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Posts Tagged ‘morphology’

Possessives in Engadinese

January 7th, 2010 Comments off

One of the problems in Engadinese is how to form the possessive.

In modern Romance languages, of course, this is typically accomplished with a preposition derived from Latin DE. The question then becomes, how to do this in Engadinese?

We can’t turn to Modern Greek for help, because the genitive is still alive and well there. And Ray called my first attempt, από, unsatisfactory, instead proposing εκ for TAKE. So that’s one possibility.

But a thought came through my mind: why not look at how other languages do this—specifically, non-Romance languages? And even more specifically, Maltese?

If I recall Bonġornu! Kif int? correctly, the Maltese possessive particle ta’ comes from a construction with an Arabic noun mata‘ or similar, meaning something along the lines of “possession”—so something like il-kiteb ta’ ommi “my mother’s book” comes from something like al-kitāb mata‘ ’ummi “the book, the possession of my mother”.

So perhaps that might be an idea worth following up. Though Greek does not, of course, have the construct state that inspired this construction in Maltese.

But perhaps it’ll lead to something more “organic” than just using εκ.

Nominative and the -s

March 27th, 2009 1 comment

It seems that the “predicative -s” in Surselvan as well as the -i/-ai ending of masculine plural participles may derive from the old nominative ending.

Other relics of the nominative case are in nouns denoting humans, such as um/hom itself (< HOMO)

And -s is, in general, retained most where it has morphological function (as a verb or noun ending); less commonly in words such as prepositions or adverbs.

Romansh apparently typically drops all final vowels except -a, which accounts for the vowelless first person singular (chant < CANTO).

And there’s the *P T K > b d g intervocalically thing again that was mentioned in the email. And the palatalisation of word-initial ga- ca- (hardly in the west, in stressed position in the center, and commonly in the east).

And apparently impersonal i is from ILLI.

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Future, past, open and closed e

March 27th, 2009 Comments off

Synthetic future and past

So, after reading some more in Rätoromanisch, I see that Ladin *here* has a synthetic future and preterite… so maybe I should resurrect the Ancient Greek future and aorist, respectively, if I want to be like that.

On the other hand, Ricarda Liver notes that:

Das Altsurselvische besaß (wie heute noch das Ladin) synthetische Präteritalformen. Die Geschichte dieses Aspekts des Verbalsystems ist bis heute nicht geschrieben. Es stellt sich die Frage, ob die genannten Präteritalformen je in der gesprochenen Sprache geläufig waren oder ob sie lediglich ein Import (aus Italien?) auf der Ebene der Literatursprache waren.

Though it’s not clear to me whether she’s talking about the Old Surselvan preterite there or about all Romansh synthetic preterites.

Open and closed e

In her phonology of Surselvan, Liver notes that Surselvan has been described as having a vowel system of [i e ɛ a ɔ ʊ u], but that it’s not clear how many of those sounds are separate phonemes.

She says that it’s pretty clear that the “palatal side” is a “four-step system”, i.e. that there are four phonemic front vowels /i e ɛ a/ (with /a/ neutral wrt front/back), but that this is less clear on the “velar side”: there’s only one /o/ (phonetically [ɔ]), and the opposition of /u/ into [ʊ] and [u] is barely, if at all, phonemic: long /u/ tends to be [uː] while short /u/ tends to be [ʊ] (with the notable exception of cudisch [ˈkʊːdiʃ]).

For the opposition /e/ vs /ɛ/, she gives the following minimal pairs (quoting Spescha 1989:58):

pèr [pɛːr] ‚Paar‘ vs. pér [peːr] ‚Birne‘

pèz [pɛts] ‚Brust‘ vs. péz [pets] ‚(Berg)spitze‘

spert [ʃpɛrt] ‚rasch‘ vs. spért [ʃpert] ‚Geist‘

dètg [dɛc] ‚gehörig‘ vs. detg [dec] ‚gesagt‘.

Assuming I make a similar distinction, perhaps I could spell it with ä (open) vs. e (closed), since I more or less decided I’d have ä.

Prepositional accusative

In Ladin, it’s apparently common to use a preposition a, as in Spanish, before a direct object if it is [+animate], especially if it’s [+human].

Possibly consider doing something like that, too. (What’s a in Engadinese, anyway? Some reflex of eis, presumably?)

In summary

I think I could really do with a decent textbook on Vallader 🙂 Especially the phonology and morphology, ideally also the historical sound changes.

Book: Rätoromanisch

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

I bought the book Rätoromanisch on Sunday, and it arrived today.

Even from a brief look, I think it’s going to be useful in working on Engadinese.

Now what I need is a dictionary of Vallader (or, even better, a dictionary/dictionaries of all the idioms), together with a phonology of the various idioms. And, ideally, a sound change history and a grammar. (For example, apparently Ladin has a synthetic future, so Engadinese should maybe have one, too. I wouldn’t have known that since RG chucked it, together with other things that were not attested in all idioms.)