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Re: P.S.: Yivrindil

From:jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Thursday, March 14, 2002, 22:03
<< Yivríndil has
plenty of words that aren't glossable by single English words, and the
semantics of compounds are not necessarily the same as would be intuitive
to an English speaker >>

> I didn't quite mean this, exactly. If English has a word that means > "table", and another language has a word meaning "table", why shouldn't > you gloss it as table? What I was saying is that there's no reason why > "table" has to be morphologically simple in every language--get my > drift?
Ahhh (Zen-like moment of enlightenment). This, too, is wisdom. There's plenty of it in Yivríndil, which again has been obscured by my choice of examples. This is particularly true when it comes to deriving verbs from nouns: rok "falcon" > rokya "to devour, to ravage" uyo "fish" > uyoya "to swim" NOT "to fish," which is . . . uyen "fisherman" > uyenya "to fish" The word _uyen_ above is clearly derived from _uyo_ with a productive suffix -n, but the change of vowel is irregular. As you can see, the English simplexes "devour" and "swim" are derived in Yivríndil. And then, because Yivríndil is descended from a monosyllabic isolating language, if you go back far enough you find multi-morphemic forms underying almost all Y. words.
> So there are lots of places in my dictionary for Kamakawi where the word > has one simple English gloss, but the word itself is highly derived.
As above, there are plenty of examples of this in Yivríndil. I tried to think of some examples that are the opposite (simple in Y but complex in English), but couldn't right off. Alas.
> (snip great but long example about butterflies)
This is very cool, and admirable. How much of this sort of thing is there? Have you tried to categorize the different metaphoric processes? Like I said about Y, there is some of this but not as much as there should be. (I once derived the word for "happiness" from the word for "butterfly," but decided that it was too unreal ;-). Later, I accidentally made the word "happiness" homophonous with "family," but decided to keep it since it reflects Y culture well.)
> Well, it's not that pronouns are highly irregular; commonly used > pronouns are highly irregular. This is why you see the irregularity in > the first person plurals in the dual and trial, but not with any of the > others.
Fair enough. If the dual and trial forms are formed with prefixed numerals, then it's actually strikingly similar to the Y system, which is also perfectly regular in this regard. I don't consider it a "number," though, since any numeral can be used: _fénéala_ "we thirty-seven" ;-). In any case, I overlooked the irregularity in the first-person forms.
> Yeah, it's not a case alternation; it's phonological. And yes, it was to > the help learner. Helped me. :) I don't know. I find it easier (and, now > that I think about it, it might seem counterintuitive to some) to > memorize morphological alternations then memorize phonetic/phonological > rules--especially one that's so specialized.
Hmmm. I totally disagree--for me it's easier to memorize a phonological rule than to memorize it as if it were irregular. I do this all the time in Greek to explain those weird 2sg middle forms and alternate comparatives (ignore me if you don't know what I'm talking about). In this case, it comes down to much the same thing, since it's one isolated datum to remember in either case.
> And, hey; teaching a language is all about obscuring the real nature of > a language to the learner! ;)
You'd think that, wouldn't you, based on the way most languages are taught. Drives *me* nuts. I loved Ancient Greek, because they didn't make any bones about it--"Here's six tables of declensions, have them memorized by Friday and don't forget the irregulars." They got right into cases and agreement and tense, and didn't assume that we were too stupid to understand the difference between aorist and imperfect. Unlike in Spanish, where we didn't learn the imperfect until year 3 because they didn't want us to confuse it with the preterite. Grrr . . . But this is primarily a pedagogical question, and not a conlang one ;-). You may be right about the best way to present something to an average Jane. Jesse S. Bangs "If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time." --G.K. Chesterton