Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re:Chevraqis: a sketch)
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, August 13, 2000, 19:41|
"H. S. Teoh" wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 13, 2000 at 12:56:12PM +0200, Mangiat wrote:
> > BTW, I, too, think Greek 'So:krate:s' is ungrammatical. I have never found a
> > Greek proper name without the article. Well, I think Greek uses a lot
> > articles. Indeed I've never studied all its declension patterns, you can
> > work well even if you remember the declension of 'ho, he, tò'.
> Yeah, actually, now I recall my Greek professor emphatically saying in
> class, "Use the article with proper names!". Some manuscripts, he said,
> may omit the article, but as a rule, *we* were never supposed to omit the
No, it really isn't. Here're a couple examples from different authors of
Attic Greek in different works:
(a) '... ho:s emoikheuen Eratosthene:s te:n gunaika eme:n...'
'... that Eratosthenes committed adultery with *my* wife..."
(Lysias, Oration I, Steph. 91.4)
(b) 'epeide: de Simo:n me eis toiaute:n anangke:n kateste:sen....'
'But since Simon has placed me in such a necessity..."
(Lysias, Oration III, Steph. 96.3)
(c) 'IO:N: ou ma ton Dia, ou panu, o: So:krates, ho:s ge talethes eire:sthai'
'ION: Like, ommigod, no way, Socrates, to tell the truth' (okay, I had
fun with that one) (Plato, Ion, 535b)
(d) 'Nomothetai d' egenonto Zaleukos te Lokrois Epizephuriois...'
'Laws were given by Zaleukos to the Epizephyrian Locrians...'
(Aristotle, Politics, II.IX.5)
These pages were chosen more or less at random. It seems fairly clear that
an article was not required for proper names. In certain cases, with famous
people, an article *could* be used -- hence 'ho So:krate:s', 'ho Home:ros'
> As for the Greek article... it's actually quite an awesome thing. It's
> much more flexible than, for example, the English article, especially when
> used as a pseudo-pronoun (which, IIRC, is where it developed from).
No, it had been fully a demonstrative pronoun. Nothing pseudo- about it.
> To say something like "the woman who had been taught", you can simply use the
> feminine article with a participle: "he: pepaideumene:". (Literally, "the
> one (feminine) having been taught (perfect ptcple).) Makes for nice,
> compact sentences! :-)
Indeed, this is an aspect of Greek I have long found quite beautiful...
> I'd love to know what different ways people have
> come up with when creating a derived conlang.
Mark Rosenfelder has done a lot of work on the languages related to
his Verdurian. If you're interested to see how he did it, go to
and go to the section about Virtual Verduria.
> The conlang I'm working on now is intended to be an old ancestral
> language, mainly for old manuscripts, etc.; I'm just wondering what other
> ways (besides sound change and slight grammatical alterations) people have
> come up with for deriving new conlangs from ancestral ones.
Well, my active project, Phaleran, derives from Tlaspi, a trader language.
I've only really worked on the phonological shifts: Tlaspi's three phoneme
inventory of /i u a/ doubles by acquiring phonemic length, which is a shift
common to all Tlaspian languages; Phaleran innovates further, by developing
allophonic [e] and [o], and then further makes these phonemic, later. It
also absorbs a whole raft of glottalic consonants from C'ali [ts'ali], a Non-
Tlaspian language that rose to preeminence at one point.
> On a related note, I find it interesting that most of the time, languages
> tend to simplify themselves rather than develop new structures,
> My theory is that widespread acceptance of a language usually causes it to
> "degrade" or "simplify", losing a lot of old constructs in the process.
> But I've yet to come up with a plausible explanation for languages
> becoming *more* complex as they evolve.
Not really. If all languages simplified, that would beg the question: "How
complicated would the original ancestor language have to be?" After at
least 100k years of language, the ancestor would have to be virtually
infinitely complex to allow the kinds of complexity that we see in today's
Moreover, in languages with extremely long written records, like Egyptian,
you can actually *see* the language cycling through predominantly fusional,
then isolating and then agglutinating, where the complexity of the language
shifts from syntax to morphology and back again.
Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."