Author Topic: A Focus Position Sighting?  (Read 885 times)

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Offline wm.annis

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A Focus Position Sighting?
« on: February 18, 2010, 07:00:17 pm »
Added today to the Canon by roger, Feb 17.

Quote from: Karyu Pawl
Correct—I haven’t included a passive because I thought that any function it would serve was already satisfied by other mechanisms in the language.
For the equivalent of an agentless passive, you’re right—just use fko.
For passives with agents, the flexible word order of Na’vi should obviate the need for a passive, or so it would seem. There’s no semantic distinction between

  (1) Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
  (2) Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.

but the two are not equivalent in discourse, where focus is a consideration. In Na’vi, however, the equivalent of (3) is fully grammatical and not at all strange:

  (3) Hamlet Shakespeare wrote.

which should fulfill the functions of (2).

This is our first hint about discourse rules for word order (implied, oh so long ago, in his answers on the Language Log guest post).  It sure looks like he's saying first position in a clause is Focus.  Typologically speaking, this is pretty common.  My next question is, how does the topic work into this?

  (Topic optional) Focus Everything-Else

I give this scheme because it, too, has typological precedent (Hungarian; Ancient Greek).  Also, I somehow got it into my brain that Frommer somewhere said that the topic tended to front (if someone can confirm or disconfirm this for me, that would be very helpful).
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Offline kewnya txamew'itan

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Re: A Focus Position Sighting?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 02:01:21 am »
Yay, irayo ma Pawl sì annis!

Finally an answer!

I imagine that the topical could be used to stress the passivity or activity of clause just like it normally stresses a noun.

Of course, there might be other structures that restrict word order (like have sentences) where you might need the topic.

For example, I have the spear and the spear is owned by me. The first example for the passive one is not obviously passive as the lu prevents it from being in  the normal focal position.





Of course, we still have to wait for passive participles (I think that's the right term but then OLF) like "known" and "walked" (an equivalent to the adjective in "the road less travelled"). For now I guess I'll still have to stick with "a fko [verb]".
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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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Re: A Focus Position Sighting?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 03:10:49 am »

Quote
My next question is, how does the topic work into this?

My question is, how does the topic works in Na'vi at all!

When I read the LL-article the first time and discovered, that there's a topical in Na'vi, I thought: Great! After years of hard work to master the topic in Japanese (and I am still not right anytime), at least *I* won't have so much problems to understand this part of Na'vi as other people may have, who never heard of a topic before.

And looking at the canonical sentences, all the evidences of the topical fit to my Japanese model ... but quite a bunch of other words in these canonical sentences also had to be topics according to Japanese rules. So I understand all the topics we have got, but indeed I had exspected some more!

So at the moment I'm quite unsure, when to use the topical at all. And when I think of the literally thousands of pages, which were (and are) written about the socalled "rules" of topic-usage in Japanese, then I start to fear, what Na'vi-learners could face ...   :-X
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 03:27:16 am by Na'rìghawnu »

Offline wm.annis

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Re: A Focus Position Sighting?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 11:36:32 am »
And when I think of the literally thousands of pages, which were (and are) written about the socalled "rules" of topic-usage in Japanese, then I start to fear, what Na'vi-learners could face ...   :-X

Frommer has said he doesn't know Japanese, so we will probably be spared that.
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Offline Na'rìghawnu

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Re: A Focus Position Sighting?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 11:51:03 am »

I know. And that's why I don't exspect, that the Na'vi topic is exactly like the Japanese one. But at least Frommer must have got the idea about the topic out of one (or more) of the languages he knows ... and it very well could be, that this/these language/s have got topic-rules, which are comparable to the Japanese ones, e. g. in their complexity and countless exceptions. But - of course - I don't hope so!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 11:52:53 am by Na'rìghawnu »

 

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