Subject: Allnoun langs (was: Telona on the web at last)
|From:||Jonathan Knibb <j_knibb@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 19:51|
Stone Gordonssen wrote:
>>>[snip much highly interesting info about Nenshar]
After playing with this a bit, I decided that all objects would have a
natural state: animate or inanimate, and chose the prefix /-i/ [I] to
indicate a switch of state. Thus "dap" is a stone but "dapi" ["dap.I]
is a stone in motion.
I like this idea. You appear to be associating the idea of movement
with the idea of animacy - seems reasonable, but is there a fixed
group of attributes that makes up the concept of 'animate', or does
'dapi' simply mean 'a stone which is to be considered animate in some
contextually relevant way'?
Also, would you rely on a speaker's intuitions to class a word as
animate or inanimate, in which case some words might be interpretable
in either sense? Or would you attach animacy to each word rather like
a grammatical gender or noun class, in which case one might expect
counter-intuitive exceptions to the semantically obvious choice of
category (das Maedchen, semantically feminine but grammatically neuter
>>>I elected to use facial expression as a means of creating questions
and negation, graphing these as T and V in written Nenshar.
What a marvellous idea! I have occasionally played with the idea of
incorporating gesture or facial expression into a conlang ...
'grammaticalising' gesture as sign languages do, but weaving the
meaning into the fabric of the spoken language, rather like pitch in a
tone language, so that it would simultaneously play a conventionalised
role in phonetic or syntactic disambiguation, and also, on another
level, operate as it does in spoken discourse in any language. (But I
always gave it up as too complex ... and likely to lead to really ugly
>>>"up dapir shuta" /water-receptive stone-animate-ready hand-his-active/
is "He drops the stone into the water."
"Vup dapir shuta" = "He drops the stone not into the water."
"up dapir Vshuta" = "He not-drops the stone into the water."
"up dapir Tshuta" = "He drops the stone into the water?"
But - how is one to understand 'not-drops' (in 'up dapir Vshuta'), for
1) He does something which is other than dropping the S into the W.
2) He does something to the S which causes it to go into the W, but
without dropping it.
Effectively, this is a question of scope, I suppose.
>>>I then cheated by adding morphems for temporal referencing to allow me
to indicate sequencing in a series of "stills".
E.g. "Will you give me the book which you wrote?" might translate as
"koned nepu shuna akop shuseth konenir Tshusev akal."
["kon.ed "neb.u "Su-na ag\"op "Su-seth "kon.e-nIr "Su-nev ag\-"al]
/book-in-focus pen-in-use hand-your-active time-indefinite-past
hand-my-in-anticipation book-your-in-motion question hand-your-in-
My gut reaction to that is 'Now what are you going to use word order
for?' The sentence you just quoted could almost be written in Telona,
so closely does it follow my language's principles - and as far as I
can tell, its word order is almost entirely free, as long as you keep
'koned nepu shuna' under 'akop' and 'shuseth konenir Tshusev' under
'akal'. Would you use word order, as in Telona, to indicate the
topic-comment structure of the utterance? Or could it have other
>>>A recurring problem was abstracts. Would abstracts develop? How might
they develop? Can a real language deal with only concrete objects?
(Shades of Gulliver's travels!).
<smile of recognition> Oh yes ... the shades of the Telona abstract
nouns which I have forbidden to exist still haunt me in sleepless
hours ... but I plan to fend them off with the flexible yet
penetrating sword of metonymy - using a concrete noun to imply the
Telona doesn't feel the need for abstracts very often, though. The
syntactic kernel of Telona was formed at the time when I was first
coming to grips with, and developing a profound dislike of, the
ruthlessly abstractionalificationalising syntax of scientific language
(it frightens me now how easily I parse that pseudo-word). Telona is
specifically designed to avoid abstraction as much as possible.
(Notice how every Telona word refers to something? It's not
>>>So, Telona is much more elegant and developed than Nenshar.
<blushing> But Nenshar and Telona, I agree, are alternate
incarnations of a very similar underlying idea ... or not even an
idea, but an underlying impulse, a similar aesthetic of elegance.
[reply to jonathan underscore knibb at hotmail dot com]
'O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages...'
Auden/Britten, 'Hymn to St. Cecilia'