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Leaving the List for Awhile...:Indirect Requests

From:John Leland <lelandconlang@...>
Date:Friday, October 8, 2004, 6:10
In a message dated 10/6/04 12:12:57 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
ThatBlueCat@AOL.COM writes:

<< Ever consider how indirect requests work in
 your conlang?   E.g., "Can you pass the salt?"   The question really
 isn't about one's ability to pass the salt, thus an answer of "Yes, I
 can", without any salt passing, would be considered inappropriate.
 Nevertheless, this doesn't work in every language; there are
 different methods for expressing indirect requests.   Ever come up
 with any?] >>

In Rihana-ye I do not believe there is a formula for indirect requests in the
strict sense, that is, saying "can you" when meaning "will you." It would be
possible to ask "can you"  but it would be understood in the literal
sense--that is,
 "Feba fimapisa seba-de ko-ji-hi?"
  You   salt       me-to    give-can-query?
would mean "do you have the physical abiility to give the salt to me?"
However, the purpose (rather than the form) of indirect requests is to make a
more polite request, and this could be indicated in Rihana-ye by adding
levels of social distinction.
The basic polite request form for anything is "ku ko" "kindly give" so the
basic request for salt would be
"Feba fimapisa seba-de ku ko-hi"
You salt           me-to    kindly-give-query

But it could be made more polite by adding the honorific and humble prefixes
to the pronouns, and an intensifier to the adverb, and even (very rarely)
honorific form to the verb, thus the most polite possible form would be:
"Tifeba         fimapisa niseba-de   fugeku              ko-ti-hi?"
  High-you    salt        low-me-to   most kindly     give-high-query?

Going the opposite direction, the rudest possible demand would be using the
prefix for the "you"pronoun, the honorific prefix for the "me" pronoun, the
to-superior postposition, the intensifier with the humble adverb, the humble
verb suffix and the imperative suffix, thus:

"Nifeba fimapisa tiseba-be fugenu         ko-ni-bi"
 Low-you salt   high-me-to very humbly give-low-must.
Even royalty would not normally go this far; it could only be a deliberate
insult and
probably (among the elite) provocation to a duel.

NOTE:  All the above constructions assumed both parties were adult males.

John Leland