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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 affixes) on: ================================================ On Monday, April 25, 2005, at 07:58 , Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Hi! > > Gregory Gadow <techbear@...> writes:
>> The "un" prefix is "es(a)-" (EsA), the "opposite" prefix is "ül(i)-" >> (uli). >> >> Take the word "kalöfë" (kAlo'fe), "loyalty." The two prefixes would give >> me: >> >> esakalöfë (EsAkA'lofe) = dispassion (no loyalty; loyalty to nothing) >> ülikalöfë (ulikA'lofe) = treason (the opposite of loyalty) > > Hmhm.
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? Ray =============================================== =============================================== 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" ]