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Re: English "another"/Conlang Question

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  • David J. Peterson
    Alex wrote:
    Message 1 of 19 , Aug 31, 2007
      Alex wrote:
      I'm a bit late to the discussion of this, I guess, but here goes: is it
      really that much of an anathema to have a thing called syntax?

      I haven't seen a convincing atheoretical reason yet for having
      the two be different. I haven't seen a convincing theoretical
      one, either, but I think you'd need the former to really settle
      the matter.

      Alex (hereafter, it's always Alex):
      For that matter, I'm not sold on the
      crucial difference between a 'rule' and a 'pattern'. Is not this
      (from a
      later message)

      > {X [V] <-> should X [V (oblig. Z)] <-> should be Xing [V (oblig.
      > progr. Z)]}

      a rule, if one whose applicability is limited?

      Here's the difference. A rule is a magic box that takes some
      sort of input and turns it into the output:

      A > [MAGIC BOX] > B

      The patterns aren't really rules, but observations about the
      organization of paradigms. In a rule-based theory, you
      have, in your head, a set of rules, and a set of atoms. In a
      paradigm-based theory, you just have the lexicon: lists of
      words (and phrases, if you take it that far) arranged paradigmatically.
      The "rules" or patterns are a way of characterizing how a
      speakers fills each paradigm. So, for example, the idea is if
      you hear:

      "Yesterday, I got totally gloffed."

      You've then acquired some new lexical item (whose meaning
      you may not know, or may have to guess at). By its form, though,
      you can enter into your personal lexicon by comparing it to
      the various paradigms you've got--one of which can be
      condensed in this way:

      {X [V (stem)] <-> Xed [V (past, also passive part., etc.] Xs <-> [V
      (3rd.sg. pres)]}

      And whatever else you want to throw in there--essentially, the
      great big regular verb paradigm of English. You can then fill
      up the paradigm, which looks however you want:

      stem: gloff
      past: gloffed
      past part.: gloffed
      passive part.: gloffed
      3rd.sg. pres.: gloffs

      And unless further evidence forces you to rethink your assumption,
      you've got it set.

      So, it's kind of like a rule, but these "rules" only really function
      when you acquire a new phrase, and the rules themselves are
      constantly modified, as you acquire new data.

      I personally think (with my *extensive* background in brain
      research [read: none at all]) that these generalizations that we
      form are not language specific--i.e., that these analogical patterns
      are applied to everything we take in, in one way or another. If
      this is something separate from the lexicon, I'd hesitate to call it
      syntax, since that term seems language-specific.

      In my experience, the main objection to an approach like this is
      not that they really look like rules, but that they have no explanatory
      power, and/or that they're purely descriptive. I would say that
      a paradigmatic approach can help to clear up a lot of the murky
      areas of a given natural language (which I find to be useful), and
      that the predictions you make are about how data is treated by
      a speaker of a given language. Admittedly, this area needs work.
      Maybe someday.

      My gut-felt objection ran
      deeper than that -- I think I would have objected to /kagorota/ whatever
      lang it was proposed in.

      I can understand that. But would that objection vanish if suddenly
      there appeared a natural language that did just that?

      It'd be interesting to know -- no, I understate: it's probably the
      crux of
      this whole matter to understand how the first instance of prefixing a
      preposition (or verbs with positional senses) started.

      Especially with respect to Latin, I'd be very curious.

      What's a palm, btw? Is it what I'd call a palm branch? For me 'palm' =
      'palm tree'.

      "Palm" = "palm branch" or "palm tree". I've never heard or used
      the term "palm branch", though; I've always heard them referred
      to (and referred to them) as palms.

      So (zero-derived?) associated nouns came first. Are there any
      patterns to
      what sort of associated noun each verb selected that are relevant here?

      Umm...I'm not sure? How do you mean?

      "sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
      "No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

      -Jim Morrison

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