CHAT: Colectives (Re: CHAT: use of "they")
|From:||Carlos Thompson <cthompso@...>|
|Date:||Monday, September 28, 1998, 6:41|
De: John Cowan <cowan@...>
>> I must admit this throws me a bit. An example was a US Fire-Drill
>> poster which said "Make sure all personnel is outside and accounted fo=r".
>> or the sentences; "Which one of them is a doctor? None of them is."
>> In both cases I'd expect "are" not "is".
>The first one is probably a simple error.
My first impresion, as Spanish speaker was "that sounds wrong but logic" =
we think "personnel" as colective. In Spanish it would be "Asegurense qu=
todo el personal est=E9 afuera y contado", which uses the singular articl=
declesion. (Wouldn't it be a sort of Spanishism?)
Well. One of my most frequent errors in English is the use of some plura=
I count as collectives in Spanish, like "people". When I learned the wor=
"people" I learned as translation of "gente" which is a colective in
Spanish, and not as plural for "person". If I'm not mistaken, "people" i=
both a plural and a colective, and usually takes the plural form of a ver=
I once read in some conlang about the disctintion between count, colectiv=
and mass, and in one project I was thinking about a
singular-colective-plural disctintion. In Spanish, colectives are irregu=
(meaning no derivational relationship between the individual and the
colectivity) and singular in its basic form:
pez (fish) -- banco (school)
p=E1jaro (bird) -- banda
oveja (sheep) -- reba=F1o
elefante -- manada (herd)
persona -- gente
Colective nouns are sometimes describe more the internal organization tha=
the kind of individuals is divided in, so wild sheep could form a _manada=
reather than a _ reba=F1o_. _gente_ by other means is a general set of
people: "la gente de Chile" =3D "people in Chile"; "a la gente le gusta..=
"people like ...".
When I was thinking in my project, colectives where thought regulars:
tipebu =3D person
tipabu =3D people (as colective)
tipebus =3D people (as plural for person)
tipabus =3D people (any combination of more than one groups and/or
The colective shoud use an agrupation whit some natural unity in it.
However it was a problem about the meaning like:
some other colective nouns for "person" are "group", "organization",
"herd"(?), "tribe", "nation"/"nationality", "ethnia", etc. Which one sho=
The idea would be, in my case, take the most general and natural sort of
agrupation. Not hard for sheep, elephats, fish or birds. Still difficul=
for people. Which natural and general sort of agrupation do I belong to?
I bellong to no tribe.
Colombia is hardly an national state, as Canada or the United States are =
or as France and Germany are. (Colombian nationality is defined by the
country, not the country after the nationality.)
When my grandfather was a Black from Trinidad & Tobago, and the rest of m=
bood are form Muisca (Chibcha) and Spanish origen I feel no ethinia as my
So I could let "tipabu" mean "mandkind"/"people" and restricted by contex=
or be a generic that cover "tribe", "clan", "ethnia", "nation(ality)".
And, if more acurate meanings are suposed to be used, a different aproach
could be performed:
:trib:abu =3D tribe
:trib:ebu =3D member of a tribe
:clan:abu =3D clan
:clan:ebu =3D member of a clan
:nat:abu =3D nation(ality)
:nat:ebu =3D (con)national
In this sense
:sheep:edu =3D sheep
:sheep:adu =3D flock; herd of wild sheep
In the case of pronouns:
abo: they (one group known by the speaker and the listener)
ebos: they (those individuals)
abos: they (those individuals and groups).
"abo" is used for an agrupation, like refering to a tribe, the personnel =
a factory, the goverment, a club, etc.
"ebos" is used for a group of individual with no given relationship them
"abos" is used for two or more groups, or any combination of groups and
Is there another regular way of treating colectives in your conlangs?
Regular approaches? Irregular ones? Anybody knows how the -aro sufix in
-- Carlos Th