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Comments on Tokana Reference Grammar

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Friday, December 11, 1998, 15:08
An astounding work!  Truly remarkable depth of coverage.
I think Tokana takes the prize for Most Documented Artlang to date.

A few bits that popped up as I was reading it:

hypertext: some of the "TO NEXT PAGE" links are definitely broken.

romanization:  I think it would be less confusing overall if final
"h" were retained, and it was simply a low-level phonological rule
that it isn't pronounced (but still affects stress), rather than using
the grave accent.  Several rules, not just the stress rule, would
be simplified thereby.

ilo: I look forward to seeing it.

ellipsis vs. gaps:  I am troubled by the blanket statement that
noun-phrase ellipsis in Tokana is generally allowed, coupled with
the use of gaps to indicate coreferencing pronouns in embedded
clauses.  That could lead to ambiguities like

        Han believes that (gap) saw (ellipsis)
        Han believes that (ellipsis) saw (gap)

I think that allowing a resumptive pronoun in embedded clauses
that have ellipsis would be very useful.  In Lojban, the resumptive
is required for precisely this reason, so as to allow ellipsis
to do its work.  Lojban uses a unique resumptive, but in Tokana,
the existing determiners could do the work --- except that they
have been preempted for precisely the opposite use!

Or is the rule about ellipsis applicable only to main clauses?

John Cowan    
        You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.
        You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.
                Clear all so!  'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)