No more plural? No,more plural!:-- Gramm. Numbr when Non-Integer Semantic #
|Date:||Wednesday, August 17, 2005, 23:48|
Hello, Henrik, and everyone.
Henrik, your conlang's grammatical-number system inspired me to ask
of the list a question I had upon reading Corbett's "Number".
--- In email@example.com, Henrik Theiling <theiling@A...> wrote:
> Further, Qthyn|gai has number endings for 'expected amount',
> 'unexpected amount', 'known amount', 'unknown amount', 'explicitly
> unmentioned amount', 'regularly distributed', 'irregularly
> distributive', '1', '2', '3', 'not 1 (=general plural)', '0',
> 'absof*inglutely none', 'all', 'absof*inglutely all', 'many', 'quite
> many', 'very many', 'some', 'few', 'not so few'. I think that'sabout
> it... :-)))
> I had trouble coming up with Latin names for them. I have normalones
> 'paucal', 'oligal', 'plural' but also 'latoligal' and 'tenuplural'and
The review of Corbett's "Number" mentions "nullar number", but that
concept is nowhere discussed in Corbett's book.
However, he does point out that different natlangs use different
grammatical numbers for the same semantic mixed fraction, even when
the two natlangs in question have basically the same number system.
For instance, English and French both have "singular vs plural"
systems (just two grammatical numbers). But, in English, we would
generally say "One-and-a-half days"; in French on dirait "OK, let's
quit pretending Tom can speak French", I mean, something like "One-
and-one-half day". (Or so Corbett says.)
So, of course, I got to thinking, what system would a language with
nullar and dual and trial (and maybe paucal) numbers use for
One accepted system in science is to round to the nearest whole
number; and, in case of a tie, to the nearest even number.
Pretend singular and trial are odd, and nullar, dual, and paucal are
even (letting paucal stand in for quadral).
This would make
Has anyone else given this any thought in any of their conlangs?
Is anyone aware of any study of this sort of thing in natlangs?
While looking at people's conlangs' grammatical-number paradigms
surfed to through posts to this thread, I ran across one conlanger's
macro-paragraph entitled "Complex Numbers". It turned out the
conlanger meant numbers bigger than what, in his/her conlang, would
be analogous to our n-digit numbers for some n (I don't remember
whether n was 2 or 3 or 4 or 6).
But the discussion about Chinese time had gotten me thinking about
complex numbers (a real number plus some real multiple of the square
root of -1). I wonder, does anyone's conlang handle complex numbers
of that type?
Speaking of Chinese time:
I posted a big thread-starter some time ago about all the various
genders that might be needed by a multi-species pan-galactic
interstellar society including artificial intelligences and sophont
member species having alternative reproductive strategies.
The same impulse prompts me to ask about
a tense system for time-travellers.
A society of time-travelers who meet at a particular time may need to
specify "past" or "future" in three different time-scales:
Speaker's past vs Speaker's future;
Addressee's past vs Addressee's future;
Subject's past vs Subject's future ("Subject" = subject of sentence.).
That leads to 9 tenses, or maybe 11, since the Speaker's Present and
the Addressee's Present will be the same moment, and we can assume
that the Subject's Present takes place in the Speaker's and
(Maybe the Subect's Past or Future could overlap the
Speaker's and Addressee's Present, however.).
I'm serious about that.
Is anyone aware of a conlang that addresses such an issue?
Truth be told, such a thing would come in handy in natlangs, too,
in narratives involving prophecy.
Throw in Alternate Time Lines, and it could get more complicated;
since a given present moment could have more than one past as well as
more than one future, and a given past moment could lead to more than
one present moment.
That was kind of why I suggested Time as a Complex Number in that
thread. "Sideways Time" was "Irrealis", I suggested; and a tense
could be some "linear combination" of Realis (past = negative (? or
positive ?), present = zero, future = positive (or the opposite of
past, at any rate) with Irrealis (a 0 "imaginary part"
meaning "nothing but realis" just as a 0 "real part" would
mean "nothing but present"). Of course I couldn't figure out what
the difference would be between positive and negative Irrealis time.
Well, "Time as a Complex Number" was, I admit, kind of a joke for
this group/list; but, seriously, handling multiple time streams (or
alternate time lines) seems like the natural next step after Tenses
for Time Travelers.
Has anyone given it any thought, or done any work on it; or, is
anyone aware of anyone else who has?
Tom H.C. in MI