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Re: Juvenile fooleries (was Re: Neanderthal and PIE (Long!))

From:Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>
Date:Saturday, October 18, 2008, 21:53
It is possible to be ambiguous -- "(the existence of) battling gods was not
considered unusual". Which was why it took about 5 milliseconds to register.
Or, to remove that potential source of clarity, we can substitute a singular
noun in that position.
Though thank you for the explanation! Does anyone know any other language
with such a potential muddle?


On Sat, Oct 18, 2008 at 7:34 PM, Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>wrote:

> On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 22:29, Eugene Oh <un.doing@...> wrote: > > Christophe's post contained the clause "battling gods was not considered > > unusual", which made me a little confused for a while: since when did it > > become standard fare for humans to challenge the preeminence of deities? > > Then it struck me, after approximately 5 milliseconds. It also reminded > me > > of the other thread about participles. I gave it a brief thought, and > don't > > think Latin, Greek or any of the Romance languages have such an > ambiguity. > > Neither do Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Does German? Or is English is > only > > language with such a muddle? > > English doesn't even have that muddle, unless I'm misunderstanding > your ambiguity -- the interpretation "gods who do battle = not > unusual" needs a plural verb in my 'lect ("battling gods *were* not > considered unusual). > > German has inflections, so an attributive participle would need an > ending ("Streitend_e_ Götter waren nicht ungewöhnlich"). Also, its > nominalisations for "process or habit of verb-ing" look like > infinitives rather than participles -- compare "Singing is fun" with > "Singen macht Spaß" (literally, "to-sing makes fun"), removing that > possibility for ambiguity. You'd have "Streiten gegen die Götter war > nicht ungewöhnlich", or something similar. > > Plus, I don't think you can have a direct-object construction -- > something along the lines of "Insulting the gods is normal" would turn > either into "Die Götter zu beschimpfen ist normal" or "Das Beschimpfen > der Götter ist normal" -- the former with a clause as subject ("To > insult the gods is normal") and the second with a nominalisation of > the verb as subject, but with the original object turned into a > genitive ("Insulting of the gods is normal"). (The ambiguity there > being whether the genitive represents the original subject or the > original object of the nominalised verb.) > > Cheers, > -- > Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> >