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Re: To What Extent is Standard Finnish a Conlang?

From:Julia "Schnecki" Simon <helicula@...>
Date:Friday, March 3, 2006, 12:16

On 2/20/06, John Vertical <johnvertical@...> wrote:
> >- If a nominal has comparative and superlative forms, I call it > >"adjective". (Note that some of the things I call "substantive" have > >comparative forms; e.g. _ilta_ "evening" -> _illemmalla_ "later in > >the evening". They don't have superlative forms AFAIK, though.) > > "Illoin"? :) > (...Yes, I know it's just a case of homomorfy. Moving on...)
Yes, Finnish homonyms are fun. My personal favorite is _alusta_, for which FINTWOL ( finds seven possible analyses from five different stems. _Illoin_ would be "latest in the evening", if it weren't already something along the lines of "by means of evening", right? ;-) (But I digress.)
> >(And > >I'm sure that some of the things I call "adjective" don't form > >comparatives and/or superlatives, but I can't think of any off the > >top of my head, except for _pikku_ "little", which doesn't inflect > >for case or number either. > > There's several roots like "pikku", "valko", "äkä", "etä" which seem to be > used almost solely as derived adjectives ("-inen"), but they still compound > without the suffix as usual. I guess "pikku" is an exception since it can > also be used as a separate attribute ("pikkukivi", "valkokivi", "pikku > koira"; but not *"valko koira") > > (Translation for the rest of the list: "valkoinen" = white; "äkäinen" = > angry; "etäinen" = distant; "kivi" = stone; "koira" = dog)
Of course! I hadn't even thought of these... probably because I mentally file them under "stems used as non-final parts of compounds" and not under "things that are most certainly unbound morphemes". ;-)
> I'm not sure if expressions like "pikku koira" and "pikkukoira" have any > difference, however (except in case either has a specialized meaning), so it > might be just a case of oddly allowing spelling these compounds with a > space. The rules for when to use a space in a compound and when to not > always seemed somewhat arbitrary to me anyway.
At least in some cases, it probably *is* arbitrary. :-/ Hmm... I could have sworn that there was at least a small difference in intonation between _pikku koira_ and _pikkukoira_, but I've just asked one of my native informants (the guy at the desk next to mine ;) and he swears that he pronounces them exactly alike (and if I can trust my ears, he really does pronounce them exactly alike). Possibly this is just a case of spelling variance; one concept, two ways to write it, both equally "correct"... <scratches head>
> >As for other non-comparing > >(terminology??) adjectives, I guess that at least the usual semantic > >restrictions apply -- for example, words like "optimal" don't have a > >comparative or superlative because that would be silly. ;) > > I still hear "optimaalisin" all the time. :)
Heh. "This solution is more optimal than the other, but that one is the most optimal of all." ;-)
> Of course, my original point was NOT to say that there isn't a difference in > standard Finnish between what are usually called nouns and adjectives, but > just that the meaning of the word "noun" is wider.
I didn't mean to imply that Finnish "nouns" and "adjectives" are really (almost or completely) the same, either... just that the "standard average European" definitions of "noun" and "adjective" aren't too well suited for Finnish. (Then again, I also remember my confusion when I first saw words like _apple_ in _apple pie_ analyzed as adjectives in a text on English grammar... To my German brain, this _apple_ isn't an adjective at all; it's very obviously another noun, which forms a compound noun with the second noun, and they're written as two separate words because of some idiosyncrasy of English spelling. So maybe there's no such thing as "SAE definitions of 'noun' and 'adjective'" after all, if we can't even get speakers of German and English to agree...) Regards, Julia -- Julia Simon (Schnecki) -- Sprachen-Freak vom Dienst _@" schnecki AT iki DOT fi / helicula AT gmail DOT com "@_ si hortum in bybliotheca habes, deerit nihil (M. Tullius Cicero)


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>'noun' and 'adjective' (fuit: To What Extent is Standard Finnish a Conlang?)