Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

Re: Nauradi

From:Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...>
Date:Monday, November 24, 2008, 20:13
Hi Scotto,

On Sun, 23 Nov 2008, you wrote: 

> OK, now you've got my brain really percolating and making me wonder if I > shouldn't remove the gender marking. As that is the only difference between > animate and inanimate nouns, there is a case for removing the > differentiation between animate and inanimate as well. So now I'm thinking > that only 1 personal pronoun would be necessary. > > But I'm really wondering if differentiation between male and female is so > inherent in the human existence that we still need to know the difference. > It seems that we do need specialized words in some cases. I can't think of a > language that doesn't have a unique word for cow and bull as historically > speaking they held such important and unique positions in agrarian > societies. > > As far as the possibility of not sex marking at all, how would a > non-sex-marking language deal with the situation of someone having sex > reassignment surgery? "He is now a she." Or "She is now a he." Looking at > that one could say that my sentences are not "formal" English and that is > true. But if sex-marking is gone, how do you say, "The man is now a woman." > How would you deal with Genesis 1:1? Would this mean that society in general > would be oblivious to sex, there would be no childhood realization: "I'm a > boy/girl" > S > (Fascinating thoughts!)
Scotto, congratulations on the new arrival! But is the baby a boy or a girl? ;-) Now, whilst it may be very human to want to know the sex of the child, I hope you will agree that it serves a very useful purpose to be able to leave it unspecified - particularly when, as here, the speaker doesn't know what gender it is; and also when gender is irrelevant. For example: "Parents should present their children for immunisation against rubella." (Not a proposition for debate, just an example!) Strictly speaking, Malay (and its close cousin Indonesian) is a language "without unique word[s] for bull and cow". It does have _noun phrases_ with those meanings, but they are rarely used: "lembu" - cow, bull, calf or cattle "lembu betina" - cow = cattle + female (of animals) "lembu jantan" - bull = cattle + male (of animals) In the following, informal speech drops the words and affix in parentheses (). ______________________________________ 1a - "Bring the cow here!" 1b - "Which one?" 1c - "The bull." a - "Bawa lembu (ke)sini!" BRING + CATTLE + (TO) + HERE b - "(Yang) mana?" (WHICH) + WHAT c - "(Yang) jantan itu." (WHICH) + MALE + DEM ______________________________________ 2a - "Milk the cow." 2b - "Which one?" 2c - "The white one." a - "(Tolong) tarek susu dari lembu itu." DRAW + MILK + FROM + CATTLE + DEM b - "(Yang) mana?" (WHICH) + WHAT c - "(Yang) putih itu." (WHICH) + WHITE + DEM ______________________________________ Of interest here is that, in any given context, one need only specify the relevant information. Even though a cow is a individual female of all the cattle, when talking about milk we don't need to bother specifying she's female. Even though a bull is one of the cattle, we don't need to specify that fact twice, just identify him as the male. So now you know a language that doesn't have a word for "cow" that's any different from its word for "bull" - but can still distinguish them whenever necessary. Likewise, the third person singular pronoun in Malay, "dia" (sometimes, and in some dialects, "ia") does NOT indicate gender or animacy. It means "he", "she", "it" (of animals) and "it" (of things). So much simpler! Regards, Yahya -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yahya Abdal-Aziz Enjoy learning about Uiama, a conlang (constructed language) at: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PS - Touching on another recent theme, Uiama has a very small set of basic adpositions. - YA


David Vercauteren <njenfalgar@...>