Accusative preposition

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The Talossan language is frequently described as a language that does not have any overt case markings. Case is assigned to words mostly by position, with some dative-case objects being paired with appropriate prepositions in some cases.

However, at one point in 2016/XXXVII, the Ladintsch community discussed the creation or assignation of a special accusative marker to help Talossan bards, poets, authors, and fancy-talkers alike use the Talossan language with more freedom over word order.

One proposed forms was a prefix çe(d)- for the masculine forms, and ça(d)- for the feminine forms, applying to both nouns and adjectives.
Another proposal was the already established preposition på(d).
In the end, neither form received wider support, the first one due to unclear provenance and for want of traditionality and conformity to Talossan structure, and the latter due to a possibility of conveying confusing information, instead of marking the accusative clearly. This is discussed further below.

Iac Marscheir’s Initial Proposal

The later Ladintsch Naziunal of 2019/XL, Iac Marscheir, proposed a masculine accusative prefix çe- (before vowels: çed-), and a feminine accusative prefix ça- (before vowels: çad-). It has never been elaborated where the forms come from. His original comment was as follows:

Iac Marscheir:
“Anyone who has studied Latin for more than 10 minutes knows that Latin has cases. These are lost on most modern Romance languages (Romanian is a notable exception, still containing the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and vocative cases). Therefore, as an expression of the Talossan language's connection with Latin and other Romance languages, I'd like to propose an optional accusative prefix, çe(d)- for masculine nouns and ça(d)- for feminine nouns (the parenthetical "d" is added in case the noun being prefixed starts with a vowel), that would mark the object of a transitive verb.

This prefix would never be required in speech or writing when the sentence is in SVO order, but, if used, it would allow free-er word order. It could create the ability to stress of parts of sentences via placing a sentence element before a verb, true to the Turkish influence on the Berbers prior to their flight to the northern Mediterranean.

Sentences that don't use the accusative prefix would have to retain the subject-verb-object word order in order to stave off ambiguity, while sentences with the prefix can have all six permutations (SVO, SOV, OSV, OVS, VSO, VOS) without fear of misunderstanding.

Also, adjectives would have to agree in case. Adjectives describing nouns in the accusative case will also take the accusative prefix, also agreeing in gender and adding a buffer d for adjectives starting with vowels.”

The idea of such a proposal was received with enthusiasm by the Ladintsch community.

Baron Hooligan’s Counterproposal

His Lordship Mà Ups Patritz La Mhà, Count of Thord, Baron of Hooligan, in turn, suggested that, in light of such Romance languages as Spanish, which has the prefix a for animated accusative objects, a prefix might be more suitable for Talossan, as well. He suggests, reportedly following discussions with His Majesty King John I., and the then-Seneschal Sir Cresti M. Siervicül, UrN, using the well-established prefix (before vowels: påd). His original reply was made in Talossan:

Baron of Hooligan:
“[...] In ziscußiuns över aceasta idéa, el regeu, el Seneschal, es éu tiennent viensas recoxhitats:

  • Noi credent qe c'estadra pü Talossan schi ingen çoiçéu pr'iens "marqeu del caseu acuçatíu" estadra 'n moct compläts, anstada d'iensa förfixa.
  • Viensa raziun pr'acest isch qe ça permitadra l'útzil del marqeu avant q'articais es altreux pärts da discuors, es noi piensent qe c'e impirtint (come viens exampal sub mostra).
  • L'idéa sembla similar àl "a personal" in Espanol es l'útzil del moct "pe" com'iensa preposiziun acuçatíu in Romaniesc.
  • Come in acestilor glheþen (sorors à Talossan), noi credent qe l'útzil d'iensa preposiziun estadra el çoiçéu corect per Talossan.
  • Þeoriçéu q'el Talossan "pa" ("pad" avant qe vocais) probavalmint isch (es imrè tent estescu, ainda qe non c'esteva zescriuat propramint come sa) avalaval per exactamint acest cünsuetüd.
  • Acest moct ("pa", qi c'esteva incestourat "on", exactamint com'isch el Romaniesc "pe") detxa isch uçat per l'indicaziun del datíu d'intereçù, mas créu qe toct qe säpent da "pa" pirneça sieu ánalog à "pe", comprís sieu útzil potentzial com'iensa preposiziun acuçatíu in Talossan.

Exampais d'acestilor cünsuetüds da "pa":

  • Com'iens datíu d'intereçù: L'avendeziun breneva pad eia. [L'Angleasca uça "on" aicì ocsà.]
  • Com'iens marqeu del caseu acuçatíu: Pa la criança ama el caciun. [Sà'starh, ¿"pa+el/la" elidadra à "pel/pal"? Penséu qe non.]
  • Com'iens "pa personal" similar àl "a personal" in Espanol: Çerçéu pa 'n secretar. (C'e sondreu qe "Çerçéu 'n secretar"; quist indicatadra qe el secretar c'e'n perziun cognheçada.) [¿Elida "pa+ün(a)/'n" à "p'iens(a)"? Penséu qe non.]

Sa...l'útzil da "pa" pr'acest c'e viensa idéa. Hi estevent altras idéas ziscutadas ocsà. [...]

He himself then provides a translation of his answer:

Baron of Hooligan:
“[...] In discussions about this idea, the king, the Prime Minister, and I have some thoughts:

  • We believe that it would be more Talossan if any choice for a "accusative case marker" would be a complete word, instead of a prefix.
  • One reason for this is that it would permit the use of the mark before articles and other parts of speech, and we think this is important (as one example below shows).
  • The idea seems similar to the "personal a" in Spanish and the use of the word "pe" as an accusative preposition ("prepositional accusative") in Romanian.
  • As in those languages (sisters to Talossan), we believe that the use of a preposition would be the correct choice for Talossan.
  • I theorise that the Talossan "pa" ("pad" before vowels) probably is (and always has been, although it was not described properly as such) available for exactly this usage.
  • This word ("pa", which is translated into English as "on", exactly as is the Romanian "pe") already is used for indication of the dative of interest, but I believe that all we know about "pa" supports its analog to "pe", including its potential use as a prepositional accusative in Talossan.

Examples of these usages of "pa":

  • As the dative of interest: L'avendeziun breneva pad eia. ("The dinner burned on her.) [English uses "on" here also.]
  • As the accusative case marker: Pa la criança ama el caciun. ("The dog loves the girl; lit., "On the girl loves the dog".) [Maybe "pa+el/la" would elide to "pel/pal"? I think not.]
  • As the "personal pa" similar to the "personal a" in Spanish: Çerçéu pa 'n secretar. (I am searching for a [particular] secretary.) (This is distinct from "Çerçéu 'n secretar"; the former would indicate that the secretary is a known person.) [Does "pa+ün(a)/'n" elide to "p'iens(a)"? I think not.]

So...the use of "pa" for this is one idea. There were other ideas discussed also. [...]

It should be noted that, adhering to another standard, the Baron of Hooligan writes pa for , generally using a where etymology and phonetics would call for å.

Possible Confusion Arising by the Use of

Iac Marscheir subsequently points out that “using a preexisting preposition could be relatively confusing”, to which the Baron of Hooligan replies:

Baron of Hooligan:
“[...] I think the case for "pa" is pretty strong, and in fact fits precisely with the current use of the word, so I don't see any potential confusion by acknowledging this as a proper use of "pa".
Consider the dative of interest example above -- L'avendeziun breneva pad eia. Given this, and the fact that the almost certain (to me, at least) origin-word from which "pa" was born (Romanian "pe") is not only defined as "on" (which is perhaps indicative of dative of interest use) but is also used as a prepositional accusative, this means that Pad eia breneva l’avendaziun makes perfect sense and (I think) could seriously be argued as an already-valid construction even before acknowledging "pa" as anything but an indicator of the dative of interest. [...]”

However, the Baron of Hooligan here is using quite a confusing example to maintain that it would not be confusing. If på(d) were to be used as an accusative case marker, then the sentence “L’avendaziun breneva påd eiă” would not just mean The dinner burned on her (i.e., Due to being unattentive, she burned the food that she was cooking.), but also The dinner burned her (i.e., The food that she was eating for dinner burned her).
Indeed, the Baron of Hooligan subsequently says:

Baron of Hooligan:
“Well, Cresti points out that I am mixing apples and oranges in my example that attempted to draw an analog between these two uses of "pa".
As he said, a prepositional accusative example would actually be pa l'avendaziun breneva el cócüs (literally, and confusingly, "on the dinner burned the cook"). Which does suggest that there is a (quoting Cresti now) "a big potential for confusion between prepositional accusative and dative of interest". Hmm....”

On the other hand, proposing that the prefix would only be applied to nouns, since direct objects pronouns have their specific inflection and so do not need a separate accusative marker, the risk of misinterpretations might be somewhat mitigated.

Exclusive Function as Locative Prefix

One Ladintsch points out that på(d) is more of a spatial or temporal locative marker than anything else, which is frequently rendered by the dative in many Indo-European languages:

Magniloqueu Épiqeu Ac'hlerglünä da Lhiun:
“To be honest, I see “på(d)” as more of a (spatial and temporal) locative prefix than an accusative prefix. [...]”

Indeed, considering the provenance of the preposition, one should wonder whether non-locative uses of the preposition would be fair.

Historical Genesis and Evolution of an Accusative Marker

The Ladintsch community tries to give a (constructed) historical account for any new coinage within Talossan. Since nearly all Romance languages have lost the Latin case markings, the question of how this preservation or introduction of the accusative case would fit in the Talossan languages history:

Sir Cresti M. Siervicül, UrN:“

  1. Do you have any thoughts about how this feature would arise in Talossan, in linguistic terms?
  2. Why accusative? In the evolution of Old French from Vulgar Latin at least, the accusative became unmarked first, while the nominative retained a case marker.”

Iac Marscheir’s reply to the second question states that French were “not a good comparison” due to its status as “a proverbial ugly duckling in the world of Romance languages”, partly for its “sanctions for SOV word order”, its orthography, and its grammar. Marscheir argues that the accusative case would be the last distinctive case before a complete collapse of the case system. However, the accusative is the least-marked case in any language with a case system. For example, Turkish, which has a case system with six morphological cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative, ablative) only marks definite forms of the accusative, while the indefinite accusative remains unmarked, just as the nominative. Similarly in German and Latin, the accusative neuter forms are identical to (i.e., indistinguishable from) their nominative counterparts. Estonian colloquially forgoes the use of the genitive or the partitive as a direct object case marker, using instead the nominative. Colloquially but also sometimes in written language, Brazilian Portuguese prefers replacing the direct object pronoun with a nominative pronoun at the end of the phrase.[1]
Sir Siervicül suggested that Occitan had been “a huge influence on the earlier stages of Talossan”, pointing out that Occitan and French preserved case markings longer than other Romance languages that lost them, while African Latin eliminated them very early on.
Marscheir suggests following historical account for an accusative marker:

Iac Marscheir:
Well, I think we can reasonably assume that the people who spoke Talossan migrated north through the Iberian Peninsula during the fall of Rome in order to escape the Vandals (via going south, then west, underneath the barbarians). I think they would have settled down somewhere in modern-day Poland (evidenced by the introduction of the ß and the use of ä for the sound /æ/, seen in Finnish). Since the surrounding languages (German, Finnish, Polish, etc.) all use cases (in which the nominative is unmarked), it is likely that, at the very least, one or more cases would have been reintroduced, if not just kept during the (presumably) slow migration. A prefix could be the result of smooshing a prepositional accusative against the word in question (similar to the story of contractions in English and French) due to outside influence combined with the precedent nature of a prepositional accusative (Finnish*, German, and Polish all encode case-related information in the word itself, rather than as a prepostion or suffix).
*Well, actually, Finnish is kinda weird. It uses a quasi-suffix that vowel-harmonizes and/or edits the stem to make it sound better or easier to say. So fifty-fifty, I guess

Conclusion of the Debate

While the debate has not in fact come to an end, and no consensus is as of yet reached, the last opinion, given by Sir Siervicül, concluded the debate without results:

Sir Cresti M. Siervicül, UrN:
Hmm. We'd also need to explain the form of the affix, though. That's one advantage of the prepositional accusative approach Hooligan described--it uses an existing preposition within the language. If we wanted to create a prefix, ideally it'd be traceable to something like a different Latin preposition that didn't survive as an independent preposition in Talossan, or a Berber affix or particle, or a preposition borrowed from some other language. If we're drawing inspiration from Berber languages, it would be interesting if the marker reflected an ergative-absolutive distinction rather than nominative-accusative. Though maybe that would be a little too exotic for Talossan. I have another idea sort of similar to Hooligan's, and inspired by Sardinian and Catalan, that I will share when I have a little more time.

References

  1. Luís, A. R., & Kaiser, G. A. (2016:225). Clitic Pronouns: Phonology, Morphology, Syntax. In: W. L. Wetzels, J. Costa, & S. Menuzzi (Eds.): The Handbook of Portuguese Linguistics (pp. 210-233). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.