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Re: Stack-based syntax (was: affixes)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, February 26, 2005, 19:02
On Friday, February 25, 2005, at 09:04 , Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 25, 2005 at 07:41:57PM +0000, Ray Brown wrote: >> But I am not sure where this getting us. Both Jörg and I have said that >> we >> think Jeffrey's Fith is real attempt at constructing an _alien_ language >> (unlike some efforts); but we feel that some things could be >> reconsidered. > > And I agree with that. It just sounded to me like you considered Fith > to be "not stack-based enough", and I was trying to explain why I don't > agree with that assessment.
I suppose if the Fithians need to augment the system with hand-signals it could be argued that it is "not stack-based enough". But I wrote my first response to Max's mail _before_ looking at Fith (which I had looked at a few years ago, but forgotten the deatils). When I did look at after Jörg's I found it had done some things differently from the way I would have set about it.
> For instance, I don't think inflection is > inherently incompatible with the stack-based syntax;
Yes, I can imagine that some stack-based system with inflexion might be possible - but in fact Fith doesn't use inflexions either IIRC.
> it's just part of > how the operands are interpreted, and separate from the stack logic > itself. As I said in my original message, many lanaguages mix synthetic > and analytic components, even using different headedness (left vs > right), and I see this as similar.
Yep - but I (this is just a personal view) would attempt to be as far removed as I could from human models, therefore the fact that very many human languages mix synthetic & analytic components would encourage me not to do that.
> So I don't consider e.g. "I store the to went"
But "to" or allative case or whatever surely is a _binary_ operator, linking _store_ to the rest of the sentence and, essentially, to the verb? Also _I_ is left unconnected to the rest of the sentence, unless you do distinguish _I_ from _me_ and thus _I_ does not merely have the meaning of 'first person singular', but also contains the binary operator linking '1st pers. sing.' to 'went'. That would seem to dive something more like: went store DEF TO me.NOM Alternatively I suppose one could consider 'went' not only to have the lexical meaning "go" as well as, presumably, "past time", but also to be a binary operator, with operands _I_ and _store_ (or, as they say, a bivalent verb). In that case the "to" is redundant and we'd have something more like: me store DEF went.PAST.2(NOM, ALL) But I find, particularly in the second method, the piling up of so much in the single word _went_ unsatisfactory.
> to be any less valid > stack-based syntax than "I store the to go PAST END" or whatever. > > That's all.
I would rather hold fire and see how the different systems work out larger & more complex sentences and even whole paragraphs. I agree with Sai when on Thursday, February 24, 2005, at 09:35 , he wrote:
> >> stack syntax > > Isn't that just a matter of staying within 7+-2 bounds? I don't see > anything inherently more difficult about the *syntax* that makes it > human-incompatible.
If one stays within the bounds of 7 ± 2 then it will not be human-incompatible - tho many would find it odd or difficut at first. It may turn that stack-based systems do not, after all, give a truly non-human language. But AFAIK Fith is the only real attempt to date to attempt to model a language with stack-based syntax.
>> I am not aware of any human groups who find it either >> necessary or useful to have hand signals to make clear what part of >> speech >> different words are. I feel that it would be possible to have stack-based >> syntax without this expedient. > > Sure, provided there's no homonymy between operands and operators, > or between operators of different orders.
But if we do have such homonymy, I do have to ask if we then really have a stack-based syntax.
> If there is such homonymy, > then some sort of disambiguator is needed - context may not be enough, > as it may come too late to salvage the stack state.
Quite so - and the best disambiguator is not to have the homonymy in the first place IMO. But until other attempts are made at constructing stack-based conlangs, much of this is speculation. At the moment AFAIK Fith remains a pioneering experiment. Maybe we ought to put this debate on hold until one of us has modelled such a language :) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]