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Re: Changing worldviews with language (LONG)

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Monday, November 4, 2002, 1:49
On Sun, Nov 03, 2002 at 05:17:20PM -0800, Nihil Sum wrote:
> Harald Stoiber wrote: > > >Watching the conlang list for a while now I have noticed that far to few > >considerations have been articulated about previously unseen ways of > >structuring the scope of grammar.People tend to stick with the well-known > >word classes and principles (like transivity etc.) because they might see > >language as new sounds. Thus, they converse about phonology. > > Are you sure about that? There are ergative languages; there was a recent > discussion on trigger systems; and look up "Ebisedian" while you're talking > of transitivity.
Mmmm... transitivity... well, Ebisedian does not have any concept of transitivity. It has no concept of subject/object. Active/passive forms are completely identical (in other words, there is no such distinction). It's arguable whether its 5 noun cases are all core cases, or all oblique. But in any case, it doesn't seem to care about the distinction between core/oblique cases either! (Actually, one may argue that its noun "case" isn't really case, since it functions quite differently from other inflected languages.) Actually, one might argue that the reason Ebisedian cases are so unusual is because the subject is verb, not a noun. The nouns are just predicates describing that particular instance of the verb. But that does not explain its stative sentences, which are sentences totally devoid of verbs, and which derives meaning solely from the combination of noun cases present. In fact, static events are always described by a participle, not a verb; and a participle is simply the instrumental case of the gerund. [snip]
> word to function as a noun or a verb (I think). There are even natural > languages that defy certain word classes. Someone mentioned something > recently about Mohawk and most of its nouns seeming to be formed from verbs.
Some analyses of the Filipino languages seem to claim this too. [snip]
> In very short: if you do not think that people are bending syntactic > constraints enough in their projects, I disagree.
I'm quite tempted, one of these days, to post an example of Ebisedian conversation. What with "tagged" nouns and a pronominal system that does not distinguish between 2nd and 3rd person, it could be a lot of fun trying to understand just what is going on. [snip]
> Or perhaps you might go the route of something very adverb-dependent: eat > me-wise pizza-ly. Some eating happened, in a pizza-ly fashion, and was > conducted me-wise :) Of course, this leaves open the possibility that the > pizza is doing the eating.
Ah, you really should take a look at Matthew's "bac". Its grammar is very similar to what you describe here. [snip]
> >If we wanted a most universal and generic language with a lexicon full of > >concepts, then why restrict those concepts by any pre-defined valency? > > Well, I suppose we wouldn't. But I don't want a universal and generic > language.
[snip] Neither do I. Even though I like Ebisedian a lot, wouldn't it be dull if everybody spoke Ebisedian? ww'. ha'n3r3 zo h0'n3ri. (Mmm. That's a nice monkey-wrench of a sentence. I dare those who know Ebisedian to parse that one. :-P) T -- Your inconsistency is the only consistent thing about you! -- KD


BP Jonsson <bpj@...>
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