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Verb Classes [fairly long]

From:Joe Mondello <rugpretzel@...>
Date:Saturday, June 10, 2000, 7:51
My language, Rodeys, recently underwent a sound change (courtesy of
LangMaker) which created a very large number of fairly treacherous homonyms.
I was, however, extremely pleased with the sound changes, so I decided to
disambiguate the homonyms by way of genders and verb classes.  The verb class
system I developed was at first influenced by Chinese measure words and a
recent post on this list by someone whose language I believe used
prepositional phrases with all of its verbs.  The verbs already made a
distinction between volitional and non-volitional, and this and the resulting
system interact nicely.  The classes are as follows:
1. Verbs of physical movement, e.g. going (somewhere), fleeing, approaching,
2. Verbs of movement.  This includes volitional actions such as picking
something up, as well as non-volitional actions such as water flowing.
3. Spoken actions.  Included are begging, offering, speaking, persuading,
etc.  a word such as 'persuade', however, could function in a different class
depending on case.  if someone used their feminine charms to persuade
someone, then the verb would probably be used with the 2nd class.
4.  Mental actions.  Thinking, believing, analysing, remembering, etc.
5. so-called "change" actions.  at first, this applied only to actions in
which the subject underwent some sort of major change, such as dying, aging,
growing, freezing, rusting, etc.
6. "Emotional actions".  loving, hoping (although in certain situations,
hoping could be considered a mental action), crying, smiling, laughing
(although these are physical actions as well as emotional actions, to
classify them as such would indicate that they weren't heartfelt.)
7. "Stative" verbs.  sitting, owning, tasting/smelling like something.  many
mental actions can also be categorized as stative with varying meaning, for
example, if one was said to  love someone using the "stative" class marker,
that love would have to be an essential part of someone's character.
8. "Sensory" verbs.  smelling, feeling, hearing, etc.

Each verb is made up of a stem and a suffix.  the suffix distinguishes
volitional/non-volitional.  In addition, each verb, when used in a sentence,
must be accompanied by an indicator of one of the above classes.  at first,
this class referred specifically to the action and its subject and served to
disambiguate homonyms, e.g.:

    poy  rede tonz an
   they **** boy  [7: stative]
    they are waiting for the boy.

    poy  rede tonz xa
    they **** boy  [4: mental]
    they are analyzing the boy.

These two sentences are disambiguated by the class markings alone.  Gradually
I added nuances to the meanings of non-ambiguous words by way of these class

    sey boleve  fa  ra
    she angered you [3: speech]
    she angered you (with what she said).


    sey boleve fa san
    she angered you [6: emotion]
    she angered you (by way of her emotional reaction)

Eventually I realized these so-called class markings could also easily apply
to the sentence's objects.  Take, for example, the 1st class marking,
denoting movement.  if the end result of an action is a direct object's
movement, why not use the "class markings" to indicate this.  I toyed with
suffixing the markings to indicate their use with objects, but settled on
suffixing the objects to refer them to the class markings, like so:

    soy sr~naziming mowe romr~alin sr~
    soy sr~-naz-imi-ng mowe romr~al-in sr~
    I   to-table-top   move book------->[1: travel]
    I move the book onto the table

The suffix -in indicates that it is the book that is undergoing movement.
Another, perhaps more clear example, would be:

    tam gedne sondal-in nal
    he  broke glass---->[5: change]

Which emphasized the fact that the glass is broken.  Without 'sondal' being
marked with the -in suffix, the sentence would mean that breaking the glass
fundamentally changed the sentence's subject.  A similar sentence would be:

    tam gedne sondal wam
    he  broke glass  [2: movement]

which simply indicates that it is because of some physical movement of ours
that the bottle broke.

can anyone find any serious flaws or ambiguities that such a system presents?
 Does any such system exist?  What sort of distinctions do existing verb
class systems make?

Joe Mondello