|From:||Roger Mills <romiltz@...>|
|Date:||Monday, January 5, 2009, 5:22|
In finishing off Prevli Syntax, I've come to a lengthy, complex and rather
repetitious section dealing with ambiguity in sentences with same-subject 3d
pers.pronouns, like "he thinks he is sick", "he said that he thinks he is sick"
and many others. Or, "he asked whether he knew that he had eaten rotten meat?"
True, in a discourse, there will probably be context that clarifies matters,
but in the absence of context, no. One could always stick in personal names.
An additional problem that gets a lot of attention is that Prevli has inalienable
possession, so that in a sentence like "Mary says that she will feed the baby",
_baby_ MUST carry a possessive suffix, usually -z, so "titi-z" 'baby' can mean
'his/her baby' or (in context) 'the baby'. One would assume that we mean "Mary
will feed (her own) baby", but what if Mary is an aunt, a sitter, or just a
helpful friend, etc. ? (The pronoun "she" is also ambiguous-- Mary? someone
else?) How necessary would it be to be absolutely precise in cases like this?
Or should we just leave it to our old friend "context"?
There are indeed ways to disambiguate in Prevli, which of course will be discussed;
but I'm wondering just how many example sentences are worth citing, and whether
the discussion can be abridged considerably.
How do various other conlangs deal with ambiguities like this? Has the problem
arisen? How much attention is it really worth?
All suggestions welcomed.