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About Asking for Action

From:Jeffrey Jones <jsjonesmiami@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 2:36
I've been trying to think how to express requests for help or other action in
MNCL5. I may have a solution, but first some rambling thoughts.

I don't think literal translations of things like "Can/could/will/would you help
me?" will work -- they're likely to be taken simply as requests for information.
In particular, the contrafactual versions (such as Tak ma helpukuk.) would be
taken as a hypothetical question involving some unspecified and non-existing
situation. Similarly, the subjunctive versions (such as Tak ma helpukus.) would
only ask about capability or possibility and wouldn't result in any actual help,
even if the answer is "yes". A future or prospective indicative might work (Tak
ma helpukes/helpvuke.) Still, it's not an actual request. I've thought about
creating a new final or non-final suffix to indicate requests (if the latter, which
final would it be used with? Tense and mood distinctions aren't needed here).

What I think I'll actually use is the same interrogative suffix -uk- plus the
imperative suffix -u. This combination doesn't seem to occur otherwise. Note
that the imperative final allows the 2nd person pronoun to be omitted. I
suppose that this could also be translated as a "polite command":

Helpuku ma. -- "Please help me." or "Could you help me?"
Gebuke zo horsa varok. -- "Please give the horse some water." or "Would you
give the horse some water?"

Now, what about _describing_ such a request? First, if a request for
information (indicated by either -uk- plus a non-imperative final or an
interrogative word) is described, the verb stem rog- is used.

Jonak rog'he gil zo hunda ituke dok. -- "John has asked if the dog is small."
(John's question would be Zo hunda ituke?)
Tomak rogek kanok ta vid'he dok. -- "Tom asked what you had seen." (Tom's
question would be Kanok ta vid'he?)

[ I'll digress to note that these embedded questions are indirect; for all direct
quotations, the verb stem dis- is used:
Tomak disek Jona kanok ta vid'he dok. -- "Tom asked John, "'What have you
I don't know yet what verb is used for indirect _statements_! ]

However, a different verb stem, keud-, must be used to describe requests for
Jonak keudek gil Tomak gebus zo horsa varok dok. -- "John asked Tom to give
the horse water."
This might also be:
Jonak keudek Toma gil gebus zo horsa varok dok.
In the first version, it's implied that the request is made directly to Tom.
In the second, it's implied that the requestee is the one to perform the action.
The two could be explicitly identified by inserting a pronoun:
Jonak keudek Toma gil zak gebus zo horsa varok dok.
I'm not sure which of these is best.

Well, I think that's it for now. Thanks for reading this far. Questions,
comments, and AFMCL's are welcome.