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Re: CHAT: I'm back

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Saturday, August 27, 2005, 4:31
Julia "Schnecki" Simon wrote:
> Is there a (con)cultural reason behind this? IIRC, in Sumerian stars > and mountains are classified as animate because they're associated > with deities, and deities are obviously animate. So, is there perhaps > a spirit/deity/whatever associated with gold but none associated with > copper; or are noble metals considered to be higher in the animacy > hierarchy than common metals; or is gold traditionally used in certain > artifacts with moving parts but copper isn't; or...?
Short answer, it just happened that way. :-) I had some vague notions of what the distinction would be, but, to a considerable extent, I also allowed whim to rule when devising a word. However, later I began to pick out accidental patterns. For example, I noticed that I'd made Gold animate while Copper and Iron were inanimate, so I decided the rule was valuable metals were animate, others were inanimate. Thus, when I came up with a word for "silver", I made it animate. I noticed that I made bow-and-arrow (a single term for the collective unit) animate, while knife was inanimate, so I decided the rule was that projectile weapons are animate, non-projectile weapons are inanimate. Thus, spear would also be inanimate, and if the gender system is still active when gunpowder is developed (I know descendant languages lost the genders, but I'm not sure of the timing of that development), then the gun would likely be animate. I may devise a concultural explanation, or it may just be "one of those things", possibly a vestige of an older system, or possibly just arbitrary.


Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>