Linguistic Puzzle

Henry Churchyard churchyh at
Fri Jun 4 04:31:54 EDT 1999

> Subject: Linguistic Puzzle
> From: "Matthew Anstey" <manstey at>
> Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 14:00:33 -0700

> There are 7372 occurences of 'et in the MT, traditionally called the
> marker of the definite direct object, although we all know that this
> is not the full picture.  In our software for translators we
> currently use a two-letter abbreviation for all 7372 of these, which
> is {tm}, standing for "transitivity marker" but we would like to
> improve on this.  We would like to know if anyone can think of a
> better two-letter abbreviation that captures the essence of this
> little critter.  We don't want to have to gloss using several
> different tags if at all possible, so does anyone know of the
> central feature of the use of 'et that is present in all 7372 cases
> (or as close to this number as possible?).

Hmm, how about _NA_ for "nota accusativi" (traditional and
semi-noncommital), or _DA_ for "definite accusative"?  I'm not sure
it's possible to come up with a one or two word phrase that captures
the exact nature of _all_ occurrences of 'et; nor would this
necessarily be possible for the Latin accusative case, etc.  It seems
like you should either be content with a reference to the most typical
use of 'et, or you would effectively have to do a
grammatical-exegetical analysis of every instance of its use, to
distinguish atypical uses from typical uses.  (Of course, you might
already have to do the latter anyway, in order to distinguish the
homophonous preposition -- 'itt- before suffixes instead of 'ot- --
from the nota accusativi.)

         --Henry Churchyard     churchyh at

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