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Another Sketch: Palno

From:Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>
Date:Monday, August 25, 2008, 23:19
Palno is essentially an experiment in weird grammar, inspired by
postfix mathematical notation. It started out also being an attempt to
create the simplest unambiguous grammar possible, but that quickly
gave way to aesthetic considerations. It's still simple enough that
the complete grammar is only 3 pages, including inflection tables and
example sentences.
Palno has only three parts of speech (atoms, predicates, and
conjunctions), and only two basic rules:
1. Predicates follow their arguments.
2. Conjunctions are infixed between arguments.
Conjunctions and the 2nd rule are included to aid human
comprehensibility; the language is complete and unambiguous without

Atoms are approximately equivalent to nouns, predicates subsume all of
the functions of verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and adpositions and some
extra weird stuff, and conjunctions are as usual.
Predicates act like postfix mathematical operators to describe actions
on or relations between their arguments. Predicates are marked for
valency, and can take 1-3 arguments. Any collection of a predicate
preceded by the correct number of arguments forms a complete clause.

There are three types of arguments- atomic arguments, formed from
single atoms, and predicate arguments, formed from complete clauses,
and compound arguments, formed from groups of atomic or predicate
arguments bound by conjunctions.
Arguments are marked for number (singular or plural) and case
(nominative, accusative, or dative). The case marking allows the
argument of a predicate to appear in any order; this is extremely
useful for avoiding deep nesting of clauses, which can quickly get
confusing. Compound arguments mark each sub-argument separately with
the same case. Predicate arguments are marked on the final predicate.

Different predicates can share leading arguments (another use for
playing with argument order). For example, two clauses:
(dat) (acc) (nom1) (pred1) and (dat) (acc) (nom2) (pred2)
could be combined to yield:
(dat) (acc) (nom1) (pred1) (conj) (nom2) (pred2)
Essentially, the conjunction combines the partially-complete clauses
"(nom1)(pred1)" and "(nom2)(pred2)" into a single compound predicate
that takes dative and accusative arguments.

Some sample sentences:

I did the job. == Nen rabota d:elali. == Rabota nen d:elali.
"Nen" ("I") and "rabot" ("job") can be freely exchanged because of the
-a accusative case marking on "rabota".

The pencil is on the table. == Karan stola nat.
The predicate "nat" serves the same function as the preposition "on",
and takes a nominative argument for the thing which is on something
else, and an accusative argument for the something else.
This avoids any ambiguity in nesting prepositional phrases.
The sentence "I hit the cat on the table with a ball" is structurally
ambiguous over whether the cat had the ball or whether I used the ball
to hit the cat. Palno renders each case differently:
"I cat table-ACC on ball-ACC with-ACC hit." vs. "I cat table-ACC
on-ACC hit ball-ACC with."

I did a good job. == Nen rabot goroci:a d:elali.
The predicate "goroci" is marked in the accusative case in order to
make the entire clause "rabot goroci:a" ("good job") an accusative
argument for "d:elali" ("did").

I did the job well. == Nen rabota d:elali goroci.
The predicate "d:elali" is in nominative case (null marking) in order
to make the entire clause "Nen rabota d:elali" an argument for