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isolates in sentences, initial mutation, trigger &c.

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, October 16, 2004, 18:13
On Friday, October 15, 2004, at 10:35 , Rodlox wrote:

>>> an isolate either at the beginning of a sentance (common), or just >>> before the word...and the trigger can change the meaning of a >>> sentance by simply being one letter different. >> >> Ok... this isn't right. I'm not even sure what it means, but it's >> certainly not a correct definition of "trigger". >> >> I'm not sure what you mean by "isolate". The only linguistic use >> of that term I know is a language without an (known) relatives, >> i.e. one that is not a member of any language family". Clearly that's >> not what you mean here. > > by 'isolate' in this context, I mean...well, I had already learned that, > when the parts of a language are not linked together in one big > (linkedtogetherinonebigsentance) sentance, it's called isolating (it is > call -ed isolate -ing).
No - that's not so. Things are linked together in one big sentence only if the language is 'incorporating'. Things are not linked together in one big sentence in flexional and agglutinating languages as well as in isolating languages. These terms do have specific meanings. An isolating language is one in which words are invariable in form and usually each word is a single morpheme. The mark of an isolating language is that it has no morphology. The best example of this is Vietnamese. We do not, however, call the invariable words 'isolates'. Sometimes even now Chinese is quoted as an example of an isolating language; while this may be true of the artificial written style known a "Classical Chinese", it is not true of the modern language which does have morphology. In this respect it is like English, largely isolatiing but with a modicum of morphology. The categories 'isolating', 'flexional' (or 'fusional') and 'agglutinating' were categories established by 19th century linguists. Natlangs generally have a habit of not fitting nice and neatly into just one slot :) ============================================== On Thursday, October 14, 2004, at 04:40 , Rodlox wrote in reply to my:
>> Apologies accepted - but you've still left some us mightily confused. If >> we are confused, the chances are that you are also. >> >> I cannot help thinking it would help us all, especially yourself, if made >> you made it plainer what you understand by "trigger" and why the mutation >> of initial consonants in a language like Welsh seem to suggest triggers. >> I >> am not being critical in saying this, I am trying to be positive and >> helpful > > I know. > > okay, I'll use imaginary examples for this... > > "ron gyrouin edak!" > 'ron' being the trigger, turning it from a nice, quiet question about > cars, > to a matter of life or death (but still a question about cars). > > or, maybe - > > "gyrouin ron edak" > (I think) > > as opposed to... > > "ron'edak gyrouin" > in which the 'trigger' has merged with the word that it was > affecting...which is what I *had* thought was an initial consonant > mutation > (becoming "son'edak" in some cases).
Yes - it would have helped to have made things even clearer with an interlinear translation of the examples - but no matter. I'm not really clear what _ron_ is triggering or what the difference is between writing _ron edak_ with whitespace and writing _ron'edak_ with the apostrophe. But whatever is going on is quite different the initial mutation in Welsh and related languages which, as I hope you have now realized, is a _grammatical_ feature in the same way that, for example, final -ed and -s are in English or the change of -oo- to -ee- in _foot ~ feet_. Nor do the examples above seem to relate to the 'trigger' of Tagalog & other Austronesian languages. Anyway - I hope the many replies concerning Welsh consonant mutation and concerning triggers have helped clarify ideas. Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]