Tatari Faran typology is based on three core cases: the
originative, the receptive, and the conveyant.
- The originative case is used to indicate origin, source,
agent, or actor.
- The receptive case is used to indicate destination,
recipient, beneficiary, or patient.
- The conveyant case is used to indicate motion, patient,
or that which is conveyed by the verb.
The choice of case in a sentence is determined semantically, independently
of whether the corresponding NP is the subject NP. Any NP can be made the
subject NP simply by placing it as the first NP in the sentence, regardless of
case. In this sense, the subject NP in Tatari Faran behaves differently from
the subject in European languages such as English. The semantic function of the
NP is independent of whether or not it is the syntactic subject.
The meaning of the 3 core cases is best explained by examples.
Verbs of Motion
For verbs of motion, for example tapa, “to walk”, the
starting point of the motion is in the originative case. The
destination of the motion is in the receptive case. The thing which
is in motion is in the conveyant case. For example:
I walk from the cinder cone to the house.
Note that the order in which the various NP's appear does not change the
factual content of the sentence. In the above example, the subject NP is
huu sa, “I”. One could choose to make another NP the
subject instead, while keeping the same noun cases as before:
From the cinder cone I walk to the house.
The factual meaning of the sentence, the fact that I walked from the cinder
cone to the house, has not changed. Only the emphasis has changed.
Similarly, one could choose to make the house the subject NP:
To the house I walk from the cinder cone.
However, if the case of an NP changes, then the factual content of the
sentence also changes:
From the house I walk to the cinder cone.
One might be tempted to think at this point that the conveyant case is
equivalent to the English notion of “subject”; however, this is not
so. In fact, all three core noun cases may serve the role of the
“subject”, depending on the semantic meaning of the verb, as we
shall see in the following examples.
Sensory verbs are divided into two categories, each of which assigns
different cases to what in an accusative language might be the same thing. For
I look at the wolf.
The wolf sees me.
Notice that the only difference between the above two sentences is the verb
(and its accompanying finalizer); yet that causes the English translation to
switch the subject and object. This is because in Tatari Faran, “to
look” is a volitional action: one is directing one's eyes at a
particular object, hence the looker is in the originative, whereas the object
is in the receptive. However, “to see” is involitional:
seeing is one's receiving of visual information from the thing seen.
Therefore, the seer is in the receptive rather than the originative;
the thing being seen is what is in the originative, because it is the
source of the sight.
Of course, the second sentence is probably better translated in the passive
voice as “I was seen by the wolf”, since “I” is the
subject NP in both sentences. The equivalent of the “active voice”
However, Tatari Faran does not differentiate between active and passive
voices. The subject NP merely serves as an emphatic role, rather than a
subjective role in the accusative sense.
Another pair of verbs of perception is huena ... hiim and fahun
... uen. Both verbs can be translated “to smell”; however,
there is a fundamental difference between them. The verb huena ...
hiim refers to the volitional act of sniffing at something,
whereas fahun ... uen refers to the involitional perception
of an odor that just happened to come to one's nose. This difference manifests
itself in how noun cases are chosen for the roles of smeller and thing being
The wolf smells (sniffs at) me.
The wolf smells me (detects my odor).
Note how the noun cases are reversed in the second sentence.
One way to understand how Tatari Faran deals with sensory verbs is to think
of the volitional verb as the sending out or directing of
one's attention toward something, whereas the involitional counterpart of the
verb is the receiving of information from that thing. So in the verb
juerat “to look”, the looker is in the originative case
because he is sending out his visual attention towards the thing
being looked at. The thing being looked at is in the receptive case because it
is the recipient of the attention of the looker. In the verb hamra
“to see”, however, the roles have been reversed: the seer is now
receiving visual information from the thing being seen, and so is in
the receptive case. The thing being seen, being the source
of this visual information, is in the originative case.
Similarly, the verb huena implies the focusing of one's olefactory
senses towards the thing being sniffed at, so the smeller is in the
originative. The thing being sniffed at, being the recipient of this
attention, is therefore in the receptive case. With the verb fahun,
however, the smeller is the recipient of the odor that arrived at his
nose; therefore, he is in the receptive case. The thing being smelt, being the
source of the odor, is therefore in the originative
The same analysis can be applied to the pair of verbs kuni ...
iti', “to listen”, and dutan ... inin, “to
hear”. The former implies the act of focusing one's aural perception at
the thing being listened to; therefore, the listener is in the originative and
the thing being listened to in the receptive:
The man listens to the woman.
Hearing, however, is one's receiving of sound through one's ears;
therefore, with the verb dutan, the hearer is in the
receptive whereas the thing heard, being the source of the sound, is
in the originative:
It is instructive to note that the actual sound being heard is in the
conveyant case, being that which is conveyed from the source
of the sound to the hearer:
One could also have all three noun cases present at once:
The man hears music from the woman.
Verbs of Transferrence
An analogous analysis applies to verbs of giving, such as kira ...
esan “to give, to hand over”:
The man gives flowers to the woman.
The man, being the source of the gift, is in the originative. The woman,
being the recipient of the gift, is in the receptive. The gift, being that
which is transferred or conveyed from the source (the man) to the
destination (the woman), is therefore in the conveyant.
Last updated 24 Mar 2023.