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Re: The languages of Aohutl, Parts I and II: Oa-Oa-Lahahan and Mwa (was: SF Xenolinguistics)

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Sunday, June 26, 2005, 2:49
Oops; another case of the gmail curse. And then my sending the reply to Ray 
alone. Anyway, here's most of Ray's response and then mine.

On 6/21/05, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:
> > > On Monday, June 20, 2005, at 05:53 , Patrick Littell wrote: > > > On 6/13/05, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote: > [snip] > >> > You'll note that neither the Mwa grammar nor that of Oa-Oa-Lahahan > >> > involves any recursion. > >> > >> But as whatever may be expressed by recursion can also be expressed by > >> iteration (tho the opposite is not true), is lack of possibility of > >> recursion serious as long as iteration is possible? > > > > Which question are you asking... is it (1) can a recursive grammar be > > expressed iteratively? or (2) can the Oa-Oa-Lahahan and Mwa (and the > > other sub-borial languages of Aohutl) express through iteration > > everything that the human and Plogl express through recursion? > > (2) at least as far as Mwa is concerned - Oa-Oa-Lahahan seems very > restrictive about what it can say :)
Yeah, even if the Oa-Oa-Lahahan had endless recursion, what use would they make of it? I know that I know that I know that I know that P! Barring Jaako Hintikka, no one needs sentences like that. As for Mwa... I don't think there is any situation that English and Plogl can relate that Mwa cannot. I think there are a number of English sentences that would come out... err... "badly", but I think it would still translate. Let's take "The man who killed Rao's brother escaped to the place where we caught the monkey who stole Rao's hat." In Mwa's flat structure, that might come out as, "Rao had a hat. A monkey stole the hat. We caught it at a place. Rao also had a brother. A man killed him. The man escaped to that place." All the facts are there, but something is... lost? "No one knows that I know that the Dean knows nothing." This one is problematic. 1. The Dean knows nothing. 2. I know this(1). 3. No one knows this(2). Once we have the ability to refer to entire sentences/clauses, we get something that's equivalent to recursion on some level. Or maybe we don't. I'm not sure. Many of these expressive difficulties can be dealt with via fixed-depth recursion. So long as infinite recursion isn't allowed, we can get away with a sub-tree structured grammar. But let's wait until language #3 of Aohutl for that!
> Yeah, I think they do. That final lateral fricative is just the sort of > > godless phoneme the Aôhutl..ians would favor. > > I hope you're not implying that the Welsh are godless.
It's a remnant of a pagan past of which they should repent, like unto the Hebrews repented of their Proto-Semitic /K/! Repent of thy godless phonemes, lest thou pass not the oral exams on judgement day! Actually, I always include lateral fricatives in whatever language sketch I'm playing with, just for their versatility. You just can't beat final -tK and -kK. (Or initial Kt- and Kk-!) They're one of the sounds I can't do without. -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00 -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00


Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>