Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
In the main, my concerns [...] pertain to the existential construct in general -- I keep wanting to say something like na tai neko me ni, which is clearly in violation of everything everywhere. I think what's happening is the collision of the logical design of the language with human language intuition; hopefully they won't end up being too difficult to reconcile.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Yes → 2
No → 5
2. Is the referent already on the discourse stage, either because it has already been raised or because it lives there by default? Or, is the predicate specific and identifiable in the given context?
Yes → 3
No → 4
3. Does the referent need to be pointed out to specify it? Answer "no" if the referent is identifiable without pointing.
Yes → 8
No → 7
4. Is the amount/quantity of the referent indefinite, unknown, or irrelevant to the discourse? Or, is the referent a mass noun that is not specifically bounded in some way? Or, is the referent being mentioned without the intention of raising it to the discourse stage?
Yes → 10
No → 9
5. Is the referent an abstraction of the quality described by the predicate, whether theoretical or actual?
Yes → 6
No → 11
6. Is the referent a specific instantiation of the abstraction in question?
Yes → 13
No → 12
7. Use ka.
8. Use ti/to depending on deictic distance.
9. Use a.
10. Use hu.
11. Use po.
12. Use ko.
13. Use ko preceded by a specifier. Go back to question 1 and choose "Yes" to determine the correct specifier.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Mo kea sa ka pai se?
Written to Mia via chat on 11/1/10
This is an interesting one. Since ideally the question word is of the same form as what's going to replace it ("koa," "pua," etc. in this case), it looks on the face of it like the question should really be Kea sa ka pai se? I was going to say that this is obviously stupid, but now I start to think about it...
Isn't the "what kind" question necessarily in reference to a definite NP, where as the "what" question refers to an indefinite one? So we could have kea sa a talo be "what is the house," and kea sa ka talo be "what kind of house is it."
The logically possible combinations, then, and their translations would be as follows:
kea sa a talo? < a talo i kea? "what is a house?"
kea sa ka talo? < ka talo i kea? "what is the house like?" "what kind of house is it?"
keka sa a talo? < a talo i keka? "which of them is a house?" or similar
keka sa ka talo? < ka talo i keka? "which one is the house (you were talking about?)"
If this is the case, a question like "how is your day" would be translated as Kea sa ka pai se? Well, at least that part. As to aspect, though...
...should it be aorist as above? Or imperfect because we're talking about the internal structure of a bounded event? Or perfective because we're talking about the show so far? Maybe it's the difference between "how has your day been?" and "how is your day going," which pragmatically is not very important.
Now, if it is some aspect other than aorist, how on earth do we apply topicalization?!
Ka pai se i si kea?
Si kea [sa [ka pai se]]?
Kea [si sa [ka pai se]]?
Kea [sa [ka pai se] si]?
Kea [sa [ka pai se] si DUMMY VERB?
I think the only reasonable possibility would be to front the entire verb complex avec aspectual particle, or the dummy verb strategy that we're going to have to figure out later.
Really the whole topicalization-with-verbs issue is a problematic one. I don't know if we ever really thought about what the hell we would do if, for example, we're topicalizing a transitive verb:
ta si suo a nuhu "[and then] he ate a beetle."
ei si suo sa ta a nuhu? "[wait, what?] he ATE a beetle?"
Obviously that doesn't work. What if we passivize the verb so we can have an oblique argument?
a nuhu si pa suo o ta > ei si pa suo sa a nuhu o ta?
Yeah, I don't know what to say about that, really. Anyway, why use the passive when it's the verb we want to be emphasizing in the first place? A couple options:
• Use a dummy verb: ei suo sa ta si *teke a nuhu? lit. "Is it eating that he did to the beetle?"
• Use some kind of cleft construction, topicalizing the whole sentence instead of just the verb. We don't have a way of doing this preconfigured; how to translate "Is it that X..." into Koa? Ei tia sa, ko ta si suo a nuhu? You don't have to analyse this into an IE cleft construction at all, actually, which is nice -- it just means "is that it, is that right?" In fact, we could even use the "true" root, which doesn't exist yet, to do this!
So yes, actually, I'm potentially happy with either of those.
What about "how" in the genuine adverbial sense? I came up with mo kea on the analogy of Bislama olsem wanem, literally "like what?" Does it make sense for me to use this? We need some examples.
Okay, here we go: "How do I find a frog?"
Um...you know, even before I get to the "how," this is anything but straightforward. We haven't given any thought to the semantics of questions, but what exactly is being asked here? It's something like "what are the steps by which I might find a frog?" My temptation is to render this with "can" ("how can I...") but that's just Polish thinking, I bet. Let's leave that aside and just use the root verb for now.
HOW sa ni luta a iki?
Well, what are some potential answers to this question?
* "With a froggy divining rod."
* "Look in a pond," or "do the following things..."
* "Very cautiously."
What are these answers, then? One is an adverb of manner, another an instrumental noun, another an imperative verb. Clearly the question can't possibly anticipate all of these syntactically. Well...actually, if the question were more pointedly "what instrument do I use to find a frog," it would be appropriate to begin with me kea. But supposing that we have no knowledge to start with...
1) maybe mo kea makes sense, but
2) maybe the whole structure of the question should be different: essentially "I do what so I find frog?"
Kea sa ni teke la ko ni luta a iki?
I mean, that's really the question here, once we take away conventionalized IE ways of saying it.
Se luta a iki mo ko se teke tika...
Of course, clausal connectors are an area I've almost entirely neglected so far, so I have no idea how this is going to work. I'm sure some morphologically simple languages would say something more like "se lu luta a iki, se teke tika..." etc. Lots of stuff to figure out.
My solution for the present, that I'm feeling pretty pleased with overall, is this: the 3rd singular pronoun becomes ta, a nice gift for Mandarin speakers (which hopefully compensates for the irritation of ni), and the topicalizer reverts to sa to free up the position.