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Re: OT: The semantics of "Guns don't kill people" (was Re: OT: Helen Keller & Whorf-Sapir)

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry@...>
Date:Monday, August 16, 2004, 17:14
On Sat, 14 Aug 2004 22:02:39 +0200, Jörg Rhiemeier
<joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:

> Translating something into a language that grammaticalizes different > categories sometimes can be quite revealing. For example, English > tends to treat agents and instruments alike, allowing for such > sentences as the NRA slogan "Guns don't kill people". If one > translates this into Old Albic, a language that clearly keeps > agents and instruments apart, one gets (using the Modern Low Elvish
In gjax-zym-byn, which uses a variety of case-postpositions for agent, patient, state, topic, cause, experiencer, etc., I would probably render it something like this: fix'hqax-cxa gaxn-rq henx zunq-cox-box jax-o shoot-tool cause-FROM not alive-OPP.-ADJ. state-TO max jqaxr-i. person experiencer-AT. max tu-i zunq-cox-box jax-o person agent-AT alive-OPP.-ADJ. state-TO max hxy-i. person patient-AT. Not because of gun(s) people (become) dead. People (cause) people (to become) dead. (In neither sentence is there any verb; I don't think I need any when the postpositions are so clear. Generally any sentence involving "be", "become", "render" or "have" is translated into gzb without any verb. Re: another thread - Adpositions are my favorite part of speech, though cases are nifty too.) I had to coin {fix'hqax} for this exercise, not having had occasion to speak of shooting, guns, ammunition or whatnot in gjax-zym-byn before. I generally use verbal nouns as roots and derive other things from them, so: fix'hqax the act of firing a projectile fix'hqax-zox to shoot [not really an infinitive] fix'hqax-cxa a gun, tool for shooting (as E-o "pafilo") fix'hqax-ha bullets (stuff used for shooting) fix'hqax-pxa result of shooting: bullets in motion? bullet wounds? dead people? A more idiomatic way of rewriting the NRA slogan might be, fix'hqax-cxa gaxn-rq henx zunq-cox-box jax-o max jqaxr-i, moq fix'hqax gaxn-rq. People do not die because of tool-for-shooting but because of act-of-shooting. - Jim Henry