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THEORY: Parts of speech, was: Syntaxy-Turvy

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Thursday, June 29, 2000, 13:54
On Wed, 28 Jun 2000 12:50:05 -0400, Ed Heil <edheil@...> wrote:

>>===== Original Message From Constructed Languages List >
>>Interestingly, it seems that verbs tend to denote dynamic situations >>with potentially several participants, whereas nouns more typically >>point to relatively stable entities with usually only few features >>attributed to them in each occurrence. So verbal syntax is usually >>richer and requires some means to distinguish more roles. Can this be >>reversed, I wonder? > >I'm not sure that's a matter of reality or whether that's just the way we
>forced to think by having verb-central language. > >I see the (conceptualized) world as consisting of an unspeakably complex >webwork of entites linked to each other; some of these entities are
>and others are states/processes/events,
Therefore, we agree here: the reality (or the cells of our conceptual grids) CAN be classified into dynamic processes, static situations, more or less stable objects, qualities, etc. But then, lexemes in *any* language can be classified this way. The difference is rather if/how this classification is used in a specific language to sort words into groups worth terming them 'parts of speech'. If you proceed from lexemes like I did above, it is only natural to call 'nouns' or 'substantives' the class where most terms denoting stable objects belong, whatever their syntactic/paradigmatic qualities. It seems that syntactic classification of words is much less uniform across languages, and can be unrelated to the 'lexemic' one.
>and traditional syntax requires us to >choose a state/process/event as a focus and discuss the one or more things >which are linked to it.
>I'm not sure that it's *inherently* more difficult to choose a single
>and discuss the several states/processes/events it is involved in. > >But it certainly is unfamiliar!
I suspect very much that this is merely a function of stability. It seems that most features attributed to 'lexemic substantives' are actually included in the concept of the class of objects denoted by the given word (e. g. _people_ typically have _heads_, _legs_, etc.). More dynamic entities (denoted by 'lexemic verbs') have more 'modular' structure, that is, their important features are participants different in each particular instance. In other words, an object's instability in the real world correlates with the number of details that must be attributed to it, to obtain a meaningful description, on the level of a sentence (a dynamically generated linguistic entity) rather than simply definition of the term (a relatively fixed linguistic entity).
>You will notice that in an action-chain, where A performs action 1 on B,
and B
>performs action 2 on C, and C performs action 3 on D, who then performs
>4, it's not *inherently* more difficult to phrase it as: > >(A 1) (1 B 2) (2 C 3) (3 D 4) --- the Taxy way -- > >than to phrase it as: > >(A 1 B) (B 2 C) (C 3 D) (D 4) -- the English way.
This looks correct. But: it seems that you define parts of speech as syntactic classes, which leads to a question more difficult for me: what are 'nouns', 'verbs', etc. from a purely syntactic point of view? I feel that you invented a totally original system, but I'm trying to understand what exactly is 'inverted' in it, as compared to e. g. English. (And I think you'll still need more diverse markers for what is attributed to 'lexemic verbs' compared to 'lexemic nouns'.) Basilius