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Re: Gender - and now number - in Conlang

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 26, 1999, 18:35
On 25 May 99, at 19:51, Matt Pearson wrote:

> Jim Henry wrote: > > >One conlang I started, but haven't worked out in great detail (no > >texts written in it yet) has four grammatical genders corresponding > >to the "four elements" (fire, water, earth, air). > >The four noun classes are declined in three numbers, denoting lack, > >sufficiency or surfeit. > > Very interesting number system! What do you do when there's some but not > enough of something? That's neither a lack nor a sufficiency.
That would be marked by the lack declension. Zero amount of something would be the lack declension plus some other negative particle.
> > Also, what do you do in cases where there the speaker has no reason > to evaluate a quantity as "enough", "not enough", or "too much"? > How would you say "There's some string on the table" when you have > no knowledge of - or interest in - what the string is for, and thus > cannot determine if there is enough string or not?
What does English do when there's neither one nor many of something? "Mass" nouns look morphologically about like singular nouns, only they select "much/little" instead of "many/few" as quantifiers. As I said, I haven't worked it out in detail, but I think the "enough" number would be the default when the speaker has no reason to judge the quantity too small or great for his purposes. Jim Henry III Book reviews, essays, etexts, information about Esperanto, etc.