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Re: GROUPLANG: Pronouns

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Monday, October 19, 1998, 9:07
Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> Why? Because the languages you know use these features mandatorily? > But that doesn't mean making them optional is artificial. Maybe a dead > language we didn't discover (I'm sure there are many of them) used gender > distinction optionally, or optional number (that's not far from Mandarin, is > it?). Saying some feature in language is artificial because you never saw it > has no value. I think you're more naturalistic than nature itself. If we > manage to create a language that is not more difficult to learn than > natlangs, then it will be as natural as another one, as odd as its features > may seem.
Well, you have a point there, but having a *lot* of optional features is unusual at least, possibly un-naturalistic. I'd rather either have these features mandatorily, or not have them at all. Having a few of these optional certainly would make for an interesting language, but having all of these being optional just strikes me as being odd. Yes, I can think of some languages with optionality in the pronouns. In my dialect of English, for instance, number is optional in the second person. Second person plural can be you or y'all. Other than being more common in informal situations, I can't see any pattern to its use. But also, I'd like to have some degree of suppletion in the pronouns, which makes optionality in those features with suppletion less likely.
> Here again, I find you too much naturalistic. You're a little bit > too much oriented towards a particular way of thinking. If other ways can > function, why not trying them? Why should we keep that ergative-absolutive > system as an absolute we must obey? I've heard of some languages that have > differents cases for the subject of an intransitive verb, for the subject of > a transitive verb and for the object of a transitive verb (sometimes more > than one case for each). It is neither ergative nor accusative and the case > system that was proposed is very near to it.
Well, I was going to suggest a triple system like that, but I don't really like it very much. I see no reason to have a seperate intransitive case, since it never needs to disambiguated from transitive cases. Anyways, the case system as proposed seems too "computer-like", so to speak. -- "It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." - Irish proverb ICQ: 18656696 AOL: NikTailor