Articles in conlangs (was: CHAT translating the Paternoster)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, July 17, 2002, 6:11|
On Monday, July 15, 2002, at 06:23 , John Cowan wrote:
> Ray Brown scripsit:
>> In his "After Babel" (a book all
>> would-be translators ought to read IMO), George Steiner spends two pages
>> French: Que la lumi=E8re soit; et la lumi=E8re fut.
Ach! 2002 and e-grave still cannot be sent safely via email!
What on earth is '=E8' meant to be? I guess all the romanized Greek I've
writing recently is still getting mangled. How much longer do we have to
this anglocentric mangling of diacritics?
>> He finds the French version the least satisfactory. The definite
>> which French needs in his view 'posits a conceptual essence before
>> phenomenality'. The conceptual pre-existence is not there in the
>> other versions: the creation of light is immediate & stunning.
> Or (which I believe more likely correct), "le" etc. in French is no longer
> a *definite* article at all,
Both he and I are using the term 'definite article' in traditional usage.
the French articles are still traditionally termed 'definite', 'indefinite'
'partitive' even tho the usage of the first two do not coincide neatly
of 'definite' & 'indefinite' articles in English.
For that matter the 'definite article' behaves rather differently from
ancient Greek also. Indeed, the usage of articles in different langs is
This, it seems to me, is so often overlooked by IAL makers who blithely
language a 'definite article' or 'definite' & 'indefinite' articles,
exactly explicit about their usage.
I don't think this so great a problem in an artlang, particularly if the
is "discovering" the language as, e.g. Tolkien discovered his. The author
comments on usage as it's "discovered" - s/he doesn't have to be
from the start.
But an conIAL is a different beast. If the author does her/his job
these matters ought IMO to be defined.
BrSc - whether BrScA or BrScB - will have no articles :)
> but merely a default determiner that begins
> noun phrases when no other determiner applies.
I don't think the _merely_ does it justice. Why assume the 'definite'
the default in French to be used if the indefinite or the partitive does
apply? There are also contexts in which nouns are not preceded by any
article, e.g. il est professeur = he is a teacher.
> The *definite* determiner
> is "ce" etc.
Except that 'ce' by no means corresponds to English "the" which still,
than not, will be rendered 'le', 'la' or 'les' in French. The point
surely is that while
'le', 'la', 'les' are used more or less where we use "the" in English, it
is also extensively
used in other contexts where we would use no article at all.
> Etymology is not always the friend of semantics.
I know that. Etymology would mean 'le' etc. = "that" and 'ce' etc =
"behold this" (assumimg
the Vulgar Latin meaning of 'iste' = "this", rather than the Classical
Latin "that [of yours]").
I can't speak for George Steiner, but I doubt he was thinking of etymology
any more than
Anyway, it seems to me the use of articles and/or determiners is something
has to think about. If one is merely relexifying English (and many of us
began that way),
there's obviously no problem. But if we're trying to create something
the problem does need consideration.