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Indicating verbs valence? (Was: The disappeared conlang)

From:Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 23, 2002, 19:53
On Tue, 22 Jan 2002 18:50:41 -0500
Jeff Jones <jeffsjones@...> wrote:

> ObConLang: After not being able to parse the Tyl-Sjok text in the last > relay, I realized that 'Yemls had some ambiguities. > I wonder if there are any standard ways of dealing with > 1. when a verb may have 1 or 2 objects, how to tell if there are 2 object > phrases or just one
Perhaps you could have a 'valence' inflection (or particle, or whatever) on the verb which specifies how many and what kind of 'arguments' the verb takes. I learnt a lot about this kind of thing from David Bell's grammar of ámman îar (thanks David!). You can see the kind of valencies that his language inflects for at section 7.3 on You might need to read the section at too, in order to understand the dialect of English used in this grammar ;) Another idea, and one which I think is going into my as-yet-unnamed lang (call it ML, mature-lang, for the nonce, to distinguish it from its ancestor P(rimitive)L), is that the verb stem is modified for each 'valence'. For example, the stem for 'to cut', intransitive (whatever use that might be) is 'caer', while the usual transitive stem is, I think, 'coirin', the stem diphthong having undergone a systematic change from one grade of vowel to another (a flavour of i-mutation, in fact) If this sounds like the method of semitic languages, you're rightish. PL had a triconsonental root for each word, with different vowel values and affixes to form different kinds of words, including different valences of verbs. E.g. the root S`-g-(r) [(r)=voiceless 'r', S`=retroflex s] is for "cut" and we get "caer" < S`Ego(r), while "coirin" < S`egu(r)eX\i. In ML the 3-root system is no longer productive, and the ML forms are the reflexes (descendants) of these two PL forms... in theory. All I need now is some convincing sound-laws connecting them... In principle, you should not need to know PL grammar to know ML grammar, since by analogy there should be only a few conjugations of verbs, and a few simple rules for changing intransitive->transitive etc. Oh, I meandered... how unusual ;)
> 2. when both the main verb and the verb in an object clause allow a > variable # of objects, how to tell which verb an object belongs to
Once again, I don't know whether you language favours particles, inflexions, agglutinations, word order ... to signal things, but some ideas might be - qualify both vb & its args by one of a series of semantically empty particles; using a different particle for each verb. Or don't put the particles on the verb, and have them mean "what follow is/are the object(s) of the 1st verb", "... the 2nd verb ...", etc - word order rules: maybe objects should occur in the same order that their verbs appeared (or reverse order? ;) - gender & number agreement A better idea would be to use some kind of gender/number agreement and only use some uglier method when that is ambiguous?
> Jeff


The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>