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157559Re: Semantic Content of Grammatical Gender?

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  • Ollock Ackeop
    Feb 1, 2009
      >Then, in 2006, I went to Tanzania and learned Kiswahili. Kiswahili's gender
      >system is superficially similar to Angosey's, but I got really frustrated by
      >the way it was being taught. For example, we would learn one gender
      >particle that referred to "fruits and liquids" only to learn that "car" was
      >in the same category, and so on. I think it would have been a lot less
      >confusing to have just taught it as a grammatical (rather than semantic)
      >distinction, like "le/la" is in French.
      >I'm running into the same problem with Angosey. When I coin a new word, I
      >have to decide what category a certain meaning should belong to, and it's
      >getting to the point where distinguishing via semantics is akin to splitting

      Chinese measure words can get like this. I can get how a river, a dragon, a
      road, a pair of pants, a fish, and (maybe) a dog are all "long, thin things"
      (条). But why is a cow a "head" (头), while other livestock animals use 直
      or 个?

      >Has anyone else attempted a grammar that made strict semantic distinctions?
      > Did you run into similar problems, and if so, how did you solve them?
      >My mind wanders further, into Sapir-Whorf territory. If I learn a language
      >(or create a language) with strict semantic categories, does it affect how I
      >see the world?

      I tried to do this with Aeruyo. Originally, I had classes for immortal,
      mortal, inanimate, and abstract. I've modified that since:

      I immortal beings, planes of existence
      II spiritual forces, moral concepts
      III mortal beings, abstract concepts or social constructs invented by mortals
      IV inanimate (soulless) objects (including physical undead, mechanical
      beings, etc.), concepts relating to the physical world

      Also, I've cut down on how much I derive things from a single root. The
      root "o-" still can derive to "ghost/soul", "mortal", or "corpse" depending
      on gender, but for most abstract concepts, I've used separate roots when
      there is both an "immortal" and "mortal" form of the concept.

      I had planned on adding in some illogical/arbitrary stuff for flavor. But
      then, since the conculture is a group of extraplanar "ascended" beings, it
      might not be necessary.
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