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Re: Verbless conlangs (was: Tense marked on nouns)

From:Jonathan Knibb <j_knibb@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 9, 2004, 19:01
Sally Caves wrote:
>> JK wrote: after six >> years it still doesn't have a lexicon ... blame mutating phonology. > Well, work on it, and start building a lexicon, because I find this > structure really fascinating.
Right away, ma'am! Real Life (TM) can wait.
> Flattery always successful :) yry myeebihs, "me all blushing red."
I don't think I've ever been addressed *in* a conlang before! Cool. 'Yry' reminds me a lot of the Middle Egyptian 'jrj' ('with respect to it', more or less). I both hate and love the way Egyptian words shift word class without telling you...
> This makes it possible for you to > take off "man" from Tane vumer pol echelye ["A man is running > towards his house"] and have it mean "Someone [is] running towards > his house": vumer pol echelye.
Yes, precisely so. And further: pol echelye = someone [is] [moving?]towards [a/the] house. Every constituent of a sentence can be used as a meaningful and grammatical sentence in its own right, and moreover that the truth of this sub-sentence is entailed by the truth of the matrix sentence (allowing for conditionals, negatives etc.).
> In this way, all "full words" are > nominalizations, in a way, so your language is verbless, but I think > uniquely so. I'll have to go review Kelen to see how it differs.
So will I. When I first discovered the list and the fact that there were conlangers other than myself and JRRT :), one of the biggest surprises was that no-one else seemed to have come up with the T4 syntax independently. It seems so natural to me. I think perhaps the sort of person who's attracted to that form of simplicity tends to go for predicate-logic-type structures instead.
> Sylvia's original intention was to present a > language that was alien to human thinking.
This makes me smile - my intention was to smooth the path of thinking (not, please note, to reflect the structure of the thinking one is already doing - T4 is no loglang) by clearing language of unnecessary syntactic detritus. Have I, in the process, also created an alien? I hope not ... but an artist's declared aims are very often not the ways in which the art succeeds.
> [...] what this suggests to me is that you have full words that > could function as verbs (as we know them, or in translations), but > still refer to "thing/someone in a state of running."
Function *semantically* as verbs, yes - if there were no such words, it would be very difficult to translate an English sentence into T4 (if it contained a verb). When I say that there are no verbs in T4, I mean that all words are created syntactically equal. There are no labels at the ends of the branches of a T4 syntax diagram except 'word'. Some words in a sentence take an argument, others do not, but every word of the language is capable of acting in both ways. Thanks for your interest! It makes a real difference, and may even spur me to do something about the lexicon ... Jonathan. [reply to jonathan underscore knibb at hotmail dot com] -- 'O dear white children casual as birds, Playing among the ruined languages...' Auden/Britten, 'Hymn to St. Cecilia'