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Simple sentences and how difficult they can be.

From:Sylvia Sotomayor <terjemar@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 5, 2006, 1:19
As many of you know, Kēlen is a language without verbs. And for the
most part I can translate almost any English sentence into it without
too much awkwardness. The one class of exceptions has been action
verbs, like run, or swim. But today I think I finally figured that one
out, too.

I have four verb-like objects called relationals. LA expresses
existence, PA expresses a whole-part relationship, SE expresses
existence with a source and/or a goal, and NI expresses a change in

So, LA is good for 'there is' or 'there was', PA is more or less
'have', and NI is more or less 'become'. SE is a little trickier, but
I use it for saying, giving, and experiencing.

My problem with basic intransitive action verbs like run or swim is
that I am never sure how to turn them into nominals and then express
the relationship they would have with other nominals. Since NI feels
more action-y to me than the others, I keep trying to fit them into a
NI clause and it never seems right. So, today it occurred to me while
skimming through a linguistics book, that SE is essentially NI without
a change in state to its object.

ñamma jasāla
'He made a song'

means that a song has been composed, has come into existence, a change
in state.

tamma jasāla
'He expressed a song'

means that he sang it, but the song itself hasn't changed. (tamma is
SE plus a past marker plus a 3p sg source)

So, it occured to me that running and swimming could be nominalized to
'a session of running' and 'a session of swimming' and then SE would
be the correct relational because there is no real change in state. NI
would imply the invention of running or swimming. So,

tamma jahārme
'She swam'.

(I don't have a satisfactory word for 'run'. Yet.) And,

āl samma jahārme
'She is swimming'

Does this make sense?

Sylvia Sotomayor


David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>