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Re: Plurals in Maggel (jara: New Survey: Celtic Conlangs)

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 15, 2003, 14:08
En réponse à Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>:

> > I like that feature!! >
Thanks! It's a favourite of mine too ;))) . I got the idea when I decided that the word for "ship" (|euoshabgi| [Ue'sCEI]) will be masculine and that the word for "captain" will be derived from the expression "ship's wife" (which I cannot translate yet since I didn't find a nice word for "wife" yet :(( ). I thought it would be cool if the word, though probably more often applying to men than to women, kept its original feminine gender ;)))) .
> > Just curious: when you say that the number is known, do you mean that > the > number is known to the speaker, or that it is known in general > (fixed)? >
Neither. It means that there is an indication of number somewhere in the sentence (or before), even an unclear one. Like for gender, number marking is purely grammatically decided and doesn't depend much on context. I should have been clearer.
> If you say: "There are many people on the street", it is obvious that > the exact > number is unknown, and of no importance.
Except that in Maggel, "people" would there be in the plural definite, since there is the word "many" added, which marks number (even if it's not a perfectly known number, we already know that it's more than a few, and that's enough for Maggel ;)))) ). But in the sentence "The
> participants > of the congress voted against the proposal" the exact number may be very > well > known to the organization, but not to the speaker. In such case, do you > use the > plural definite or the plural indefinite? >
It would depend only if the number of participants (or at least a gross indication of number) has been given already in the text or not. If so, then it would be in plural definite. If not, in plural indefinite. As I said, the decision is purely grammatical and doesn't rely on context (there may be an exception or two, of course. Maggel wouldn't be Maggel without exceptions ;)) ).
> And in cases where *all* occurences are included, no matter their > actual > quantity? Take a sentence like: "The difference between humans and > animals is > that they can think" (let's not discuss the truth or untruth of this > statement). One might argue that *all* is a concrete number, too, and > the > possibility of use a definite plural could IMO at least be considered. > > How does Maggel deal with that?
In this case it uses a collective form, which is often a suppletive root or a not very productive derivation ;))) . I didn't work on it much yet because I didn't do much on derivation. But it's true that it would have been a nice use of the plural definite without former specification of number. It may be that the use of the plural definite for this use is allowed too, besides the use of collectives.
> > And one last question: are nouns in Maggel also divided into these > four > numbers? >
What do you mean? When it's about number, nouns in Maggel are divided into three classes: countable, uncountable, and plural. Countable nouns are what they are, countable ;))) . They thus can appear in any of the four numbers, singular, dual, plural indefinite and plural definite. Uncountable nouns describe things which can be measured, but not counted (sugar, salt, water, etc...). In Maggel they are grammatically plural, and can appear only in the plural indefinite and definite (used when a measurement has been done ;)) ). Plurals are strange nouns, semantically countable but grammatically uncountable. They thus exist only in the plural numbers, but have (unless they are specifically counted, at least by a term meaning "various") a singular meaning! (an example is |mesha| [mE'h*&]: house, semantically singular but grammatically plural) And of course, there's the peculiarity that the base form of feminine nouns is plural indefinite rather than singular (the singular is derived from the plural rather than otherwise ;)) ). Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.