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 Post subject: Re: Kebreni and Chinese
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 5:35 pm 
Lebom
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zompist wrote:
It makes keda ziunte into a relative clause, rather than a simple modifier. It's parallel to the behavior of adjectives; thus:

keda ziunte mygu the ox in the house
keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house

thesuru hami a golden land
thesurute hami a land that's golden



I'm not sure I understand the distinction - I don't understand any semantic difference in the English versions, at least.

Reminds me a little of something I was reading recently about Tibeto-Burman languages, where all relativization is done through nominalization:
http://www.uoregon.edu/~delancey/papers/relnom.html


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 Post subject: Re: Kebreni and Chinese
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 5:51 pm 
butsuri wrote:
zompist wrote:

I'm not sure I understand the distinction - I don't understand any semantic difference in the English versions, at least.

If I go by my native Chinese sprachgef?hl here, I think, basically, that the first example is stating for necessity, the other is for additional info.
It's somewhat similar to thing as:
the house that is red... - (the redness is a defining characteristic)
the house which is red... - (the redness is for descriptive purposes)

Quote:
Reminds me a little of something I was reading recently about Tibeto-Burman languages, where all relativization is done through nominalization:
http://www.uoregon.edu/~delancey/papers/relnom.html

Same in Chinese...


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 5:52 pm 
Lebom
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darn... forgot to sign in. Anyway, that previous post was mine, plus the quotes are butsuri's and not Z's.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 6:18 pm 
Lebom
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Ah - I think maybe I see now. It's something like the difference between:

The house which is red
and
The house (which is red)

In the first, the particular house is specified by the relative clause; in the second, which house is being talked about is already apparent. English sentences like this are ambiguous without parentheses or intonation, at least for me.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 6:41 pm 
Lebom
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Well, I wouldn't exactly say it's that clearcut. It's more of a matter of "feel"... like, "are you being specific? or descriptive?"

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 7:15 pm 
Lebom
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Well, then I'm not sure that I understand. Possibly I'm simply being dense - I don't really understand intellectually what the perfect means in English, and I've been using that all my life.

[edit: changed "perfective" to "perfect". English doesn't have a specifically perfective aspect, unless you count the unmarked case, and I've got a good handle on what it means anyway.]


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 8:44 pm 
Lebom
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Well I have to say it's the same thing as the English pair of:

I've gone to the shop.
I went to the shop.

They don't really differ, except that the first seems to emphasize the "completeness" while the second stresses the "pastness".
I guess that doesn't really make sense, yet we can instinctively tell which one to use.

Similarly, let's say for Chinese (which works similarly to Kebreni)

duan3 xiu4zi
duan3(duan3) de xiu4zi

Again, they both mean "short-sleeves", but the first emphasizes the "characteristic" and the second, the "descriptiveness"...
Well it's really hard to explain, but I hope you see my point.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 10:38 pm 
Lebom
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ranskáldan wrote:
duan3 xiu4zi
duan3(duan3) de xiu4zi

Again, they both mean "short-sleeves", but the first emphasizes the "characteristic" and the second, the "descriptiveness"...
Well it's really hard to explain, but I hope you see my point.


I think that in English, "short sleeves" kind of pops up in the mind as one concept, since it's so common... It's like we just hear it as one word, and the mind skips over the process of combining our concept of "short" with our concept of "sleeves". In a culture where short-sleeved garments are not commonly worn, the phrase wouldn't naturally have that impact.

This syntactic structure of Chinese that you're trying to explain... It overtly states that the phrase should be considered as one concept, whether the listener is actually that familiar with it or not? Or am I not getting it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 10:23 am 
Niš
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You can also use this system in Dutch. For example you have "zout water" which means "salt water", but some poetist use "zoutwater", which has a different feeling.
Zout w?ter stresses that it is some kind of water (but salt)
Z??twater is more a single concept.
There must be examples of more all-day use of this, but I can't think about one at the moment.

But in most cases it changes the meaning completely, like the difference between Greenland and a Green Land. For example: a "hogesnelheidstrein" is a "high speed train", thus a train with high speed, a "hoge snelheidstrein" is a speedtrain which is very high...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 10:53 am 
Lebom
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daan wrote:
You can also use this system in Dutch. For example you have "zout water" which means "salt water", but some poetist use "zoutwater", which has a different feeling.
Zout w?ter stresses that it is some kind of water (but salt)
Z??twater is more a single concept.


I certainly understand that. The author Keri Hulme has said that in her writing, there's a definite difference between bluish-green, blue-green, and bluegreen. In my own writing (which tends toward the eyurcrivát), I make the same sorts of distinctions. I think there's a general tendency in European languages to do this by merging the words into one, orthographically and phonetically.

Perhaps a good non-poetic example in English is the word "painstaking".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 1:51 pm 
Lebom
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Ah. Compounding. There's a bit in the paper I linked to above which, while I don't completely understand it, appears to be talking about the same type of distinction (in Newari):
Scott DeLancey wrote:
It turns out, not surprisingly, to be impossible to specify in formal terms the precise conditions under which gu(li)-series marking varies; but K?lver (whose extended and detailed argument and documentation we cannot reproduce here) demonstrates a set of semantic conditioning factors which can be subsumed under a general statement that the presence of a gu(li) morpheme indicates a greater, and the absence a lesser, degree of conceptual independence between the dependent and the head NP. On the continuum of junction the end point of which is actual noun-compounding, gu(li)-marked junction is farther from, and gu(li)-less junction closer to, compounding. (Newari marks a third degree of junction, just short of true compounding, in which the dependent noun is not marked either by gu(li) or by genitive inflection).


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 6:16 pm 
Lebom
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eodrakken wrote:
I think that in English, "short sleeves" kind of pops up in the mind as one concept, since it's so common... It's like we just hear it as one word, and the mind skips over the process of combining our concept of "short" with our concept of "sleeves". In a culture where short-sleeved garments are not commonly worn, the phrase wouldn't naturally have that impact.

This syntactic structure of Chinese that you're trying to explain... It overtly states that the phrase should be considered as one concept, whether the listener is actually that familiar with it or not? Or am I not getting it?


Yeah, the first one is more of a single concept while the second is more of a double concept.
Oh yeah, and short-sleeve garments are pretty common nowadays.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 12:00 am 
Lebom
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butsuri wrote:
Ah. Compounding. There's a bit in the paper I linked to above which, while I don't completely understand it, appears to be talking about the same type of distinction (in Newari):
Scott DeLancey wrote:
[...T]he presence of a gu(li) morpheme indicates a greater, and the absence a lesser, degree of conceptual independence between the dependent and the head NP.[...]


This is great information to have, and I think I do understand what he means. "Gu(li)" seems to be a separator between two concepts, to show that they're not to be seen all as one. Blue+green, not bluegreen. It also seems that Newari explicitly marks several degrees of oneness between two concepts.

I'll probably incorporate this into a conlang sometime. It never ceases to amaze me how many things are clearly marked in natural languages, that we English-speakers communicate only as implication and poetry. I still remember how stunned I was the first time I was told about grammaticalised politeness in Japanese.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 4:18 pm 
Lebom
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eodrakken wrote:
This is great information to have, and I think I do understand what he means. "Gu(li)" seems to be a separator between two concepts, to show that they're not to be seen all as one. Blue+green, not bluegreen. It also seems that Newari explicitly marks several degrees of oneness between two concepts.

I'll probably incorporate this into a conlang sometime. It never ceases to amaze me how many things are clearly marked in natural languages, that we English-speakers communicate only as implication and poetry. I still remember how stunned I was the first time I was told about grammaticalised politeness in Japanese.


If you think that's interesting, there are some other papers by the same author you might like. (Some of them are a little hard to understand, but nothing too bad.)

On the particular matter of things marked in natural languages which aren't in English, you might enjoy this thing on inverse marking:
http://www.uoregon.edu/~delancey/papers/inverse.html
(this is a rough draft, and you're not supposed to cite it without permission, but I'd imagine he was thinking of linguistics journals rather than conlang forums)

Scott Delancey wrote:
Direct-inverse marking, like dative-subject marking, ergativity,
active-stative typology, and evidentiality before it, is an
exotic typological pattern which, once recognized, turns out to
be far more common than anyone ever suspected.
[...]
The characteristic features of a classic inverse system are
hierarchical indexation and inverse marking. Hierarchical
agreement is, prototypically, agreement with an SAP in preference
to a 3rd person argument, regardless of grammatical role, though
many languages show various idiosyncratic complications of this
general pattern. Inverse marking is a special morphological mark
on the verb in the 31 and 32 configurations; some languages may
also apply the same mark to 3Obv3Prox and/or to one of the 12 or
21 categories.

That extract doesn't make it very clear, and the paper itself is rather technical. But it's a very interesting feature. See what you can make of it.

More generally, his work on core case roles and grammaticalization is interesting (and tends to be more readable). Both feature in the lectures from his course on functional syntax, which I really recommend to conlangers. Most of his stuff online can be reached from his homepage, here.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 6:48 pm 
Lebom
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Nice link, butsuri! I'll certainly be looking over it.

Anyway, here's the next tidbit(s):

First of all, the counters. Some of you might know this, for those who don't:
all Chinese nouns are uncountable. Yes, that's right. To count air in English, you need to measure it by liters or something, you can't say "two airs". This applies for all Chinese nouns:

yi4 pi2 ma3
one-counter horse
"a horse"

san3 pi2 ma3
three-counter horse
"three horses"

this allows for distinctions like:

yi4 duo3 hua1
one-flowercounter flower
"a flower"

yi4 ke1 hua1
one-treecounter flower
"a flower plant"

yi2 cu4 hua1
one-bunchcounter flower
"a bunch of flowers"

There are no rules to which counter goes with which noun. You have to memorize all of them! (there're more than 100 counters) But there are general guidelines, like you'll have a stickcounter, a masscounter, a personcounter, a machinecounter, etc.

for those of you who don't find this news... the next tidbit should be coming in soon.

Another thing: If you know any interesting Feature from Non-IE languages or exotic IE languages, please post them.. Chinese may be different from IE but it only goes so far.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 7:34 pm 
Lebom
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ranskaldan wrote:
First of all, the counters. Some of you might know this, for those who don't:
all Chinese nouns are uncountable. Yes, that's right. To count air in English, you need to measure it by liters or something, you can't say "two airs". This applies for all Chinese nouns:


Wow. I knew about counters because I've studied some Japanese, but I've never thought about them in quite this way before. Normally (in Japanese textbooks, at least) they make some kind of analogy to collective nouns, which doesn't quite work. The only example I've seen of English that I felt captured the essence was "head of cattle". But "litres of air" throws a whole new light on it. (Or maybe they did make the right analogies, but I just wasn't receptive to them. I don't remember. They may have used something like "bales of hay".) It's almost like all nouns are mass nouns in Chinese. Do you think that's close to the spirit of the truth?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 8:00 pm 
Lebom
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Yeah, you can say that all nouns are pretty much mass nouns. Ma3 means "horse" in the same way "water" means water and not bottles of water.

On the other hand, there's a weird phenomenon in Chinese involving these counters, basically making mass nouns even more "mass-like":

Ma3pi3
horse-horsecounter
"horses" (in general)

Zhi3zhang1
paper-papercounter
"paper" (in general)

Hua1duo3
flower-flowercounter
"flowers" (in general)

This is, however, not a productive process, and only applies to a very tiny number of nouns. A reason for these extra-masslike mass nouns could also be because Chinese prefers disyllabic nouns to monosyllabic nouns.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 1:02 pm 
Niš
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ranskaldan wrote:
Another thing: If you know any interesting Feature from Non-IE languages or exotic IE languages, please post them.. Chinese may be different from IE but it only goes so far.


Look at Hungarian verbs (different conjugation (or is it conjunction or whatever) for verbs that a) are intransitive or have a direct object, or b) are transitive but have no direct object)

And look at the Hungarian way of expressing "to have": "I have a book" is expressed as something like "There's a my book"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 1:37 pm 
Boardlord
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daan wrote:
And look at the Hungarian way of expressing "to have": "I have a book" is expressed as something like "There's a my book"


Ways of expressing 'have' can be picturesque. In Russian, you have to say e.g. U menya - kniga, "There's a book by me."

In Quechua you can say Wasiyoq kani, "I'm with a house".

Chinese you3 does double duty as both 'have' and 'there is', depending on whether you precede it with a subject or not.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 1:44 pm 
Lebom
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zompist wrote:
Chinese you3 does double duty as both 'have' and 'there is', depending on whether you precede it with a subject or not.


And of course, the literal meaning of French il y a "there is/there are" is "it there has". Apparently not an uncommon way for humans to think about possession.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 4:20 pm 
Lebom
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Mmm, well this thread seems to expand my mind quite a bit, especially the tidbits coming in about Uralic languages or Quechua... anyway, I've already started converting my half-baked conlang from a stress-system to a hybrid "tone-pitch-stress" system. It's getting very interesting so far.

well back to the topic...

In fact, the boundaries of "there is" and "to have" seem to merge in Chinese...

you3 yi4-benr3 shu1
there-is one-counter book
"there's a book"

nei4bianr1 you3 yi4-benr3 shu1
over-there there-is one-counter book
"over there there's a book"

wo3 you3 yi4-benr3 shu1
I there-is one-counter book
"(As for) me, there's a book" = "I have a book"

you3 is also the only irregular verb in Chinese (so to speak). All verbs, every single one, takes bu4 for negative. Only you3 changes itself to mei2, or mei2you3.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 6:35 am 
Sanci
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eodrakken wrote:
zompist wrote:
Chinese you3 does double duty as both 'have' and 'there is', depending on whether you precede it with a subject or not.

And of course, the literal meaning of French il y a "there is/there are" is "it there has". Apparently not an uncommon way for humans to think about possession.

In this context, it might be interesting to note that a common German idiom for "there is/there are" is "es gibt" -- literally, "it gives". For example, "In Hamburg gibt es viele B?ume" = "In Hamburg gives it many trees" ("There are many trees in Hamburg").

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 6:54 am 
Sanci
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ranskaldan wrote:
you3 is also the only irregular verb in Chinese (so to speak). All verbs, every single one, takes bu4 for negative. Only you3 changes itself to mei2, or mei2you3.

And in Cantonese, it has a special negative verb "mou5" to go with "yau5"/"yau6". All other verbs are negated with "m" (not sure how it's written; might be mouth + (five over mouth)).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2002 5:00 pm 
Avisaru
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Just to throw in an example from an Altaic language into the discussion of possessive forms:

Kazakh (a Turkic language) normally expresses possession in a manner similar to that in Hungarian (a Uralic (Finno-Ugric) one), by using a possessive noun/pronoun plus an indication of existence or nonexistence.
For example:

(Mening) mysyghym bar = I have a cat.
(Mening) mysyghym zhoq = I don't have a cat.

Mening" is "my" (the genitive form of "I", optional here),
"mysygym" is "my cat" (mysyq + -ym, required for a possessed noun),
"bar" = "(there) is, (there are)"
"zhoq" = "(there) isn't, (there) aren't"; also the word for "No".

So the literal translation is "My cat is" and "My cat isn't".

A different negative form, "yemes", is used for sentences like this one:
Bul mening mysygym yemes = This isn't my cat.

On the other hand, most other negative verbal forms (except for one of the past tenses) use an infix incorporated into the verb, as follows:
"Mysyghym tyrnamaidy" = My cat doesn't scratch.

I don't know if this is of interest, but I just wanted to provide another example...

p@,
--G.


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 Post subject: Tidbits from beyond IE
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 3:27 am 
Smeric
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[quote="Glenn Kempf"]Kazakh (a Turkic language) normally expresses possession in a manner similar to that in Hungarian (a Uralic (Finno-Ugric) one), by using a possessive noun/pronoun plus an indication of existence or nonexistence.
For example:

(Mening) mysyghym bar = I have a cat.
(Mening) mysyghym zhoq = I don't have a cat.

Hi Glenn,

just curious: I met people (mostly Kazakhs with only little command of their native language and Russians trying to speak Kazakh) using the construction

Mende mysyq bar / zhoq = I have / don't have a cat

This seems to be a calque of Russian "u menya est' koshka / net koshki".

Did you also encounter this construction?

Sau bol,

Hans-Werner


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