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Re: Changing worldviews with language (LONG)

From:Nihil Sum <nihilsum@...>
Date:Monday, November 4, 2002, 1:17
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. As for well-known word classes, I've seen some conlangs without verbs, and even one without nouns. Lojban is supposed to allow a 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. Perhaps, as you said, "too few" stray outside the convention of transitivity, but there's a reason for that: a posteriori development. Consider all of the romance conlangs, slavic conlangs, celtic conlangs etc. There does seem to be a lot of talk on phonology (and Yahoo tends to butcher any word with an @ in it). But I don't think that's a result of nobody experimenting with grammar. In very short: if you do not think that people are bending syntactic constraints enough in their projects, I disagree.
>Wouldn't it sound odd to our conceptual conditioning if we heard something >like "I at the hotel eat at the airport pizza at the restaurant"? So, what >we have here is a typical out-law situation.
Actually, language does not outlaw this; physical reality does. You could probably phrase this in many different languages WITHOUT violating their grammar: Göstadrözomna ya telovukrukhazom adve pus'keriamna pican tafam. Here, whole locative phrases are turned into modifiers. But perhaps you are in the restaurant of the airport hotel. Otherwise, it's rather difficult to eat something that is in a different building than you are -- whether your language can express this or not. We're not "condtioned" not to think about it -- it just doesn't happen that way.
Now this is interesting. You may end up with a trigger-like system which announces *in the verb* that a locative trigger is to be used, and then places that trigger upon the word for "restaurant". As for (I,pizza), this sounds like what I was doing with Tolborese in marking a patient for its agent. The word |sipitsa| would mean "a pizza, as acted on by me". The difference between "I eat pizza" and "you eat pizza" would be marked on the "pizza", and not on the verb "eat". 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.
>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. I look forward, though, to seeing what you come up with from the ideas you posted. NS _________________________________________________________________ Get a speedy connection with MSN Broadband. Join now!


H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
BP Jonsson <bpj@...>