Learning ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ (Inuktitut) | Working on French - FSI & Star Wars

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Re: Learning ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ (Inuktitut) | Working on French - FSI & Star Wars

Postby Deinonysus » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:08 pm


I am working on Chapter 5 of Inuktitut the Hard Way, which starts getting into possession. Possession is fairly complicated in Inuktitut, and in fact the entire first volume (out of three) of Mallon's Introductory Inuktitut v2.2 is devoted to possession. I'm going to take a bit of a detour to talk about head marking and what that means for possession.

What is head marking?

In a noun phrase involving possession, the possessee is considered to be the head, and the possessor is considered to be a dependent. This may seem counterintuitive, but remember that when I'm talking about Bob's burgers, I am primarily talking about the burgers and only indirectly talking about Bob. In the sentence "the dog is eating Bob's burgers", the fact that the burgers belong to Bob is extra information and the sentence does not change drastically if you leave that information out. But you can't remove the word "burgers", or else the dog would be eating Bob instead.

Dependent marking (possessive/genitive case)

In this noun phrase, English marks the dependant, Bob, and not the head, burgers. So this is an example of dependent marking, because the dependent is marked by adding the "'s" (possessive, AKA genitive case), but the head is not marked for possession.

Head marking (construct state or absolutive case)

In contrast, Hebrew marks the head. For example, in the phrase בית ספר (beyt sefer, literally "house of book" or "book's house"), the word for house is put into the construct state, meaning that it is possessed. If it weren't possessed, it would be pronounced bayit (spelled the same in Hebrew without vowels). If you forget which is the head and which is the dependent, remember that the head cannot be removed without changing the sentence. "A kid walks into a book's house" is basically the same as "A kind walks into a house", but very different from "a kid walks into a book."

Hebrew nouns in the construct state can also inflect to show the possessor, as in ביתי (beyti, "my house") or ביתנו (beytenu, "our house").

I believe that Nahuatl has something like a reverse construct state called the absolutive case, where every non-possessed noun is marked with a -tl suffix (with slight variations based on phonological rules), as in axolotl, xocolatl (chocolate), tomatl (tomato), or āhuacatl (avocado), as well as the name of the language itself.

Zero marking

Some languages have zero marking for possession. For example, in Indonesian, you show possession using syntax alone. Orang hutan is "man of the forest", or "forest man". Neither orang nor hutan are marked for possession. See also the Indonesian term for "sun", mata hari (literally, "eye of the day", or "day eye").

Double marking

Other languages double-mark, meaning that both the head and the dependent are marked. I believe that this is the case with Arabic; it has a construct state like Hebrew to mark the head (possessee), but it also has a genitive case to mark the dependent (possessor).

Inuktitut is also double marking. It has a genitive case, but possessed nouns also inflect to show the possessor. There is no construct state, but possessor agreement is mandatory. A good example of this is the children's show ᐊᓈᓇᐅᑉ ᑐᐱᖔ (Anaanaup Tupinga, or "Anaana's (Mother's) Tent").

ᐊᓈᓇ (Anaana, "Mother"), gets the genitive case ending ᐅᑉ (up) to become ᐊᓈᓇᐅᑉ (Anaanaup). But nouns can also inflect to show the possessor, just like in Hebrew. For example, the possessive marker meaning "our" is ᕗᑦ (vut), so "our land" is ᓄᓇᕗᑦ (nunavut). But unlike in Hebrew, the possessor inflection seems to be mandatory in Inuktitut, so even though you have already shown the possessor in the genitive case, you need to also inflect the possessed noun for a third person possessor. So ᑐᐱᖅ (tupiq, "tent") gets the ending ᖔ (nga), which deletes the final consonant, so it becomes ᑐᐱᖔ (tupinga, "his/her/its tent"). The full title literally means "Mother's (her)-tent".


I started refreshing the first dialogue for FSI Basic French, but I kept tripping over certain vowels, so I think I could really benefit from going through FSI French Phonology: Programmed Introduction. I can't do it in the car and I've been to tired to do it at night, but I'm sure I'll get to it.

In the meantime, I've been going through some Star Wars materials in chronological (not release) order, and when I have it available in French, I'm watching it in French. I just started watching the 2003 Clone Wars series (the 2D version by Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Lab, and Samurai Jack). Next I'll watch the 3D Clone Wars in French, then Episode III in English because I don't have access to a French dub.

Some important Star Wars French phrases that I've picked up from Clone Wars and KOTOR:
  • "May the force be with you": « Que la force soit avec vous »
  • "For the Republic!": « Pour la République ! »
  • "Dark Jedi": « Jedi obscur »
  • "Darth": « Dark »
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