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Re: Trigger language?

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Thursday, January 23, 2003, 23:02
On Thu, Jan 23, 2003 at 11:23:24PM +0100, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> > Perhaps I was thinking of agent and patient instead. > > Those are semantic roles, and as such exist in any language :) .
Don't be too sure about that one. Remember the language of the children of Tama (Star Trek)? I also have in mind a verbless, nounless, grammar-less conlang for a parallel universe to Ferochromon, where everything consists of a single, standalone "utterance". For example, there is a "word" (if you can call it that) that has the idea of grabbing something and pulling it up; depending on the context, it can have a variety of meanings. Uttered by a group leader in a pebble field, it can mean to pick up pebbles. Uttered on the battlefield, it can mean to pick up the enemy by the scruff of the neck. Uttered in a construction site, it is an order to build. [snip]
> Well, let me define topic and comment: the topic is "what we are talking > about" (and thus can be omitted, but is always present at least in > context) and the comment is "what we're saying about the topic" (and is > thus mandatory in a sentence because it's always the reason why we are > uttering this sentence, to comment on something ;)) ).
[snip] Topic-comment structures are very common in Ebisedian, in spite of its otherwise odd grammar. :-) You "nominate" a subject (an NP) by stating it in the locative case. Ebisedian grammarians call this a "nominator sentence", it only consists of a single NP. Actually, it's basically making the NP the topic of subsequent discourse. In subsequent sentences (the "comments"), you then refer to the topic with a back-referencing particle which is inflected for case. Or there may not even be a need to refer to the topic explicitly; the meaning of each sentence will be clear from the context provided by the "nominated" NP. In fact, the NP in the "nominator sentence" is identical a vocative; when you address someone by name, and then say something to the person, it's as if you're talking about the person: the person is the topic, and what you say to him are the comments. (The fact that pronouns are technically always 3rd person makes this illusion even more compelling: since pronouns are person-independent, no matter where you use them it's always clear what/who you're referring to. So you could've said the exact same words to another person, and it would suddenly become a comment about the first person rather than something addressed to him! :-P) (One way I've thought about describing Ebisedian is a "3rd-person language", because (1) verbs are always the subject rather than the participating nouns, so it's almost like you're describing everything from an impersonal, 3rd-person perspective; and (2) because technically speaking there are only 1st and 3rd person pronouns.) T -- Being able to learn is a great learning; being able to unlearn is a greater learning.