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Lesson 18
Object Case


Vocabulary

an

to know (of people); to be acquainted with (of a place or a topic)

bel

to take; to bring

dó–

Prefix (verb): to cause to VERB

láad

to perceive

lothel

to know (of information)

naya

to care for

nin

to cause; to be causal

ri

to record

–th

Suffix (noun phrase): Object Case

thel

to get; to obtain

thi

to have

It seems odd to the English ear, but the verb “bel” means both “to take” and “to bring.” English uses a pair of unrelated verbs in what linguists call a “deictic pair;” not all languages do this to the same extent that English does. An example may be helpful in reducing the oddness: when we say “Anna brings a casserole to the pot-luck,” or “Anna takes a casserole to the pot-luck,” the same person is transporting the same food to the same party; only the point of view of the speaker (linguist-speak: the deixis) has changed—either the speaker is at the party or she is elsewhere, respectively. Which English verb should be used in translating “bel” can (but need not necessarily) be made clear (linguist-speak: the deixis can be disambiguated) by the context in which it occurs.

The prefix “dó–” (cause to VERB) added to a “stative verb” (a verb that, in English, would be an adjective—that discusses a state of being), turns that verb into an “active verb” (one that, in English, would be a verb—that discusses an action). For example, “míi” means “to be amazed;” “dómíi” means “to cause to be amazed” or, in more colloquial English, “to amaze.” The other effect of this transformation is that the Subject of “míi” (the one who is amazed) becomes the Object of “dómíi” (the one whom someone or something else causes to be amazed) and the one doing the amazing is the new Subject.

The verb “láad” means “to perceive by means of the senses.” The particular sense modality used will be made clear in the lesson on the Instrument Case. In the meantime, it is perfectly proper Láadan to use “láad” without a sensory modality, in which case it would be translated as simply “to perceive.”

Láad” (to perceive) is, of course, the other half of the name of this language: “Láadan” [láad (perceive) + dan (language)].

Object Case

[(Aux) Verb (Complex) (Neg) CP–S CP–Object]

To mark a Case Phrase as an Object, add –th;” if the word ends in a consonant and we added –th,” that would result in a forbidden consonant cluster (two or more consonants in a row together, which is forbidden in Láadan). In that case, we insert “e” between the final consonant of the noun phrase and the –th.” Notice that there is no ending for the Case Phrase that is a Subject.

Along with the Object Case, we introduce the conjunction “úthú” (what). Though, in English, it resembles a question-word, this conjunction introduces a clause (in Láadan, a “clause” is defined as a Verb Phrase with its Case Phrase(s)—like a sentence but with neither Type-of-Sentence Word nor Evidence Word) that fills the role of an Object in the sentence. It translates as the “what” in the English sentence, “I know what you did last summer.”

You may not be used to talking about the “case” of noun phrases. Case is the term that refers to the role the noun phrase has in a sentence—that is, whether it is something that acts, something acted upon, something used to act, etc. The two cases we have used so far are Subject and Object. The Subject is the one that acts; the Object is that one that is acted upon. (A Case Phrase is just a noun phrase plus its case-marker ending; a noun phrase is any sequence that can fill a case role, such as a noun or a pronoun.)

Another way to think about Case is that Case defines the relation that a noun phrase has to the verb. The Subject does the verb. The action of the verb is performed upon the Object. The other Cases we will be studying during these lessons define other relationships that nouns have to the verb in a sentence.

Examples

Bíi om with shoneth wáa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The person teaches peace (I’m told).

Báa om with shoneth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Does the person teach peace?

Báa om bebáa shoneth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who teaches peace?

Báa om with bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

What does the person teach?

Note that the Object occurs after the Subject. Word order in Láadan is much less flexible than that in English.

Note the “e” added between “shon” and –th to separate the consonants; also note that it’s unnecessary between “bebáa” and –th or between “ede” and –th or between “le” and –th below because “ede,” “bebáa” and “le” all end in vowels.

Note the translation of “bebáath.” It must be “what” rather than “whom” because verbs involving communication take as their Object the thing communicated. The person to whom the Object is communicated involves a different Case which will be presented in a future lesson.

Bíi néde ra rul edeth wo. listen to this sentence pronounced

The cat doesn’t want the grain (hypothetically).

Báa néde ra rul edeth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Doesn’t the cat want the grain?

Báa néde ra bebáa edeth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who/what doesn’t want the grain?

Báa néde ra rul bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

What doesn’t the cat want?


Bíi meden thul Méri betha leth wa.

Mary’s parents help me.

Báa meden thul Méri betha leth?

Do Mary’s parents help me?

Báa meden bebáazh leth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who (few/several) help me?

Báa meden thul Méri betha bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom do Mary’s parents help?


Bíi míi le wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I am amazed.

Bíi dómíi with leth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The person causes me to be amazed (The person amazes me.)

Bíi medómíi with leth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The people amaze me.


Báa dómíi with leth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Does the person amaze me?

Báa medómíi with leth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Do the people amaze me?

Báa dómíi bebáa leth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who amazes me?

Báa dómíi with bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom does the person amaze?

Báa medómíi with bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom do the people amaze?


Bíi den Mázhareth leth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

Margaret helps me.

Bíi den le beth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I help her/him.

Bíi den le Mázhareth beth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I help Margaret.

Báa den Mázhareth bebáath? listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom does Margaret help?

Báa den bebáa Mázhareth beth? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who helps Margaret?

Note that personal names do not receive Case endings. When the name of a person or animal fulfills the role of a Case that would take a suffix, the name is followed by “be” which accepts the Case ending instead. This rule applies to the names of living and once-living persons and creatures but not to the names of places or times.

Sometimes surface similarities can occur in any language. Notice that “beth” in the examples above is “be” (third person singular pronoun) + –th (object case ending), not “beth” (home).

In the English sentence, “I know what you did last summer,” the word “what” does quite a bit of heavy lifting. The sentence says “You did a thing last summer, and I know the nature of that thing.” But, rather than stringing it out as a compound sentence, it embeds the clause “you did [a thing] last summer” inside the sentence, “I know ....” The “what” stands as the Object of the embedded sentence, and the embedded sentence is the Object of the outer sentence. In Láadan, “úthú” does this heavy lifting:

Bíi ril dom ne úthú eril om Mázhareth wa.

You remember what Margaret taught.

Bíi ril thi le úthú néde Shuzhéth wa.

I have what Suzette wants.

Báa aril bel behizh úthú el ebalá wáa.

She will bring what the baker makes.

Possessive Objects

Báa néde babí yuth?

Does the bird want fruit?

Báa néde babí netho yuth?

Does your bird want fruit?

Báa néde babí yu lethoth?

Does the bird want my fruit?

Báa néde babí netho yu lethoth?

Does your bird want my fruit?

The Possessive becomes part of the Case Phrase. Since we’re treating the Possessive Noun Phrase as a single unit (and so nothing can be inserted between the elements of the unit), the Case Suffix must be added to the end—on the Possessor, not the thing possessed. In the first example above, “yu” (fruit) is the Object: “yuth”. When we change the Object to “my fruit” (yu letho), the Object suffix is attached to the end of the phrase: “yu lethoth”.

Of course, the Case suffix for the Subject is what is known as a “null suffix” or “zero suffix” (or, in Linguist Speak, the suffix is said to “present a null surface form”). That “null suffix” on a Possessive Subject is attached to the end of the Possessive sequence; however, since it’s a “null suffix” (which cannot be seen or heard), we haven’t had to deal with it before now. Perhaps it’ll be a little clearer if presented in morphemic analysis of the first and fourth examples above:

Báa

Q

néde

Want

babí

Bird + SUBJ

yuth?

Fruit + OBJ

Báa

Q

néde

Want

babí

Bird

netho

You1 + POSS + SUBJ

yu

Fruit

lethoth?

I + POSS + OBJ


Bíi eril bel le budeth wa.

I bought/sold the clothes.

Bíi eril bel le bud shemetheth wa.

I bought/sold the offspring’s (by chance) clothes.

Bíi eril bel le bud shemethe amedaraháthath wa.

I bought/sold the dancer’s offspring’s (by chance) clothes.

A multiply-possessive structure, such as that above, is still a single unit, and so the Object suffix belongs at the end of the Possessive structure.

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1

Bíi aril néde worabalin wowithid woth wáa.

2

Báa eril thel shem Elízhabeth betha woloyo woruleth?

3

Báa nime doth berídan ábedátha háamudath?

4

Mehan háawith sherídanizh bebáathath?

5

Bíi yod ra wodo wohomid Máyel betho mewoléli woyuth wo.

6

Bíi eril dibáa omá úthú them hothul Therísha betha wáa.


Note that there is no Object suffix on “woth” in #1 above. This is because there can be no ambiguity. Because “wisdom” cannot “want” anything, in Láadan its Object suffix is optional; you may use the suffix or not, at your discretion—so long as the meaning is not ambiguous.

The same applies to #8 below: Láadan cannot “speak the parents,” so no Object suffix is required. And to #13 below. And also to #5 above and #11, #15 and #17 below, although in these examples we have chosen to use the Object suffix; it remains grammatically correct even when it is not required.

Note that there is no Type-of-Sentence Word in #4. Because the sentence contains a form of the Interrogatory Pronoun, “bebáa,” there can be no confusion that this is a question. “Báa” at the beginning of the sentence would not be wrong, but it isn’t required in a less-formal setting.

Incorporate the second noun as an Object; translate into English before and after.

7

Bíi eril den Bétheni wa.

zháamid

8

Bíi aríli medi thul halátha wáa.

Láadan

9

Báa mehéeya yáababí?

lanemid lezhetho

10

Bíi mehom ud wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

wam

11

Báa aril boóbin Méri? listen to this sentence pronounced

delith lanetha betho

12

Báa eríli meláad néehá? listen to this sentence pronounced

onida bebáatha

In #9, remember that we can specify the life-stage of any life form using the set of life-stage prefixes; in this case yáa– (adolescent), which in birds would be roughly equivalent to “fledgeling.”

Translate the following into Láadan

13

We (several) close the door.

14

What do the storm cause?

15

The beautiful dancers brought the extremely hot drink?

16

Suzette will cause Margaret’s sister to laugh (obviously).

17

Does age cause the needleworker to be weary?

18

A mountain does not remember the dancing clouds.

The verb “close” in #13 might be a bit of a challenge. We know the verb “rahu” (to be closed); “to close” can also be termed “to cause to be closed.” “Dórahu” [from dó– (cause to VERB) + “rahu” (to be closed)] means just that.

The verb “rahu” (to be closed) is a stative verb (a verb that, in English, would be an adjective). Formally, it would take only a Subject. Less formally, the assignment of an Object to a Stative Verb implies a conversion to a Transitive Active Verb (one that would, in English, be a Verb that accepts an Object). No confusion will ensue, promise! So, a less-formal usage would find “rahu” to be an acceptable form to mean “to close.”

A approach similar to “dórahu” in #13 should be taken in #16 and #17, but here it is more straightforward because the syntax “cause to VERB” is clearly present in the English. Don’t be confused by the English tendency to put the Object between “cause” and “to VERB;” Láadan uses the prefix dó– (cause to VERB) with the verb, then the Subject (the one doing the causing), then the Object (the one being caused to VERB).

Note the word “dóhada” (cause to laugh) as seen in #16. It has another meaning: “to be comical” or “to be funny.” When used in this way, it will take no Object—that is, the Subject is generally “funny” or “comical;” there is no specific person being “caused to laugh."

Did the word “age” in #17 give you pause? Any verb can be used as a noun, so long as the result is not nonsense. For “stative verbs”, the translation of the nominal form is perhaps most easily formed by adding –ness to the English adjective. In #17, “age” could be termed “old-ness;” that sounds like the nominal form of “balin” (to be old).

By now we’ve seen enough “one who...” formations to recognize how to make them. In #17, “needleworker” would be “dathimá” from “dathim” (to needlework) + –á (doer; one who).

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Answers

1

The young man will want wisdom.

2

Did Elizabeth’s offspring get a black cat?

3

Is the farmer’s aunt willing to follow the juvenile pig?

4

Whose niece do the children know?

5

Michael’s strong horse doesn’t eat yellow fruit (I guess).

6

The teacher asked what Teresa’s grandmother needed.

 

7

Bethany helped.

Bíi eril den Bétheni zháamideth wa.

Bethany helped the senior-animal.

8

A worker’s parents will, in some far time, speak.

Bíi aríli medi thul halátha Láadan wáa.

In some far-off future, a worker’s parents will speak Láadan.

9

Do the fledglings fear (are the fledgelings afraid)?

Báa mehéeya yáababí lanemid lezhethoth?

Do the fledgelings fear our dog (are the fledgelings afraid of our dog)?

10

Stones teach.

Bíi mehom ud wameth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

Stones teach stillness.

11

Will Mary braid?

Báa aril boóbin Méri delith lanetha betho?

Will Mary braid her friend’s hair?

12

Did the aliens perceive, long ago?

Báa eríli meláad néehá onida bebáathath?

Whose family did the aliens perceive, long ago?

 

13

Bíi medórahu lezh áatheth wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

14

Báa nin rohoro bebáath?

15

Bíi eril mebel mewoháya wohamedarahá wohowahul worana wa.

16

Bíi dóhada Shuzhéth hena Mázhareth bethath wi.

17

Báa dóhóoha balin dathimáth? listen to this sentence pronounced

18

Bíi dom ra wohíthi wobo mewohamedara woboshumeth wi.

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