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Comparatives (Difficult?!)

From:Carsten Becker <carbeck@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 6, 2007, 15:27
Hi all!

Now that I have back my internet finally, I have a question
for you: How would your conlang (or any natlang you know)
express this sentence -- I am intersted in the sentence
structure of course, not just the words themselves. Here is
the sentence:

  "It took five days longer than it should have taken."

German does it this way:

  Es hat fünf Tage länger gedauert als es hätte dauern  sollen.
  It has five days longer endured  as  it had   endured should.

French (TMBK):

  Il a   mis cinq jours plus long qu'il   ... [???]
  It has put five days  more long that-it ... [???]

Now the question is how Ayeri would handle such a
construction. First of all, I would of course translate
straight from German or English, but this gives me some
problems: "to take time" is _patad-_, "long" is
_tupas_, and "to be more X than Y" is _eng- X Y_. My
original attempt had two verbs in a row, which is allowed in
Ayeri in this way:

  modal verbs: <MODAL> <CONJUGATED-VERB>
  -> e.g. _rua saraiyáng_, "he must leave"

  "extended" infinitive: <CONJUGATED-VERB>
  -> e.g. _masahaiyáng sikat.yam_, "he came to win"

Doing either of this with "eng-" doesn't feel suitable for
me, since "eng" is also the morpheme that marks an inanimate
patient on the verb when it is used as a preverbal article
alias trigger morpheme. On the other hand, you just append
"eng" to adjectives and adverbs when there is no "to be more
X than Y" construction, which would give _tupaseng_,
"longer". Given this all, you could just copy the English
phrase straight off and say

  Le mapatadara tupaseng adanyareng bahisyeon iri ...
  It took *five days* longer ...

but then I strongly feel the need for a conjunction, which
is my problem, because naturally Ayeri would not have one
here I think, because you could also model this on a "to be
more X than Y" construction, which is not possible here as
well I because I don't know what to do with "five days". Of
course, this shouldn't be much of a problem, since both
"five days" and just "longer" would be syntactically equal,

  Le eng mapatadara tupas adanyareng bahisyeon iri mea

also seems strange because you could just as well translate
that as

  *Took longer it than five days it should have taken.
  (*It took longer than five days ...)

which wouldn't be grammatical anyway, though.

So -- are there any languages at all that handle this kind
of construction *without* a conjunction ("than")?

If a conjunction is really that crucial here, I could also
go with

  Le mapatadara tupaseng adanyareng bahisyeon iri mea

which is essentially the same as in colloquial German (using
_wie_, "like", instead of _als_, "as"):

  Took longer *five days* it shall like-would-have-taken it.
  (It took *five days* longer like it should have taken)

Or if you wanted to use an opposing conjunction (but,
nevertheless, ...), you could use the all-purpose "nárya":

  Le mapatadara tupaseng adanyareng bahisyeon iri nárya mea
  Took longer *five days* it but shall would-have-taken it.
  (It took *five days* longer but it should have taken)

I think the construction with "like" would be the most
favourable construction if it is important to use a
conjunction, but it makes parsing the verb harder.

Yours ponderingly,

"Besonvenyonangang ayena nudeng inunsegasyéna."
 -- Segakáryo Litayarim


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>