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Prepositions as argument keywords (WAS: Re: Collaborative conlang)

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Saturday, October 11, 2008, 17:43
--- On Fri, 10/10/08, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:

> Well, because that misses the minimality, which as I > understand it is > central to the point. The placeholder language is supposed > to be just as > few rudiments as are needed to allow meta-discussion of the > order of "okay, > _pyrzqzyl_ will be our word for foo, and nouns will do bar, > and baz will be > head-final". Imdeed there are several words (ALEKI > and KWADU and such) that > I'm surprised are in the placeholder dictionary. > > Alex
Yes, that was basically the idea. As for ALEKI and KWADU, I felt strange coining them, but I needed something to illustrate the use of prepositions in the placeholder grammar. I suppose I could have left out prepositions and let them emerge as needed, but I had been working on an analogy between computer programming languages and conlang syntax. Specifically, the difference between "positional parameters" and "keyword parameters". In a computer function call or macro call the parameters can be arranged in a specific order as in Give(John, book, Marsha); or they can be in arbitrary order where each is associated with a keyword: Give(from=John, to=Marsha, what=book); in which case, the order can be shuffled without loss of meaning. Plus, the number of parameters is flexible. Preposition in the placeholder grammar serve the function of keywords. In fact, the function name might even be the subject of the sentence rather than the verb: John(do=give, what=book, when=Saturday, at=party, for=birthday, to=Marsha); Or, without the parens and commas: John do give li book when Saturday at party for birthday to Marsha. or equally valid: John to Marsha li book when Saturday at party do give for birthday. or any one of 720 other permutations of the order of the 6 arguments. Other arguments can be added easily: ... after lunch, did reluctantly, in-spite-of argument, ... In the placeholder grammar the keyword/prepositions were the usual prepositions plus "li" for the direct object "preposition" and the appropriate pronoun for the "do=" "preposition": John (UMI=KWADU, ULU=ALEKI MILI, ET=LUKI, LI=TELU, UFE=PUKA OSHO); John (in=park, at="lake small", he=read, what=sentence, from="book large"); Or, placing the only unmarked word, "John" anywhere in the argument stream: UMI KWADU ULU ALEKI MILI John ET LUKI LI TELU UFE PUKA OSHO. or UMI KWADU John ET LUKI LI TELU UFE PUKA OSHO ULU ALEKI MILI. etc., etc. --- The earlier topic of quadrivalent verbs kind of goes away if the verb is just an argument of the subject rather than the other way around. "[I] bet [you] [20 bucks] [he's not coming]" -> I(do=bet, with=you, amount="20 bucks", event={he(do=come:will, mod=not, )}); --gary