|From:||Marcus Smith <smithma@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, September 16, 2000, 20:34|
John Cowan wrote:
>On Sat, 16 Sep 2000, Raymond Brown wrote:
>> Yes, what's concerned me the Chomskians & the 'deep structure' brigade is
>> that all their theorizing seems to derive from English.
>Cynically expressed (bow-wow) as "If it's true in English, Italian, and
>Hebrew, it's universal."
>But in fact I think this complaint is obsolete. There are just too many
>languages that have been given GB treatment nowadays.
Indeed. I myself use a GB-style framework for my work on Chickasaw, and I
friends who do the same for Zapotecan languages, Lakhota, Tibetan, Japanese,
Quechua, the list goes on. Generative theorists also seem more likely to
accept that certain features are English-specific.
I've harped on this point before, but I think the "traditional" account of
non-configurational languages (ie, Jelinek's and Baker's) resulted from an
attempt to make these languages fit an English-like model. Much of the more
recent works I've seen dealing with this topic are reaching conclusions like
"The evidence is not conclusive one way or the other" or "The evidence is
Returning this topic to conlanging:
I try to make my languages by-and-large fit current syntactic and phonological
theory, but I am not tyrannical about it. In fact, I have intentionally
introduced features into Telek that many theories predict shouldn't occur.
Some of them I give a historical explanation to, but others I don't. For
example, my active language has a passive construction, but that is because
there was originally an indefinite subject that has been as a passive
morpheme. On the other hand, verbs can incorporate almost any object, even
though theory says only "themes" should be able to. This makes the act of
creation much more enjoyable to me.
"When you lose a language, it's like
dropping a bomb on a museum."
-- Kenneth Hale