Syntax … the mystery continues

It was a day full of discovery today. I found a sound more painful than chalk on a blackboard (fork on frozen creamed corn…) and there was some new syntax.

Bardi has a lot of morphology that isn’t very productive. The case morphology is very regular but there’s a heap of derivational marking that occurs pretty rarely. For example, there’s aalgadany and goowidany ‘by sun’ and ‘by moon’ respectively, cf aalga ‘sun’ and goowidi ‘moon’. No other words have this suffix that I can find. You expect that from derivational morphology, of course.

BUT, today I came across innyana-nim. It’s a fully inflected verb with an ergative case marker (-nim) on the end of it. Most of the other Nyulnyulan languages do this pretty productively, although not usually with the ergative; it forms temporal and cause subordinate clauses, for example. But this is an exocentric noun, it seems. It means ‘the person who caught it’ (cf innyana ‘(s)he caught it’). Further digging produced inamboonanim ‘the one who hit it’) and sort of injalananim ‘the one who saw it’ but nothing else. This was a Laves item that I nearly wrote off for innyana=min  ‘when he caught it’.

So, we have a case marker that occurs on very few items, to form a verb or noun that can appear as a subject of a sentence.


By the way, more work on my gerunds with –joon has produced some more nice examples. They do have to be resultative, putting the agent in produces problems, but they can be further case marked.

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