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Binalda syntax

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 2:22
I'm still not sure about the name Binalda. Something's not right about
it. Binanda? Megulno? Vezrami?

Well, I'll eventually come up with something. Right now what I'm
interested in is basic syntax.

One of the most basic questions is: head-initial, or head-final? There
are prominent languages in both groups, and it's not easy to adjust to
one if you're accustomed to the other. While the language could use some
flexibility in word order, there is still a basic unmarked order.

I've basically decided that Binalda has a tendency to place short
modifiers (typically a single word) before the head, while longer
phrases are postponed to follow after the head. Given that tendency,
prepositions make more sense than postpositions, and languages with
prepositions tend to be right-branching.

Basically, SOV and SVO are the two unmarked sentence structures. SOV is
used when the object is short (such as a personal pronoun), while SVO is
used for longer objects. So far this is sounding a bit like Spanish or
French, which isn't a bad start for a fictional IAL.

A phrase like "the quick brown fox" can be assembled one modifier at a
time: "brown" can be placed before or after "fox", as can "quick".
Possibilities include: "quick brown fox", "quick fox brown", "brown fox
quick", "fox brown quick". (Or why not: "brown quick fox", "fox quick
brown"?) The details of whether to put something before or after the
head could get tricky, so it'd be useful to establish some general
guidelines. Perhaps the difference between "brown fox" and "fox brown"
is something along the lines of English "bluebird" vs. "blue bird":
"brown fox" is just "brown" modifying "fox", while "fox brown" is a

Examples of unmarked word order:
The rain (in Spain) / falls (mainly (on the plain)).
Peter Piper / picked (a peck (of pickled peppers)).
A hobbit / lived (in a hole (in the ground)).

Words or phrases may be emphasized by placing them first, which can drag
other parts of the sentence with them.

(In a hole (in the ground)) lived / a hobbit.
(A peck (of pickled peppers)) picked / Peter Piper.

Question words are very likely to be emphasized in this way.

A man / (must walk) (down ((how many) roads))?
(((How many) roads) down) (must walk) / a man?

So, even though at first it might seem a bit too much like English word
order, it's different enough to be interesting, and it looks like it
might work out fairly well.