Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Telek Nouns

From:SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY <smithma@...>
Date:Monday, May 1, 2000, 1:07
On Sun, 30 Apr 2000, Jim Grossmann wrote:

> 1. Animacy/Inanimacy distinction seems well thought-out.
Thank you. It is the one trait that sticks with all the incarnations of this conlang.
> 2. Why do only animate nouns take diminutive/augmentative suffixes?
It is a way of setting them up as more important than the inanimate. Inanimates express the same ideas periphrastically with relative clauses or stative verbs.
> 3. Why are these lexicalized agentives ungrammatical? Why would > "whisperer" be inanimate? > > > *hosynoni "whisperer" > > *hosyngoo "whisperer" (maybe used of a gossip??)
New words (borrowed or recently coined) are all classified as inanimate for gender purposes. As they become more accepted, they get lexicalized and added into the appropriate gender category. hosyn "whisperer" is not a common word (even in English) so has not received a non-default gender assignment yet.
> 4a. Possessive prefixes: Suppose a speaker is talking to a sibling > about another one of his/her siblings. Suppose the speaker's mother came > up in the conversation. Could the noun referring to this person's mother > have to have possessive prefixes in all three persons? Or, could the > speaker in question choose from one or more of the prefixes (1, 2, 3, 1&2, > 2&3, 1&3 or 1,2&3)? Yes, the speaker in question could use "our mother," > but since you didn't mention inclusive vs. exclusive 1st person, would your > grammar necessarily exclude the ambiguity- reducing combinations of 1&2, > 1&3, etc.?
That is a tricky question even for English. It is like when a wife tells her husband that "his son" did something. Or vice versa. Telek allows the same type of variation. The most salient "possessor" is used. If my brother Mike were punished, and I thought it unfair, I could distance myself from my mother's action by calling her "his mother". In a casual conversation with a sibling, I would refer to her by "our mother". If she did somethin especially nice to me, I could say "my mother". I don't have any definite rules on this, and it is a good point to contemplate. A similar problem: Say I went to the store and bought some liver. "Liver" is an inalienable noun, but saying "my liver" would imply the one in my body. How would I then distinguish the liver I bought from the liver my neighbor bought? Perhaps a relative clause, but I haven't thought about this much.
> 4b. I think your obligatory possession markers for inalienably possessed > things are very clever. After all, a shape is always something's shape. > If you'll forgive a suggestion: you could drop the inalienable possession > marker to create certain abstract nouns. e.g. > > (something's shape) minus (inalien. poss. marker) = form, geometry > (something's color) minus (inalien. poss. marker) = color in general > (someone's mother) minus (inalien. poss. marker) = motherhood
Good idea. It won't work for colors in my system because colors are verbs, but the "motherhood" one is certainly worth thinking about.
> 5. Possession: I'm not sure that the wording of your definition of > alienable vs. inalienable possession is exact enough for your grammar. A > mother must "exist in a relationship with some other entity" (her > offspring). However, a mother can also exist on her own to the same extent > that any other organism can.
The person specified by "mother" can, but the concept of "mother" cannot exist independently. A mother without a child is a woman, not a "mother".
> Shall we say that alienably possessed items can cease to have the > relationship with X signified by the possessive marker (e.g. ownership, > detachability, citizenship, etc.)?
Yes, that is what I meant.
> Contrast this with inalienably possessed itmes, which cannot cease to have > the relationship with X signified by the possessive marker (e.g. essential > attribute, family relationship). > > Actually, family relationship may be a problematic case. Consider the fact > that mothers can disown their children, gain custody of children, and lose > custody of children. Socially, the relationship of mother to child is > alienable; biologically, it is inalienable; but "mother" can be a social > or biological term.
Kinship terms are faily social. "Mother" refers to ones biological mother or any of her sisters. "Father" referest to ones biological father or any of his brothers. As for issues of abandonment, disowning, and custody, the indefinite possessor can be used in these situations.
> 6. Your locational noun scheme looks great; some details are unclear to > me. > > a) "soanoom sogil" Here, you've put "so" on both nouns. Is this > right?
so- is a 3rd person singular animate possessor. Anoom "head" is inalienabbly possessed, so the so- prefix indicates "his head". Locational nouns are also inalienablly possessed, so in this case the so- prefix is agreeing with soanoom, which is animate.
> b) Could you tell us more about the postpositional clitics?
For a brief comment, see my reply to Matt Pearson. More info will be coming soon. I want to discuss verbs before explaining sentance level phenomena.
> c) The bottom of the blanket doesn't mean the same thing as under the > blanket. You may want to have two classes of locational nouns: one that > stands for locations that are parts of objects, another that stands for > locations very near their associated objects. e.g. > > n1a = the bottom of X; n1b = the place under X; > > n2a = the innards/inner portion of X n2b = the hollow or interior space > within X
The two senses are rather different, I agree, but the "adpositional" use can be thought of as a convention. This type of situation is not uncommon at all: two of the five languages I've studied in depth have it (the two non-Indo-European: Japanese and Chickasaw) I'm sure it occurs many other places as well. Marcus