‘under’ completely (at least in transitive contexts) and just have them be ling ‘top’ and avan ‘bottom’ plus instrumental, and manga would after all indicate that motion along that point is involved.

  1. The issue I take with it is that it’s a rather basic lexical item but it’s derived from eyra ‘below, under’ with the negative suffix -arya, so basically ‘un-under’, which I personally find very confusing and which has led me to confusion in the past, in fact.

‘Locational’ Dative and Genitive with Prepositions

In the Grammar (§ 5.4) I mention something I dubbed ‘locational dative/genitive’, where instead of the locative case marker you would use the dative and genitive case marker respectively to indicate simple ‘to’ and ‘from’ – so basically, the dative is coupled with a lative meaning and the genitive with an ablative meaning, respectively:

Ang
AT
nimp-ye
run-3SF.T
māva-yam
mother-DAT
yena.
3SF.GEN

‘She runs to her mother.’

The example with the genitive that is currently in the grammar is not really locational at all, actually, now that I look at it. But anyway, lest I forget, here’s something I came across while translating something for myself today:

Yam
DATT
sarayan
go-3PM
ayonang
man-A
sam
two
manga
MOT
ling
top
natrang,
temple-T,
no
want
natratang.
pray-3PM.A.

‘Two men went up to the temple; they wanted to pray.’

In this case, it’s one of those ‘locational’ datives, but extended by a preposition unlike in the example from the Grammar above. Here, the preposition (manga) ling ‘(to the) top of’ does not trigger the locative case as usual, but the dative case. This is because with the locative, the phrase would imply that the two men were going literally to the top of the temple, that is, they end up standing on its roof. This is not the intended meaning, because they are only going up to the temple, that is, the temple is on a hill – Ayeri can’t distinguish ‘up’ from ‘to the top of’ just with the preposition. So, in order to differentiate going up to from going to the top of, the dative and the locative case are used respectively. The same works for ‘come down from X’:

saha-
come
manga
MOT
avan
bottom
X-na
X-GEN

as opposed to

saha-
come
manga
MOT
avan
bottom
X-ya
X-LOC

‘come to the bottom of X’.

Also, in the same translation challenge to myself, I discovered that it would make sense to allow div- ‘to stay’ to be used as a modal (ish), so that for example you can say diva bengyāng timangya ‘he remained standing at a distance’, as opposed to remaining seated at a distance. Now, what’s the difference between div(a)- ‘stay, remain’ and hang- ‘keep, hold; remain, stay’, though?!

First, at First, Once, First Time

This is another grammar musing on an issue I’ve been undecided about for quite some time now. If you look into the Grammar, you’ll find that ordinals and multiples are formed from cardinals like this:

men ‘one’ (one)
menan ‘first’ (one-NMLZ)
menanyam ‘once’ (one-NMLZ-DAT)

However, I came across situations where I wanted to say “at first” and “for the first time.” I wondered whether that could be covered as well by menanyam, literally ‘for first’, but somehow, I still wasn’t quite content, since doing something once isn’t always the same as doing it for the first time. Similarly, doing something at first is not necessarily doing it once or for the first time either. I came up with the following three alternate solutions for ‘at first’ some months ago:

?menya, lit. ‘at one’ (one-LOC)
menanya, lit. ‘at the first’ (one-NMLZ-LOC)
menanyam-ikan, lit. ‘very once/for the very first’ (one-NMLZ-DAT=very)

Now, through use, I somehow settled on menanya for ‘at first’ (English bias?), however, as of writing this, I think I could merge that with ‘for the first time’ and let context disambiguate: If there is a description of successive actions following, we know that the speaker probably means ‘at first’ (and then X, and then Y). Conversely, if context reveals that the action has never been done before, or that a person is new to something, we know that it is done ‘for the first time’. If there is no context, like in individual example sentences, things stay unclear, though I guess that this situation is kind of artificial, since sentences are rarely not embedded into context in real life, or even in texts.

If I didn’t want ambiguity, ?menanyam(an)ya could be possible, but I find that very unwieldy, as stacking case markers on top of each other is kind of avoided and renominalization with a case marker feels somewhat awkward, too, although I ran into situations where I wanted to do that with gerunds. Menanyam-ikan could be used as a very stern version of ‘once’, like ‘once and for all’.

Very much incongruent to this is ‘last’, which is now split between sarisa ‘former, previous’1 and pang-vā ‘back-most’. While sarisa is strictly used to mean ‘previous’, pang-vā2 can only be used to refer to the last item of a set.

  1. This looks like it’s derived from sara- ‘to leave’ + -isa ‘CAU’, so ‘made to leave’ literally, or ‘be left’, since causatives are used somewhat irregularly in Ayeri. I don’t usually keep track of how words are derived, which is kind of stupid sometimes.
  2. This appears to be somewhat in analogy to ban-vā ‘best’, although even that is strictly an irregularity …

Grammar Hole: Indirect Object Modified by Adposition

In a use-your-conlang discussion thread, I wrote tonight:

Ya(m) ko-koronreng yās ragan mararya: […]
LOC(/DAT)F ITER~know-3S.INAN.AGT 1S.PAT line-FOC next
That reminds me of the following line: […]

However, there’s an issue with this sentence as you can probably tell from the brackets: In fact, ragan ‘line, verse’ should be in the dative (raganyam, or yam … ragan here) to mean ‘this reminds me of X’ rather than ‘?this remembers me at X’ as implied by using the locative (raganya or ya … ragan here), but as an adposition, mararya governs the locative. Though it’s one of those kind of adverb-like (?) adpositions that ended up as postpositions, so I might stretch it and still mark its head as dative and have the ad-/postposition be a simple modifier.

Stupid grammar holes you only discover by using the language, but still, yay morphosyntax 🙂 And actually that’s only because I spontaneously decided to use ditransitive ko-koron- ‘to remember’ to mean ‘to remind sb. of sth.’