Author Topic: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?  (Read 2763 times)

Offline Daniel

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What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« on: September 30, 2014, 11:52:41 AM »
I remember from a few years ago when I was studying Arabic that adverbs are marked in the accusative. (The exact semantic/syntactic properties cases in Arabic aren't much like in familiar European case systems such as in Latin, but they still have at least the main idea of 'direct object' for accusative, and so forth.) At the time I didn't think too much of that, just noted it.

But now I just learned that in Quechua adverbs are marked with the accusative suffix -ta, just like direct objects. So we could make an adverb like "[we did it] last.week-ta" or a direct object like "[we saw] book-ta".

This is a strange coincidence. I wonder why this is the case. I can't think of any clear reason why grammaticalization would occur here. Perhaps there's some general verbal complement/modifier usage that was marked with the same form historically and now that has split into distinct uses as adverbs and objects? But that seems a bit forced.
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Offline freknu

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 12:28:17 PM »
Verbal agreement?

we.NOM did.VB (it (last week).ACC).ACC

Do adverbs in these languages possess cases in general? What if you inflect it for dative (indirect object)?

Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 02:56:36 PM »
I don't know much Quechua yet (just started taking it about a month ago). In Arabic, there are only three cases: Nominative, Accusative and Genitive, used in fairly different ways than in European languages, but with the main ideas still preserved more or less.

Why would adverbs agree to verbs? They can co-occur with objects. "We read the book last week" is fine, for example.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 01:27:26 PM »
I haven't figured out much more at this point, but I did notice an interesting overlap:

"anchatam" is a frequent word meaning "a lot":
anchatam paran
ancha-ta-m para-n
much-ACC-EVID rain-3SG
'It's raining a lot / heavily'

In this particular case it's easy to see an overlap (in English too) for adverbs and direct objects. Is the raining action done to "a lot [of rain]"? If adjectives and nouns are sometimes ambiguous, then this pattern of grammaticalization might make some sense. Then by analogy it becomes the main marker of adverbs.
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Offline zaba

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 09:31:06 AM »
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But now I just learned that in Quechua adverbs are marked with the accusative suffix -ta, just like direct objects.

I wonder if you're analyzing a word as an adverb based on the English translation rather than the referring to the grammar of the language itself. Does Quechua even have adverbs or is 'much' just a verbal modifier that behaves morphologically as a noun?

If so, your question would be, "Why are verbal modifiers inflected into the same tense as direct objects are inflected?" Put that way, one answer is: Why not?


Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 11:04:20 AM »
True! But then doesn't the question become the following -- "Why are verbal modifiers and verbal objects equivalent in these languages?"

I don't have enough of a sense for Quechua yet to answer such a precise question. You may be right. But for Arabic at least, I do get the impression there's a distinction between objects and adverbs. Adverbs, for example, almost always go at the end of a sentence, while objects are almost always close to the verb. It's possible that the situation was different earlier in the language and now they're distinct but once were the same function. But I still wonder exactly how that happened.

Another issue for Quechua would be that I assume you can have doubling with adverbs and transitive verbs:
I like the cow a lot.
(I can check the grammaticality of that later if it seems relevant.)
And there would be no additional marker of valency, meaning that the adverbs are not arguments/complements of the verbs. They're just adjuncts. And why would adjuncts be overtly marked as if they were complements?
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Offline zaba

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2014, 12:33:51 AM »
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But for Arabic at least, I do get the impression there's a distinction between objects and adverbs. Adverbs, for example, almost always go at the end of a sentence, while objects are almost always close to the verb

But position within a sentence is insufficient to define the autonomy of a word class. Anyway, it's a moot point since you don't know much about Quechua.

Quote
Another issue for Quechua would be that I assume you can have doubling with adverbs and transitive verbs:
I like the cow a lot.

I don't think you can do this for Quechua. I suppose the only grammatical sentence would be "I very much like the cow".


Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 01:49:14 AM »
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But position within a sentence is insufficient to define the autonomy of a word class.
It shows that there is some difference between them. The fact that they share an ending is equally insufficient to show they are the same word class :)

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I don't think you can do this for Quechua. I suppose the only grammatical sentence would be "I very much like the cow".
Hm? Do you mean word order? I just meant that you could have much+TA and OBJ+TA in the same sentence. So two direct objects, if they're supposed to be the same function.
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Offline zaba

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2014, 05:17:50 AM »
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But position within a sentence is insufficient to define the autonomy of a word class.
It shows that there is some difference between them. The fact that they share an ending is equally insufficient to show they are the same word class :)

Both inflection and position are insufficient  ;)

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I don't think you can do this for Quechua. I suppose the only grammatical sentence would be "I very much like the cow".
Hm? Do you mean word order? I just meant that you could have much+TA and OBJ+TA in the same sentence. So two direct objects, if they're supposed to be the same function.

I mean, that I don't believe Quechua will object MUCH+TA in that construction. It will have something like 'I very much like that cow-TA' but not '... like that cow-TA very much-TA' or 'like that cow-TA very-TA much-TA'.

Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2014, 08:20:39 AM »
Quote
I mean, that I don't believe Quechua will object MUCH+TA in that construction. It will have something like 'I very much like that cow-TA' but not '... like that cow-TA very much-TA' or 'like that cow-TA very-TA much-TA'.
It will. I've seen sentences like that, I believe, but I'll try to confirm it when I have a chance to ask my instructor. The phrase "very much" you refer to is specifically "ancha-ta". You could argue it is no longer transparent. Perhaps it originated in intransitives. But now it's used for everything.

Maybe this is like secondary markers of negation as in French "ne V pas", where "pas" must have originally be licensed as an object, but now doesn't interfere with transitives?


In Arabic, you can have an adverb and a direct object (marked the same way) in a sentence. Or multiple adverbs.
In Quechua I believe the same is true, but I can confirm.
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Offline zaba

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 09:15:32 AM »
My guess is that 'want-1pres ancha-TA waka-TA will mean ' I want many cows' .... But that's quite a different construction, another issue altogether.

Anyway, no use debating until you ask your teacher.

Offline Daniel

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Re: What do direct objects and adverbs have in common?
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2014, 12:10:50 PM »
Discussed this in class today (for Quechua):

1. It's fine to have an adverb and a direct object in the same sentence.
2. -ta is the regular suffix for forming adverbs from adjectives. There are other ways to form adverbs, but this is the main way from adjectives. And it may not work on every adjective, but it works on most (so it's productive).
3. It's fine to use these adverbs with intransitive verbs. (Note that in Quechua there's no zero-derivation between classes, transitivity, etc.-- "walk" is intransitive and to "walk a dog" you would need to add a causative suffix, etc.)
4. It's "basically the same as English -ly", according to my teacher.


Another example is:
sumaq-ta
good-ACC
'well'

This hints at an origin in phrases like "do good [things]" resulting in an eventual adverbial meaning.

So my guess, and just a guess, is that this usage started out in ambiguous contexts:
I do a lot = anchata
I do good (things) = sumaqta
Are those objects? Adverbs?

Then after these started to be used idiomatically, by analogy the suffix was generalized. This isn't so unlike English -ly, which was a suffix used to form some adjectives, eventually used as adverbs in some cases, then generalized and systematized.

There is an interesting implication here that adverb suffixes are somehow inflectional, rather than derivational. I've always thought that. There are some arguments out there against that for English -ly, but overall I think it's a better analysis than thinking it's mostly derivational. And here's another hint.
(More reasonably, there is no perfect distinction, and this is an example of a suffix somewhere in the middle, though I'd say mostly inflectional.)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2014, 12:15:12 PM by djr33 »
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