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Re: Comparison of philosophical languages

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 17:15
H. S. Teoh scripsit:

> Exactly, which is why I keep going back to the point: it's easy relative > to who? *I* think tonal languages are the way to go, because you can get > so many more root words into a single syllable. Plus, tones are so darned > easy to learn! After all, if *I* have no problem with it, why would > anybody else? But just because I think this way, doesn't mean it works for > everybody.
The language Gua\spi (pronounced gua1 spi4, using Mandarin tones) uses tones not to disambiguate lexemes, but to express grammatical relationships: falling tone marks the beginning of a new subphrase; rising tone marks the return to the superphrase (the previous word is the last word of the subphrase); rising-falling tone marks the end of a subphrase and the beginning of a sibling subphrase; level tone marks the continuation of a phrase. Level tone comes in two flavors, high and low; high is the default, whereas low represents a specific kind of compounding. Falling-rising tone is the equivalent of falling tone, except that it marks the start of a subordinate clause rather than a subphrase. Example: :i \tara /crw \kseo (start) (rat )eat (cheese) The word ":i" (":" is pronounced [?]) indicates the start of a new sentence. The falling tone on "tara" shows that it is the start of a subphrase, in this case a noun phrase. The rising tone on "crw" ("w" is pronounced [N], in this case syllabic or with epenthetic schwa) shows that it belongs to the top-level sentence. The falling tone on "kseo" shows that it too belongs to a subphrase. So this means "The rat eats the cheese". Change the tones, and you get something different: :i -tara \crw /kseo [start] rat (eat[er] )cheese So here "eat[er]" is in the subphrase, and "rat cheese" is the verb. By Gua\spi rules, this compound means "is a rat and is cheese". So we now have "The eater is a rat and is cheese." As for the name of the language, "gua" means "language", and "spi" means "the local culture, whatever it is". So "gua \spi" means "the language of the local culture". More information at the Gua\spi home page: -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)