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Re: More thoughts about S11 grammar

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Thursday, March 24, 2005, 20:01

I'm going to answer two posts in one mail to keep the trafic low.
Plus there's a lost reply at the end (it was sent privately to Paul by

H. S. Teoh writes:
>... > > That was actually my first idea. However, such a sentence may be used > > as relative clause where you want the referent to be the noun that is > > verbalised. This causes problems. This was especially a problem for > > a verbaliser expressing location or possession. Therefore I decided > > that there will be no verbalisers in order to make relative clauses > > straight-forward. > > Ah OK. I didn't remember exactly how your relative clauses were > constructed.
Very easy: John-EVID-eat = John is eating. John-EVID-eat REL = the eating John / John, who is eating What is the topic NP in the normal clause is the referent NP in the relative clause. Now, assume a verbaliser (I'll mark everything with * to show there won't be a verbaliser): *John-EVID-be=butcher. = John is a butcher You could translate 'John, the butcher' now: *John-EVID-be=butcher REL But how about: 'the butcher John is'? This become more overt/less awkward in English with a 'have'-verbaliser: *John-EVID-have=book. = John has a book. The easy thign: *John-EVID-have=book REL = 'John, who has a book' But try to translate: 'John's book' = 'The book that John has.' You cannot refer to 'book' here.
> Note, however, that _yi4si_ means "meaning" or "intention", so _you3 > yi4si_ is more accurately understood as "to be meaningful". As in, > "how meaningful!".
Aha, ok!
> (Also, I believe _yi4si_ should be tone 4 rather than 2?)
Oops, right! :-/
> I don't know how verbalising this construction is... in my (untrained, > biased) native mind, it is more an adjectival construction than a > verbal one.
I always take a very simplifying view on Mandarin grammar because it's structures are just so nice, thus I take verb = adjective.... :-))) Sorry.
> > I wanted to use this in expressions like 'I am cold': in many German > > dialects this is 'kalt haben' (haben = have), so there's an > > interesting link, too. I'd distinguish: 'coldness-be' and > > 'coldness-have'. > > Nice. I've never thought of that. Ebisédian would use something like > _cold-LOC I-CVY_, literally "I am in cold".
Ah, yes, this locative construction is very similar to the 'have' construction (that's the Finnish and Russian way :-)).
> >... > > 'hen3 you3 yong4'. > >... > (Unrelated pedantic note: the phrase is really _hen2 you3 > yong4_ due to tone sandhi. Generally speaking having two tone-3 > syllables side by side is undesirable.)
Those were the tonemes, not the exact tones, sorry, I should've marked that. Being a learner, I prefer to use toneme numbers, because then I know for new words how to pronounce them in a different tonemic context (of course there are monsters like 'bu2/bu4' and 'yi1/yi2/yi4' that one still has to learn seperately) H. S. Teoh also writes:
>... > even "captain-sends report-carried king-convinced" - the captain > sends a report that convinced the king. Notice how the English > requires two clauses whereas the S11-equivalent accomodates it in > the basic sentence structure.
Very nice! From my impression of Mandarin's SVCs, however, I'd intuitively understand this as '... to convince the king' / '... in order for the kind to be convinced', but I don't exactly know. Maybe it could mean both and for an ambiguation, you'd need a coordination/subordination in between. I don't know yet how to define what exactly the serial verb constructions do in S11 -- 'link semantically in a vague way' seems a bit, well, vague...
>... > This is my analysis of it, anyway. We'll see what Henrik says. :-)
I fully agree. But I did answer already, actually. Did that posting never arrive? ... [checks the archives] ... NO! IT DIDN'T! ... [checks the outgoing mail folder] ... shoot, I replied privately to Paul while meaning to post it here. Here it is (I think H.S. said the same, only more concise...): --------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Sherrill answers my posting:
>... > Sorry to not really be replying to the post, but a few nights ago > something occurred to me about your system that I thought I might > share (and hope hasn't been said already).
No, this hasn't been discussed here, I think. :-)
> Your goal is to get rid of the arbitrary line between arguments and > adjuncts, but does using suppletive verb forms get in the way of this?
I hope so.
> I think you said that, for example, there'd be one verb for "to > read" and then a second for "to be read".
> Neither of these requires the other, but if one wishes to express > the transitive concept "x reads y", one would have to phrase it > "x-reads" and not, say, "x-reads y-is.bought".
Yes. But 'y-reads y-is.bought' might mean something as well. The SVC structure only vaguely connects the listed concepts -- that's basically the point: there's a clear decoupling between the two verbs involved. It's like a very vague 'and' between the concepts. Like in Chinese, where the subject in SVC is usually coreferential (as in most other language with SVC that I know of). These verbs act on and modify each other, while you can still grasp the meaning by adding 'and' between them: verb 1: wo3 hui2 jia1. I get.back home. verb 2: wo3 lai2 jia1. I come home. both: wo3 hui2 lai2 jia1. I get.back come home. 'I come back home.' In S11, SVC is a bit more generic in allowing the (one) noun-argument to be different from verb to verb.
> But if one then wanted to express, for example, "x reads y before > dinner", one would presumably use the construction, "x-reads > dinner.follows", where the verb "follows" isn't stipulated > by the verb "read".
Let me use 'I eat dumplings with chopstips' as an example first. I think it's principally the same, further in S11, it's structure is equivalent to your example, and, most importantly, I happen to know all the words for a Mandarin example off-head. :-))) As I said, the two 'read'-verbs are not required to be used together -- they are two different verbs. The same holds for 'eat'. Each verb introduces a specific role in the clause. For 'I read a book', you'd need two roles: the one who reads and that which is read. For 'I eat with chopsticks', you'd need the eater and the instrument. And for 'I eat dumplings with chopsticks', you need three roles. The idea is a maximum split of single, yet unrelated, roles in the language. It really does not matter than two of them happen to be arguments to the same verb in English (or so I think). Mandarin shows how the SVC relates the concepts: wo3 yong4 kuai1zi chi1 jiao4zi. I use chopsticks eat dumplings. 'I eat dumplings with chopsticks.' S11 will introduce all the roles in a similar SVC construction, only the coreference of the subjects of the verbs 'yong4' and 'chi1' is not part of the grammar -- all the roles are simply listed. The order will also be different, because the topic is 'I' and its verb is 'eat'. So the structure will be: I-EXPERIENCE-eat dumpling-be.eaten chopstick-use. Any of the three parts is optional and the order is determined by identifying topic and focus. Now your example 'I read a book after dinner.' In Mandarin, 'dinner' probably needs to be use converted to 'after the end of the dinner', since 'dinner' is not *point* in time, but 'after' needs that to operating on. So if I want to be precise in S11, it's probably more complicated. I don't know yet. But the sentence structure is essentially the same as with the chopsticks. :-)
> For far, there's not much of a problem, until you approach a case > that's somewhere in the middle, for example "x gives y to z" = > "x-gives y-is.given z-receives". Contrast that with "x sends y to > z", or something, = "x.sends y-is.sent z.receives". > > At this point, you have to choose whether the two verbs for > "receive" are different (and therefore presumably take part in the > suppletion of the other verbs; i.e. you have one set > give/be.given/ and another send/be.sent/receive.mail) or > not.
Exactly. One indication may be that in 'x sends y to z', it is not guaranteed that z really receives. However in 'x gives y to z', it is. Anyway: I think you're right in that the determination of roles will not be easy.
> In the first case, what you end up with is essentially a trivalent verb set: > to express all three entities that take part in the action, you have to use > specifically those three verbs, whereas to show the involvement of other > entities you are more free in your verb choice. You then have an arbitrary > distinction between nouns that must be paired with verbs from the suppletive > set (the equivalent of arguments) and those that need not be (the equivalent > of adjuncts). Even if you decide to have a catch-all verb for "to.receive" > and all other such roles, all you've done is made the decision that all your > verb sets are at most ditransitive. There's still an arbitrary line between > which verbs must complement each other and which needn't.
The choices about which roles to collapse and whice ones not to certainly have to be made. However, there are no fixed groups of verbs. No verbs requires the use of another. All verbs are suppletive forms, so there is ideally no link, neither syntactically, nor morphologically, nor derivationally. Therefore, you cannot find groups and say they are arguments of a higher-level predicate concept Nor can you exclude others from such a predicate and declare them adjuncts. The point is that the verbs are unrelated in grammar. Of course, you might still find a statistical likelyhood of one verb used in the same clause as another verb. And I think for transitive verbs in, say, English, it is typical that one argument is a pronoun. Since S11 is pro-drop, you could drop the whole noun-verb part for it. I hope by going to the extreme, I will end up with a very different claus structure by this.
> So although arguments, a given number of NPs required by a given > verb, don't exist as such, there seems to be an equally arbitrary > set of verbs that must come in pairs/triples/whatever (assuming one > wants to express all the relevent roles).
There are definitely less specific and more specific roles. 'happen at a certain place' would clearly by a less specific one while 'vacuum-clean' (let's assume I have this verb...) is a more specific one. I hope S11 will not end up being a relex of German or English verb arguments, though. :-) In the last thread about S11, it was feared that few of S11's verbs would become generic case markings soon, while keeping a set of specific verbs to encode the predicate meaning. I don't want this, but we'll see how S11 feels when some vocab is generated. :-)
> Hoping that his meandering logic has been followed,
Oh yes, it has! :-) You hit by deepest fears.... --------------------------------------------------------------------- And I'm sure I mixed up some tones again. :-/ **Henrik


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