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Re: Language Lessons (long--YHL rambles)

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 1, 2001, 17:22
I imagine you've seen my aborted "Teach Yourself
Teonaht" pages.

They are a hell of a lot harder to
write than straight grammar pages.  Why?  In the
grammar pages you set down all the rules in an
uncreative manner.  The rules themselves are hard
enough already for you, as conlanger, to master,
given the amount of change your language undergoes
all the time.  To write a successful Teach Yourself X,
you have not only to be master of the rules and idioms
of your conlang, that you have SET, but you have the
added taxonomic task of putting these rules into NEW
categories, from easiest to hardest, from most common
to least common.  And then, for it to be pleasant to
the student, you have to couch it in a story.  At least
that's what I was trying to do.

I started out with a stranger, coming to Tsorelai
Mundya.  I thought I could make learning Teonaht
exciting by turning it into a suspense.  So I had to
come up with an intrigue.  That's still in my head and
not on paper, yet.  What happens to this man in this
city?  Not only will he roam the city, learning how to
discourse in restaurants about food, how to buy
things at shops, but in order to explore social and
sexual issues, he will have to encounter a liaison.
Eventually, the situation could lead him into a home
where we learn the names of household items, and
other things I might have to adopt an Internet blue
ribbon for, <G> but the whole task was more than
I could accomplish in a summer, and it has sat there
for two years at the early stage I left it in.  I also found
that, compulsive me (yry mettolaht--"me all wound up"),
I was giving far more lengthy explanations of expressions
than I ought to.  The Teach Yourself was turning into the
Grammar.  And then there were the drawings!  How
can you have a Teach Yourself without drawings?

I might start over, and resort to the "in the home," "in
the restaurant," "by the beach," "in the forest."  But
it's a formidable task.  The best Teach Yourself Welsh
books for me at least have been in cartoon form.  But
that would take a load to scan!!!

The main reason I stopped the Teach Yourself Teonaht
was because I made a major change in the way one
handles the indefinite article.  Suffixing the article to
make it indefinite is not going to work.  It seemed like
a good idea, but it too often produces an ambiguity
when noun and suffix come before another noun,
which then seems, to the ear, to have a prefixed definite
article.  I will either have to rule out an indefinite article
altogether, like Welsh, or create a new word.  The
advantage of the article at all is that it carries the information
about  volitionality.  The verb will often do that, but not
in every case.

Sally Caves


dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
Rik Roots <rikroots@...>