Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: nouns-verbs

From:Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Thursday, December 30, 2004, 1:45
On 29 Dec 2004, at 7.55 pm, # 1 wrote:

> One of them was the fact that all languages divided nouns and verbs in > two > types of words > > In every tongue there is a difference between a verb and a noun > > In ALL dialects we can take a sheet and write nouns on one side and > verbs on > the other side > > > Is that true? Do you know or have heard of a language where this is not > true? Did one of you invent a conlang without that thing?
I suppose it depends on quite how you look at it. Does it mean that everything that's a noun in one language is a noun in another? Not true then; some languages have a separate category of adjectives (as English); some lump adjectives in with nouns (as a popular form of Proto-Indo-European); some lump adjectives in with verbs (as various South American langs, I believe). Thus, there is some overlap. I believe (but am not a linguist!) that all natural languages do have a basic division between adjective and noun, even if they have no other word categories though, which is perhaps what you mean.
> I passed a long time to think how such a similarity could have hold in > ALL > human languages > > first possibility: all languages are evolved from a single language > wich > invented that concept and its use since our birth makes us incapable of > changing it in our language
I doubt it. Even if all languages did come from a single primordial source (a possibility I won't discount), if adjectives can waver between independent class, noun and verb, why couldn't verbs between independent, noun and adjective?
> second: the human brain can't think of a way to describe the world > without a > division of "things" and "actions"
I like this plan.
> third: other ways have appeared in the history (when humans begun to > speak) > but their speakers have been unable to function with it and changed or > died
Possible, but the chances of it always dying out unrecorded seem awfully slim.
> fourth: the human brain can think an other way but that other way is > so far > of the one in usage that it can't be reached by a natural evolution > because > their is no forms between by wich an evolution can pass
I feel my response to your first adequately covers this objection.
> If the solution is the fourth explication, what can't be reached by > language > evolution may be by conlanging
It can be. Almost anything your imagination can do, a conlang can do. I'm sure you could make a 2048-bit encrypted conlang which solved pi to fifty decimal places* but could only be understood by the person you're talking to (and not even by yourself!), though this is probably a wee bit difficult and more in the domain of cryptography than conlanging. * That is to say, every sentence in order to be grammatical had to be somehow analysable as providing the next digit in pi or something---let your imagination work it out. (PS: If you do object to corrections to your English, ignore this paragraph and/or politely inform me to that fact. If you don't object to corrections, explication isn't a word (explanation is however, and means what you want it to mean), and a better expression is 'If the solution is the fourth explanation, why couldn't it be reached by language evolution through conlanging?', though that's a little awkward. I'm sticking to your basic formula because a friend's going back to London and I've had a few.)
> Someone has a conlang concept without "verb-noun" division????
Allnoun presumably qualifies. Also Lojban, I believe, doesn't, but a traditional grammarian might look at it and say 'ho, what we really have is some form of zero-derivation converting between nouns and verbs'. HTH, -- Tristan.