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Re: Activity and Agency in niKòmbá

From:J Matthew Pearson <pearson@...>
Date:Monday, February 26, 2001, 18:23
Jesse Bangs wrote:

> > > Does any of this make sense, or am I completely messed up and need > to > > > rework the grammar completely? > > > > I'm sorry that I have to tell you that you are completely messed up > on > > this, but this is the most hideous mess I have ever seen in a conlang > > grammar, and it MUST be reworked completely. > > Ouch! That's a little unnecessary! You are *not* completely messed up, > but you need to be more careful with knowing which verbs are actually > stative and actually active, and translating them correctly. I actually > once made a conlang with almost this exact system, but I indicated the > difference with different noun cases! So this is doable, but extremely > difficult, since your native language is so different. I'd say keep at > it, though.
I'm with Jesse. I like your system very much, and think it should be developed further. Hideous mess indeed! (Joerg, if you can't learn to control your flaming tendencies, and to distinguish between constructive criticism and put-downs, then as far as I'm concerned you are no longer welcome on this list.) Getting back to niKomba: For what it's worth, my conlang Tokana has something I call stative inflection, marked by changing the vowel quality of a change-of-state eventive verb. In Tokana, stative marking indicates the state resulting from the change denoted by the underived verb. For example: lima "open" lyima "be open" tioka "die" tioika "be dead" itskana "arrive, show up" itskaina "have arrived, be present, be in attendance" This is a bit different from your active/stative distinction. The key factor in your system appears to be *dynamicity*. If the event denoted by the verb is understood as a process or accomplishment, the active marker is used, and if it is understood as a situation or property, the stative marker is used. Perhaps a better set of terms would be "dynamic" versus "non-dynamic", or "durative" versus "non-durative". Whatever you call it, I think it's perfectly fair to characterise this distinction as aspectual. Like other kinds of aspectual categories, the distinction involves a complex interaction between speaker perception, the event structure of the predicate, and the inherent semantics of the verb. Matt.