Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Types of nominal compounds (long!) (was: Question about a grammatical term)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 2, 2002, 13:58
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:

> > bahuvrihi compounds ( itself an example, meaning 'much > > riced', cf greek 'polyphloisboio thalasse:s' &c ) > > Are those like English "four-legged"? (for "a four-legged creature": "a > creature with four legs") They seem similar. I find those compounds a neat > feature of English ;)) .
The distinctive nature of bahuvrihi compounds is that they are headless: the second noun is not what they are about. "Four-legged" is not a good example; "redskin" is much better. A redskin is not a kind of skin, but rather a kind of person who has red skin. There is lots of cross-linguistic material on nominal compounds, originally collected by Ivan Derzhanski, as part of my Lojban reference grammar, The online version has badly damaged formatting, so here is the material in plain text. Jargon: tanru = compound, seltau = modifier word, tertau = modified word 14. Some types of asymmetrical tanru This section and Section 15 contain some example tanru classified into groups based on the type of relationship between the modifying seltau and the modified tertau. All the examples are paralleled by compounds actually observed in various natural languages. In the tables which follow, each group is preceded by a brief explanation of the relationship. The tables themselves contain a tanru, a literal gloss, an indication of the languages which exhibit a compound analogous to this tanru, and (for those tanru with no English parallel) a translation. Here are the 3-letter abbreviations used for the various languages (it is presumed to be obvious whether a compound is found in English or not, so English is not explicitly noted): Aba = Abazin Chi = Chinese Ewe = Ewe Fin = Finnish Geo = Georgian Gua = Guarani Hop = Hopi Hun = Hungarian Imb = Imbabura Quechua Kar = Karaitic Kaz = Kazakh Kor = Korean Mon = Mongolian Qab = Qabardian Que = Quechua Rus = Russian Skt = Sanskrit Swe = Swedish Tur = Turkish Udm = Udmurt The tanru discussed in this section are asymmetrical tanru; that is, ones in which the order of the terms is fundamental to the meaning of the tanru. For example, ``junla dadylsi'', or ``clock pendulum'', is the kind of pendulum used in a clock, whereas ``dadysli junla'', or ``pendulum clock'', is the kind of clock that employs a pendulum. Most tanru are asymmetrical in this sense. Symmetrical tanru are discussed in Section 15. The tertau represents an action, and the seltau then represents the object of that action: pinsi kilbra pencil sharpener (Hun) zgike nunctu music instruction (Hun) mirli nunkalte deer hunting (Hun) finpe nunkalte fish hunting (Tur,Kor,Udm,Aba = fishing) smacu terkavbu mousetrap (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) zdani turni house ruler (Kar = host) zerle'a nunte'a thief fear (Skt = fear of thieves) cevni zekri god crime (Skt = offense against the gods) The tertau represents a set, and the seltau the type of the elements contained in that set: zdani lijgri house row selci lamgri cell block karda mulgri card pack (Swe) rokci derxi stone heap (Swe) tadni girzu student group (Hun) remna girzu human-being group (Qab = group of people) cpumi'i lijgri tractor column (Qab) cevni jenmi god army (Skt) cevni prenu god folk (Skt) Conversely: the tertau is an element, and the seltau represents a set in which that element is contained. Implicitly, the meaning of the tertau is restricted from its usual general meaning to the specific meaning appropriate for elements in the given set. Note the opposition between ``zdani linji'' in the previous group, and ``linji zdani'' in this one, which shows why this kind of tanru is called ``asymmetrical''. carvi dirgo raindrop (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) linji zdani row house The seltau specifies an object and the tertau a component or detail of that object; the tanru as a whole refers to the detail, specifying that it is a detail of that whole and not some other. junla dadysli clock pendulum (Hun) purdi vorme garden door (Qab) purdi bitmu garden wall (Que) moklu skapi mouth skin (Imb = lips) nazbi kevna nose hole (Imb = nostril) karce xislu automobile wheel (Chi) jipci pimlu chicken feather (Chi) vinji rebla airplane tail (Chi) Conversely: the seltau specifies a characteristic or important detail of the object described by the tertau; objects described by the tanru as a whole are differentiated from other similar objects by this detail. pixra cukta picture book kerfa silka hair silk (Kar = velvet) plise tapla apple cake (Tur) dadysli junla pendulum clock (Hun) The tertau specifies a general class of object (a genus), and the seltau specifies a sub-class of that class (a species): ckunu tricu pine tree (Hun,Tur,Hop) The tertau specifies an object of possession, and the seltau may specify the possessor (the possession may be intrinsic or otherwise). In English, these compounds have an explicit possessive element in them: ``lion's mane'', ``child's foot'', ``noble's cow''. cinfo kerfa lion mane (Kor,Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab) verba jamfu child foot (Swe) nixli tuple girl leg (Swe) cinfo jamfu lion foot (Que) danlu skapi animal skin (Ewe) ralju zdani chief house (Ewe) jmive munje living world (Skt) nobli bakni noble cow (Skt) nolraitru ralju king chief (Skt = emperor) The tertau specifies a habitat, and the seltau specifies the inhabitant: lanzu tumla family land The tertau specifies a causative agent, and the seltau specifies the effect of that cause: kalselvi'i gapci tear gas (Hun) terbi'a jurme disease germ (Tur) fenki litki crazy liquid (Hop = whisky) pinca litki urine liquid (Hop = beer) Conversely: the tertau specifies an effect, and the seltau specifies its cause. djacu barna water mark (Chi) The tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the purpose of that instrument: taxfu dadgreku garment rack (Chi) tergu'i ti'otci lamp shade (Chi) xirma zdani horse house (Chi = stall) nuzba tanbo news board (Chi = bulletin board) More vaguely: the tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the object of the purpose for which that instrument is used: cpina rokci pepper stone (Que = stone for grinding pepper) jamfu djacu foot water (Skt = water for washing the feet) grana mudri post wood (Skt = wood for making a post) moklu djacu mouth water (Hun = water for washing the mouth) lanme gerku sheep dog (dog for working sheep) The tertau specifies a product from some source, and the seltau specifies the source of the product: moklu djacu mouth water (Aba,Qab = saliva) ractu mapku rabbit hat (Rus) jipci sovda chicken egg (Chi) sikcurnu silka silkworm silk (Chi) mlatu kalci cat feces (Chi) bifce lakse bee wax (Chi = beeswax) cribe rectu bear meat (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) solxrula grasu sunflower oil (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) bifce jisra bee juice (Hop = honey) tatru litki breast liquid (Hop = milk) kanla djacu eye water (Kor = tear) Conversely: the tertau specifies the source of a product, and the seltau specifies the product: silna jinto salt well (Chi) kolme terkakpa coal mine (Chi) ctile jinto oil well (Chi) The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies the material from which the object is made. This case is especially interesting, because the referent of the tertau may normally be made from just one kind of material, which is then overridden in the tanru. rokci cinfo stone lion snime nanmu snow man (Hun) kliti cipni clay bird blaci kanla glass eye (Hun) blaci kanla glass eye (Que = spectacles) solji sicni gold coin (Tur) solji junla gold watch (Tur,Kor,Hun) solji djine gold ring (Udm,Aba,Que) rokci zdani stone house (Imb) mudri zdani wood house (Ewe = wooden house) rokci bitmu stone wall (Ewe) solji carce gold chariot (Skt) mudri xarci wood weapon (Skt = wooden weapon) cmaro'i dargu pebble road (Chi) sudysrasu cutci straw shoe (Chi) Note: the two senses of ``blaci kanla'' can be discriminated as: blaci kanla bo tarmi glass (eye shape) = glass eye blaci kanla bo sidju glass (eye helper) = spectacles The tertau specifies a typical object used to measure a quantity and the seltau specifies something measured. The tanru as a whole refers to a given quantity of the thing being measured. English does not have compounds of this form, as a rule. tumla spisa land piece (Tur = piece of land) tcati kabri tea cup (Kor,Aba = cup of tea) nanba spisa bread piece (Kor = piece of bread) bukpu spisa cloth piece (Udm,Aba = piece of cloth) djacu calkyguzme water calabash (Ewe = calabash of water) The tertau specifies an object with certain implicit properties, and the seltau overrides one of those implicit properties: kensa bloti spaceship bakni verba cattle child (Ewe = calf) The seltau specifies a whole, and the tertau specifies a part which normally is associated with a different whole. The tanru then refers to a part of the seltau which stands in the same relationship to the whole seltau as the tertau stands to its typical whole. kosta degji coat finger (Hun = coat sleeve) denci genja tooth root (Imb) tricu stedu tree head (Imb = treetop) The tertau specifies the producer of a certain product, and the seltau specifies the product. In this way, the tanru as a whole distinguishes its referents from other referents of the tertau which do not produce the product. silka curnu silkworm (Tur,Hun,Aba) The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies another object which has a characteristic property. The tanru as a whole refers to those referents of the tertau which possess the property. sonci manti soldier ant ninmu bakni woman cattle (Imb = cow) mamta degji mother finger (Imb = thumb) cifnu degji baby finger (Imb = pinky) pacraistu zdani hell house (Skt) fagri dapma fire curse (Skt = curse destructive as fire) As a particular case (when the property is that of resemblance): the seltau specifies an object which the referent of the tanru resembles. grutrceraso jbama cherry bomb solji kerfa gold hair (Hun = golden hair) kanla djacu eye water (Kar = spring) bakni rokci bull stone (Mon = boulder) The seltau specifies a place, and the tertau an object characteristically located in or at that place. ckana boxfo bed sheet (Chi) mrostu mojysu'a tomb monument (Chi = tombstone) jubme tergusni table lamp (Chi) foldi smacu field mouse (Chi) briju ci'ajbu office desk (Chi) rirxe xirma river horse (Chi = hippopotamus) xamsi gerku sea dog (Chi = seal) cagyce'u zdani village house (Skt) Specifically: the tertau is a place where the seltau is sold or made available to the public. cidja barja food bar (Chi = restaurant) cukta barja book bar (Chi = library) The seltau specifies the locus of application of the tertau. kanla velmikce eye medicine (Chi) jgalu grasu nail oil (Chi = nail polish) denci pesxu tooth paste (Chi) The tertau specifies an implement used in the activity denoted by the seltau. me la pinpan. bolci Ping-Pong ball (Chi) The tertau specifies a protective device against the undesirable features of the referent of the seltau. carvi mapku rain cap (Chi) carvi taxfu rain garment (Chi = raincoat) vindu firgai poison mask (Chi = gas mask) The tertau specifies a container characteristically used to hold the referent of the seltau. cukta vasru book vessel (Chi = satchel) vanju kabri wine cup (Chi) spatrkoka lanka coca basket (Que) djacu calkyzme water calabash (Ewe) rismi dakli rice bag (Ewe,Chi) tcati kabri tea cup (Chi) ladru botpi milk bottle (Chi) rismi patxu rice pot (Chi) festi lante trash can (Chi) bifce zdani bee house (Kor = beehive) cladakyxa'i zdani sword house (Kor = sheath) manti zdani ant nest (Gua = anthill) The seltau specifies the characteristic time of the event specified by the tertau. vensa djedi spring day (Chi) crisa citsi summer season (Chi) cerni bumru morning fog (Chi) critu lunra autumn moon (Chi) dunra nicte winter night (Chi) nicte ckule night school (Chi) The seltau specifies a source of energy for the referent of the tertau. dikca tergusni electric lamp (Chi) ratni nejni atom energy (Chi) brife molki windmill (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) Finally, some tanru which don't fall into any of the above categories. ladru denci milk tooth (Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab) kanla denci eye tooth It is clear that ``tooth'' is being specified, and that ``milk'' and ``eye'' act as modifiers. However, the relationship between ``ladru'' and ``denci'' is something like ``tooth which one has when one is drinking milk from one's mother'', a relationship certainly present nowhere except in this particular concept. As for ``kanla denci'', the relationship is not only not present on the surface, it is hardly possible to formulate it at all. 15. Some types of symmetrical tanru This section deals with symmetrical tanru, where order is not important. Many of these tanru can be expressed with a logical or non-logical connective between the components. The tanru may refer to things which are correctly specified by both tanru components. Some of these instances may also be seen as asymmetrical tanru where the seltau specifies a material. The connective ``je'' is appropriate: cipnrstrigi pacru'i owl demon (Skt) nolraitru prije royal sage (Skt) remna nakni human-being male (Qab = man) remna fetsi human-being female (Qab = woman) sonci tolvri soldier coward (Que) panzi nanmu offspring man (Ewe = son) panzi ninmu offspring woman (Ewe = daughter) solji sicni gold coin (Tur) solji junla gold watch (Tur,Kor,Hun) solji djine gold ring (Udm,Aba,Que) rokci zdani stone house (Imb) mudri zdani wooden house (Ewe) rokci bitmu stone wall (Ewe) solji carce gold chariot (Skt) mudri xarci wooden weapon (Skt) zdani tcadu home town (Chi) The tanru may refer to all things which are specified by either of the tanru components. The connective ``ja'' is appropriate: nunji'a nunterji'a victory defeat (Skt = victory or defeat) donri nicte day night (Skt = day and night) lunra tarci moon stars (Skt = moon and stars) patfu mamta father mother (Imb,Kaz,Chi = parents) tuple birka leg arm (Kaz = extremity) nuncti nunpinxe eating drinking (Udm = cuisine) bersa tixnu son daughter (Chi = children) Alternatively, the tanru may refer to things which are specified by either of the tanru components or by some more inclusive class of things which the components typify: curnu jalra worm beetle (Mon = insect) jalra curnu beetle worm (Mon = insect) kabri palta cup plate (Kaz = crockery) jipci gunse hen goose (Qab = housefowl) xrula tricu flower tree (Chi = vegetation) The tanru components specify crucial or typical parts of the referent of the tanru as a whole: tumla vacri land air (Fin = world) moklu stedu mouth head (Aba = face) sudysrasu cunmi hay millet (Qab = agriculture) gugde ciste state system (Mon = politics) prenu so'imei people multitude (Mon = masses) djacu dertu water earth (Chi = climate) -- John Cowan Assent may be registered by a signature, a handshake, or a click of a computer mouse transmitted across the invisible ether of the Internet. Formality is not a requisite; any sign, symbol or action, or even willful inaction, as long as it is unequivocally referable to the promise, may create a contract. --_Specht v. Netscape_


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Tim May <butsuri@...>