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NATLANG: Dravidian langs really *are* cool!

From:Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 3:12
Was it on this list that somebody recently opined that Tamil was utterly
mind-blowing?  I have grepped every which way and cannot find the reference.

At any rate, whereever I read that, I blew it off at first; when I looked
up Tamil in my Concise Compendium of the World's Languages (Campbell, 1995),
it looked like a bog-standard SOV language.  Japanese or Korean, but with

Then Rick Harrison's blog mentioned that Amazon had The World's Major
Languages by Comrie on deep discount (still does!  Run and see!)  When
I got the book, after fiddling around with Hungarian and Hausa, I eventually
got around to checking out Tamil.  And I ran across the following ANADEWy

"Although some grammars of Tamil list as many as ten parts of speech,
all of them can be resolved into one of two formal categories: noun and

Yes, that's right, everything other languages accomplish with particles
or adjectives or prepositions or adverbs - even conjunctions - is here
either a declined noun or compound noun or some sort of verb form.  Some
of the scaffolding needed to hold up a language with this sort of
restriction is built into the flexible declination and conjugation systems,
and some of it consists of the sort of fossilized paraphrase that I
generally hesitate to use in a conlang because it looks too artificial
to me :)  (For example, using "urgency-becoming" to mean "urgently", and
"sharpening notice" (where "notice" is a verb) for "peer at".)

Finding out that a real language does something unexpected like this always
makes me feel guilty for abandoning whichever orphaned conlang sketch I
once used to explore the idea in question.  Like I should have believed
more in the possibility of a 2-part-of-speech language.  Anybody else
have this reaction to ANADEW?



Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>