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Re: ANNOUNCE: My new conlang S11

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Friday, March 4, 2005, 22:26
On Thu, Mar 03, 2005 at 10:45:26PM +0100, Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Hi! > > "H. S. Teoh" <hsteoh@...> writes: > > On Thu, Mar 03, 2005 at 03:21:26AM +0100, Henrik Theiling wrote: > > >... > > > Only my first conlang Fukhian had three core arguments, and I think > > > that was more a similarity I copied from langs I know than thinking > > > about it. In the next two major projects Tyl Sjok and Qthyn|gai, I > > > also started with three core cases, but instead of keeping them, I > > > dropped them in order to keep the number of grammar rules and ordering > > > constraints low. > > > > What kind of ordering constraints were you considering? > > In Tyl Sjok, I wanted to have an isolating grammar that works by order > of the constituents. I decided that the 'verb' should separate > subject and objects and I chose SVO order. If I had had a third > argument, the problem would have been that two noun phrases would have > been next to each other and I feared that this would be hard to > understand, especially since 'noun noun' is a valid phrase and the > language is pro-drop, so I decided to have serial verb constructions > instead.
Ah I see. It occurred to me, though, that with suitable noun marking, this might not be that much of a problem. You could even use something really basic like have conditional sandhi, that applies a mutation to adjacent words in certain cases but not others. Strange as this may sound, this is actually happening in Tatari Faran already. In Tatari Faran, when two clitics ending with _ei_ are adjacent, they fuse: hausi fei sei -> hausi fisei ['hawsi fi,sej] _fei_ here is a demonstrative meaning 'that'. However, it is also a 3rd person pronoun, and when it is used in this latter sense, it does *not* fuse with _sei_: fei sei -X-> *fisei ['fej sej] Also, if the two words happen to belong to different clauses, they don't fuse, either. The point is that some mutations don't happen sometimes, because in the speaker's mind they belong to different "parts" of the whole. You could use something like this to solve some of the ambiguity that may arise. [...]
> has control over the patient. To get to only one word class, this > became > (controller (controller controlled)) > \__controlled_________/ > > Strange system, actually. There is only one grammar rule in Tyl Sjok > now (disregarding the particles that can optionally make the structure > unambiguous) and most of the documentation is my understanding and > interpretation of that rule.
Whoa. That's awesome.
> It reminded me of Ancient Chinese: the grammar rules seem vague and > most of the time when you try to describe them, it's actually more > like a very long interpretation instead of a concise description. > :-)
Even with modern Chinese, sometimes native speakers' attempt to describe it leaves foreigners feeling like there really are no rules, it's just a matter of interpretation. :-P [...]
> > One idea that just occurred to me is to use directional affixes on > > nouns (vaguely similar to Ebisédian), e.g.: > > > > I kick you --> my_foot you-TOWARDS > > You speak to me --> your_words me-TOWARDS > > The dog runs away --> dog here-FROM > > I leave the house --> I house-FROM > > I look at him --> my_eyes him-TOWARDS > > Ha!:-) That looks like Fukhian! :-) By inspiration from Finnish, I had > three spatial cases (for 'at', 'from' and 'to') and from Russian I > stole that the copula could be dropped.
Hmm. Both my conlangs so far have no copula (at all). After thinking about it, I've decided that the idea of verbs serving as a copulas is an arbitrary one, and that languages can do just fine without them. (More on this below.)
> You arrive at *exactly* the same structure above (including word > order!), and at least for the motion verbs, the translation is very > similar. Fukhian does have verbs for 'to kick', though, (and uses > them) so most sentences would have a much more literal sense:
[...] Cool. Another case of acadebism. :-) [...]
> > Hmm, this is starting to look vaguely similar to your system. :-) > > Adpositions and verbs are very similar anyway, yes, especially in SVC > languages like Chinese (yong = 'use' or 'with', gei = 'give' or 'to', > dao = 'arrive' or 'towards', etc.) That was one inspiration. :-)
It's funny how I grew up learning a Europeanized version of Chinese grammar, and so never realized I knew what serial verbs were. :-)
> BTW, I just love structures like 'hen3 you3 yong4' = '(it's) very > useful', lit. 'very has use', since this shows how vague word class > distinctions can be. :-)
Speaking of class distinctions... recently I'm beginning to notice that in Tatari Faran, adjectives and verbs share a LOT of similarities. If I'm not careful, the unification mob may show up at my door demanding that adjectives become verbs and vice versa... [...]
> > Other verbs can be similarly rationalized. So far, I haven't come > > across any verb that doesn't fit into the model in some way. > >... > > Really? Hmm, how do you translate: > > 'I cook water.' > > What's the origin? Is this transfer of energy? :-)
Nah, the Ebisédi don't really think about energy transfer when they do everyday things like cooking. :-) The paradigm for 'to cook' is: chef-ORG oven-INSTR ingredients-CVY cooked_dish-RCP. So the translation would be: I-ORG cook-V water-CVY Ebisédian has a number of verbs involving process (apply process P to X to produce Y), and in fact, its most generic verb _ka'k3_, "to cause", uses the same paradigm. All these use the paradigm: originative - original state, or initiator of the change instrumental - cause of state change, or that which drives the change locative - the current state conveyant - the thing being processed receptive - the result of the process (Note that the distinction between originative and instrumental here is a bit blur---which shows one of the weaknesses of the system.) The Ebisédian model, although it's easiest to describe in terms of movement, actually does not necessarily mean *movement*. It's the abstract concept of changing from one state to another under the action of the verb. [...]
> 'I am tired.' > > This is a state, so what concept moves?
Ebisédian does not use verbs for states. It uses an idiosyncratic system of juxtaposing different noun cases in a verbless clause to express states. (In retrospect, this system is too arbitrary, and leaves too much ambiguity, so I dropped it from Tatari Faran.) The translation is: eb3' dhaa~'i. 1sp:MASC:CVY fatigue:LOC [?E'b@\ 'Da~:?i] "I am tired". There is, of course, no copula (in fact, as you can probably tell, the copula does not fit into the aforementioned model in any satisfactory way). In this sentence, the 1st person pronoun is in the conveyant case, and 'fatigue' (note that there are no real adjectives in Ebisédian either) is in the locative case. This conveyant-locative juxtaposition expresses the idea of being "in", e.g., a tree(cvy) is in the forest(loc). Here, of course, the usage is very idiomatic: the literal reading of this sentence is "I am inside fatigue". Like I said, this system, although it does somehow "make sense" in its own way, is too ambiguous for my tastes, so I've abandoned it in Tatari Faran. [...]
> > Does Afrikaans have something similar to the Tatari Faran complements? > > How do the negation complements work? > > Quite simple: at the end of a negative clause, you have a final > repeated 'nie' = 'not'.
Ah, I see. Well, the Tatari Faran complement is the opposite. It serves to reaffirm the positive. :-) In fact, it is often left out when the statement is negative: Positive: tara' sei jui'in kakat. 3sp FEM:CVY pretty COMPL ['ta4a? sej dzuj'?in kakat] She is pretty. Negative: tara' sei jui'in be. 3sp FEM:CVY pretty NEG ['ta4a? sej dzuj'?in bE] She is not pretty. The complement is actually being left out here; in strongly negative statements, the negation can be applied to the complement itself: Strong negative: tara' sei jui'in bei-kakat. 3sp FEM:CVY pretty not-COMPL ['ta4a? sej dzuj,?in 'bej.kakat] She is absolutely not pretty! [...]
> > Wait, so the evidence markers always begin a sub-clause? So where is > > the matching relative particle for "JIT" in your example sentence > > "John JIT LU Mary MAT KHAN NI" ? > > They mark the beginning of *any* clause, so also of the top-level > clause. In an embedded clause, this can be used to determine which is > the first noun.
Ah I see. [...]
> >From your other posting: > > On Thu, Mar 03, 2005 at 03:57:09AM +0100, Henrik Theiling wrote:
> > I like this. But how would you translate something like "what are you > > doing today"? Or, "who did what?" Or, "what did he do to her?" Since > > there would not be a generic agent. > > Hmm, good point! I'll have to be careful about generic verbs. > > I did not want to say that the concept of a patient is *semantically* > lacking in the language. Only it's lacking in the hard-wired guts of > the grammar (e.g. no specific case-marking for the 'agent' role).
Yeah, it helps to distinguish between syntax and semantics, as the recent thread on Tagalog shows. Agents and patients are semantic concepts, and are always present whether or not they are marked as such syntactically (and whether or not they are markable in the syntax). [...]
> But just like in English, you could identify the entity in a sentence > that is the affected, the causer, the means, the location, etc., and > you could analytically talk about that, thus there will probably be > verbs that specify generic roles. So you could ask for these roles. > And as in English, there will be words for asking for verbs. :-)
> The generalisation that has to take place is the same as in answering > 'I will *eat*.' to '*What* will you *do*?' in English ('do' is the > generic action, 'eat' is the specific action.) > > A generic 'do' will not have two arguments, that's correct, so there > is no direct equivalent of 'to do'. But unary 'to do' will exist, > e.g. expressing a generic 'undertaking', etc. And some other verb > would be 'to be affected by', 'to be an event', 'to be an action' etc.
This reminds me of some rather interesting thought experiments I did after coining the generic Ebisédian verb _ka'k3_, "to cause". This verb can more-or-less substitute for any other verb, so it's somewhat like the English "to do". Now, in Ebisédian, the interrogative noun _ghi'_ is inflected for case, so if somebody asked you: ka'k3 gh0'? cause what-ORG your answer can only be in the originative. Ditto for the other noun cases. In other words, it's more like asking "who/what caused something?" or "what was caused?" or "by what was something caused?", rather than a real equivalent of the English "what happened?". At this point, it dawned on me that I needed an interrogative verb, so that you can ask for the event itself, not just the participants. This means that "what" in the English question "what happened" can serve both as an interrogative noun and an interrogative verb. You can answer with either a noun or a verb equally validly.
> Let's see the examples: > > 'what are you doing today' > > -> 'Do' probably means 'to undertake' here, so the basic structure > would be something like: > > 'which INTERROG be-event you undertake this-day happen?' > lit. 'Which event will you be undertaking happening today?'
Another interesting observation here: this implies that the role designated by "undertake" is generic, since in your answer you can pair the noun referent "you" with any other verb. Whereas in Ebisédian, the interrogative is stuck with a specific noun case. In order to work around this, I decided that the locative case serves as a generic case which can be substituted for another case in the answer. However, this sacrifices some symmetry in the system.
> 'who did what' > > -> 'which INTERROG PAST-happen?' > -> 'which INTERROG PAST-undertake which be-action?'
[...] Interesting. So you need a verbalizing verb to turn 'which' into a verbal interrogative. :-) T -- Never trust an operating system you don't have source for! -- Martin Schulze


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>