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Re: Subclause marking

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Sunday, June 26, 2005, 3:00
On 6/21/05, Yann Kiraly <yann_kiraly@...> wrote:
> > > 1. Is this marking really unambigious, or at least unambigous enough for a > natlang? > > 2. This marking system often creates initialy ambigious sentences, that > are clarified later on in the > clause by the marker u (for example: "I child e female u e see.", where > the second e marks the > whole preceeding clause). Is the human mind capable of easily > understanding such sentences on > one go, and do you know of any natlangs that produce similar situations?
Firstly, does the above mean something like "I see the girlchild" -- that is, I see the child that is female? Or does it mean "I see that the child is female"? If it's the first, consider extracting "child" from the subclause, to make "I female u child e see"; it'll save you from various sorts of possible ambiguity later on. How do you distinguish "I saw the man that the girl killed" from "I saw the girl that killed the man" from "I saw the man that killed the girl"? (Does your language have voice, for example? That could handle it.) The main tricky thing to watch out for is verbs that might have multiple valencies. That is, if "sold" can sometimes take a direct object and sometimes not, or if "eat" can take an object or be left without. Or, as Henrik pointed out, if the language has pro-drop. Keeping the valencies of verbs strict -- for example, distinguishing "I eat" from "I eat X" with an antipassive affix on "eat", and "I sold X" from "I sold X to Y" with a valency-increasing affix -- will save a lot of ambiguity. Anyway, I/we can give you a rundown of whatever sorts of ambiguity might arise, if you'll just provide a little more information. As Henrik noted, some ambiguity is natural -- a lot of languages put up with more ambiguity than English does -- so I figure you'll be alright either way. Good luck! -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00