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Re: R: Re: Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re: Chevraqis: asketch)

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Sunday, August 13, 2000, 17:59
On Sun, Aug 13, 2000 at 12:56:12PM +0200, Mangiat wrote:
> BTW, I, too, think Greek 'So:krate:s' is ungrammatical. I have never found a > Greek proper name without the article. Well, I think Greek uses a lot > articles. Indeed I've never studied all its declension patterns, you can > work well even if you remember the declension of 'ho, he, tò'.
Yeah, actually, now I recall my Greek professor emphatically saying in class, "Use the article with proper names!". Some manuscripts, he said, may omit the article, but as a rule, *we* were never supposed to omit the article. As for the Greek article... it's actually quite an awesome thing. It's much more flexible than, for example, the English article, especially when used as a pseudo-pronoun (which, IIRC, is where it developed from). To say something like "the woman who had been taught", you can simply use the feminine article with a participle: "he: pepaideumene:". (Literally, "the one (feminine) having been taught (perfect ptcple).) Makes for nice, compact sentences! :-) But talking about the history of the Greek article... it used to be the personal pronoun, and in some contexts it still retains that meaning. I find this quite interesting, esp. related to inventing derived condialects from ancestor conlangs. I'd love to know what different ways people have come up with when creating a derived conlang. So far, it seems to me that the most common method is to just apply a sound change to words, and make slight changes to grammar rules. Has anybody actually come up with something similar to the pre-classical Greek pronoun becoming the Attic Greek article -- i.e., the form of the word stays the same but develops a new function? The conlang I'm working on now is intended to be an old ancestral language, mainly for old manuscripts, etc.; I'm just wondering what other ways (besides sound change and slight grammatical alterations) people have come up with for deriving new conlangs from ancestral ones. On a related note, I find it interesting that most of the time, languages tend to simplify themselves rather than develop new structures, although there are always exceptions like the Greek pronoun becoming an article. The loss of the dative from classical Greek to modern Greek is one example. English apparently also used to be highly inflected, but today there are only traces left (such as in who, whom, whose). And even who, whom, and whose are starting to collapse into just "who" in colloquial English. My theory is that widespread acceptance of a language usually causes it to "degrade" or "simplify", losing a lot of old constructs in the process. But I've yet to come up with a plausible explanation for languages becoming *more* complex as they evolve. T