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Optional features (was GROUPLANG: cases)

From:Carlos Thompson <cthompso@...>
Date:Monday, October 19, 1998, 12:51
De: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Fecha: Viernes 16 de Octubre de 1998 14:53

>Carlos Thompson wrote: >> I've suggested we have a compulsory gender/class dictintion with other >> optional "genders" or markers which would be needed for agreement >> differenciation or extention of the meaning. I've post sex being one of >> them, deixis or another referencial mark as another one. Number would be
>> optional mark also. Politeness would be also optional. > >I don't know about all these "optional" features. I don't know of any >language where such a thing is optional. And politeness couldn't be >optional. By having no indication of politeness level, that in itself >would say something, just as in English, not saying "please" says >something. And optional number just seems odd. If we're going to have >a number system, we oughta make it mandatory. Please, let's not have an >obviously artificial language. We're not re-inventing NGL here. (I >intend no disrespect to NGL, my point was that NGL is obviously >artificial, and unnatural; I'm hoping to have a natural-looking lang)
I know of at least one language with optional features: Colombian Signed Language. The CoSL is uninflected in terms of tense, gender, number, et cetera. Usualy context will mark them. Many verbs use clasifiers, which is a sort of gender mark fo the subject in the verb. Some nouns use clasifiers too (the different between a snake and a rat is the handshape). The sexual gender is not usually marked (there are different signs for father and mother, but only one for child, cousin, uncle/aunt, etc.) I it is need to mark it is a son or a doughter, just after the sign for child an "o" or an "a" (from Spahish masculine or femening endings) is singed. -- Carlos Th