Referring to a subject only once

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Oil In My Lamp
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Referring to a subject only once

Post by Oil In My Lamp » 20 Jul 2019 20:16

Good afternoon!

I am not sure if this is the place to ask, but I guess it counts as a stupid question, so here goes.

I have a story with father and mother wolves and their cubs. I got to a point where the mother was rallying her cubs. "Mother wolf rallied her cubs." I am wondering if there is a way to say that sentence without referring to Mother Wolf twice, "mother wolf rallied her cubs".
Is there any way to mark that both she is doing the action and that the cubs are hers and the object without referencing her twice, both she did and her cubs?
  • wolf- mother-LSTV -SUB rally-PFV-DYN cub-PL- POSS.SUB -OBJ
(LSTV = Adjectival stative verb, the POSS.SUB in 'cub' is the 'her' in 'her cubs' that I am considering avoiding. I do not have 3rd person pronouns and instead refer to the sentence part that the word occupies.) (Yes, I am not good with gloss yet.)

The problem is mother wolf is the subject, and cubs are the object. Maybe I could put something on the subject, mother wolf, that says she 'owns' the object? Or maybe something on the object, but the object would have to be the subject as well, having both mother wolf and cubs in one, and that just sounds bad, but may be possible.

Otherwise, I do not know. It really is not that important, but at least a curiosity. Is it possible? If not, is it possible for a language that marks for person or gender?
Edit: corrected some gloss terms and stuff
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Creyeditor
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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by Creyeditor » 20 Jul 2019 22:56

German has a reflexive dative argument in some of these situtaion. The possessor of an argument appears as a dative object instead of the expected genitive/possessive modifier.

Ich wasche mir die Hände.
Ich wasch-e mir die Händ-e.
1SG wash-1SG 1SG.REFL.DAT DEF.F hand\-PL
I wash my hands. (lit. I wash myself the hands.)

Some languages have reflexive voice marked on their verbs. I could imagine a language where the reflexive marking indicates a possessor if there is already an object. Pseudo-German could look like this.

Ich sichwasche die Hände.
Ich sich-wasch-e mir die Händ-e.
1SG REFL-wash-1SG hand\-PL
I wash my hands. (lit. I wash myself the hands.)

Or extended to your example:

Die Wolfsmutter sichsammelte die Jungen.
Die Wolf-s-mutter sich-sammel-t-e die Junge-n.
DEF.F wolf-CMPND-mother REFL-rally-PST-1SG DEF.PL cub-ACC.PL
Mother wolf rallied her cubs.

Sorry for all the German.
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Salmoneus
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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by Salmoneus » 20 Jul 2019 23:42

Sure, you could say "mother wolf rallied cubs".

It's clear from knowledge of cubs that the cubs have a progenitor - it's a relative term. It's reasonable to assume from context that the relative term is anchored in a prominent speech participant, hence, mother wolf. If they WEREN'T mother wolf's cubs, you could have a possessive to indicate that, with this more likely state of affairs left as the default.

You could do that either as a general pragmatic principle, or as a more regular rule (relative nouns are relative to the topic).

You could do that, but limit it more syntactically, and use a double subject construction: "mother wolf, cubs were rallied", and then have the subejct of the verb by default be the topic.

Or you could make the cubs part of mother wolf: mother wolf rallied herself in the cubs.

Etc.

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Pabappa
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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by Pabappa » 21 Jul 2019 00:44

Salmoneus wrote:
20 Jul 2019 23:42

Or you could make the cubs part of mother wolf: mother wolf rallied herself in the cubs.
As silly as this sounds, I think you'd get used to it quickly and it would become 2nd nature if all such clauses were formed like that. And it would be just as transparent as doing it the English way. I like this idea. Although depending on your grammar, it might require you to use another pronoun and thus not solve your problem. (I think the languages that have this....if they exist....would be those that use possession marking, not separate pronouns).
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by Salmoneus » 21 Jul 2019 01:00

Pabappa wrote:
21 Jul 2019 00:44
Salmoneus wrote:
20 Jul 2019 23:42

Or you could make the cubs part of mother wolf: mother wolf rallied herself in the cubs.
As silly as this sounds, I think you'd get used to it quickly and it would become 2nd nature if all such clauses were formed like that. And it would be just as transparent as doing it the English way. I like this idea. Although depending on your grammar, it might require you to use another pronoun and thus not solve your problem. (I think the languages that have this....if they exist....would be those that use possession marking, not separate pronouns).
Take another look at the example from German above - this is exactly what it does. Oh, sure, German only has "I washed myself "to" the hands" (taking "to" as the prototypical meaning of the dative, rather than, in my example, "I washed myself "in" the hands", but same thing.

The fact that the German example applies to body parts isn't that significant, because social relations are very similar semantically to body parts and often are governed by the same syntactic peculiarities (as they're both inalienably possessed things).

I can't cite you languages that would use this reflexive strategy with offspring, but I'm pretty confident they exist.

Oil In My Lamp
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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by Oil In My Lamp » 21 Jul 2019 05:05

Creyeditor wrote:
20 Jul 2019 22:56
Die Wolfsmutter sichsammelte die Jungen.
Die Wolf-s-mutter sich-sammel-t-e die Junge-n.
DEF.F wolf-CMPND-mother REFL-rally-PST-1SG DEF.PL cub-ACC.PL
Mother wolf rallied her cubs.
@Creyeditor, that is cool, I do have a reflexive, so this might work really well.
Sorry for all the German.
I do not speak German, but it is not a problem. [:D]
Salmoneus wrote:
20 Jul 2019 23:42
It's clear from knowledge of cubs that the cubs have a progenitor - it's a relative term. It's reasonable to assume from context that the relative term is anchored in a prominent speech participant, hence, mother wolf. If they WEREN'T mother wolf's cubs, you could have a possessive to indicate that, with this more likely state of affairs left as the default.
This does sound like a more logical approach to this, generally.

Or you could make the cubs part of mother wolf: mother wolf rallied herself in the cubs.
@Salmoneus and @Pabappa, I see it matches with the German. It is awesome. It would be interesting to use that construction and see how, like @Pabappa said, it would become second nature.

I wonder if I will need to have an object that is marked for this construction though?
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Referring to a subject only once

Post by eldin raigmore » 31 Jul 2019 02:50

Could you use middle voice, indicating that the agent or the agent’s interests, were saliently affected by the action?
(IME the cubs are definitely an interest of their mother!)
In this example that might not be much different from reflexive, I guess, if the reflexive is marked on the verb, rather than on the mother or the cubs or the possessive pronoun-adjective.
(If it’s marked on a pronoun, reflexive is more of a person than a voice; if it’s marked on a verb, it’s more of a voice than a person.)

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What your language actually does, is much more important, than what you call it!

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