Thursday, October 30, 2014

Discourse deixis

Ti/to for discourse deixis: ti is cataphoric (subsequent discourse), to is anaphoric (prior discourse).

[Neat, though I don't know where this came from...maybe Nahuatl?]

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exploring the possible scope of quoting

I need to look up a bunch of Bislama examples to do this properly, but basically, the idea is that le could expand its usefulness beyond just marking proper names. I think we can generalize to say that it could be used to mark anything that’s being mentioned rather than used. So maybe

kea sa le iuna?
"what's a train?"

But more than that, it could potentially also be used as an alternate strategy to mark clauses that are currently just being nominalized. So

ta sano le ni loha le Keoni
"she said that she loves John"
literally "she said, 'I love John'"

Apparently the above is (amazingly) the normal strategy for this kind of sentence in Quechua. Now I’m getting confused, though, because I was starting to think of it like Bislama se, in which case the sentence above should appear as

ta sano le ta loha le Keoni
i.e. hem i talem se hem i lavem John
“She said that she loves John”

More work is needed here. Probably for this usage, either ko or ve ought to be adequate, since the meaning would be identical [and the difference between ko and ve in this usage is...what?]. If we really are mentioning rather than using, I suspect direct quotation is the use we most need.

One final thought: trying to translate “mean,” as in “what does that mean?” Which of these is correct?

1. Kea sa le toa?
2. Le kea sa toa?

Ugh...I’m having trouble mustering an argument either way. Let’s think about it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nominalized possessive phrases

We can say ka pasĂșo ka kunu "the dog's food," so logically ka ka kunu must be"the dog's one, the dog's," etc. It's kind of weird because essentially ka ka ends up being a compound particle introducing definite possessives, but you can't argue with the sense of it.

Ka ni i iso i taha ka se "mine is bigger than yours." I suppose there could be some minimal word requirements that would give us ka nii, ka sei, etc...maybe. But anyway you get the point.

Note from 2016 as I'm posting this thing I just unearthed: just because ka ka kunu is logical and has to be admissible, that doesn't mean it's the best way to express this in Koa or that there couldn't be other ways. Using asi as a potential candidate, we could do something like ka asi ka kunu "the dog's (one/thing)," ka asi ni i iso i taha ka asi se "my one/thing is bigger than your one/thing" if needed. Actually I don't dislike my original renderings of these at all, but I can see how the embedding could continue ad absurdum and I just wanted to insert some sanity...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Verbal focus with arguments

Okay, check this out: when the verb is the focus, we've had an insoluble issue with how to manage other sentence arguments. For example:

ni ma suo ka sumo
1SG IMPF eat DEF squash
"I'm eating the squash"

becomes, when the verb is in focus, what exactly?

suo sa ni pe ka
eat FOC 1SG REL DEF squash IMPF
"I'm eating the squash" (stranded particle)

ma suo sa ni pe ka sumo?
IMPF eat FOC 1SG REL DEF squash
"I'm eating the squash" (just how much of the VP do I have to front?)

In this case pe becomes effectively a kind of accusative marker (literally "with respect to") for some pretty strange, not-very-Koa-like syntax. Yuck. But, so I just read, Basque (similarly sensitive to topic/focus) accomplishes this by focusing an unconjugated verb, then using a dummy verb in the usual spot with the usual inflection. Here's how that could look in Koa, with ete, possibly set to replace teke for "do":

suo sa ni ma ete
eat FOC 1SG IMPF do
"I'm eating," i.e. "it's eating that I'm doing"

Done: easy, elegant, totally normal-looking Koa. Note: this would logically require that ete suo be an acceptable usage. Maybe some kind of blanching or euphemistic force when not focusing?

Next up: how to handle topic. We've never figured this out.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kinship terms are still sort of unexamined

Kinship terms need work. For one thing I'm thinking "grandma" and "grandpa" should have separate words, and maybe even "aunt" and "uncle" when I think more about it, but the point is: what is the underlying theory here? We do not want Esperanto. There should be some real human logic to the choices.

Beyond the "basic" terms, whatever those are, we need a system for generating the remaining terms for more distant relations. Like, affixes used only in kinship terms. We want to be able to specify...well, actually I'm not even exactly sure what would be relevant because I'm not very knowledgeable about genealogy. But I could certainly find out.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still working on the ordinals

Idea for ordinal numbers: what about ka? So like, he pai ka sapi ta uni "on the seventh day he rested." That way there isn't the ambiguity with pai sapi between "seven days" and "seventh day," and we don't have to be stuck with the ungainly sapi pi pai all the time.