Re: Trigger languages
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 11:00|
Jim Henry wrote:
Quite so - I agree whole-heartedly with David's opening sentence "Not
meaning to rock the boat, but trigger systems, as they're explained
here, don't actually exist in natural languages." Indeed, I am in
complete agreement with the whole of David's comments on that page.
So it depends on whether Campbell was asking (a) 'Could anybody explain
to me how trigger [conlangs] languages work?' or (b) 'Could anybody
explain to me how trigger [natlangs] languages work?'
If (a) is intended, read David's comments from "The notion of the
'trigger' language, then, is something exclusive to conlangs" onwards;
also take a look at Carsten's Ayeri conlang.
If (b) is intended then IMO no such animal exists.
IMO the entry in the
en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conlang/Advanced/Grammar/Trigger is at best
mistaken and at worst quite misleading. IMO the Austronesian languages
like Tagalog have nothing to do with what is described on that page; and
the sentence "What the sentence is about (the emphasis so to speak) is
lexicalized, although still pragmatic -- This is called the trigger,
focus or topic of a sentence" seems to me to confuse 'topic' and 'focus'
(though it has to be admitted that 'focus' is not used the same way in
all linguistic literature). Personally, I am sure David is correct when
he writes: "The trigger systems of Austronesia don't actually seem to be
anything more than languages with multiple passive formation and
applicativization strategies" - Amen.
A trigger is simply: "Any element in a sentence which makes some
requirement elsewhere in the sentence" [Trask]. For example, the subject
form "I" triggers 'am' in "I am going", whereas "You" triggers 'are' in
"You are going."
So in consider the English sentence "I ate the hamburger." If we want to
topicalize _hamburger_, we make it the subject and this triggers a
passive verb, thus: "The hamburger was eaten [by me]."
It's just that, as David (correctly IMO) observes, the Austronesian
languages have more passive forms and applicatives strategies than
Indo-European languages normally have. This has been discussed several
times before on Conlang and a look in the archives would, I think, prove
Frustra fit per plura quod potest
fieri per pauciora.
[William of Ockham]