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R: Re: Degrees of volition in active languages

From:Padraic Brown <pbrown@...>
Date:Sunday, August 13, 2000, 23:06
On Sun, 13 Aug 2000, H. S. Teoh wrote:

>On Sun, Aug 13, 2000 at 12:56:12PM +0200, Mangiat wrote: >[snip] >> BTW, I, too, think Greek 'So:krate:s' is ungrammatical. I have never found a >> Greek proper name without the article. Well, I think Greek uses a lot >> articles. Indeed I've never studied all its declension patterns, you can >> work well even if you remember the declension of 'ho, he, tò'. > >Yeah, actually, now I recall my Greek professor emphatically saying in >class, "Use the article with proper names!". Some manuscripts, he said, >may omit the article, but as a rule, *we* were never supposed to omit the >article. > >As for the Greek article... it's actually quite an awesome thing. It's >much more flexible than, for example, the English article, especially when >used as a pseudo-pronoun (which, IIRC, is where it developed from). To >say something like "the woman who had been taught", you can simply use the >feminine article with a participle: "he: pepaideumene:". (Literally, "the >one (feminine) having been taught (perfect ptcple).) Makes for nice, >compact sentences! :-) > >But talking about the history of the Greek article... it used to be the >personal pronoun, and in some contexts it still retains that meaning. I >find this quite interesting, esp. related to inventing derived condialects >from ancestor conlangs. I'd love to know what different ways people have >come up with when creating a derived conlang. So far, it seems to me that >the most common method is to just apply a sound change to words, and make >slight changes to grammar rules. Has anybody actually come up with >something similar to the pre-classical Greek pronoun becoming the Attic >Greek article -- i.e., the form of the word stays the same but develops a >new function?
Sure. The primeval pronoun has become in Talarian a personal pronoun: tos, cos = he/she (with spacial differentiation in the singular, and inclusive/exclusive differentiation in the plural); definite artice: wiros-cos / wiros-tos = the man (with spacial differentiation); demonstrative pronoun: cos = this, tos = that; temporal and spacial pronouns: cos = now, here / tos = then, there; and temporal and spacial adverbs, using the locative case. One thing it's not is a relative pronoun.
>The conlang I'm working on now is intended to be an old ancestral >language, mainly for old manuscripts, etc.; I'm just wondering what other >ways (besides sound change and slight grammatical alterations) people have >come up with for deriving new conlangs from ancestral ones. > >On a related note, I find it interesting that most of the time, languages >tend to simplify themselves rather than develop new structures, although >there are always exceptions like the Greek pronoun becoming an article. >The loss of the dative from classical Greek to modern Greek is one >example. English apparently also used to be highly inflected, but today >there are only traces left (such as in who, whom, whose). And even who, >whom, and whose are starting to collapse into just "who" in colloquial >English. > >My theory is that widespread acceptance of a language usually causes it to >"degrade" or "simplify", losing a lot of old constructs in the process. >But I've yet to come up with a plausible explanation for languages >becoming *more* complex as they evolve.
I assume by this that you mean English has become, in some way, simplified. Just keep in mind that a simplification in one area generally means a complication in another area. English verbal morphology has indeed become simpler; yet we've added loads of complexity w/r to auxilliaries. Got rid of complex cases only to become saddled with prepositions. Padraic.