|Date:||Tuesday, April 30, 2002, 12:40|
At 06:00 29/04/02, Ray Brown wrote:
> >In Latin, genitive (gen: give
> >birth to) was used for what we now call possessive and adjective.
>I understand 'possessive case', but I fail to understand 'adjective case'.
>The way "adjective" is normally used is to denote a different part of
>speech, not a noun case.
Adjective *is* a noun case. The noun marked at the adjective provides an
additional information on the quality or the state of its referent. Just
like the locative provides an information on where its referent is.
In most european languages, some specific kind of nouns are left unmarked
at the adjective (like 'blue'), but most nouns/verb roots are
'adjectivized' (i.e. marked at the adjective case) by an inflection, even
when the rest of the language has an isolating structure. This specific
treatment makes it look like a different part of speech, but it is not. Of
course, not all nouns can be used at the adjective, just like not all nouns
can be used at the locative. It must make sense.
You should abstract yourself a little more from your native language.
Linguists probably use the term 'adjective' with an hyper-specialized
definition that conlangers should not need.
That English speakers imagine adjectives are a different part of speech,
and that they imagine it so much that they create words which are used only
in this case (like 'big') will not make me accept that it is really
different. In the way they work, adjectives are nouns. I must be more
'clever' than natives to avoid my conlang the flaws of English. Here I'm
speaking about implementation issues (conlanging), not natlang analysis
>But to say that the Latin genitive was used for 'possessive' is only
>partially true. It had other important uses.
I know. I simplified to avoid providing a whole course on what genitive
was. You're far better than me for this task.
>We can, perhaps, give a general definition as:
>*a noun in the genitive case defines and delimits the range of reference of
>another noun or a verb"*
Probably we can.
> >Since I
> >implemented these two cases in my conlang, I thought I could use the word
> >genitive with the meaning 'generic case' to refer to unmarked cases.
>Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by "unmarked case". In some
>languages the nominative has no marker or ending; the oblique case are
>marked. But I guess who don't mean this.
I have already given examples. If you want me to repeat, me do.
With the 'head first' word order, we can unmark:
- 'a girl in bikini' => 'girl bikini'
- 'the girl's bikini' => 'bikini girl'
As you see, it fits perfectly with your definition of genitive.
It is what Chinese does. It is case-marking via word order. Or more
exactly, it is 'ellipsis of the case marker' by means of word order (and
> >>ok, so i can see you're writing about "semantic" cases, which we often call
> >>"roles" here.
> >I'm not sure the word 'role' is as used as you pretend in the conlang
> >world. Even less in this list. However, I understand what you mean.
>I'm not sure I understand the last paragraph. I don't see anything in the
>writer's words (Mathias' words, I think) to suggest he is _pretending_.
>I think he is trying to understand what are saying and that he understands
>that you are not talking about grammatical cases (nom., acc., gen. etc) but
>rather about semantic roles (agent, patient etc). The word "role" _is_ and
>_has been_ used on this list in this way. What other word would you use?
The problem is, I was talking about cases not roles. Except if you consider
that the genitive/locative cases are becoming roles when they are not
marked by a grammatical little word or an inflection. That cases are marked
by these specialized structures or by different structures that uses nouns
or verbs or else instead doesn't change anything. We are still dealing with
Again, you seem to use hyper-specialized liguistic vocabulary that is
useful for linguists but that makes things look harder than they are for
If you consider 'case' is only the name of case-markers and the meaning
they convey in the sentence is 'role', then case-markers should be named
role-markers. Then we should not at all talk about cases because it becomes
pointless, with role being the real name. As I see it, linguists created
the role terminology to teach students what cases are. Nominative is the
agent, accusative is the patient. We can't have two terminologies with
exactly the same definitions. If everyone on this list agree to use the
name role whenever they would have used the name case, then I would agree
to do the same. But you should tell me what is the name of roles associated
with the following cases: genitive, partitive, adessive, ablative,
allative, elative, inessive, illative, essive,, translative, abessive,
comitative, instructive. These Suomi cases probably refer to roles, don't they?
What other word would I use? Case. I don't need two words for the same thing.
>A conlang is a 'constructed _language_'; therefore, it seems to me entirely
>reasonable to use the same terminology as we do when talking about
>'natural' or 'real' languages.
I wouldn't say it's reasonable. Linguists *analyse* already existing
natlangs. Conlangers *create* languages. For a different activity we need
different tools. For a simpler activity we need simpler tools. A chemist
may need complicated tools to study which elements are in an apple-pie and
make an hypothesis on its original recipe, but my grandmother doesn't need
these tools to make an apple-pie. This is the difference I see between
linguistics an conlanging.
Another example? Writers don't need to take university litterature courses
to write good novels. Some writers may take these courses only because they
like litterature, but their writing abilities are not increased through
this (only reading others' novels can be helpful, and even here I'm not
sure. Once a certain level is reached, only practice is the key).
A scientist study something. An artist create something. Linguistics is a
science. Conlanging is an art. Not the same field.
>I know you dismiss the books of "university linguists" as "boring", but if
>you want people to understand what you are trying to say then I'm afraid it
>is useful to use vocabulary & terminology that most will understand.
When I make the effort to define all technical terms I use, I expect you
make the effort to read and memorize (for the time of reading my mail)
these new (simplified) definitions. I like to theorize, but not to theorize
with the wrong tools. If you feel interesting and useful for you to learn
academic linguistics, just do it, but you should not consider it's the only
efficient method. I won't use your methods but I will still study the
conlangs you obtain with it. The problem is, if you learn to analyse and
compare languages instead of learning to understand how languages really
work, from a creator point of view, I doubt you will create more than a
fictional dialect of a natlang.
To conclude, I would say we should stop discussing the merits of the
scientist vs artist methods. It will turn to a flamed thread.
PS. Remember I'm French. I have the level in English to convey information,
but not to convey style. So I'm sorry if I sound pretentious, or like I
want to make you think like me. It's not what I meant. It's just about
sharing information and point of view. About increasing each other's level.