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Some or any

From:Stephen DeGrace <stevedegrace@...>
Date:Sunday, May 26, 2002, 0:43

I want to put a question to the folks on this list,
since there's a really excellent concentration of
linguistic knowledge here :). On the NGL list we are
discussing Anna Wierzbica's (hope I got her name
right) semantic primes, and if/how they are
instantiated in Tokcir, the idea being that the
language ought to have a good, straight-forward way to
instantiate such terms if it is going to obey its
stated, if necessarily nebulous, mandate of "obeying
language universals".

A couple primes that we are dealing with now are
SOMEONE and SOMETHING. Tokcir has a word {yer} (the
curly braces are a parochial notation of ours to
indicate a Tokcir word or phrase in English text)
which can be used as a prefix {yer-} and means
some/any. You can force a word like {yerdin},
"something", to have the "something" meaning by using
the definite article {q yerdin} or the "anything"
meaning by using the indefinite article {òl yerdin},
otherwise you rely on context to disambiuguate where
possible. This has, however, been a matter of some
debate and I think it is likely to open again.

I think in our group we have possibly better strength
on the logical analysis of this matter than on
knowedge of actual linguistic usage and precedent.
Languages defintely have their own unique "logic"! As
the latter as well as the former has some bearing on
decisions we make, I was wondering what people might
be able to tell me about how universal is making a
lexical some/any distinction, and what are some ways
people know about for languages to make these kinds of
distinctions, especially if they differ from the
practise in English...

Thanks very much for any help you can offer!


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