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Re: Another Sketch: Palno

From:Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 26, 2008, 3:04
On Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 10:04 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:
> On Mon, 25 Aug 2008 19:19:25 -0400, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...> > wrote: > >>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 >>them. > > Given that clauses can be zero-converted to arguments just as atoms can, is > there really a distinction between atoms and predicates? Why not analyse > atoms as 0-ary predicates?
Mm... because I didn't think of that? It probably is a valid analysis, if you allow single atoms to be sentences.
> One change that doing this would make to your grammar as presented is that > an atom or a conjunction of atoms standing alone would become a complete > clause, where it's not now. But I don't see much else. Maybe you mean > there to be other distinctions.
There is the issue of what, exactly, the sentential meaning of a standalone atom would be. Probably just an assertion "x exists". I think it's useful to make the distinction between things that represent individual noun-like ideas, and things that describe relations between other simpler ideas, though.
> How do you deal with nominal sorts of notions that "want" to have an > argument, or verbal sorts of notions that don't "want" any? (The former IMO > is a reasonable interpretation of "obligatorily possessed nouns" in langs > that have such. Weather verbs are in many langs a good prototype of > argumentless verbs.)
I leave them out. Weather verbs, for example, don't exist- rather than saying "It's raining", you'd say "rain falls". I can't think of any such concept that can't be re-lexed in a more convenient fashion (though I'd be fascinated to be presented with some).
> I had an engelang whose grammar was of a similar sort, and eventually I got > really tired of the inelegance and inflexibility of different fixed argument > sets and return values, as it were, of various types of word. Just as Palno > seems to be doing, {nouns} (including those with arguments, like 'mother > (of)') returned references to the object, but {verbs} returned references to > an event nominalisation (when subordinated). I had {prepositions} set up to > take two arguments, just as yours do, but they returned the located noun > instead of some kind of event nominalisation, to make them maximally useful > when subordinated: so _pencil table on_ would be 'the pencil on the table', > not 'that there is a pencil on the table'. So klugey.
Can you elaborate on what's klugey about it? Or is it just an un-analyzable matter of aesthetic preference?
> So. Do you have a way of rendering relative clauses, or anything like them?
Yes. There are two ways of doing it, one which conforms to the postfix parse tree, and one which temporarily sets up its own parsing environment. Sample sentence: I like people who eat apples. Method one uses a determiner to pick out the relevant case of the argument that's being modified: I ((people these) apples-ACC eat)-ACC like. Method two uses a relative pronoun to indicate that you should pause the current clause and start parsing a new one, and sets of the relative clause with commas: I people-ACC, who apples-ACC eat, like. The Palno forms are as follows. Method one: Nen tcelokoi eti pona :esata agapit. Method two: Nen tcelokai, kotor pona :esat, agapit. I'm pretty sure every case can be handled with the first form, but the second form I think is more generally human-comprehensible.
> What happens if you want to leave components unspecified?
In some cases, there are derivational affixes which alter the valency of predicates, but these always eliminate datives and then accusatives in order. For greater flexibility, there's a null proform to fill in the empty spaces.
> If > 'I did the job well' == ['I did the job'].NOM 'good', > then what is 'it is good that I did the job'?
There's probably a more elegant way of going about it, but the currently-employed circumlocution is equivalent to "I did the job, and that is good." == "Nen rabota d:elali et tot goroci".
> And, it looks like your preposition-like words are showing the same > schizophrenia wrt interpretation of subordinated predicates that mine were. > With reference to > >>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." > > check my work, if you would: are these > I [[cat table-ACC on] ball-ACC with]-ACC hit > resp. > [I [cat table-ACC on]-ACC hit] ball-ACC with ?
That's correct.
> Anyway, it seems that here you're failing to recognise a polysemy of English > "with", that coincidentally has just come up on the list: check the thread > "Help with grammatical term". In the first "with" is 'accompanied by', the > comitative; in the second it's 'using', the instrumental. The syntactic
I recognized it, I just didn't bother to correct it, 'cause the structure still works, and that's easiest sort of example to think of.
> ambiguity you mean to get at here is a valid one, but the example is kinda > tarnished by using a semantically different prepositiony relation in each.
Try this example, then: "Frodo of the Nine Fingers of Hobbiton"- can mean Frodo of Hobbiton's Nine Fingers, or Hobbiton's Frodo of the Nine Fingers / Frodo of the Nine Fingers and of Hobbiton Palno fixes this by using the structures: [Frodo Nine-Fingers-ACC of] Hobbiton-ACC of. vs. Frodo [Nine-Fingers Hobbiton-ACC of]-ACC of. / Frodo Nine-Fingers-ACC and Hobbiton-ACC of. -l.