I’m not sure if the old alignment pattern will work now that verbs are marked for person. I’m playing with nominative/accusative patterns, ergative/absolutive patters and active/stative patterns. I’m not sure if I’ll need a sperate set of pronouns. Stay Tuned.

Subjects of intransitive verbs and stative verbs are marked within the verb itself.

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nene
1PRED\food
I eat

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nine
2PRED\food
you eat

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nune
3PRED\food
she eats

Words corresponding to adjectives in other languages function as predicates in Umu.

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jki, pronounced iki
NPRED\money
money

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jeki
1PRED\money
I’m rich.

When the subject of these two types of verbs is a lexical item, it comes either directly before or directly after the verb, depending on whether it’s definite or indefinite.

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nune si
3PRED\food woman
the woman eats

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si nune
woman 3PRED\food
a woman eats

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kom nma
3PRED\high.object NPRED\mountain
The mountain is high.

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ku’e zni
3PRED\strong.object NPRED\wind
The wind is strong.

Subjects of transitive verbs are indicated by three independent pronouns, wma, wti and wu, first person, second person and third person respectively.

Because Umu, completely prohibits lexical ergative subjects, only these three pronouns can serve as the subjects of transitive verbs. That means no noun can never be the subject of a transitive verb.

Just like English, many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Remembering the examples above, suppose something very hungry comes along.

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nene wu
1PRED\food 3ERG
it eats me

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nine wu
2PRED\food 3ERG
it eats you

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nune wu
3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats her

These pronouns are actually clitics that live at the very end of the verb complex. Look what happens to the women.

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nune si wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG
it eats the woman

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si nune wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats a woman

This may seem crazy but it actually works. Minthum pointed out something about discourse that I never knew. It inspired this prohibition.

It is now well known that speakers of most languages rarely introduce new participants into discourse as the subject/ergative/agent of a transitive clause. Though they might seem perfectly grammatical, sentences like ‘A nice man helped me out.’ are surprisingly rare in spontaneous speech.

Speakers more often introduce new entities in presentative constructions, in intensive clauses, or as the objects/absolutives/patients of transitives: ‘A nice man came up and offered to help,’ or ‘I met a nice man there and he helped me out.’

For this reason ergative arguments (or subjects/agents of transitives) are rarely identified in full noun phrases: they are usually represented by pronouns or nothing at all.

(Minthum 1999: 192)

That means in most cases, by the time we mention an ergative argument, it’s already clear who/what we’re taking about. In cases where the ergative subject needs to be clarified further, such information can be expressed either topically or as an oblique, both of which fall completely outside of the verb complex… though I’m still not sure what this will mean. And because topics usually introduce new entities, this construction is unnaturally and quite rate.

Turns out the culprit is a cannibal, out of work, fishmonger… as usual.

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nune si wu | ‘oji nju wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats the woman, the fishmonger

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si nune wu | ‘oji nju wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats a woman, the fishmonger

The word for fishmonger is actually a verb meaning “he sells fish”. It is a complete sentence on its own. But that’s another entry.

Thank you native North America.

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