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Re: ANNOUNCE: My new conlang S11

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Thursday, March 3, 2005, 18:33
On Thu, Mar 03, 2005 at 03:21:26AM +0100, Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Hi! > > "H. S. Teoh" <hsteoh@...> writes:
> > Interesting. This is what motivated me to devise Ebisédian's (and > > Tatari Faran's) case system (along with my general dissatisfaction > > with the passive voice). > > Aha, someone with similar notions of 'nice structure'? :-)
Apparently so. :-) To me, 'nice structure' means symmetry, and minimal arbitrariness. I don't like the arbitrary distinction between core and non-core arguments (if they're so unimportant as to be non-core, why include them in the sentence at all?), and I especially dislike the way non-nominative arguments in accusative systems are defective, in the sense that convolutions are needed if they are to be treated in a similar way to the nominative. Now of course, I'm not saying that every grammar must be completely idealistic and have mathematical symmetry, but I do expect that a well-thought-up conlang shouldn't just blindly reproduce existing systems with exactly the same flaws and asymmetry in exactly the same places, without at least exploring some other (hopefully better) ways of handling verb argument marking.
> > During my early attempts to solve this problem I decided that I > > needed at least 3 core cases, so that trivalent verbs like 'to give' > > can be expressed without adjuncts. > > 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 Qthyn|gai, the number of valence infixes needed would have been > enormous -- even with only two core cases, it has some 27 infixes or > so.
Ouch. :-) [...]
> The alternative was an approach like Lojban, which makes the > borderline between argument and adjunct depend on the verb -- but > still, there is a decision to be taken -- I did not want this -- > neither globally, nor for each verb. I personally find the Lojban > argument system rather unsatisfactory.
I've not looked at Lojban in detail, but from what I understand, it quite resembles many programming languages in the sense that functions (verbs) have a fixed number of arguments that are expected to be passed in a fixed order. [...]
> When finishing my grammar sketch, I wondered whether AllNoun's > structure is comparable to S11, but I don't think so. Diving into the > structure I found out that Tom Breton himself mentioned problems he > encountered that I don't think I will face since my lang is not so > simplistically motivated -- and verbs *are* different from nouns. And > I think nouns like 'act-of-being-red' seem to be a bit awkward.
I think such glosses are still too verb-centric. Sure it's a noun, but there's a verb hiding behind the noun in the form of a participle. A truly verbless lang should not need such circumlocutions. 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 The directional affixes can be more sophisticated than this, of course. For example, you might want to have a "fast-towards" and "slow-towards" affix, for distinguishing between, say, "I kick you" vs. "I show you my foot". Hmm, this is starting to look vaguely similar to your system. :-) [...]
> I had wondered about how you assign the roles to the Ebisedian cases, > actually, because the cases are different from well-known natlang > cases and I wondered whether free-running verbs will be nice enough to > let you assign cases easily. But I never dived into your grammar too > deeply, I must admit...
Ebisédian (and Tatari Faran, albeit with fewer cases) assign roles based on a preconceived model of how actions/events happen. The Ebisédian model can be thought of as the metaphoric picture of the conveyant noun moving (in the metaphoric sense) from the originative noun to the receptive noun through the locative noun, under the continual action of the instrumental noun. Every action is rationalized in terms of this model. E.g., to look at something, the sense of sight proceeds from the looker (originative) to the target (receptive), but to see something, the sight seen proceeds from the thing seen (originative) to the seer (receptive). Travelling from A to B has the obvious assignment origin: originative; traveller: conveyant; destination: receptive. 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. But I eventually found out that having to deal with 5 core cases is rather difficult. There are too many to choose from when assigning roles to simple verbs that only ever need 1 or 2 arguments, and I sometimes found it difficult to remember the role assignments for more obscure verbs. This is one of the things that motivated me to simplify the system when designing Tatari Faran. [...]
> And I really liked the structure of Tatari Faran that you presented > here. I found the verb complements quite intuitive for some > reason. :-)
Yeah it's one of those things that are so hard to compare with a natlang, but somehow very intuitive once you learn it.
> Maybe it felt like Afrikaans, which has these great negation > complements which I copied into Da Mätz se Basa. :-))) Only for > each verb, not for negation.
Does Afrikaans have something similar to the Tatari Faran complements? How do the negation complements work? [...]
> > Eventually, I came upon a rather elegant solution (IMHO): since the 3 > > core cases were marked by postclitics, which were already treated as > > separate words, why not open up the class and treat postpositions the > > same way as well? And so, I decided that Tatari Faran postpositions > > govern the unmarked NP (without case marker). I.e., they appeared in > > the same position as where the case markers would appear, and > > essentially behaved like the case markers. > > A bit like Finnish does it, I think, if you think of the adjunct, > non-core cases. But Finnish has additional postpositions that look > different. Some German dative objects that are not arguments also > look like arguments syntactically. But again, the normal case is a > prepositional phrase that looks different, yes.
> > I even went so far as to equate postpositional clauses with NP's at > > the syntactic level, in that the indicative word order was > > subject-verb-arguments, and if one fronts a postpositional clause, > > the order becomes PC-verb-subject-arguments. I.e., the PC has the > > same status as a 'normal' NP. > > Ah, ok. The word order rule resembles Germanic V2 (verb second) order > then, where the topic phrase (either subject or object NP or adjunct > PP) is just in front of the verb. Is the fronting due to topicality > in Tatari Faran?
The first NP that occurs in a clause is treated as the syntactic subject (for elision in subsequent clauses, etc.). It can be used to indicate topic or focus (yes I know the two are different), but that depends on context. I think the best way to describe it is that it's a syntactic subject. Note that subjectivity is independent of role marking in Tatari Faran. [...]
> > > - there are no adjuncts either, the whole structure is controlled > > > by using a sequence of noun-verb pairs. > > > > Nice! This sounds almost like a fleeting idea I posted to the list > > once, while thinking about Ebisédian grammar. > > Did you? When was that?
I don't remember, probably quite early on, maybe 2000 or 2001. IIRC, it was during one of my crises with Ebisédian, in that I liked the case system but realized that it had fundamental limitations that I didn't know how to overcome. That was one of the ideas I tried. [...]
> > receive'? Then "A gives B to C" could be expressed as "A-offer > > B-transfer C-receive", which looks strikingly similar to what you > > describe below. :-) > > Yes. It's indeed the same idea. Maybe it's the *only* > solution. :-)))
Perhaps it is. :-) When I thought of it at the time, though, it was a lot more complex because I wanted to retain the Ebisédian case system. (In retrospect, I should've just thrown out the case system.) So not only was the verb compounded with the noun, but the noun itself also had case marking. I don't remember the details of what the case marking did w.r.t. the meaning of the verb, but it wasn't very pretty, and I gave up eventually. [...]
> > > 'John, who asks a question, is addressed.' = > > > John JIT LU KHAN NI GUP JIT MAT. > > > noun ev. verb noun verb rel. ev. verb > > > John hearsay ask question posed who hearsay addressed > > BTW, the evidence markers serves a second purpose in this lang: it > marks the start of a sub-clause, otherwise some maybe bad ambiguity > could arise. But with evidence as start marker and relative > particle at the end, it's properly bracketed.
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" ? T -- Arise, you prisoners of Windows / Arise, you slaves of Redmond, Wash, / The day and hour soon are coming / When all the IT folks say "Gosh!" / It isn't from a clever lawsuit / That Windowsland will finally fall, / But thousands writing open source code / Like mice who nibble through a wall. -- The Linux-nationale by Greg Baker


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>