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Re: Metaconlinguistic terminology et alia

From:Charles <catty@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 15, 1999, 18:29
Raymond A. Brown wrote:

> >> subject-verb-object doesn't seem exactly difficult to me. This word order > >> is favored by both English & Chinese which probably accounts for more than > >> half the inhabitants of the planet.
Creoles, too.
> I could have listed the > _very many_ languages from around the globe that use the SVO word order. > > The other common word order is SOV but this, it seems to me, is less common
Neat essay at: Roughly, SVO 40%, SOV 40%, VSO 15%, and all three of the OS orders combined, 5%.
> The other three word orders - VOS, OVS, OSV - are so unusual as normal, > unmarked word order (they may occur, of course, in inversions to mark some > feature such as topic and/or focus) that they are not worth considering for > a conIAL (but might be so for an artlang).
> FYI, personally _I_ do not find cases particularly difficult (I've been > used to Latin for almost half a century & to ancient Greek almost as long); > but in a conIAL one does not IMHO indulge in one's personal predilictions, > but address oneself to what is like to prove most acceptable to others.
Europe and perhaps all the Indoeuropean daughter languages have moved from OV+case to VO+prepositions. No real reason, just a sort of areal drift. They are logically equivalent, of course.
> Do Finnish children have no more or less trouble > acquiring their 17 cases than 1 and 2 year old anglophone children have > with word order?
Must be nearly the same, because the cases have become a little irregular, exhibiting I-think-it's-called sandhi phenomena. (?) But they are still 99% equivalent to prepositions.
> >The point is that there is no objective way to be able > >to determine whether one is more difficult than the other.
There could be some kind of quantifiable measure of irregularity, but case vs. prepositions would almost have to be equivalent. And even irregularity may be easier in pronunciation, I suppose.
> English phrasal are but one realization of a millennia old IE feature > whereby a new verb is formed by compounding a relational with a verb; they > are diachronically cognate with the (separable) compound verbs of German, > the compound verbs so liked by the ancient Greeks & Romans and which are > still, I believe, much alive in the modern Slavlangs. > > And I certainly didn't think up the notion of phrasal verbs. Most native > English speakers probably don't even notice their existence; but, I assure > you, non-native speakers do. For many years when we lived in south Wales > we had foreign language assistants living in with us. I'd always assumed > that what foreigners would find most difficult about English was our > spelling. Not a bit of it - that was merely a quaint English eccentricity. > No - what, without exception, they complained about were "English phrasal > verbs"!
> As phrasal verbs cause so much trouble, I would not suggest having them in > a conIAL.
In English, they often amount to entirely separate idioms. Basic English used them to "simplify" the verb system, with dubious results. Many natlangs have effectively simpler, more regular verb systems, e.g. Farsi has even a regular "to be".
> This thread began IIRC because we were speaking about conIALs.
I'm afraid it is like talking about religion. We start with brotherhood and end up killing each other!
> In any case - excuse the pun - you think a fair degree of reaular > morphological apparatus with a fairly flexible word order (I assume) is > better in a conIAL than minimal morphology and a more rigid word order.
I think either could work beautifully; all depends on the implementation. But current concensus is that creoles (SVO, mostly isolating) are best (= easiest) for 2nd language acquisition. Fashions can change, though.
> It would be nice if all terminology were clearly defined - but, alas, this > is not so (not even in 'new' disciplines like computer science :=( > > For example, my understanding of 'loglang' is rather narrower than this and > links it to clausal form logic. And I can assure you than the terms IAL > and auxlang are, in practice, imprecise.
I like precise ambiguity, myself ... The current state-of-the-art in a certain kind of loglang is KIF, which is really a Lisp dialect. Or pick another: