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Speaker Relative Adjectives-2

From:Jim Grossmann <jimg@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 16, 1999, 1:27
>I have been toying with the idea of putting the following system in my >conconlang: adjectives whose meaning changes based on the traits of the >speaker. e.g: >wer-age >werkU-in the same age group as the speaker. when a child says 'werkU' it >would mean 'young'. from an adult speaker it would be 'old' or adult, >depending on context.
J.G. -- This will work provided that you do not exclude conventional adjectives. It might be useful for a child to say "I want to play with someone werkU (in my age group)." But one would still need an adjectives that mean "young" and "old" in their physiological senses. If a 25 year-old surgeon told a family that their grandmother was too "old" for the surgery, the adjective used for "old" had better not mean "25 years old" when spoken by the surgeon.
>wervIp-not belonging to the same age group. again with a child saying this
>would mean not young or (usually) old. from someone of middle age this term >could refer to all of those who are not middle aged, including children and >the elderly
1st, children change more rapidly than adults. A 5 year-old using "wervlp" could just as easily be talking about a baby as an adult. 2nd, young children go through a number of stages before reaching adulthood; when a child says "wervlp," does he or she refer to an older child, a teenager, or an adult? 3rd, under what circumstances would it be useful to use an adjective for "all those who are not middle aged," unless the middle-aged were excluded or included in some activity, class, or opportunity?
>werhoch-the percieved opposite of the trait. from a child this would >absolutely mean old or perhaps very old. from someone of middle age,
>the context would have to explain whether the speaker is relatively young
Having freed your age adjectives from physiological reference points like baby fat and wrinkles, the range of ages that the adjectives refer to becomes more problematic. 4th, what kinds of adjectives were you planning on making speaker relative? Obviously, absolute adjectives can't be made so: "unique" will mean the same thing from the mouth of any speaker. Also, what about relative qualities that the speaker does not possess? There are degrees of sliminess, but if the speaker is not slimy at all, how can your word for "slimy" be made speaker-relative? Finally, how about adjectives that convey value judgements? When an adjective is used to convey the speaker's opinion of something, will that same adjective always express an opinion about the speaker, and if so, whose opinion? For instance, will there be a speaker-relative adjective that means "more loathesome than an angelic speaker," and also "less loathesome than a loathesome speaker?" How about "either more loathesome than an average slob or more angelic than an average slob?" IN SUM: My guess is that your scheme will work with only a limited number of adjectives at best. Also, IMO, you need to think about what contexts will make your speaker-relative adjectives useful. You may need to do a little con-culturing here. Jim