Re: Differences between "un" and "opposite"
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, April 26, 2005, 17:51|
On Monday, April 25, 2005, at 06:54 , Gregory Gadow wrote:
> I was tinkering with my conlang Glörsa last night, going over old notes
> dealing with prefixes. I found out that, very long ago, I had started
> using a prefix that meant "not", similar to English's "un-." Some time
> latter, I introduced a prefix that meant "opposite", similar to
> Esperanto's "mal-." I think they both can be kept, as a way to add some
> subtlety, but I want to check with some of the examples I put together.
Trouble is, IMO it will not add _subtlety_, but it could add ambiguity ;)
The plain fact is that there is not a single, simple concept of "opposite"
. Opposites may, for example, be _graded_ as in _big ~ small_ where there
are degrees of difference and, indeed, the same object may be described as
'small' in one context and 'big' in another. Other opposites may be
_ungraded_, for example _single ~ married_ where the contrast is either/or.
Some people use the term 'antonym' for graded opposites and
'complementary' for ungraded opposites.
But in actual fact it is a matter of controversy exactly how many types of
'opposite' one should usefully recognize in semantic analysis. If not a
semantic minefield, 'oppositeness' is certainly a semantic quagmire where
one needs to tread carefully IMO.
Esperanto's "mal-" prefix has (right IMO) come in for much criticism over
the past century. A search of the Internet should soon throw up sites that
deal with this. Reginald Dutton also gave his "Dutton World Speedwords" an
'opposite' affix; but it is no more consistently used than Esperanto's. I
give a critique of the Speedwords use of the 'opposite' affix (and related
On Monday, April 25, 2005, at 07:58 , Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Gregory Gadow <techbear@...> writes:[snip]
>> The "un" prefix is "es(a)-" (EsA), the "opposite" prefix is "ül(i)-"
>> Take the word "kalöfë" (kAlo'fe), "loyalty." The two prefixes would give
>> esakalöfë (EsAkA'lofe) = dispassion (no loyalty; loyalty to nothing)
>> ülikalöfë (ulikA'lofe) = treason (the opposite of loyalty)
Quite - that's the problem with 'opposites' - one person will see
'disloyalty' as the opposite of 'loyalty', another person will see
'treason'. Reginal Dutton gives "false" as the opposite of 'loyal'!
>> With "achsöme" (AtSo'mE), "belief", I get:
>> esachsöme (EsA'tSomE) = fear (no hope, hope in nothing)
> Well 'fear' is more of the opposite of hope.
Is it? For Dutton, 'fear' is the opposite of 'bravery'.
> No hope is simply no hope. Hopelessness.
Yes, I agree. No hope is, well, having no hope :)
> The opposite should have vaguely the same
> 'distance' to the neutral state, so 'fear' might fit for the opposite.
> ülachsöme (ulA'tSomE) = despair (the opposite of hope)
That's what I would think of as the opposite of hope also.
> This is a strong version of hopelessness.
??? I have no hope of going to the Moon (but I would like to have done),
but that does not fill me with despair. Surely 'despair' is the 'vaguely
the same distance' to the neutral state?
> I'd switch the prefixes
> here, possibly, if you have one, add an augment to the esachsöme
> 'no-hope' to get 'despair'.
The problem is IMO that "opposite" is just too vague a term. It seems to
me either one does more or less what natlangs do - or one needs to define
more precisely what semantic values are being defined (it will need more
than one affix).
Thinks: What does lojban do?
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]