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Thoughts on an English Remorph [?]

From:E. Naeher <enaeher@...>
Date:Thursday, October 31, 2002, 17:10
I have been thinking recently about a conlang idea that's been kicking
around in the back of my head for a couple years, and which I recently
encountered in a cyberpunk-ish novel, _The Fortunate Fall_.  Basically, I'm
interested in developing a loglan-ish system for syntax and punctuation that
can be applied to an English vocabulary (and, possibly, other vocabularies
as well).  Hence, by analogy with 'relex,' the term 'remorph' (in the sence
of 'reshaping,' rather than morphology per se -- if anyone has a better term
please let me know).

In _Fall_, there are two 'computer languages' which can be spoken by humans:
KRIOL and Sapir (the author seems to be a supporter of the Sapir-Whorf
Hypothesis).  Sapir is presumed to be too alien to be learnt without special
conditioning and implants, but there are a few examples of KRIOL, which (in
'interpreted' form) use English vocabulary with odd punctuation and word
order.  It's very reminiscent of the idea of a logically-structured,
possibly machine-readable, syntax for English that I've been contemplating
for a while.

Some initial ideas:

Word order is fluid.  I originally considered using SOV with postpositions
and other head-final forms after Reverse Polish Notation, but that reduces
the possibility for use of brackets and so on.  Thus, any non-parenthesized
phrase is assumed to be SOV, with postpositions, and adverbs and adjectives
coming after their objects.  This order can be violated if a phrase is
enclosed in parentheses.


They came for him and her in the early morning, and they were not seen

*him her and for morning early in came they seen again not were and.
*((him and her) for (early morning) in came) and ((not (seen again)) were)

(These are not correct Remorph sentenced because we are here accounting only
for word order and not applying the morphological rules which govern

In this case the central 'and' does not appear at the end (although it
could) because there are only two upper-level arguments (delimited in
parenthesis) for it to conjoin, so no ambiguity is possible.

Boolean operators (&,|,!) can be used rather than their lexical equivalents.
The unary operator ! (not) acts unlike its lexical counterpart in preceding,
rather than succeeding, its operand.

*((him & her) for (early morning) in came) & (!(seen again) were)

Note that we have managed to eliminate one set of parentheses here by the
substitution of the ! operator (which is assumed to apply to what succeeds
it) for the 'not' lexeme, which is assumed to apply to what precedes it.

So far I've been keeping the English forms of words that are appropriate to
tense and so forth.  In true Remorph, all markup for tense, number, case,
etc., is done in a standardized way, and is applied to the following forms
of the English words:

Pronouns: nominative singular
Nouns: singular
Verbs: infinitive

Number of nouns and pronouns is indicated as follows:

English             Remorph
cat                   cat
cats                  cat{n}
two cats           cat{2}
25 cats             cat{25}
third cat            cat[3]
3rd cat of 25    cat[3]{25}
nth cat              cat[n]

Verbs are not inflected for number.

Verbs are as follows:  <verb>:<mood/voice>:<tense>

English                    Remorph
kill                          kill
killed                      kill::P
will kill                    kill::F

Other tenses are still being worked out.

If no mood or voice indicator is given, the verb is assumed to be in the
active voice in the indicative mood.

kill:P:P     was killed
kill:P:F     will be killed

So here is a correct translation of the original sentence:

((he & she) for (early morning) in come::P) & (!(see:P:P again) be::P)

More to come.  Please let me know what you think.