Corpses (was Re: Gender in conlangs.....)
|From:||Herman Miller <hmiller@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, November 5, 2003, 4:26|
On Sun, 2 Nov 2003 21:52:24 -0500, Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
>My Cwendaso/Tovláug do not have that much knowledge about what happens
>after death. They do believe that the soul/spirit/whatever survives, i.e.
>it is not annihilated, but that is about all they know. They have a
>profound reverence for human life in general, and they treat corpses and
>human bones with the utmost care and reverence, and have no fear of
>them. They might possibly gender human remains as epicene to give them the
>dignity of something human and also so that corpses can be made male or
>female by verbal agreement. Or they might also gender them as inanimate to
>show up the contrast that the corpse used to be a living, breathing human
>being, and now it is most definately not (although it is still most
>definately human, and will never cease to be.)
That's an interesting contrast with Zireen cultures, which also affects
their languages. A Zireen ceases being a Zireen at death -- a dead Zireen
must be referred to as "the corpse of a Zireen" (or "a Zireen who has
died", depending on context). While "a dead Zireen" is grammatical, it can
only refer to a líve Zireen who is for some reason (by analogy or metaphor)
thought of as being "dead".
This grammatical complexity is also true of other living beings; the
example in my language notes is "a dead dragon".