Grammar question related to case and names

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Nachtuil
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Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Nachtuil » 26 Jul 2016 05:52

Hello,
I have a simple(?) question regarding cases though cases may not even be relevant. I am trying to determine how to deal with a certain type of word and fit it into a case for a conlang, if it in fact is a noun. For this sentence, what case would Finn fit into?:

"I named him Finn"

I is of course the subject and him the direct object, but is Finn the indirect object or is it a type of adverb or adjective in this context? Is it kind of like "I painted the fence blue" ?

I just know there probably is a broader and perhaps obvious grammatical category for it but I can't figure out at the moment. If it is at all relevant, the language I am making has the following cases: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, vocative and instrumental. I realise every language is different but I'd like to treat this in a fashion not wildly unexpected and unorthodox for languages with case endings on nouns.

Thank you!

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 26 Jul 2016 07:06

It's called the subject complement. It is a word that describes the identity, quality, state, or other aspect of the subject. Verbs like be, become, name, paint, feel, seem, appoint, and so forth imply a description of the subject, and the phrase that presents that description is called the complement.

This is a subset of the grammatical complement, that is, a word or phrase whose existence is directly implied by other words (e.g. you can't "become" without there being some new identity/state/etc.).

English doesn't have a dedicated method of marking complements, so it can be a bit hard to grasp:

I am happy.
It's easy to do.
I said (that) I don't know.
I don't like waiting.

It's slightly more complicated than I've described here, but I hope this makes some sense as a basic explanation

You can mark it with whatever case you want. You could use accusative, or dative, or you could make up your own complement case if you wanted (not sure if such a thing exists, but it wouldn't be too hard to explain its existence).

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by elemtilas » 26 Jul 2016 12:32

clawgrip wrote:You can mark it with whatever case you want. You could use accusative, or dative, or you could make up your own complement case if you wanted (not sure if such a thing exists, but it wouldn't be too hard to explain its existence).
Yep! Attentive listening to how your invented language works will help you determine which, if any, case to use.

I can say that in Queranaran, they would certainly use the vocative for the instance of Naming. Other instances of relating one's name would almost certainly be in the dative:

When the baby pops out, the appropriate person could say something like "You-ABS I-PRES-ERG name : Rastaiyo-VOC" whereas some later instance might be "Because of the love I bear your mother's brother, you I named Rastaiyo-DAT."

Just one of the several handy uses of the vocative!
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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by gach » 26 Jul 2016 13:30

You can see how the complement in that sentence is more like an adverbial than an object, if you swap the name into some other noun. In that case you often use the preposition as with the complement noun,

I named him as my advisor.

Compare this with the sentence He works as my advisor, where the phrase as my advisor gives information about the manner of the action.

It's probably even a good idea to let your imagination free since different verbs make different sort of marking for their complements seem natural. Marking by adpositions is also fair game, even if your language would have a nice selection of cases to choose from. Regular copular complements ("to be something") are commonly left unmarked, so using the nominative for complements describing a change of state (e.g. He became Finn/my advisor) is also a natural choice. Any local case describing a goal, like dative, will naturally work fine here as well, but I wouldn't find it strange to use the instrumental either. The thing is that you can make a general rule for how to treat complements like these but also have other verbs which behave their own ways.

Finnish actually uses a more specialised translative case with changes of state, as in

Nime-si-n häne-t Finni-ksi/avustaja-kse-ni.
name-PST-SG1 SG3-ACC Finn-TRANSL/advisor-TRANSL-POSS.SG1
"I named him Finn/as my advisor."

This translative case isn't restricted to complements like these but I guess it's conceivable that the use of such a previously local case would erode even further and leave it used only with some complements. I'd still expect there to remain at least some exceptions for this kind of use, since random adverbs can be very good in retaining ancient case forms on them.

Accusative does sound like it would be an obvious choice for complements but for one reason or another it isn't so. I don't think I know even a language that uses accusative on complement clauses, like I don't like waiting.
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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 26 Jul 2016 13:33

in my Domun language, I use nominative for regular subject complements (subjects themselves are also nominative), but if it's someone's actual name then it uses the vocative.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Lao Kou » 26 Jul 2016 13:43

Géarthnuns uses "as" in these instances.
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 26 Jul 2016 14:29

Okay, some Japanese examples. Japanese tends to connect complements with adverbs. Here are some examples:

copular subject complements take no marking. cf.
direct object:
kami o hirou
paper ACC pick.up
pick up a paper

subject complement:
kami da
paper COP
(it) is (a) paper

"become" takes adverbs where English takes adjectives:
ureshiku naru
happy-ADV become
become happy (Lit. "become happily")

hen ni naru
strange ADV become
become strange (Lit. "become strangely")

nouns also take ni, which is something like a dative marker or who knows what:
otona ni naru
adult DAT become
become an adult

Complements involving names, quotes, and sounds use the adverbial (among other uses) particle to:
Jon to yobu
John COMPL call
(we) call (him) John

Fin to nazuketa
fin COMPL name-PST
I named him "Finn"

Jon to itta
John COMPL said
(I) said, "John"

inu wa wan to naku
dog TOP woof COMPL make.animal.sound
dogs say, "woof"

ban to kikoeta
bang COMPL be.audible-PST
(I) heard (a) bang

These instances of to can be replaced with the colloquial (t)te:
Jon te itta
John COMPL said
(I) said, "John"

Ones related to questions use ka (the interrogative particle) instead of to, similar to English "if" or "whether"
Jon to itta ka wakaranai
John COMPL said Q know-NEG
I don't know if/whether he said, "John"

Unlike English, it's required even in content questions
Nan to itta ka wakaranai
what COMPL said Q know-NEG
I don't what he said

Both complement and non-complement as are marked with to shite (te is also an adverbial verb ending):

adobaizā to shite eranda
advisor "to shite" choose-PST
(I) chose (him) as (an) advisor

adobaizā to shite hataraku
advisor "to shite" work
work as (an) advisor

Not all things that are complements in English need to be expressed as complements in other languages though:

yaru - do
yariyasui - easy to do
yarinikui - hard to do

"It looks strange"
vs.
mitame ga hen
appearance NOM strange
(it's) appearance (is) strange

I've surely left stuff out but oh well. That should give you an idea.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Lambuzhao » 26 Jul 2016 14:57

:idea:
Nochtuil, You might want to check of Appositive, and especially Appositive Genitive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apposition

This doesn't cover the Adverbial/Instrumental Complements with 'as', but will give you some idea.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Nachtuil » 26 Jul 2016 16:38

Wow I am blown away by all the responses! Thank you guys so much forgiving me so much to read and consider! From the sounds of it, I -may- use the vocative case for instances of naming which I currently have set as unmarked and used only for address but I want to feel as though I fully grasp the concept first before deciding. I shall reread your responses again.

Are all adjectives actually subject complements?

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 26 Jul 2016 16:58

If they appear in the predicate and are describing the subject, then yes.

"big" is a subject complement in:

"the house is big"

but not in:

"the big house"

where it's just a modifier.

EDIT: to put it simply, a complement is something that only exists because a separate phrase implied its existence. In your original example, the verb "to name" implies a name, which, in this case, was Finn. The verb "to paint" implies a colour, which, in this case, is blue.

In my example here, the verb "to be" implies that the house is something, and that something is big.

An adjective like "easy" always implies a complement though, because for example, if you have a rock, it can be big or small or white or whatever, no problem. But you can't have an "easy rock" without directly implying some sort of action that is easy to perform with that rock. The implied action is a complement.

I'm rather tired and sick and feel like I'm rambling a bit.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by gach » 26 Jul 2016 17:40

In some languages the difference between predicative and attributive uses of adjectives ("the house is big" vs. "the big house") is highlighted by the different morphology that the adjective gets in these positions. For example in the Saamic languages predicative adjectives are declined like nouns, but when used attributively, they usually don't decline and many of them get a special attributive form. Here are some examples from North Saami,

Predicates:

Viessu lea stuoris.
house be.SG3 big
"The house is big."

Viesu-t lea-t stuorrá-t.
house-PL be-PL3 big-PL
"The houses are big"

Attributes:

stuorra viessu
big.ATTR house
"The big house"

stuorra viesu-t
big.ATTR house-PL
"The big houses"
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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Nachtuil » 27 Jul 2016 00:26

clawgrip wrote: I'm rather tired and sick and feel like I'm rambling a bit.
Nevertheless I am extremely grateful to the responses everyone has given so far, honestly.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 27 Jul 2016 01:45

Attributives are kind of going off topic, but oh well...just like Saamic, Classical Japanese distinguished separate attributive forms for both classes of adjectival words, and modern Japanese does for one of the two:

Classical Japanese:
Predicative:
ihe ōkishi
house big-CONCL
"The house is big"

ihe shizuka nari
house quiet COP-CONCL
"the house is quiet"

Attributive:
ōkiki ihe
big-ATTR house
"the big house"

shizuka naru ihe
quiet COP-ATTR house
"the quiet house"

ōkishi vs. ōkiki
shizuka naru vs. shizuka nari

Modern Japanese:
Predicative:
ie wa ōkii
house TOP big
"The house is big"

ie wa shizuka da
house TOP quiet COP.CONCL
"the house is quiet"

Attributive:
ōkii ie
big house
"the big house"

shizuka na ie
quiet COP.ATTR house
"the quiet house"

ōkii and ōkii
but
shizuka na vs. shizuka da

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Curlyjimsam » 30 Jul 2016 23:13

Finn in I named him Finn surely isn't a subject complement: it says something about the object, not the subject!
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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 31 Jul 2016 02:15

Right, sorry, object complement. Essentially the same thing except in reference to the object instead of the subject. Not quite sure how I missed that.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Nachtuil » 31 Jul 2016 20:57

Lambuzhao wrote::idea:
Nochtuil, You might want to check of Appositive, and especially Appositive Genitive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apposition

This doesn't cover the Adverbial/Instrumental Complements with 'as', but will give you some idea.
Thanks, that is interesting.
Curlyjimsam wrote: Finn in I named him Finn surely isn't a subject complement: it says something about the object, not the subject!
That does make more sense.

Thanks again clawgrip.

Generally, do some languages have the predicative or attributive type but not both?

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by clawgrip » 01 Aug 2016 14:03

Some languages, like North Saami or classical Japanese differentiate predicative adjectives from attributive adjectives, while some languages, like English or Hindi, do not. I'm not sure what the split is.

Adjectives in Mandarin have special attributive forms, because adjectives take a relational particle in the attributive*, but cannot take it in the predicate.

Modern Japanese has a distinct attributive form for only one of its two classes of adjectives. The other class does not change at all.

Adjectives in Amharic behave differently in attributive position than in the predicate (they steal suffixes that would otherwise appear on the noun), but this can't really be considered an attributive form, since those suffixes would be there even without the adjective.

Examples:

Code: Select all

      N. Saamic  C.Ja1    C.Ja2     M.Ja2      Mandarin
PRED  stuoris    ōkishi   dai-nari  kyodai-da  dà
ATTR  stuorra    ōkiki    dai-naru  kyodai-na  dà (de)

      English  M.Ja1    French    Hindi      Khmer
PRED  big      ōkii     grand(e)  baṛā/ī/e   thom
ATTR  big      ōkii     grand(e)  baṛā/ī/e   thom
So it's up to you what you want to do.

*I realize Mandarin adjectives are a little more complex, and the particle can often be dropped, but I get the impression that adjectives that drop it are exceptions to a general rule.
Last edited by clawgrip on 05 Aug 2016 12:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grammar question related to case and names

Post by Nachtuil » 05 Aug 2016 02:12

Thanks again Clawgrip, that's really interesting! I have been playing with having separate verbs to indicate alienable vs inalienable possession. Perhaps I can also use the verb for inalienable possession for predicative adjectives instead of a "Be" verb.

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