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From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Friday, March 26, 1999, 20:34
The recent flameskirmish (I don't think it's quite a *war*, more like a
brief skirmish) around prescriptivism, etc., as well as a joking remark
by someone about having a "haughty" register in conlangs got me to
thinking about conprescriptivism.  I seem to remember that Elet Anta has
a fictional language academy, but does anyone else have one?

Watya'i'sa doesn't actually have a formal language academy, more like
the informal system of English prescriptivism.  I've discovered at least
one "incorrect" usage, the double-incorporation.  In "correct" W., a
simple instrumental noun can be incorporated into the verb.  By simple I
mean unmodified (except by an inalienable possessive suffix).  Thus, "He
hit her with a stick" could be "He stick-hit him", (I have no word for
"stick", so I'll just adapt the word as "pisati'ka'"):
Ti-taqkapa'ta's-naka pisati'ka'li' would be the unincorporated form
(ti-ta-q-kapa'-ta's-naka pi-sati'ka'-li' =
gender.7-stick-instrumental), which could be incorporated as
Qasatikakapa'ta's-naka (note that the instrumental applicative is

Now, there are several constructions which promote the object to
instrumental, such as anti-passive.  Normally, the instrumental is then
made into perlative.  It may also be integrated into the verb, while the
other instrumental remains.  Now, here's where the colloquial and the
"correct" differ.  In "correct" W., no subsequent incorporation can
occur, unless the previous instrumental is unincorporated and changed to
perlative.  However, colloquial W. allows the new instrumental to be
incorporated, thus:
Taqsatikapa'ta's ti'squ'nali (i'squ'na is the free third person pronoun)
could become Qisqunasatikakapa'ta's-naka.  The "correct" form would be
Taqisqunakapa'ta's-naka pisati'ka'yi' (which is actually controversial -
there are those who say that free pronouns should never be integrated
into the verb)

Note that on all these, the accusative and nominative clitics are
optional, and only kept to make gender clear.

Incorporation is quite common in colloquial speech, but tends to be
avoided in formal speech.  The reason is that incorporated nouns lose
their gender prefix and their pitch patterns.  By dropping gender
prefixes, there is the possibility of confusion, as in my
double-incorporated example, which could mean "He hit HIM with a stick"
or "He hit HER with a stick".  Also, there are several nouns which are
distinguished only by the pattern of pitch, such as _saga'_ and _saga`_
(word and prophecy).

"It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father
was hanged." - Irish proverb
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