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MNCL5 really long

From:Jeffrey Jones <jsjonesmiami@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 25, 2007, 8:54
What the heck, maybe somebody will have a comment on one or two of these.

MNCL5 has accumulated a large number of unsolved problems. I'm going to try
to list all the current ones here, so they'll all be in one place.

Note: "medial" is my term for "non-final suffix".

1. Negative Requests
Currently, requests are made by combining the question medial -uk- with the
imperative final -u. However, there's a rule prohibiting the use of the negative
medial -un- in the same word as -uk-, requiring an awkward auxiliary +
complement clause construction. Possible changes are (a) changing the rule,
(b) using something other than -uk-, or (c) a distinct negative request medial.

2. Argument Structure Conflicts
In some situations, certain verbs need a different argument structure from
what they currently have. For example, lez- "read" and rait- "write" could use
a core argument for the person read to or written to, which would require that
the existing patientive argument become thematic. Sail- "sing" has so far been
treated as monovalent, but could use both/either a person sung to and
something sung. This change would require an obligatory object for non-verb

Under the same heading, the morphemes for beneficial (ufr-) and harmful (ivl-)
require that what/whom they're beneficial or harmful to be thematic and
what's beneficial or harmful be patientive/agentive in order to be used as the
benefactive and the malefactive. This conflicts with their potential use as
judgemental adjectives, where what's beneficial or harmful must be thematic
and the person making the judgement must be patientive (with no provision for
what/whom they're beneficial or harmful to). Probably, I'll have to resort to (a)
suppletion (if there aren't too many like these) or (b) an argument structure
changing medial.

3. Trivalent Imperatives
Currently, a number of trivalent verbs have two translations, depending on
either grammatical voice or phrase order. These include geb- "give/receive",
vend- "sell/buy", and lern- "teach/learn". There's a problem, however, which of
the two meanings is to be used with -u forms (these are primarily imperatives
and requests, with implied 2nd person arguments, but may be used with 3rd
person or 1st person inclusive). Possible solutions include (a) a new medial
(like the grammatical voice medials, but used on -u forms instead of non-verb
forms) such as -s- for the 2nd translation of each pair, with the unmarked
form used for the 1st translation, and (b) allow the existing grammatical voice
medial -m- to be used on -u forms to indicate the 1st translation, with the
unmarked form used for the 2nd translation.

4. Habitual and Frequentive
The question here is how to determine whether adverbial expressions such
as "often" or those specifying how many times refer to a single occasion
(requentive) or multiple occasions (habitual).

Related to this is under which circumstances can the habitual medial (-oft-) or
the frequentive medial (-ebd-) be omitted?

5. Conatives
This deals with the morphosyntax used for expressing something like "try to",
where either success hasn't been determined or the attempt has failed. Since
the person trying is already referred to by one of the existing arguments, a
medial, rather than an auxiliary, might be used. However, a problem similar to
the imperative problem occurs with trivalent verbs here (and with at least
some divalent verbs, such as vid- "see": trying to look/see vs. trying to be
seen). Some possibilities are (a) a couple medials, the choice of which
depends on which argument would be coreferenced, (b) a single medial, with
the distinction made according to phrase order or grammatical voice, and (c) a
single medial referring to seller, person seeing, etc. when applied to the
content verb, but could be applied to a causative auxiliary verb coreferencing
the buyer, person seen, etc.

Another question is for which TAM combinations has the attempt failed and for
which has success not yet been determined? Complicating this is the fact that
tense marking is relative rather than absolute.

6. Spatial Relations
I'm trying to figure what spatial relations I need distinct words for; I have
three kinds so far: (a) directions such as north, south, etc., (b) those relating
to an object's structure, such as front and back, and (c) those relative to
someone's viewpoint. An additional problem with the last kind is that there is a
2nd object specifying whose viewpoint is used.

7. Tetravalent Verbs
Obviously, I'll have to use an adverbial or secondary predicate final (-i or -in)
for the 4th argument. The main question is which?

8. Adverbs
I need to figure out the different kinds of adverbs that must be distinguished
(such as manner, instrument, time when, how long, etc.) so that I can assign
medials to them, and decide which can be used without any such medial.

9. Partitive and Superlative Constructions
I came up with some morphosyntactical possibilities for the partitive
construction, but I don't like them. One places the quantifier/number before
the determiner, but this clashes with the modifier-head word order (I suppose
putting the determiner first also clashes, but I don't think it can be helped).
Another requires that quantifiers/numbers be ambivalent to both allow the
quantifier/number to take an object and still be used without any object
outside the partitive construction. No other words are ambivalent. This can be
fixed at the expense of adding a medial to the partitive forms.

In some of my other languages, the superlative construction is formed by
adding a simple (lexical) adjective to the partitive construction. I'm not sure
that will work here.

10. Compound Phrases
What I mean is expressions such as "John and Tom". I'm thinking of creating a
new final (maybe -al) to be used for "and" on each subphrase but the last.
The same final might also be used in compound numbers. I really haven't
thought about disjunctive phrases yet; creating a new final for each kind may
not be practical.

That's all I've found in my notes, except for a neverending list of lexical


taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>