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Re: New Conlang

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 12, 2004, 21:32
On Tue, Oct 12, 2004 at 06:54:38PM +0100, Ray Brown wrote:
> On Monday, October 11, 2004, at 08:44 , Mark J. Reed wrote:
> Not as far as I am aware. I dare say some odd linguistic school may use > one or other term in an esoteric way. But 'topic' is used as a > conventional label in the Philippine languages for an overtly marked NP > that exhibits some, but not all, of the typical properties of subjects. As > H. S. Teoh writes only of NPs, I wonder if he has that usage in mind. > However, by making 'topic' and 'focus' synonymous, I'm not at all sure > what he does mean.
Yes, I guess what I meant was this usage: i.e., exhibiting some of the typical properties of subjects. I was trying to avoid using "subject" because the case system of the conlang doesn't really have that concept, being essentially a reduced form of the Ebisédian case system. But in retrospect "subject" is probably more appropriate than "topic" or "focus". [...]
> >I *believe*, > >however, that a "focus" is a new element in the conversation, appearing > >for the first time in the sentence in question, while a "topic" > >is an already-established element that may not even be explicit > >in the sentence under discussion. > > That's basically it.
I see. Now the NP in question, although it's sorta like a subject, can sometimes behave a bit like a focus. For example: san tse ka hamra huu na aram. man you ORG see I RCP see-COMPL "I see you, sir." Lit. "You sir, I see." Another example: tse nei haara sa dutan? you RCP-fem noise CVY hear "Do you hear that noise?" haara sa tse nei dutan? noise CVY you RCP-fem hear "That noise: did you hear it?" This looks like the fronting mechanism you describe later in your post. [...]
> In short, I was puzzled by H. S. Teoh's description of his new conlang > because: > (a) topic & focus have different meanings in a linguistic context; > (b) neither topic nor focus need be a NP; > (c) the analysis of a sentence into topic/comment is not always > straightforward; > (d) sentences do not always have focus.
I guess it should be "subject" then. Perhaps I should just accept that subjects in this conlang necessarily behaves in odd ways sometimes, because of the fact that it uses an Ebisédian-like case system. :-) In conclusion, perhaps I can say (in a loose sense) that the indicative is SVO (or more precisely SVOC, where C is the verb complement), the interrogative is SOV, and the subjunctive is VSO. With the caveat, of course, that the distinction between S and O is blurry, as they can be interchanged without changing the meaning of the sentence. T -- INTEL = Only half of "intelligence".


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>