Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Weekly Vocab 6: to know

From:Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 7, 2003, 23:44
--- In, Christopher Wright <faceloran@J...> wrote:
 > Mark Reed palsalge:
 > [snip "to know" vs "to know" vs "to know"]
 > >So how come we conlangers all felt the need to make this distinction?

Well, many of us, especially the a priori kind, try
not to bind ourselves to the non-trivial generalisations
our native languages sometimes impose upon our thinking.

Obrenje distinguishes two ways of knowing: |nedja-|
means "to know (by heart), recognize" while |tsan-|
means "to know (in depth), understand, command (a skill),
have mastered".  Examples:

The meaning of |nedja-|:
"Do you know her? -- Yes, her name is Lari."
"Do you know karate? -- Yes, it seems to be a martial

The meaning of |tsan-|:
"Do you know her? -- Yes, we've grown up together."
"Do you know karate? -- Yes, I'm a black belt."

Hmmm.  I've neglected Obrenje for the sake of my
younger, a posteriori langs.  Maybe I should take up
spending some time with it again.  =)

 > It's unthinkable that we can be more vague than the languages we're
 > familiar with. There is a tendency to overcorrect this "problem" by
 > sometimes absurd distinctions.

Unthinkable?  Well, Obrenje is a living counterexample.
=P  By default, it doesn't distinguish grammatical
number -- whether in verb inflections or personal
pronouns.  There's a set of quantifiers you can use to
clarify, but translation exercises have shown them to be
obsolete in most cases.  The situation is helped by the
fact that the Obrenaj are very social by nature, and
don't distinguish "I" from "we" as often as we do.  =)

Furthermore, Oro Mpaa has a rather restrictive grammar
allowing only a single object per verb (necessitating
serial verb constructions).  That sometimes requires
some deep thoughts for the translation of a seemingly
simple English sentence.

 > F'rinstance, I made a word valokei which
 > means "to advance slowly and menacingly, delivering deep terror while
 > seeming absolutely confident in your success over the opponent".

Ooh, that's cool, I'll have to coin a word for that.

 > About the matter at hand, though, I'd use the verb "to have" for knowing
 > how to do something. "Im kardem hedei", I have eat-infinitive, would mean
 > that it is within my power to eat, and therefore I have the required
 > knowledge. (For the equivalent of English "to have to", I use the copula;
 > I am to eat, there is no avoiding it, my existence requires the action of
 > eating.)

Makes sense.

-- Christian Thalmann