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This week, we do a little talking about determiners, a topic that has come up before in many episodes but that we hadn’t really treated on its own.  Also, we get to reading some iTunes reviews we’ve been forgetting about.

Top of Show Greeting: Brazilian Portuguese (Vítor)

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6 Responses to “Conlangery #87: Quantifiers and Determiners”

  1. Jyri

    An interesting addition to what might function as determiners are the possessive affixes as they are used in many Uralic languages. In many of these languages the use of a possessive affix does not have to imply any possession. The non-possessive uses of the possessive affixes are traditionally described to denote definiteness, though a better description is that they only indicate identifiability.

    There’s a paper on this subject by Irina Nikolaeva (Possessive affixes in the pragmatic structuring of the utterance: Evidence from Uralic) where you find sample sentences like

    Amŏlaj-əl kawərl.
    something-3SG cooks
    “(She) is cooking something.” (N-Khanty)

    As “something” is inherently indefinite, the use of the possessive affix -əl cannot indicate definiteness but rather marks the unstated object of cooking as something specific that can be specified further. To me this doesn’t sound to be too far from what Squamish does with its identifiable-to-the-speaker article. Neither use has to indicate definiteness and when something is identifiable to the speaker it’s not in practice very far from becoming identifiable to the listener as well.

    The possessive affixes used in this manner can be quite mobile as can be seen from attaching to pronouns and stacking with possessively used possessive affixes in the following examples:

    Kod no mi-ys?
    who FOC we-3SG
    “Who are we” (Komi)

    Üδər-em-že, üδər-em-že, üδər!
    girl-1SG-3SG girl-1SG-3SG girl
    “And my daughter, what sort of girl is she!” (Mari)

    Clearly this use of the possessive affixes deals with some quite complicated pragmatic issues and is likely very language specific. I don’t know what it actually means to attach an identifiability marker to a personal pronoun.

    Also, the Mari example and its given translation are truly priceless.

  2. gleki

    Where can i read more about that 9-part division of “some” and “any”?


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