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a core grammar based on 20 questions

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 12, 2002, 4:37
Hello, everybody,

Here's a little core-grammar system I thought of today, which I offer for
immediate socialization among any and all conlangers who, by some chance,
might be interested.

Other systems generally similar to it have been mentioned before, some from
natlangs IIRC.  But this one is based on the opening move in the game of 20

Mark each noun & personal pronoun as animal, vegetable, or other.  Notice
that these categories are listed in descending order of probable agency.
So, in our nonce language, MAN-an EAT BREAD-oth, and BREAD-oth EAT MAN-an
would mean the same thing, disregarding certain fantasy contexts in which
bread eats people.

If these categories don't supply enough information for the listener to
identify the agent, one could always mark the verb with an affix that
specifies a default word order for agent & patient.  Getting back to our
fantasy about man-eating bread, we'd have "BREAD EAT-svo MAN."

Alternatively, you could stick with semantic marking no-matter-what, and
mark the patient by making it an appositive to some resultative nominal.
Our man-eating bread sentence then looks like this:





John Cowan <jcowan@...>