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Re: Noun and noun or noun

From:JOEL MATTHEW PEARSON <mpearson@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 19, 1999, 20:53
On Wed, 19 May 1999, Joshua Shinavier wrote:

> I've always seen "collective plurals" used like this to build new words, > like Arove"n's -e"ad suffix. Are there any other conlangs which also make > a collective/separative distinction with the actual plural? > e.g. > "I looked at the houses (C)" = I looked and saw the houses, all of them. > "I looked at the houses (S)" = I looked at the one house, and (then) > I looked at the other house, etc. (for instance, if the houses in > question are across the city from each other and must be looked at > individually).
(N.B.: What you are referring to as "separative" is generally called "distributive" by semanticists.) A conlang that I fiddled around with for awhile and then abandoned, called Auari (or Awemai), made just such a distinction - but on the verb rather than the noun. Here's an example with made-up vocabulary, since I can't remember any of the words I devised for Auari/Awemai: ndiima "see (a single object)" ma-ndiima "see (a collection of objects together)" wa-ndiima "see (multiple objects one at a time)" kana ndiima-mat "I saw the house" kana ma-ndiima-mat "I saw the houses (all together)" kana wa-ndiima-mat "I saw the houses (one at a time)" The collective distributive verb prefixes were also used in the grammar of Thh:tmaa, the language I invented for "Dark Skies", but otherwise I haven't exploited this device in any of my permanent projects (although I'm extremely fond of it, and hope to use it again someday). My current conlang, Tokana, can sorta kinda make this distinction as well, but only in the past tense. There are two different past tense forms in Tokana, which I call the "simple past" and the "aorist". The aorist picks out one specific event which occurred at a particular time in the past, whereas the simple past does not pick out any specific event, and can thus in principle be used to refer to multiple events. The Tokana Reference Grammar includes the following illustration of this contrast: Sthoke ante katia tohauatne destroy-Aor many house fire-Inst "Many houses were destroyed by fire" Sthokun ante katia tohauatne destroy-Pst many house fire-Inst "Many houses were destroyed by fire" The first sentence, with the verb in the aorist, must refer to a particular incident: There was a single fire which destroyed many houses at once. The second sentence, with the verb in the simple past, may refer to multiple incidents: The sentence simply means that many houses were destroyed by fire; it could be that different houses were destroyed by different fires on different occasions. Here we find a collective/distributive contrast in the interpretation of "many houses" which is 'parasitic' (so to speak) on the fundamental semantic contrast between the simple past and the aorist. Matt.