Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sentence Structure

Let's look a bit into the sentence structure of the language. Again here is a bit of asian influence as sentences start with a topic (T), then comes a particle (p), then the verb (V) and the remaining complements and adverbials (C1 C2...Cn):

T p V C1 C2...Cn
For simplicity, so far all T's and C's consist of NP's (noun phrases) which I have talked a bit about in the post on reduplication. I haven't worked too much on the NP's yet, and there will probably also be a way to make complement clauses, but those are subjects of a different blogpost.

Back to sentence syntax. The particle is the fun part. It shows the tense, mood and voice of the verb. There are two tenses: future and non-future. And I still haven't decided on what moods to include, but maybe something like realis, irrealis, interrogative and imperative. That's as far as I will go into that for now.

The interesting part is the voicemarking. You can also think of it as marking the case of the topic, because it shows the topics role in the sentence. There are five voices in ‘Mhmmz:

Active (ACT)
Passive (PASS)
Dative (DAT)
Instrumental/genitive (INS)
Locative/temporative (LOC)

Active shows that the topic is the subject or agent of the sentence, as in "I run" or "He kicks the ball". And passive that the topic is the patient of the sentence, as in "It was given to me" or "This coffee, I like". Those are pretty conventional.

Now, dative is not normally a voice, but it is here. It shows that the topic is the indirect object of the sentence, for example "Peter was given a present". The next ones have multiple functions: The instrumental/genitive may mark the instrument of the sentence ("With the pencil he wrote a letter"), or that the topic is the possessor of one of the other complements ("The pencil has a dull tip" or "About the pencil, its tip is dull"). And finally the locative/temporative marks time and/or place, which I find pretty natural as they are often mixed up, as in "At the wedding he danced a lot" or "Now I am tired" or "There I will go next summer".

I'm sorry I haven't got any in-language examples, but it's simply not that developed yet, for which I have only myself to blame. I'm off to a party now, have a nice weekend guys (and gals).

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