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Short Annotated Bibliography of Animate and Inanimate Cases in Basque and Algonquin Languages

Compiled by Dan Mahony





"It’s worthwhile to note that gender doesn’t have to be masculine, feminine, etc. It can also mean animate or inanimate in certain languages such as Basque."


"Instead of distinguishing between masculine, feminine and neuter nouns, declensions are determined by whether the noun is animate or inanimate, has a definite or indefinite article, and whether it ends in a vowel or a consonant. Which nouns are animate and which are not is not always apparent; parts of a body are considered inanimate, but a table is animate. ... For animate nouns, the "_Z" indicates the indefinite article; for inanimate nouns, the definite article.

"Verbs agree with their subjects in person, number, and animacy."


"Do-it-yourself Basque case machine! Please specify whether the noun refers to a living (conscious, animate) being or an inanimate object."


"In Basque there are two classes, animate and inanimate; however, the only difference is in the declension of locative cases (inessive, locative genitive, adlative, terminal adlative, ablative and directional ablative)."


"Therefore I think about the gender marking in personal agreement slots of Basque verbs as subclasses of animate class. In this respect, it is not grammatical "gender" but natural "sex". Sex in 2nd-person utterances is often expressed even in languages which have no gender marking (in 2nd person or at all) by supragrammatical means, cf. |Come here, _boy_|, |How are you, _girls_|.

"Basque makes inanimate vs. animate distinction in another connection. Before locative suffixes animate noun phrases are marked by a suffix |ga|, but |ta| is inserted in case of inanimate noun phrases that have no singular determiner (inanimate noun phrases with singular determiner take zero suffix)."


"Firstly, locational cases treat phrases headed by an animate noun differently from phrases headed by an inanimate noun. ... As is pointed out by Laka (1995: 66), it is important to bear in mind that "what counts as an animate noun in the grammar of Euskara [Basque] is not determined by modern biology." Although in most cases biological animate entities coincide with entities treated as animate in Basque grammar, there are a few exceptions. This is the case with reciprocal elkar, for instance, which is always considered animate even in those cases where the noun it refers to designates an inanimate entity?"


"On the one hand, they treat differently animate nouns and inanimate nouns. On the other hand, they treat inanimate phrases headed by singular determiners differently from all others. In both cases, the distinction involves the addition of a morpheme: ga in the case of animates, ta in the case of inanimate phrases lacking a singular determiner." Animacy: the morpheme ga. Locat


"French has two grammatical genders, Russian has three (or rather, two and neutral) plus Animate and Inanimate, Basque doesn't have genders, but has different rules for animate and inanimate nouns."


"Locational cases form a special group within Basque cases not only because they share a common reference to space, but also because they do not behave exactly in the same way as the rest of the paradigm. Their main differences are the following: (i) distinction between animate and inanimate noun phrases (NP), (ii) lack of article –a in the definite singular form, and (iii) presence of infix –ta- in non-singular inanimate NPs."






"Features common to all Algonquian languages are the need for animate/inanimate gender and proximities, for both nouns and verbs."


"There is a distinction in Algonquin between animate and inanimate nouns. ... There are different word forms depending on whether the subject is animate or inanimate. All people and animals are considered animate in Algonquin, but for other nouns, you just have to remember whether they are animate or notyou probably wouldn't be able to guess that "feather" is animate and "river" is inanimate in Algonquin any more than you would be able to guess that "feather" is feminine and "river" is masculine in Spanish."


"All Algonquian languages have two genders, traditionally referred to as animate and inanimate. Nouns are assigned to the two genders on the basis of semantic criteria; the classification is however not fully consistent as the assignment criteria allow for a small number of exceptions."


"Verbs are divided into four classes: transitive verbs with an animate object (abbreviated "TA"), transitive verbs with an inanimate object ("TI"), intransitive verbs with an animate subject ("AI"), and intransitive verbs with an inanimate subject ("II")."


"Algonquian languages distinguish between animate and inanimate nouns. ... Assignment of Cree words to a noun class sometimes seems to lack any natural motivation. The word ospwākan ‘pipe’, for instance, belongs to the animate class even though it does not denote a living thing. This practice is similar to gender classification in English, which can place a few inanimate words (such as those referring to ships and countries) in the feminine class. ... In Blackfoot, animate and inanimate nouns are distinguished through inflectional endings not only in the plural (-iksi ‘plural animate’ vs. -istsi ‘plural inanimate’) but also in the singular (-wa ‘singular animate’ vs. -yi ‘singular inanimate’)."

"Algonquian nouns are marked for the following categories: Nouns belong to two classes that roughly correspond to animate and inanimate. In some cases, these categories appear to be quite arbitrary. For instance, besides including persons and animals, animate nouns may also include spirits, trees, some fruits, some body parts, and household utensils. Languages differ from each other in the way they assign nouns to these categories. A noun may be animate in one language and inanimate in another."


"Plural animate nouns, end with “g”  ag, yag, wag, ěg, ňg, eg
Plural inanimate nouns, end with “n”  an, ňn, ěn"


"Animate nouns in plural take an ending /-ag/, but inanimate nouns - /-an/. A vowel in the ending can be different, but consonants /-g/ and /-n/ always indicate the gender. ... Noun gender is very important. Depending on this category different verbs and demonstrative pronouns are used – animate or inanimate. You can see from the example that with an animate noun bakwezhigan (bread) an animate verb "bring" and a pronoun "that" are used, but with an inanimate noun mazina’igan (book) – an inanimate verb and a pronoun:

"Biish a'aw bakwezhigan. - Bring me that bread. (animate)
Biidoon i'iw mazina'igan. - Bring me that book. (inanimate)"



In The Tribes and the States, W. J. Sidis wrote the following.


2. The Cro-Magnons.  In connection with the pre-history of the red peoples, an important fact is that there were red men at one time in Europe as well as in America. The most persistent of Europe's cave-dwelling races were the Cro-Magnons, who were physically very much like the red race, and are even shown by some cave paintings in Western Europe as colored red and wearing the same sort of top-feathers as were common among the eastern Algonquins of North America. The Cro-Magnons were mainly located near the Atlantic regions of Europe, though found over most of Europe and northern Africa. The densest Cro-Magnon population appears to have been around the head of the Bay of Biscay, where there is still spoken a language called Basque, which is totally unrelated to any language on earth, but whose general structure resembles only the red-race languages of America. That this type of language must have once been general through most of Europe is indicated by European place-names; so that, apparently, the language spoken in Europe before the advent of the Aryans must have been one of red-race structure.






prehistoric cave painting with war scene


Image result for cave paintings feathers







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