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Re: Fwd: "Even if"

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  • H. S. Teoh
    ... [...] ... Haha, yeah. There are almost no native Russian speakers among my acquiantances, so most of my learning was actually from reading Russian books. I
    Message 1 of 23 , Jul 23, 2013
      On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 10:05:49PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
      > 2013/7/22 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
      [...]
      > > I've been learning (imperf) Russian, but I can't really say I've
      > > learnt (perf) it. ;-) I still feel like a beginner even after 7
      > > years. Granted, I was learning on my own free time, so the actual
      > > amount of time I spent learning Russian during these past 7 years
      > > may be significantly less than it would appear at first.
      > >
      >
      > Oh, I know these kinds of problems... So many languages on the back
      > burner because I can't find a class, and trying to teach myself
      > usually ends up in a very lopsided kind of linguistic competence, i.e.
      > good reading skills, no speaking skills whatsoever...

      Haha, yeah. There are almost no native Russian speakers among my
      acquiantances, so most of my learning was actually from reading Russian
      books. I bought a Russian New Testament and read through it: when I
      started out, I could barely understand 5% of it (I did take the time to
      learn Cyrillic so that I can at least pronounce the words); by the time
      I finished, I daresay my comprehension level was around 70%. (Being
      well-versed with the English NT helped a lot, of course.) Currently, my
      reading comprehension is probably around 85% or so.

      However, my listening comprehension is not good, and my speaking skills
      are worse. I Skype'd with a native speaker from Moscow every Saturday
      for about a year or so, which dramatically improved my
      listening/speaking skills, but we've had a hard time keeping it up so
      recently I haven't had much practice at all. I do still try to read
      every now and then so that I don't start losing my grasp of the
      language, but it's hard to keep up without a Russian-speaking
      environment to be immersed in.


      > By the way, I've actually encountered a very similar construction in
      > English (similar to yours about learning Russian)! It's from a
      > dialogue of a TV series:
      >
      > A: So she was planning to sell the house?
      > B: Oh, she was always selling it - never did.
      >
      > As a non-native speaker, I always had problems understanding this last
      > sentence - after all, "she was selling it" is in the past tense, so
      > the action of selling must already have taken place! But then, a
      > seminar on contrastive grammar opened my eyes, and I started to see
      > that "she was selling it" highlights the progressive (imperfective)
      > aspect instead of the past tense and is, in this aspect, very similar
      > to "she was going to sell it". Quite an epiphany for someone in their
      > second semester.

      I'm technically not a native speaker either, but I'm a de facto native
      speaker 'cos my grasp of English is far better than my own L1 (or any
      other language I know)... to me, "she was always selling it" has
      several distinguishing qualities:

      1) "selling" is continuous, which hints at something unusual, because
      if she had already sold it, we'd say "she sold it" -- simple past.
      The use of the continuous tense instead of the default simple past
      indicates that it's an unfinished action.

      2) The English verb "sell" has two similar but distinct meanings: (a) to
      complete a transaction of sale; and (b) to put something up for sale
      (e.g., "they're selling hotdogs on the street corner"). The use of
      the continuous tense in (1) implies that the intended meaning is (b).
      This is strengthened by the following:

      3) "always" has overtones of irony or derision; it's emphasizing the
      continuous action of "selling", which again sets it apart from the
      simple past "she sold it", which is a one-time, finished action, a
      done deal.

      Finally, "never did" is a (negated) simple past -- which, by context,
      refers to "selling". Here, there's a subtle pun on "sell": whereas in
      the previous clause meaning (b) was indicated, here it refers to meaning
      (a) by switching to the simple past. That is, she put up the house for
      sale, but no sale ever happened. The pun is probably unconscious, since
      English speakers have come to associate both meanings with the lexeme
      "sell", so the switch is probably mostly unconscious.


      [...]
      > > Hmm. I wonder if it helps to construct more elaborate contexts in
      > > which such constructions might used in my conlang, to help tease out
      > > the exact meaning:
      > >
      > > 1) A king is sitting in his court, and is about to send out an envoy
      > > to a nearby diplomatic ally in order to establish important trade
      > > relations, when his attendants bring news that their mortal enemies,
      > > the Ahripf tribe, are on the move, and are likely to cross the path
      > > of the envoy. The king thinks for a while, then says: "We will send
      > > the envoy (indicative); let the enemy cross our path
      > > (imperative/hortative)!" That is, he decides that it would serve his
      > > goals whether the envoy manages to evade the enemy and establish
      > > contact with the ally, or gets attacked and thereby gives him an
      > > excuse to retaliate against the enemy.
      > >
      > > 2) A young explorer is about to set off on his spaceship to an
      > > unknown, uncharted region of space, and his mother tells him to be
      > > careful, since there have been rumors of monstrous 2-eyed beings
      > > inhabiting that space who have violent inclinations. He answers, "I
      > > will still fly out there (indicative), let dangers and 2-eyed
      > > monstrosities come (imperative)!" That is, dangers and threats do
      > > not concern him as much as his desire to explore the unknown.
      > >
      > > 3) A prisoner-of-war is about to be executed at the gallows. He is
      > > given a final chance to defect to his captors' cause. But he is
      > > unshaken, and says, "I stand for my country's cause (indicative),
      > > beat me and execute me (imperative)!" That is, he refuses to betray
      > > his cause, even if his captors will beat him and execute him.
      > >
      > > 4) A child is sitting at the dinner table, and is told to eat up his
      > > vegetables otherwise he will get no candy. He says, "I won't eat
      > > them (indicative); take the candy away (imperative)!" That is, he'd
      > > rather not eat the vegetables even if that means he has to give up
      > > the candy. His brother, on the other hand, says, "I want the candy
      > > (indicative), let me eat the vegetables (imperative)!" -- that is,
      > > he wants to get the candy, even if it means he has to eat those
      > > yucky vegetables.
      > >
      >
      > Those are some interesting and funny examples! I especially like the
      > first one, since it introduces a constellation we haven't talked about
      > before, i.e. a situation where both the occurrence of "action 1" and
      > its non-occurrence can be interpreted as an advantage. That means that
      > the agent doesn't have to worry about whether it takes place or not
      > because he is in a win-win situation. I'm not sure if you're moving
      > beyond the inconsequential category there, though: after all, it's no
      > longer true that the agent doesn't care about which of the two
      > possibilities becomes true, but that he'd welcome either one; his
      > attitude is positive towards both of them, not indifferent. An
      > interesting borderline case which could become visible in the
      > morphology if your conlang should develop attitude markers or the
      > like.

      Right, with that example I was trying to get at the underlying thought
      of this construction, which is that the agent doesn't care / doesn't
      have to worry / is indifferent to the (potential) action. I suppose the
      "doesn't have to worry" bit might be stretching the concept of
      inconsequentiality a little.


      > I'd say that the second example works the same way as your earlier
      > examples: the mere thought of monsters is not enough to thwart his
      > plans. The third example includes both interpretations - I'd say that
      > for "beat" it works like the prototypical inconsequential (you beat me
      > - I still stand for my country's cause), but for "execute" it
      > obviously has to work along the lines of "Come what may...", so this
      > short sentence mixes the two possible aspects of the inconsequential.

      I suppose one could say that the indicative/imperative construction
      encompasses both aspects of the inconsequential, and perhaps a little
      more (as in the first example)?


      > The fourth one is still undecided for me - both aspects could work for
      > the child's thinking. The brother, however, doesn't use the
      > inconsequential at all but instead offers a simple conclusion to the
      > given premises: "I want the candy" + "I'll have to eat the vegetables
      > in order to get the candy" --> "I'll eat the vegetables" - no surprise
      > or evasion of expected consequences there.
      [...]

      Hmm. I guess another aspect of what the brother said is that the use of
      the indicative/imperative construction indicates the overriding of the
      reluctance to eat vegetables by the desired longer-term goal of
      obtaining the candy. The idea of overriding seems to explain (2)-(4),
      though (1) seems to be an odd one out from this viewpoint. Though one
      way of looking at it might be, that there is an implicit expectation of
      the king's attendants that the news of the enemy's move should cause him
      to hesitate sending the envoy, so his use of the indicative-imperative
      construction is to emphasize the overriding/overturning of this
      expectation.


      T

      --
      Questions are the beginning of intelligence, but the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
    • Douglas Koller
      ... At the risk of triggering a usage thread, I m happy for your epiphany, but I don t think you need to take your non-native speaker status out behind the
      Message 2 of 23 , Jul 24, 2013
        > Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2013 22:05:49 +0200
        > From: purereasonrevoluzzer@...
        > Subject: Re: Fwd: "Even if"
        > To: CONLANG@...

        > 2013/7/22 H. S. Teoh hsteoh@...

        > > On Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 04:47:38PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
        > > > 2013/7/19 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
        > > > > On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 10:34:09AM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
        > > [...]
        > > > > Interesting. So you're saying it's like V.IMPERFECT is in the
        > > > > process of being accomplished, but ultimately stopped short, hence
        > > > > "didn't V.PERFECT"?

        > > > Yes, that's the idea; although I should warn you that appearently, the
        > > > use of 'but not' is essential here and the intended meaning wouldn't
        > > > come across without it. Mind you, I don't speak Russian, so I don't
        > > > know first-hand if this is really happening, but Tania Kuteva comes
        > > > from Bulgaria so I assume that she - as a linguist from a
        > > > Slavic-speaking area - also has some understanding of Russian. Oh, and
        > > > in the seminar where we discussed the topics for our exams there was a
        > > > girl who does speak Russian and who confirmed that this kind of
        > > > construction can be used. I'd say you can be pretty sure of it (I seem
        > > > to remember that you've learnt Russian?).

        > ... By the way, I've actually encountered a very
        > similar construction in English (similar to yours about learning Russian)!
        > It's from a dialogue of a TV series:

        > A: So she was planning to sell the house?
        > B: Oh, she was always selling it - never did.

        > As a non-native speaker, I always had problems understanding this last
        > sentence - after all, "she was selling it" is in the past tense, so the
        > action of selling must already have taken place! But then, a seminar on
        > contrastive grammar opened my eyes, and I started to see that "she was
        > selling it" highlights the progressive (imperfective) aspect instead of the
        > past tense and is, in this aspect, very similar to "she was going to sell
        > it". Quite an epiphany for someone in their second semester.

        At the risk of triggering a usage thread, I'm happy for your epiphany, but I don't think you need to take your non-native speaker status out behind the shed for having problems with B's utterance. I hardly find the meaning immediately transparent and to get to an interpretation of, "Oh, it seemed she always had it up for sale on the market, but never succeeded in selling it." requires me to fill in a whole lot of backstory that isn't necessarily there as it's written here. Nothing wrong with context-bound utterances, mind. I'm just saying I have problems with sentence B, too. :) Kou
      • Padraic Brown
        ... Mystery of life, what? ... Now, that s positive thinking! Only be careful lest the language head towards a run-away chain shift! ... Well, this is very
        Message 3 of 23 , Jul 24, 2013
          > From: H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>

          >
          > On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 06:07:20AM -0700, Padraic Brown wrote:
          >> > From: H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
          > [...]
          >> >>  >>  Maybe an emphatic adversative conjunctive adjunct.
          >> >>  >
          >> >>  > Whoa. That's quite a mouthful. Mind unpacking that a bit
          > for
          >> >>  > me?  :)
          >> >>
          >> >>  Careful! These kinds of boxes can explode all over the place,
          >> >>  spewing their contents to every corner of the room. Ever try to
          >> >>  pry adjunct goo off the wallpaper? :/ Not fun!
          >> >
          >> > I don't mind exploding boxes.
          >>
          >> Alright, but you've been warned! Don't come complaining back to me
          >> when you get a 5000 quatloo bill for goo scrapage and shrapnel
          >> removal.
          >
          > Sigh, and I still have no answer to what that original mysterious
          > incantation quoted above means.

          Mystery of life, what?

          >> Or when the Society magistrates come around with their little yellow
          >> notice saying that this region is simply not zoned for highly
          >> explosive languages! :P
          >
          > Well, then one just has to add some implosive stops to the language to
          > balance out the explosiveness and bring it within acceptable limits...

          Now, that's positive thinking! Only be careful lest the language head towards
          a run-away chain shift!

          > :-P
          >
          >
          >> > My conlangs tend to explode boxes every now and then. They just
          >> > refuse to be boxed in by well-known, nicely-behaved linguistic
          >> > boxes, no matter how hard I try. Tatari Faran refuses to behave like
          >> > any language with "normal" case systems; then when I started
          > on the
          >> > alien conlang, I actually started using normal cases like
          >> > nominatives, datives, ablatives, and patientives (which, so far,
          >> > behave essentially like accusatives), only to have the *rest* of the
          >> > language explode in my face by refusing to attest any verbs, and
          >> > refusing to have standalone pronouns.
          >> >
          >> > I'm still holding out hope for "real" verbs in the alien
          > conlang,
          >> > though the weight of evidence seems to be pointing the other way
          >> > right now.  I've given up hope on the pronouns, though.
          >>
          >> Hm. In all honesty, I think you're just going to have to give up all
          >> pretense of your actually constructing this language. Clearly, it
          >> exceeded critical mass within moments of reaching the tolkien
          >> constant, and now, my friend, you're just hanging on for the wild
          >> ride!
          >
          > Hmm. I'm surprised this happened so early in the process.

          Well, this is very critical time for any conlang!

          > I mean, I
          > don't even have the outline of the clause structure figured out yet!
          > Back in the day, Tatari Faran only started to rear its own head against
          > my wishes after I set down the rules of behaviour^W^W^W I mean, the
          > general rules of clausal structures. With this alienlang, I only have a
          > handful of sample sentences and what little grammar can be deduced from
          > them, and already it's exploding in my face. And the lexicon is only 63
          > entries thus far!

          Indeed! 20/200 hindsight and all that. Clearly this diminutive dynamo is going to
          lead you down all kinds of garden paths. And quite possibly entice you into a
          dark alley where it will give you the slip and evolve entirely out of your control.

          > Yesterday, I discovered how to form possessives involving explicit
          > possessors (i.e., other than pronouns). Oddly enough, the pronominal
          > possessive affixes are still there! It's just that you tack on the
          > explicit noun immediately after:
          >
          >     fraht.
          >     [frAxt]
          >     girl
          >
          >     voluŋ.
          >     [vO'lUN]
          >     spaceship
          >
          >     voluŋget.
          >     [vO'lUNgEt]
          >     voluŋ-et.
          >     spaceship-3SG.POSS
          >     His/her spaceship.
          >
          >     voluŋgetfraht.
          >     [vO'lUNgET,frAxt]
          >     voluŋ-et-fraht
          >     spaceship-3SG.POSS-girl
          >     The girl's spaceship.
          >
          > It's almost as if one is saying "spaceship of her, the girl".
          >
          > Interestingly enough, if the explicit possessor is plural, the usual
          > plural markings aren't used; instead, you indicate plurality by using
          > the plural pronominal possessives:
          >
          >     voluŋgutfraht.
          >     [vO'lUNgUT,frAxt]
          >     voluŋ-ut-fraht
          >     spaceship-3PL.POSS-girl
          >     The girls' spaceship.
          >
          > In essence, "the spaceship of them, the girls".

          ? Oughtn't that be "the spaceship of them, the girl (singular)"??

          I like this mode well enough to steal --- ah! borrow! Yes, borrow! ;))

          >> Just call it a "relational particle"! Magic words, them. They
          > describe
          >> anything and nothing at all, and have the added benefit of at least
          >> feigning actual linguisticitude!
          > [...]
          >
          > Ah, terminology fit for politicians! ;-)

          Works like a charm! I've used it any number of times, especially when I can't
          think of anything better.

          > On a more serious note, I've tentatively decided that -mi will be
          > glossed as either -V or -INSTR depending on its meaning in the current
          > sentence. I haven't decided what to do in cases where it might be
          > ambiguous (though this hasn't come up yet).

          Just give it five minutes! I'm sure you'll find all sorts of ambiguity where you
          least expect it...

          > T

          Padraic
        • Padraic Brown
          ... Well done! It is my opinion, but I think the English verbal system is fár more aspect-oriented than it is tense-oriented. English verbs are also highly
          Message 4 of 23 , Jul 24, 2013
            > From: Lisa Weißbach <purereasonrevoluzzer@...>

            >
            > Oh, I know these kinds of problems... So many languages on the back burner
            > because I can't find a class, and trying to teach myself usually ends up in
            > a very lopsided kind of linguistic competence, i.e. good reading skills, no
            > speaking skills whatsoever... By the way, I've actually encountered a very
            > similar construction in English (similar to yours about learning Russian)!
            > It's from a dialogue of a TV series:
            >
            > A: So she was planning to sell the house?
            > B: Oh, she was always selling it - never did.
            >
            > As a non-native speaker, I always had problems understanding this last
            > sentence - after all, "she was selling it" is in the past tense, so
            > the action of selling must already have taken place! But then, a seminar on
            > contrastive grammar opened my eyes, and I started to see that "she was
            > selling it" highlights the progressive (imperfective) aspect instead of the
            > past tense and is, in this aspect, very similar to "she was going to sell
            > it". Quite an epiphany for someone in their second semester.

            Well done! It is my opinion, but I think the English verbal system is fár more
            aspect-oriented than it is tense-oriented. English verbs are also highly idiom-
            oriented. And of course, meaning is also highly dependent on the nuances of
            context and extra-linguistic information (sarcasm, etc).

            For example, my first impression, especially based on the curious wording
            "she was always selling it", is one steeped in sarcasm. The verb itself has
            nothing to do with actually selling a house as much to do with B's attitude
            towards C. In other words, that phrase can, in addition to any "straight"
            reading, also be read sarcastically to indicate that C liked to be "in the
            game". She never had a real intention to sell the house, she just liked busying
            herself with planning to sell, and making it look like she was going to sell,
            maybe getting people to talk about her, etc.

            In order to read this in a straight fashion, I would expect:

            A: So she was planning to sell the house?
            B: Oh, she planned to - never did.

            or

            B: Oh, she was always going to sell it - never did.

            or

            B: Oh, that was always her plan / intention - never did.

            Not my intention to get into a usage thread, but these kinds of considerations
            are I think helpful for anyone making a language. How do we deal with these
            kinds of alternate readings? How do sarcasm, sleight of speech and double/treble
            entendre work? Or does the tongue strictly allow only single entendre?


            >> > Yes, and the inconsequential category definitely includes meanings
            >> > such as this one; I analysed and translated example sentences similar
            >> > to yours in my exam so I don't have a doubt that your last
            > sentences
            >> > and the earlier ones are related semantically. Still, I think there is
            >> > a small difference.  The prototypical inconsequential works like this:
            >> > something happens (action 1) - it usually has certain consequences
            >> > (expected result) - in this specific case, the result doesn't
            > occur or
            >> > at least has no influence on the agent's actions (action 2). In
            > your
            >> > last examples, the timeline looks like it's been switched around:
            > the
            >> > agent acts in a particular manner (corresponds to action 2!) even
            >> > though something bad may happen (action 1) which is expected to
            >> > prevent the agent (expected result) - looks like putting the cart
            >> > before the horse! But it's actually quite easy to fit the examples
            >> > into the concept of the inconsequential because in fact, what we
            >> > should label "action 1" is not the bad things that will
            > happen, but
            >> > the thought of them happening, the premonition. So the timeline should
            >> > be: the agent thinks of the possibility of bad things happening to him
            >> > (action 1) - this thought should prevent him from acting in a certain
            >> > way (expected result) - the agent acts that way anyway (action 2).
            >>
            >> Hmm. I wonder if it helps to construct more elaborate contexts in which
            >> such constructions might used in my conlang, to help tease out the exact
            >> meaning:
            >>
            >> 1) A king is sitting in his court, and is about to send out an envoy to
            >> a nearby diplomatic ally in order to establish important trade
            >> relations, when his attendants bring news that their mortal enemies, the
            >> Ahripf tribe, are on the move, and are likely to cross the path of the
            >> envoy. The king thinks for a while, then says: "We will send the envoy
            >> (indicative); let the enemy cross our path (imperative/hortative)!"
            > That
            >> is, he decides that it would serve his goals whether the envoy manages
            >> to evade the enemy and establish contact with the ally, or gets attacked
            >> and thereby gives him an excuse to retaliate against the enemy.
            >>
            >> 2) A young explorer is about to set off on his spaceship to an unknown,
            >> uncharted region of space, and his mother tells him to be careful, since
            >> there have been rumors of monstrous 2-eyed beings inhabiting that space
            >> who have violent inclinations. He answers, "I will still fly out there
            >> (indicative), let dangers and 2-eyed monstrosities come (imperative)!"
            >> That is, dangers and threats do not concern him as much as his desire to
            >> explore the unknown.
            >>
            >> 3) A prisoner-of-war is about to be executed at the gallows. He is given
            >> a final chance to defect to his captors' cause. But he is unshaken, and
            >> says, "I stand for my country's cause (indicative), beat me and
            > execute
            >> me (imperative)!" That is, he refuses to betray his cause, even if his
            >> captors will beat him and execute him.
            >>
            >> 4) A child is sitting at the dinner table, and is told to eat up his
            >> vegetables otherwise he will get no candy. He says, "I won't eat
            > them
            >> (indicative); take the candy away (imperative)!" That is, he'd
            > rather
            >> not eat the vegetables even if that means he has to give up the candy.
            >> His brother, on the other hand, says, "I want the candy (indicative),
            >> let me eat the vegetables (imperative)!" -- that is, he wants to get
            > the
            >> candy, even if it means he has to eat those yucky vegetables.
            >>
            >
            > Those are some interesting and funny examples! I especially like the first
            > one, since it introduces a constellation we haven't talked about before,
            > i.e. a situation where both the occurrence of "action 1" and its
            > non-occurrence can be interpreted as an advantage. That means that the
            > agent doesn't have to worry about whether it takes place or not because he
            > is in a win-win situation. I'm not sure if you're moving beyond the
            > inconsequential category there, though: after all, it's no longer true that
            > the agent doesn't care about which of the two possibilities becomes true,
            > but that he'd welcome either one; his attitude is positive towards both of
            > them, not indifferent. An interesting borderline case which could become
            > visible in the morphology if your conlang should develop attitude markers
            > or the like.

            This is because kings don't think in ordinary ways. He knows that envoys
            are expendable (and because of example three, knows that a loyal envoy --
            i.e., one that's been brainwashed to do his potentate's bidding even at the
            cost of his own life -- will go regardless of the danger); and he also knows
            that he's got any number of them. So, either way, the king wins: if the envoy
            makes it, he gets a nice trade package. If the envoy is attacked, he gets a
            flimsy pretense to destroy an enemy (and take slaves, booty, hostages, etc);
            and he will stìll have the opportunity to send another envoy once the war is
            winding down. Either way, his exchequer grows a bit fatter, and he gets to
            consolidate his hold on power as the guy that brings prosperity and security
            to the land.

            > I'd say that the second example works the same way as your earlier
            > examples: the mere thought of monsters is not enough to thwart his plans.
            > The third example includes both interpretations - I'd say that for
            > "beat"
            > it works like the prototypical inconsequential (you beat me - I still stand
            > for my country's cause), but for "execute" it obviously has to
            > work along
            > the lines of "Come what may...", so this short sentence mixes the two
            > possible aspects of the inconsequential. The fourth one is still undecided
            > for me - both aspects could work for the child's thinking. The brother,
            > however, doesn't use the inconsequential at all but instead offers a simple
            > conclusion to the given premises: "I want the candy" + "I'll
            > have to eat
            > the vegetables in order to get the candy" --> "I'll eat the
            > vegetables" -
            > no surprise or evasion of expected consequences there.

            Actually, it's a rare little boy that can think so far ahead as to understand
            how to get the candy ánd be willing to sacrifice for it! Most will be stuck
            in the "don't want yucky vegetables ~ frustration over withheld candy" stage
            and never make the leap.

            > Lisa

            Padraic
          • Lisa Weißbach
            2013/7/24 H. S. Teoh ... Tell me about it... And it s even worse with conlangs because there are so much fewer potential speakers!
            Message 5 of 23 , Jul 24, 2013
              2013/7/24 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>

              > On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 10:05:49PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
              > > 2013/7/22 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
              > [...]
              > Haha, yeah. There are almost no native Russian speakers among my
              > acquiantances, so most of my learning was actually from reading Russian
              > books. I bought a Russian New Testament and read through it: when I
              > started out, I could barely understand 5% of it (I did take the time to
              > learn Cyrillic so that I can at least pronounce the words); by the time
              > I finished, I daresay my comprehension level was around 70%. (Being
              > well-versed with the English NT helped a lot, of course.) Currently, my
              > reading comprehension is probably around 85% or so.
              >
              > However, my listening comprehension is not good, and my speaking skills
              > are worse. I Skype'd with a native speaker from Moscow every Saturday
              > for about a year or so, which dramatically improved my
              > listening/speaking skills, but we've had a hard time keeping it up so
              > recently I haven't had much practice at all. I do still try to read
              > every now and then so that I don't start losing my grasp of the
              > language, but it's hard to keep up without a Russian-speaking
              > environment to be immersed in.
              >

              Tell me about it... And it's even worse with conlangs because there are so
              much fewer potential speakers! I'll have to converse with my future cats
              when my conlang has reached a speaking level...

              >
              >
              > > By the way, I've actually encountered a very similar construction in
              > > English (similar to yours about learning Russian)! It's from a
              > > dialogue of a TV series:
              > >
              > > A: So she was planning to sell the house?
              > > B: Oh, she was always selling it - never did.
              > >
              > > As a non-native speaker, I always had problems understanding this last
              > > sentence - after all, "she was selling it" is in the past tense, so
              > > the action of selling must already have taken place! But then, a
              > > seminar on contrastive grammar opened my eyes, and I started to see
              > > that "she was selling it" highlights the progressive (imperfective)
              > > aspect instead of the past tense and is, in this aspect, very similar
              > > to "she was going to sell it". Quite an epiphany for someone in their
              > > second semester.
              >
              > I'm technically not a native speaker either, but I'm a de facto native
              > speaker 'cos my grasp of English is far better than my own L1 (or any
              > other language I know)... to me, "she was always selling it" has
              > several distinguishing qualities:
              >
              > 1) "selling" is continuous, which hints at something unusual, because
              > if she had already sold it, we'd say "she sold it" -- simple past.
              > The use of the continuous tense instead of the default simple past
              > indicates that it's an unfinished action.
              >
              > 2) The English verb "sell" has two similar but distinct meanings: (a) to
              > complete a transaction of sale; and (b) to put something up for sale
              > (e.g., "they're selling hotdogs on the street corner"). The use of
              > the continuous tense in (1) implies that the intended meaning is (b).
              > This is strengthened by the following:
              >
              > 3) "always" has overtones of irony or derision; it's emphasizing the
              > continuous action of "selling", which again sets it apart from the
              > simple past "she sold it", which is a one-time, finished action, a
              > done deal.
              >
              > Finally, "never did" is a (negated) simple past -- which, by context,
              > refers to "selling". Here, there's a subtle pun on "sell": whereas in
              > the previous clause meaning (b) was indicated, here it refers to meaning
              > (a) by switching to the simple past. That is, she put up the house for
              > sale, but no sale ever happened. The pun is probably unconscious, since
              > English speakers have come to associate both meanings with the lexeme
              > "sell", so the switch is probably mostly unconscious.
              >
              >
              Padraic, 24.07.2013 16:51:

              > Well done! It is my opinion, but I think the English verbal system is fár
              > more
              > aspect-oriented than it is tense-oriented. English verbs are also highly
              > idiom-
              > oriented. And of course, meaning is also highly dependent on the nuances of
              > context and extra-linguistic information (sarcasm, etc).
              >
              > For example, my first impression, especially based on the curious wording
              > "she was always selling it", is one steeped in sarcasm. The verb itself has
              > nothing to do with actually selling a house as much to do with B's attitude
              > towards C. In other words, that phrase can, in addition to any "straight"
              > reading, also be read sarcastically to indicate that C liked to be "in the
              > game". She never had a real intention to sell the house, she just liked
              > busying
              > herself with planning to sell, and making it look like she was going to
              > sell,
              > maybe getting people to talk about her, etc.
              >
              > In order to read this in a straight fashion, I would expect:
              >
              > A: So she was planning to sell the house?
              > B: Oh, she planned to - never did.
              >
              > or
              >
              > B: Oh, she was always going to sell it - never did.
              >
              > or
              >
              > B: Oh, that was always her plan / intention - never did.
              >
              > Not my intention to get into a usage thread, but these kinds of
              > considerations
              > are I think helpful for anyone making a language. How do we deal with these
              > kinds of alternate readings? How do sarcasm, sleight of speech and
              > double/treble
              > entendre work? Or does the tongue strictly allow only single entendre?
              >

              Wow, and here I thought that my seminar had already opened my eyes... This
              is yet a new and interesting reading of B's sentence - consider my eyes
              wide open now! Irony or sarcasm is something I never would have considered
              in my interpretation until now, but thinking about it, it does make a
              surprising amount of sense, especially when keeping the context and the
              plot of the episode in mind. Without spoiling too much, B is a pragmatic
              and slightly grumpy real estate agent who likes to wrap his deals up as
              quickly as possible and who appraised the house in question about a month
              before the events in this episode (so C probably hadn't been in the market
              for long), and A is a policeman called to the house because C was found
              dead there. Looks like she won't be able to sell the house any time soon...
              And the fact that this simple verb form raises the utterance from the pure
              content level (B talking about C selling the house) to a relationship level
              (B revealing something about his attitude towards C) makes it even more
              subtle. Teoh, now that I think about it, in said seminar we also learnt
              that the word "always" lends additional meaning to verbs in the progressive
              form, e.g. annoyance ("She's always complaining but never tries to actively
              change anything"); irony certainly is a nice and fitting item to add to
              that list of additional meanings.

              Hm, in order to keep this from turning into a usage thread and to steer
              back in the conlang direction: have any of you developed ways to express
              irony through morphology in your conlangs, such as these verb forms?


              Kou, 24.07.2013 13:44:

              > At the risk of triggering a usage thread, I'm happy for your epiphany, but
              > I don't think you need to take your non-native speaker status out behind
              > the shed for having problems with B's utterance. I hardly find the meaning
              > immediately transparent and to get to an interpretation of, "Oh, it seemed
              > she always had it up for sale on the market, but never succeeded in selling
              > it." requires me to fill in a whole lot of backstory that isn't necessarily
              > there as it's written here. Nothing wrong with context-bound utterances,
              > mind. I'm just saying I have problems with sentence B, too. :) Kou
              >

              Thanks for your sympathy :) But maybe with the help of the context, you
              might actually have figured it out more quickly than I did, though... It
              did take me several years to understand what B really wanted to say, and as
              you can see from the discussion, I was so far from the finish line all this
              time! Still, it's nice to know that even native speakers can find certain
              utterances a little difficult ;)

              Teoh:

              > [...]
              > > > Hmm. I wonder if it helps to construct more elaborate contexts in
              > > > which such constructions might used in my conlang, to help tease out
              > > > the exact meaning:
              > > >
              > > > 1) A king is sitting in his court, and is about to send out an envoy
              > > > to a nearby diplomatic ally in order to establish important trade
              > > > relations, when his attendants bring news that their mortal enemies,
              > > > the Ahripf tribe, are on the move, and are likely to cross the path
              > > > of the envoy. The king thinks for a while, then says: "We will send
              > > > the envoy (indicative); let the enemy cross our path
              > > > (imperative/hortative)!" That is, he decides that it would serve his
              > > > goals whether the envoy manages to evade the enemy and establish
              > > > contact with the ally, or gets attacked and thereby gives him an
              > > > excuse to retaliate against the enemy.
              > > >
              > > > 2) A young explorer is about to set off on his spaceship to an
              > > > unknown, uncharted region of space, and his mother tells him to be
              > > > careful, since there have been rumors of monstrous 2-eyed beings
              > > > inhabiting that space who have violent inclinations. He answers, "I
              > > > will still fly out there (indicative), let dangers and 2-eyed
              > > > monstrosities come (imperative)!" That is, dangers and threats do
              > > > not concern him as much as his desire to explore the unknown.
              > > >
              > > > 3) A prisoner-of-war is about to be executed at the gallows. He is
              > > > given a final chance to defect to his captors' cause. But he is
              > > > unshaken, and says, "I stand for my country's cause (indicative),
              > > > beat me and execute me (imperative)!" That is, he refuses to betray
              > > > his cause, even if his captors will beat him and execute him.
              > > >
              > > > 4) A child is sitting at the dinner table, and is told to eat up his
              > > > vegetables otherwise he will get no candy. He says, "I won't eat
              > > > them (indicative); take the candy away (imperative)!" That is, he'd
              > > > rather not eat the vegetables even if that means he has to give up
              > > > the candy. His brother, on the other hand, says, "I want the candy
              > > > (indicative), let me eat the vegetables (imperative)!" -- that is,
              > > > he wants to get the candy, even if it means he has to eat those
              > > > yucky vegetables.
              > > >
              > >
              > > Those are some interesting and funny examples! I especially like the
              > > first one, since it introduces a constellation we haven't talked about
              > > before, i.e. a situation where both the occurrence of "action 1" and
              > > its non-occurrence can be interpreted as an advantage. That means that
              > > the agent doesn't have to worry about whether it takes place or not
              > > because he is in a win-win situation. I'm not sure if you're moving
              > > beyond the inconsequential category there, though: after all, it's no
              > > longer true that the agent doesn't care about which of the two
              > > possibilities becomes true, but that he'd welcome either one; his
              > > attitude is positive towards both of them, not indifferent. An
              > > interesting borderline case which could become visible in the
              > > morphology if your conlang should develop attitude markers or the
              > > like.
              >
              > Right, with that example I was trying to get at the underlying thought
              > of this construction, which is that the agent doesn't care / doesn't
              > have to worry / is indifferent to the (potential) action. I suppose the
              > "doesn't have to worry" bit might be stretching the concept of
              > inconsequentiality a little.
              >

              Padraic:

              > This is because kings don't think in ordinary ways. He knows that envoys
              > are expendable (and because of example three, knows that a loyal envoy --
              > i.e., one that's been brainwashed to do his potentate's bidding even at the
              > cost of his own life -- will go regardless of the danger); and he also
              > knows
              > that he's got any number of them. So, either way, the king wins: if the
              > envoy
              > makes it, he gets a nice trade package. If the envoy is attacked, he gets a
              > flimsy pretense to destroy an enemy (and take slaves, booty, hostages,
              > etc);
              > and he will stìll have the opportunity to send another envoy once the war
              > is
              > winding down. Either way, his exchequer grows a bit fatter, and he gets to
              > consolidate his hold on power as the guy that brings prosperity and
              > security
              > to the land.
              >

              Exactly, that's why I thought of it as a win-win situation, since he can
              use the situation to his advantage either way. This is an interesting and
              possibly unforeseen addition to the inconsequential aspect, although it may
              really stretch the concept. Maybe we do need a new name for a concept
              including both meanings, after all.

              >
              >
              > > I'd say that the second example works the same way as your earlier
              > > examples: the mere thought of monsters is not enough to thwart his
              > > plans. The third example includes both interpretations - I'd say that
              > > for "beat" it works like the prototypical inconsequential (you beat me
              > > - I still stand for my country's cause), but for "execute" it
              > > obviously has to work along the lines of "Come what may...", so this
              > > short sentence mixes the two possible aspects of the inconsequential.
              >
              > I suppose one could say that the indicative/imperative construction
              > encompasses both aspects of the inconsequential, and perhaps a little
              > more (as in the first example)?
              >

              Yes, definitely, if you choose to use this construction in your conlang in
              all these cases in the end. What about lose-lose situations, then? Say, the
              king is losing the war against the Ahripf and at the same time, the
              monarchy as an institution is about to collapse because its opponents are
              legion and quite powerful. The king knows that the envoy will either be
              defeated by his enemies, which will symbolically seal his dethronement by
              showing that he's no longer capable of taking meaningful action, or that
              the envoy, even if he arrives, will probably double-cross his king, taking
              this opportunity to gain supporters for a new democracy. (I'm not a
              historian, so no guarantees that this is a plausible scenario; but you get
              where I'm going with this.) Here, the situation is quite similar to the old
              king scenario: the king knows that - no matter which of the two situations
              takes place - the consequence will be of the same valence to him (old
              scenario: both positive; new scenario: both negative), so he can just go
              ahead with his action. However, I suppose that more natlangs have a
              distinct "resignative" construction for this kind of scenario (lumping the
              old king scenario and more purely inconsequential meanings together into
              the same construction(s)) than the other way round (having a distinct
              construction for the old king scenario, but lumping the new king scenario
              and more purely inconsequential meanings together into the same
              construction(s)), but this is just a hunch and not based on any empirical
              research but on the feeling that overcoming expected consequences - what
              the inconsequential is all about - is often perceived as something positive.

              >
              >
              > > The fourth one is still undecided for me - both aspects could work for
              > > the child's thinking. The brother, however, doesn't use the
              > > inconsequential at all but instead offers a simple conclusion to the
              > > given premises: "I want the candy" + "I'll have to eat the vegetables
              > > in order to get the candy" --> "I'll eat the vegetables" - no surprise
              > > or evasion of expected consequences there.
              > [...]
              >
              > Hmm. I guess another aspect of what the brother said is that the use of
              > the indicative/imperative construction indicates the overriding of the
              > reluctance to eat vegetables by the desired longer-term goal of
              > obtaining the candy. The idea of overriding seems to explain (2)-(4),
              > though (1) seems to be an odd one out from this viewpoint. Though one
              > way of looking at it might be, that there is an implicit expectation of
              > the king's attendants that the news of the enemy's move should cause him
              > to hesitate sending the envoy, so his use of the indicative-imperative
              > construction is to emphasize the overriding/overturning of this
              > expectation.
              >

              This idea of overriding is a useful one - I'd certainly be willing to
              accept it even with regard to the kind scenario. Maybe this is actually
              what holds these similar, but not quite identical concepts together.

              Padraic:

              > Actually, it's a rare little boy that can think so far ahead as to
              > understand
              > how to get the candy ánd be willing to sacrifice for it! Most will be stuck
              > in the "don't want yucky vegetables ~ frustration over withheld candy"
              > stage
              > and never make the leap.


              Haha, you're right - but I don't think we've established just how old or
              young those boys are. They may still hate their vegetables at the age of
              twelve, but by then they should have figured out how to negotiate their way
              to the candy. Also, it's just possible that I may have given him more
              credit than he deserves ;)

              Lisa
            • H. S. Teoh
              ... [...] ... Well, my current number of potential speakers of my conlangs is 1, which kinda makes it hard to develop conversational skills. :-P [...] ...
              Message 6 of 23 , Jul 24, 2013
                On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 09:53:02PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                > 2013/7/24 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
                [...]
                > > Haha, yeah. There are almost no native Russian speakers among my
                > > acquiantances, so most of my learning was actually from reading
                > > Russian books. I bought a Russian New Testament and read through it:
                > > when I started out, I could barely understand 5% of it (I did take
                > > the time to learn Cyrillic so that I can at least pronounce the
                > > words); by the time I finished, I daresay my comprehension level was
                > > around 70%. (Being well-versed with the English NT helped a lot, of
                > > course.) Currently, my reading comprehension is probably around 85%
                > > or so.
                > >
                > > However, my listening comprehension is not good, and my speaking
                > > skills are worse. I Skype'd with a native speaker from Moscow every
                > > Saturday for about a year or so, which dramatically improved my
                > > listening/speaking skills, but we've had a hard time keeping it up
                > > so recently I haven't had much practice at all. I do still try to
                > > read every now and then so that I don't start losing my grasp of the
                > > language, but it's hard to keep up without a Russian-speaking
                > > environment to be immersed in.
                > >
                >
                > Tell me about it... And it's even worse with conlangs because there
                > are so much fewer potential speakers! I'll have to converse with my
                > future cats when my conlang has reached a speaking level...

                Well, my current number of potential speakers of my conlangs is 1, which
                kinda makes it hard to develop conversational skills. :-P


                [...]
                > Hm, in order to keep this from turning into a usage thread and to
                > steer back in the conlang direction: have any of you developed ways to
                > express irony through morphology in your conlangs, such as these verb
                > forms?

                Tatari Faran has some ironic expressions, though none of them involve
                verbs. One such expression is:

                jibin nari.
                child(N) FIN

                This is one of a series of 2-word idioms involving a class of words
                called "finalizers" that have no English equivalent. Usually, finalizers
                are synonymous with the main verb or predicative adjective, and serve as
                end-of-clause markers. Native speakers often give colorful glosses when
                asked what a finalizer means, but these glosses actually carry no
                factual meaning. Instead, they add color to a particular statement. One
                example of this is:

                sura sei pirat inai.
                woman's_garments CVY:FEM yellow bright(FIN)
                The woman's garments are yellow.

                The finalizer _inai_ is glossed as "bright", however, the sentence
                doesn't actually state that the garments are *bright* yellow; even a
                dull yellow would be described as _pirat inai_, simply because yellow is
                regarded as a "bright" color. One could think of finalizers as relics of
                ancient adjectives or verbs that have since been bleached of all
                semantic content, remaining only to serve a grammatical function.

                Coming back to idioms: these finalizers form a series of 2-word idioms
                when combined with one other word, usually a noun that overtly lack the
                usually-obligatory case particle. The most common of these is:

                peira ta'an
                rain down(FIN)
                It is raining.

                This construction is unusual because nouns like _peira_ usually require
                a trailing case particle in order to form a proper NP. The overt lack of
                the case particle indicates that a special meaning is intended. The
                finalizer _ta'an_ carries the overtones of "descending" or "down to the
                ground", so _peira ta'an_ is the phrase for "It's raining".

                Coming back to the original expression _jibin nari_: _jibin_ means
                "child", and _nari_ is usually used with expressions of happiness or
                fun. So _jibin nari_ is an interjection meaning something along the
                lines of "the child is having his fun", usually said of children who are
                enjoying themselves playing.

                The irony comes in when this phrase is applied to an adult: then it
                acquires overtones of "he's still naïve and childish at heart, and
                hasn't seen the worst side of things yet". One may encounter such an
                utterance when person A says something naïve about a possibly serious
                situation, and person B would reply, _jibin nari!_ with a dismissive
                tone -- meaning that what person A said was something naïve, like
                child's play, and inapplicable to the situation at hand.

                (Argh, I can't believe it took me 7 paragraphs and 3 interlinears to
                explain a 2-word utterance! Symptoms of a hardcore conlanger... :-P)


                [...]
                > Teoh:
                > > [...]
                > > > > 1) A king is sitting in his court, and is about to send out an
                > > > > envoy to a nearby diplomatic ally in order to establish
                > > > > important trade relations, when his attendants bring news that
                > > > > their mortal enemies, the Ahripf tribe, are on the move, and are
                > > > > likely to cross the path of the envoy. The king thinks for a
                > > > > while, then says: "We will send the envoy (indicative); let the
                > > > > enemy cross our path (imperative/hortative)!" That is, he
                > > > > decides that it would serve his goals whether the envoy manages
                > > > > to evade the enemy and establish contact with the ally, or gets
                > > > > attacked and thereby gives him an excuse to retaliate against
                > > > > the enemy.
                [...]
                > > Right, with that example I was trying to get at the underlying
                > > thought of this construction, which is that the agent doesn't care /
                > > doesn't have to worry / is indifferent to the (potential) action. I
                > > suppose the "doesn't have to worry" bit might be stretching the
                > > concept of inconsequentiality a little.
                >
                > Padraic:
                >
                > > This is because kings don't think in ordinary ways. He knows that
                > > envoys are expendable (and because of example three, knows that a
                > > loyal envoy -- i.e., one that's been brainwashed to do his
                > > potentate's bidding even at the cost of his own life -- will go
                > > regardless of the danger); and he also knows that he's got any
                > > number of them. So, either way, the king wins: if the envoy makes
                > > it, he gets a nice trade package. If the envoy is attacked, he gets
                > > a flimsy pretense to destroy an enemy (and take slaves, booty,
                > > hostages, etc); and he will stìll have the opportunity to send
                > > another envoy once the war is winding down. Either way, his
                > > exchequer grows a bit fatter, and he gets to consolidate his hold on
                > > power as the guy that brings prosperity and security to the land.
                > >
                >
                > Exactly, that's why I thought of it as a win-win situation, since he
                > can use the situation to his advantage either way. This is an
                > interesting and possibly unforeseen addition to the inconsequential
                > aspect, although it may really stretch the concept. Maybe we do need a
                > new name for a concept including both meanings, after all.

                I would say that what I had in mind with the indicative-imperative
                construction was basically a "come what may" kind of expression. What is
                included at the outer fringes of this basic concept may stretch the
                category a bit. :)


                [...]
                > > I suppose one could say that the indicative/imperative construction
                > > encompasses both aspects of the inconsequential, and perhaps a
                > > little more (as in the first example)?
                > >
                >
                > Yes, definitely, if you choose to use this construction in your
                > conlang in all these cases in the end. What about lose-lose
                > situations, then?

                That's a very interesting question indeed!


                > Say, the king is losing the war against the Ahripf and at the same
                > time, the monarchy as an institution is about to collapse because its
                > opponents are legion and quite powerful.

                (Tangential aside: I chose the name _Ahripf_ [AxR\Ipf] as a kind of
                inside joke: _ahr_ means "two", and _ipf_ means "eye", so _Ahripf_
                literally means "two-eyed". The native speakers of this conlang are
                stereotypical one-eyed green round-bodied aliens, so to them anything
                with more than one eye is monstrous and not worthy to be treated on par
                with a respectable 1-eyed sentient being. An apt appellation for one's
                hated enemies. :-P It could very well refer to that troublesome human
                settlement in the disputed region of the galaxy that the king wishes to
                claim for his own kingdom, say.)


                > The king knows that the envoy will either be defeated by his enemies,
                > which will symbolically seal his dethronement by showing that he's no
                > longer capable of taking meaningful action, or that the envoy, even if
                > he arrives, will probably double-cross his king, taking this
                > opportunity to gain supporters for a new democracy. (I'm not a
                > historian, so no guarantees that this is a plausible scenario; but you
                > get where I'm going with this.) Here, the situation is quite similar
                > to the old king scenario: the king knows that - no matter which of the
                > two situations takes place - the consequence will be of the same
                > valence to him (old scenario: both positive; new scenario: both
                > negative), so he can just go ahead with his action. However, I suppose
                > that more natlangs have a distinct "resignative" construction for this
                > kind of scenario (lumping the old king scenario and more purely
                > inconsequential meanings together into the same construction(s)) than
                > the other way round (having a distinct construction for the old king
                > scenario, but lumping the new king scenario and more purely
                > inconsequential meanings together into the same construction(s)), but
                > this is just a hunch and not based on any empirical research but on
                > the feeling that overcoming expected consequences - what the
                > inconsequential is all about - is often perceived as something
                > positive.

                Hmm. Initially I was going to say that the indicative/imperative
                construction could be used in this scenario as well, but on second
                thought, I think it wouldn't be, because an imperative is too forceful
                for a resignative utterance. It would seem, as you suggest, that a
                different construction would be used. But I'm not 100% certain on this
                yet.


                [...]
                > > Hmm. I guess another aspect of what the brother said is that the use
                > > of the indicative/imperative construction indicates the overriding
                > > of the reluctance to eat vegetables by the desired longer-term goal
                > > of obtaining the candy. The idea of overriding seems to explain
                > > (2)-(4), though (1) seems to be an odd one out from this viewpoint.
                > > Though one way of looking at it might be, that there is an implicit
                > > expectation of the king's attendants that the news of the enemy's
                > > move should cause him to hesitate sending the envoy, so his use of
                > > the indicative-imperative construction is to emphasize the
                > > overriding/overturning of this expectation.
                > >
                >
                > This idea of overriding is a useful one - I'd certainly be willing to
                > accept it even with regard to the kind scenario. Maybe this is
                > actually what holds these similar, but not quite identical concepts
                > together.

                I wonder how this analysis would hold in light of the lose-lose
                scenario. Could one say, perhaps, that in the case of a resignative
                utterance, there is no overriding, and hence the indicative/imperative
                construct isn't used?


                [...]
                > > Actually, it's a rare little boy that can think so far ahead as to
                > > understand how to get the candy ánd be willing to sacrifice for it!
                > > Most will be stuck in the "don't want yucky vegetables ~ frustration
                > > over withheld candy" stage and never make the leap.
                >
                >
                > Haha, you're right - but I don't think we've established just how old
                > or young those boys are. They may still hate their vegetables at the
                > age of twelve, but by then they should have figured out how to
                > negotiate their way to the candy. Also, it's just possible that I may
                > have given him more credit than he deserves ;)
                [...]

                Most college-age males still hate vegetables. Though at that age they're
                less likely to be swayed by candy alone. :)


                T

                --
                If lightning were to ever strike an orchestra, it'd always hit the
                conductor first.
              • Lisa Weißbach
                2013/7/25 H. S. Teoh ... I don t suppose the cats will ever answer either ;) ... That s another (valid) way of looking at it :) ...
                Message 7 of 23 , Jul 26, 2013
                  2013/7/25 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>

                  > On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 09:53:02PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                  > > 2013/7/24 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
                  > [...]
                  > > > Haha, yeah. There are almost no native Russian speakers among my
                  > > > acquiantances, so most of my learning was actually from reading
                  > > > Russian books. I bought a Russian New Testament and read through it:
                  > > > when I started out, I could barely understand 5% of it (I did take
                  > > > the time to learn Cyrillic so that I can at least pronounce the
                  > > > words); by the time I finished, I daresay my comprehension level was
                  > > > around 70%. (Being well-versed with the English NT helped a lot, of
                  > > > course.) Currently, my reading comprehension is probably around 85%
                  > > > or so.
                  > > >
                  > > > However, my listening comprehension is not good, and my speaking
                  > > > skills are worse. I Skype'd with a native speaker from Moscow every
                  > > > Saturday for about a year or so, which dramatically improved my
                  > > > listening/speaking skills, but we've had a hard time keeping it up
                  > > > so recently I haven't had much practice at all. I do still try to
                  > > > read every now and then so that I don't start losing my grasp of the
                  > > > language, but it's hard to keep up without a Russian-speaking
                  > > > environment to be immersed in.
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > Tell me about it... And it's even worse with conlangs because there
                  > > are so much fewer potential speakers! I'll have to converse with my
                  > > future cats when my conlang has reached a speaking level...
                  >
                  > Well, my current number of potential speakers of my conlangs is 1, which
                  > kinda makes it hard to develop conversational skills. :-P
                  >

                  I don't suppose the cats will ever answer either ;)

                  >
                  >
                  > [...]
                  > > Teoh:
                  > > > [...]
                  > > > > > 1) A king is sitting in his court, and is about to send out an
                  > > > > > envoy to a nearby diplomatic ally in order to establish
                  > > > > > important trade relations, when his attendants bring news that
                  > > > > > their mortal enemies, the Ahripf tribe, are on the move, and are
                  > > > > > likely to cross the path of the envoy. The king thinks for a
                  > > > > > while, then says: "We will send the envoy (indicative); let the
                  > > > > > enemy cross our path (imperative/hortative)!" That is, he
                  > > > > > decides that it would serve his goals whether the envoy manages
                  > > > > > to evade the enemy and establish contact with the ally, or gets
                  > > > > > attacked and thereby gives him an excuse to retaliate against
                  > > > > > the enemy.
                  > [...]
                  > > > Right, with that example I was trying to get at the underlying
                  > > > thought of this construction, which is that the agent doesn't care /
                  > > > doesn't have to worry / is indifferent to the (potential) action. I
                  > > > suppose the "doesn't have to worry" bit might be stretching the
                  > > > concept of inconsequentiality a little.
                  > >
                  > > Padraic:
                  > >
                  > > > This is because kings don't think in ordinary ways. He knows that
                  > > > envoys are expendable (and because of example three, knows that a
                  > > > loyal envoy -- i.e., one that's been brainwashed to do his
                  > > > potentate's bidding even at the cost of his own life -- will go
                  > > > regardless of the danger); and he also knows that he's got any
                  > > > number of them. So, either way, the king wins: if the envoy makes
                  > > > it, he gets a nice trade package. If the envoy is attacked, he gets
                  > > > a flimsy pretense to destroy an enemy (and take slaves, booty,
                  > > > hostages, etc); and he will stìll have the opportunity to send
                  > > > another envoy once the war is winding down. Either way, his
                  > > > exchequer grows a bit fatter, and he gets to consolidate his hold on
                  > > > power as the guy that brings prosperity and security to the land.
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > Exactly, that's why I thought of it as a win-win situation, since he
                  > > can use the situation to his advantage either way. This is an
                  > > interesting and possibly unforeseen addition to the inconsequential
                  > > aspect, although it may really stretch the concept. Maybe we do need a
                  > > new name for a concept including both meanings, after all.
                  >
                  > I would say that what I had in mind with the indicative-imperative
                  > construction was basically a "come what may" kind of expression. What is
                  > included at the outer fringes of this basic concept may stretch the
                  > category a bit. :)
                  >

                  That's another (valid) way of looking at it :)

                  >
                  >
                  > [...]
                  > > > I suppose one could say that the indicative/imperative construction
                  > > > encompasses both aspects of the inconsequential, and perhaps a
                  > > > little more (as in the first example)?
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > Yes, definitely, if you choose to use this construction in your
                  > > conlang in all these cases in the end. What about lose-lose
                  > > situations, then?
                  >
                  > That's a very interesting question indeed!
                  >
                  >
                  > > Say, the king is losing the war against the Ahripf and at the same
                  > > time, the monarchy as an institution is about to collapse because its
                  > > opponents are legion and quite powerful.
                  >
                  > (Tangential aside: I chose the name _Ahripf_ [AxR\Ipf] as a kind of
                  > inside joke: _ahr_ means "two", and _ipf_ means "eye", so _Ahripf_
                  > literally means "two-eyed". The native speakers of this conlang are
                  > stereotypical one-eyed green round-bodied aliens, so to them anything
                  > with more than one eye is monstrous and not worthy to be treated on par
                  > with a respectable 1-eyed sentient being. An apt appellation for one's
                  > hated enemies. :-P It could very well refer to that troublesome human
                  > settlement in the disputed region of the galaxy that the king wishes to
                  > claim for his own kingdom, say.)
                  >

                  (And a very cool name it is! I've always been partial to the affricate
                  "pf", even though, ironically, I don't always clearly pronounce it in my
                  L1. And this sort of "body part racism" is certainly an interesting and yet
                  plausible idea. After all, beings with more than one eye must be inferior
                  to those to whom one eye is sufficient.)

                  >
                  >
                  > > The king knows that the envoy will either be defeated by his enemies,
                  > > which will symbolically seal his dethronement by showing that he's no
                  > > longer capable of taking meaningful action, or that the envoy, even if
                  > > he arrives, will probably double-cross his king, taking this
                  > > opportunity to gain supporters for a new democracy. (I'm not a
                  > > historian, so no guarantees that this is a plausible scenario; but you
                  > > get where I'm going with this.) Here, the situation is quite similar
                  > > to the old king scenario: the king knows that - no matter which of the
                  > > two situations takes place - the consequence will be of the same
                  > > valence to him (old scenario: both positive; new scenario: both
                  > > negative), so he can just go ahead with his action. However, I suppose
                  > > that more natlangs have a distinct "resignative" construction for this
                  > > kind of scenario (lumping the old king scenario and more purely
                  > > inconsequential meanings together into the same construction(s)) than
                  > > the other way round (having a distinct construction for the old king
                  > > scenario, but lumping the new king scenario and more purely
                  > > inconsequential meanings together into the same construction(s)), but
                  > > this is just a hunch and not based on any empirical research but on
                  > > the feeling that overcoming expected consequences - what the
                  > > inconsequential is all about - is often perceived as something
                  > > positive.
                  >
                  > Hmm. Initially I was going to say that the indicative/imperative
                  > construction could be used in this scenario as well, but on second
                  > thought, I think it wouldn't be, because an imperative is too forceful
                  > for a resignative utterance. It would seem, as you suggest, that a
                  > different construction would be used. But I'm not 100% certain on this
                  > yet.
                  >

                  True, in a real lose-lose situation, one might not be able or willing to
                  muster up the energy necessary to formulate a command, for what is
                  essentially a lost cause. Sounds plausible. I like it when there are
                  psychological explanations for linguistic structures. Not sure I always
                  manage to come up with one, but it always makes me very happy when I do :)

                  >
                  >
                  > [...]
                  > > > Hmm. I guess another aspect of what the brother said is that the use
                  > > > of the indicative/imperative construction indicates the overriding
                  > > > of the reluctance to eat vegetables by the desired longer-term goal
                  > > > of obtaining the candy. The idea of overriding seems to explain
                  > > > (2)-(4), though (1) seems to be an odd one out from this viewpoint.
                  > > > Though one way of looking at it might be, that there is an implicit
                  > > > expectation of the king's attendants that the news of the enemy's
                  > > > move should cause him to hesitate sending the envoy, so his use of
                  > > > the indicative-imperative construction is to emphasize the
                  > > > overriding/overturning of this expectation.
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > This idea of overriding is a useful one - I'd certainly be willing to
                  > > accept it even with regard to the kind scenario. Maybe this is
                  > > actually what holds these similar, but not quite identical concepts
                  > > together.
                  >
                  > I wonder how this analysis would hold in light of the lose-lose
                  > scenario. Could one say, perhaps, that in the case of a resignative
                  > utterance, there is no overriding, and hence the indicative/imperative
                  > construct isn't used?
                  >

                  Another good point! There is some sort of overriding process going on: the
                  king is acting - or making other people act, which is the same thing in
                  this case - even though he knows it's no good, so his decision to act sort
                  of overrides the negative valence of the expected consequences. But you
                  could argue that this kind of overriding is a negative one, based on the
                  expectation of *not* acting instead of just acting differently (as in the
                  other scenarios), which puts a psychological minus sign in front of the
                  equation and turns it into a scenario which differs significantly from the
                  others, psychologically speaking, requiring a different construction.

                  (And of course, I meant "king scenario", not "kind scenario"...)

                  >
                  >
                  > [...]
                  > > > Actually, it's a rare little boy that can think so far ahead as to
                  > > > understand how to get the candy ánd be willing to sacrifice for it!
                  > > > Most will be stuck in the "don't want yucky vegetables ~ frustration
                  > > > over withheld candy" stage and never make the leap.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Haha, you're right - but I don't think we've established just how old
                  > > or young those boys are. They may still hate their vegetables at the
                  > > age of twelve, but by then they should have figured out how to
                  > > negotiate their way to the candy. Also, it's just possible that I may
                  > > have given him more credit than he deserves ;)
                  > [...]
                  >
                  > Most college-age males still hate vegetables. Though at that age they're
                  > less likely to be swayed by candy alone. :)
                  >

                  Well, we could assume that eating the vegetables would not just get him
                  candy, but also a crate of beer and a date with that nice girl he really
                  likes but who is, unfortunately, a militant vegan ;)

                  Lisa
                • H. S. Teoh
                  ... [...] ... So how *do* you pronounce it? It might be interesting to consider which directions a sound change on /pf/ might take. ... Not to mention the
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jul 26, 2013
                    On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 02:36:43PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                    > 2013/7/25 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
                    >
                    > > On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 09:53:02PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                    [...]
                    > > > Say, the king is losing the war against the Ahripf and at the same
                    > > > time, the monarchy as an institution is about to collapse because
                    > > > its opponents are legion and quite powerful.
                    > >
                    > > (Tangential aside: I chose the name _Ahripf_ [AxR\Ipf] as a kind of
                    > > inside joke: _ahr_ means "two", and _ipf_ means "eye", so _Ahripf_
                    > > literally means "two-eyed". The native speakers of this conlang are
                    > > stereotypical one-eyed green round-bodied aliens, so to them
                    > > anything with more than one eye is monstrous and not worthy to be
                    > > treated on par with a respectable 1-eyed sentient being. An apt
                    > > appellation for one's hated enemies. :-P It could very well refer
                    > > to that troublesome human settlement in the disputed region of the
                    > > galaxy that the king wishes to claim for his own kingdom, say.)
                    > >
                    >
                    > (And a very cool name it is! I've always been partial to the affricate
                    > "pf", even though, ironically, I don't always clearly pronounce it in
                    > my L1.

                    So how *do* you pronounce it? It might be interesting to consider which
                    directions a sound change on /pf/ might take.


                    > And this sort of "body part racism" is certainly an interesting and
                    > yet plausible idea. After all, beings with more than one eye must be
                    > inferior to those to whom one eye is sufficient.)

                    Not to mention the utter grotesqueness of those 2-eyed monsters'
                    knee-joints that bend outwards... ewww!!! How can they do *that* to
                    their legs?! Gross!! (The native speaker's legs have knee-joints that
                    bend inwards.)

                    And in retrospect, I made an embarrassing mistake: the word for "two" is
                    _aht_ [Axt], not _ahr_ [AxR\]. But the conlang bug says, not a problem;
                    _aht_ will just be the standalone numeral, whereas _ahr_ is the
                    combining form! :) So we have _aht ipf_ = "two eyes", whereas _axripf_ =
                    "two-eyed". A subtle, but important distinction!

                    Which implies the existence of combining forms for the other numbers as
                    well, so here goes:

                    Standalone form -> Combining form
                    er [Er] "one" -> ??? (haven't decided on this one yet)
                    aht [Axt] "two" -> ahr- [AxR\] "two-"
                    hreis [xR\eIs] "three" -> hra- [xR\V] "three-"
                    shtehr [StExR\] "four" -> shtehre- ['StExR\@] "four-"
                    hrvat [xR\vat] "five" -> hrva(t)- [xR\vaT] "five-" [*]
                    esht [ESt] "six" -> eshte- ['EStE] "six-"
                    sheŋt [SENt] "seven" -> sheŋ- [SEN] "seven-"
                    vaxt [vAxt] "eight" -> vahr- [vAxR\] "eight-"

                    [*] /t/ only appears if immediately preceding another consonant in the
                    compound (which, by rules of consonant clusters, fricativises to [T]),
                    otherwise a glottal stop <'> is inserted.

                    This gives us various names for monstrous beings:

                    ahripf ['AxrIpf]: two-eyed
                    hraglett [xR\V'glETt]: 3-jointed
                    shtehretzapjak [,StExR\@ts)V'pjak]: 4-legged
                    hrvatgruŋgis [xR\vVT'grUNgIs]: 5-fingered
                    eshte'tzapjak [,EStEts)V'pjak]: 6-legged
                    sheŋblah ['SENblAx]: 7-leafed
                    vahrgruŋ [vAxR\grUN]: 8-armed

                    As you can see, body-part racism is a rather common malady among them.
                    ;-)

                    (Gotta love CONLANG... it's just an endless source of inspiration for
                    conlang-building. Just coined a whole bunch of new words just for
                    forming these pejoratives, in addition to the combining forms of the
                    numerals. :-P)


                    [...]
                    > > Hmm. Initially I was going to say that the indicative/imperative
                    > > construction could be used in this scenario as well, but on second
                    > > thought, I think it wouldn't be, because an imperative is too
                    > > forceful for a resignative utterance. It would seem, as you suggest,
                    > > that a different construction would be used. But I'm not 100%
                    > > certain on this yet.
                    >
                    > True, in a real lose-lose situation, one might not be able or willing
                    > to muster up the energy necessary to formulate a command, for what is
                    > essentially a lost cause. Sounds plausible. I like it when there are
                    > psychological explanations for linguistic structures. Not sure I
                    > always manage to come up with one, but it always makes me very happy
                    > when I do :)

                    Well, then, it's settled! For lose-lose situations, a different
                    construction will be used. Although *what* construction, I do not know
                    yet. I'll have to consult with my voice-actors^W^W*ahem* I mean, green
                    racist UFO-riding extraterrestrials from another planet. ;-)


                    [...]
                    > > > > Actually, it's a rare little boy that can think so far ahead as
                    > > > > to understand how to get the candy ánd be willing to sacrifice
                    > > > > for it! Most will be stuck in the "don't want yucky vegetables
                    > > > > ~ frustration over withheld candy" stage and never make the
                    > > > > leap.
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > > Haha, you're right - but I don't think we've established just how
                    > > > old or young those boys are. They may still hate their vegetables
                    > > > at the age of twelve, but by then they should have figured out how
                    > > > to negotiate their way to the candy. Also, it's just possible that
                    > > > I may have given him more credit than he deserves ;)
                    > > [...]
                    > >
                    > > Most college-age males still hate vegetables. Though at that age
                    > > they're less likely to be swayed by candy alone. :)
                    > >
                    >
                    > Well, we could assume that eating the vegetables would not just get
                    > him candy, but also a crate of beer and a date with that nice girl he
                    > really likes but who is, unfortunately, a militant vegan ;)
                    [...]

                    Haha, sounds like a soap opera plotline. :-P


                    T

                    --
                    Why can't you just be a nonconformist like everyone else? -- YHL
                  • Padraic Brown
                    ... I suppose èvery language must be capable of expressing things like irony and sarcasm in some fashion or other. In English, it s certainly very important,
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jul 27, 2013
                      > From: Lisa Weißbach <purereasonrevoluzzer@...>

                      >
                      >> For example, my first impression, especially based on the curious wording
                      >> "she was always selling it", is one steeped in sarcasm. The verb  itself has
                      >> nothing to do with actually selling a house as much to do with B's attitude
                      >> towards C. In other words, that phrase can, in addition to any "straight"
                      >> reading, also be read sarcastically to indicate that C liked to be "in the
                      >> game".
                      >
                      > Wow, and here I thought that my seminar had already opened my eyes... This
                      > is yet a new and interesting reading of B's sentence - consider my eyes
                      > wide open now! Irony or sarcasm is something I never would have considered
                      > in my interpretation until now, but thinking about it, it does make a
                      > surprising amount of sense, especially when keeping the context and the
                      > plot of the episode in mind.

                      I suppose èvery language must be capable of expressing things like irony and sarcasm
                      in some fashion or other. In English, it's certainly very important, and perhaps because
                      we have no explicit, and often very paltry implicit marking of such, clues other than
                      simple linguistic ones need to be examined carefully. Very often they're delivered
                      straight, and someone not prepared or not expecting anything other than a straight
                      answer can be left quite flummoxed.

                      > Hm, in order to keep this from turning into a usage thread and to steer
                      > back in the conlang direction: have any of you developed ways to express
                      > irony through morphology in your conlangs, such as these verb forms?

                      The World itself is full of such ironies, but I haven't done any actual work
                      on how its works in those languages spoken there. Leastways as far as
                      human languages are concerned, I just assume that every language community
                      has its weisenheimers, smartarses and outright Liars, and thus must in some
                      way be able to handle these things.

                      Non-human peoples --- I don't know if they even do irony or sarcasm. Daine,
                      for example, can learn to do these ( or at least imitate them after long practice ),
                      but natively don't really get the concept. They're kind of natural straight men,
                      especially those out in the Farther West, beyond the lands of Men. Those that
                      live in the Eastlands have more contact with Men and thus a greater understanding
                      of their oddness.

                      The Avantimen are fond of twisting well known aphorisms and giving them a bit
                      of ironic twist. For example: Tha qanet thon herse te watnam lîthen, beouten tha
                      ne qanet him beude te utpumpe thon water. (You can lead a horse to water, but
                      you can't make him pump it out.)

                      Or this twisted tale:

                      On fornez this man yoet yahend on thon watersithon with his beuhen ande his arhweuô,
                      ande he was yeconuersend under himself ande this annet in thenwise: “His alle es
                      senslesse tha wâtet, that te scêten es crudele disportez; for that em ei ne crudeltet en
                      man. Sôthelih ei petô min yncgenôn ongeynes thin weyngcraftinesse. Tes fayr gammelez.”

                      “La, sôth! Vrouw, hit es sôthelih fayr gammelez; beouten ih nellem ne gambollen.”

                      “Huw nuw!” he scrâye. “Hwer for naht?” frôhe se man with his beuhen ande his arhweuô.

                      “Yaan gammelez es fayr, swo tha sayes ande swo ih haldô. They ceavant erend swo sam;
                      beouten vrouw, doe tha te thenken on thon stakon. Em ihh on thon gammele for thih;
                      beouten hwat mih sêtat under this gambolle?”

                      Se man underhimthanke, beouten he ne havete andswere te thon frahhe; ande with
                      wiscraftinesse, he thon frahund scôte.

                      One time this man went hunting at the waters edge with his bow and his arrows, and he was
                      talking between himself and this duck in thuswise: “All this is senseless, you know, that
                      shooting is a cruel sport. For I am not a cruel man. Truly I put my natural ability against thy
                      wingcraftiness. Tis a fair game.”

                      “Oh, truly! Sir, it is truly a fair game; but I am not willing to wager!”

                      “How now!” he cried. “Why not?” asked the man with his bow and his arrows.

                      “This game is fair, as you say and so too I hold. The odds are even; but sir, do you think of the
                      stakes. I am in the game for you; but what is in this wager for me?”

                      The man considered within himself, but he had no answer to that question. And so with great craft
                      and skill, he shot the questioner.

                      >> I suppose one could say that the indicative/imperative construction
                      >> encompasses both aspects of the inconsequential, and perhaps a little
                      >> more (as in the first example)?
                      >>
                      >
                      > Yes, definitely, if you choose to use this construction in your conlang in
                      > all these cases in the end. What about lose-lose situations, then? Say, the
                      > king is losing the war against the Ahripf and at the same time, the
                      > monarchy as an institution is about to collapse because its opponents are
                      > legion and quite powerful. The king knows that the envoy will either be
                      > defeated by his enemies, which will symbolically seal his dethronement by
                      > showing that he's no longer capable of taking meaningful action, or that
                      > the envoy, even if he arrives, will probably double-cross his king, taking
                      > this opportunity to gain supporters for a new democracy. (I'm not a
                      > historian, so no guarantees that this is a plausible scenario; but you get
                      > where I'm going with this.) Here, the situation is quite similar to the old
                      > king scenario: the king knows that - no matter which of the two situations
                      > takes place - the consequence will be of the same valence to him (old
                      > scenario: both positive; new scenario: both negative), so he can just go
                      > ahead with his action. However, I suppose that more natlangs have a
                      > distinct "resignative" construction for this kind of scenario (lumping

                      "Resignative" is exactly what I was thinking of!

                      Padraic

                      > Lisa
                      >
                    • Lisa Weißbach
                      2013/7/26 H. S. Teoh ... Glad to help in that department too :) In my L1 (German), can appear in any position in the
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jul 29, 2013
                        2013/7/26 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>

                        > On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 02:36:43PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                        > > 2013/7/25 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
                        > >
                        > > > On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 09:53:02PM +0200, Lisa Weißbach wrote:
                        > [...]
                        > > (And a very cool name it is! I've always been partial to the affricate
                        > > "pf", even though, ironically, I don't always clearly pronounce it in
                        > > my L1.
                        >
                        > So how *do* you pronounce it? It might be interesting to consider which
                        > directions a sound change on /pf/ might take.
                        >

                        Glad to help in that department too :) In my L1 (German), <pf> can appear
                        in any position in the syllable/word. Word-initially, my /pf/ most often
                        turns into a simple [f], e.g. "Pferd" 'horse' is homophonous with "fährt"
                        '(he, she, it) drives' [fɛɐt/fE6t]; it only turns out [pf] in the most
                        formal of occasions, and maybe not even then. This kind of simplification
                        is quite common, at least in North Rhine-Westfalia, but also throughout the
                        rest of Germany, as far as I can tell. Possibly also a generation thing? My
                        mother pronounces "Pferd" a little more carefully, at least those few times
                        I paid attention to her pronunciation.

                        However, in other positions, this is quite unacceptable, e.g. "hüpfen"
                        would sound very strange and quite certainly not even be understood at
                        first, maybe treated as a speech impediment. I think that in this
                        particular position (word-medial, at the beginning of a syllable) this is
                        due to syllabic phonotactics: in "hüpfen" and similar words, the <p> is
                        perceived as belonging to the first syllable instead of the second
                        (hüp.fen), thereby closing it and requiring a short/lax pronunciation of
                        the vowel ü [ʏ/Y], whereas without the <p>, the first syllable would be
                        open (*hü.fen), requiring a long/tense vowel [y]. This means that leaving
                        out the <p> in the pronunciation would change a substantial amount of the
                        rest of the word and is, therefore, not accepted. (However, in compounds
                        whose second/third/.../last part starts with <pf>, I simplify it to [f]
                        because that part is considered separate and has no impact on the preceding
                        part, regardless of the latter's coda: "Reitpferd" 'riding horse'
                        [ʁaɪtfɛɐt/RaItfE6t], but also "Fahrpferd" 'driving horse'
                        [faɐfɛɐt/fa6fE6t].)

                        Similarly at the end of syllables: in "Zopf" 'braid', the <p> has to be
                        pronounced because it shortens the vowel: [tsɔpf/tsOpf]. Without it, <o>
                        would be long/tense because a single <f> is not enough to shorten it:
                        [*tsof]. If your conlang have tenseness as a distinguishing feature of
                        vowels and if it is based on the openness/closedness of the syllable in
                        question, you may want to consider these distinctions. Of course, if it
                        doesn't, you needn't worry about them.

                        >
                        >
                        > > And this sort of "body part racism" is certainly an interesting and
                        > > yet plausible idea. After all, beings with more than one eye must be
                        > > inferior to those to whom one eye is sufficient.)
                        >
                        > Not to mention the utter grotesqueness of those 2-eyed monsters'
                        > knee-joints that bend outwards... ewww!!! How can they do *that* to
                        > their legs?! Gross!! (The native speaker's legs have knee-joints that
                        > bend inwards.)
                        >
                        > And in retrospect, I made an embarrassing mistake: the word for "two" is
                        > _aht_ [Axt], not _ahr_ [AxR\]. But the conlang bug says, not a problem;
                        > _aht_ will just be the standalone numeral, whereas _ahr_ is the
                        > combining form! :) So we have _aht ipf_ = "two eyes", whereas _axripf_ =
                        > "two-eyed". A subtle, but important distinction!
                        >
                        > Which implies the existence of combining forms for the other numbers as
                        > well, so here goes:
                        >
                        > Standalone form -> Combining form
                        > er [Er] "one" -> ??? (haven't decided on this one yet)
                        > aht [Axt] "two" -> ahr- [AxR\] "two-"
                        > hreis [xR\eIs] "three" -> hra- [xR\V] "three-"
                        > shtehr [StExR\] "four" -> shtehre- ['StExR\@] "four-"
                        > hrvat [xR\vat] "five" -> hrva(t)- [xR\vaT] "five-" [*]
                        > esht [ESt] "six" -> eshte- ['EStE] "six-"
                        > sheŋt [SENt] "seven" -> sheŋ- [SEN] "seven-"
                        > vaxt [vAxt] "eight" -> vahr- [vAxR\] "eight-"
                        >
                        > [*] /t/ only appears if immediately preceding another consonant in the
                        > compound (which, by rules of consonant clusters, fricativises to [T]),
                        > otherwise a glottal stop <'> is inserted.
                        >
                        > This gives us various names for monstrous beings:
                        >
                        > ahripf ['AxrIpf]: two-eyed
                        > hraglett [xR\V'glETt]: 3-jointed
                        > shtehretzapjak [,StExR\@ts)V'pjak]: 4-legged
                        > hrvatgruŋgis [xR\vVT'grUNgIs]: 5-fingered
                        > eshte'tzapjak [,EStEts)V'pjak]: 6-legged
                        > sheŋblah ['SENblAx]: 7-leafed
                        > vahrgruŋ [vAxR\grUN]: 8-armed
                        >
                        > As you can see, body-part racism is a rather common malady among them.
                        > ;-)
                        >
                        > (Gotta love CONLANG... it's just an endless source of inspiration for
                        > conlang-building. Just coined a whole bunch of new words just for
                        > forming these pejoratives, in addition to the combining forms of the
                        > numerals. :-P)
                        >

                        Yeah, I had to create a word for 'house' for my post in the other thread,
                        too - couldn't believe I didn't have one already, especially since I had a
                        word for 'live (somewhere)'.

                        I like the idea of your combining forms replacing stops with liquids: they
                        let you ease your way softly and fluently into the following part of the
                        compound/other kind of word combination. You seem to favour -r-, so why not
                        keep the form "er"? I'd say it's already quite well suited for combination.

                        >
                        > [...]
                        >

                        Padraic, 28.07.2013 04:16:

                        > >> For example, my first impression, especially based on the curious
                        > wording
                        > >> "she was always selling it", is one steeped in sarcasm. The verb
                        > itself has
                        > >> nothing to do with actually selling a house as much to do with B's
                        > attitude
                        > >> towards C. In other words, that phrase can, in addition to any
                        > "straight"
                        > >> reading, also be read sarcastically to indicate that C liked to be "in
                        > the
                        > >> game".
                        > >
                        > > Wow, and here I thought that my seminar had already opened my eyes...
                        > This
                        > > is yet a new and interesting reading of B's sentence - consider my eyes
                        > > wide open now! Irony or sarcasm is something I never would have
                        > considered
                        > > in my interpretation until now, but thinking about it, it does make a
                        > > surprising amount of sense, especially when keeping the context and the
                        > > plot of the episode in mind.
                        >
                        > I suppose èvery language must be capable of expressing things like irony
                        > and sarcasm
                        > in some fashion or other. In English, it's certainly very important, and
                        > perhaps because
                        > we have no explicit, and often very paltry implicit marking of such, clues
                        > other than
                        > simple linguistic ones need to be examined carefully. Very often they're
                        > delivered
                        > straight, and someone not prepared or not expecting anything other than a
                        > straight
                        > answer can be left quite flummoxed.
                        >

                        Yes - I enjoy irony and British humour in general, but being from a
                        cultural background said not to have any sense of humour whatsoever, it did
                        take me quite some time to understand and appreciate it, and to this day I
                        may still take utterances at face value even if it may be obvious to others
                        that they weren't meant like that - well, you live and learn ;)

                        >
                        > > Hm, in order to keep this from turning into a usage thread and to steer
                        > > back in the conlang direction: have any of you developed ways to express
                        > > irony through morphology in your conlangs, such as these verb forms?
                        >
                        > The World itself is full of such ironies, but I haven't done any actual
                        > work
                        > on how its works in those languages spoken there. Leastways as far as
                        > human languages are concerned, I just assume that every language community
                        > has its weisenheimers, smartarses and outright Liars, and thus must in some
                        > way be able to handle these things.
                        >
                        > Non-human peoples --- I don't know if they even do irony or sarcasm. Daine,
                        > for example, can learn to do these ( or at least imitate them after long
                        > practice ),
                        > but natively don't really get the concept. They're kind of natural
                        > straight men,
                        > especially those out in the Farther West, beyond the lands of Men. Those
                        > that
                        > live in the Eastlands have more contact with Men and thus a greater
                        > understanding
                        > of their oddness.
                        >
                        > The Avantimen are fond of twisting well known aphorisms and giving them a
                        > bit
                        > of ironic twist. For example: Tha qanet thon herse te watnam lîthen,
                        > beouten tha
                        > ne qanet him beude te utpumpe thon water. (You can lead a horse to water,
                        > but
                        > you can't make him pump it out.)
                        >
                        > Or this twisted tale:
                        >
                        > On fornez this man yoet yahend on thon watersithon with his beuhen ande
                        > his arhweuô,
                        > ande he was yeconuersend under himself ande this annet in thenwise: “His
                        > alle es
                        > senslesse tha wâtet, that te scêten es crudele disportez; for that em ei
                        > ne crudeltet en
                        > man. Sôthelih ei petô min yncgenôn ongeynes thin weyngcraftinesse. Tes
                        > fayr gammelez.”
                        >
                        > “La, sôth! Vrouw, hit es sôthelih fayr gammelez; beouten ih nellem ne
                        > gambollen.”
                        >
                        > “Huw nuw!” he scrâye. “Hwer for naht?” frôhe se man with his beuhen ande
                        > his arhweuô.
                        >
                        > “Yaan gammelez es fayr, swo tha sayes ande swo ih haldô. They ceavant
                        > erend swo sam;
                        > beouten vrouw, doe tha te thenken on thon stakon. Em ihh on thon gammele
                        > for thih;
                        > beouten hwat mih sêtat under this gambolle?”
                        >
                        > Se man underhimthanke, beouten he ne havete andswere te thon frahhe; ande
                        > with
                        > wiscraftinesse, he thon frahund scôte.
                        >
                        > One time this man went hunting at the waters edge with his bow and his
                        > arrows, and he was
                        > talking between himself and this duck in thuswise: “All this is senseless,
                        > you know, that
                        > shooting is a cruel sport. For I am not a cruel man. Truly I put my
                        > natural ability against thy
                        > wingcraftiness. Tis a fair game.”
                        >
                        > “Oh, truly! Sir, it is truly a fair game; but I am not willing to wager!”
                        >
                        > “How now!” he cried. “Why not?” asked the man with his bow and his arrows.
                        >
                        > “This game is fair, as you say and so too I hold. The odds are even; but
                        > sir, do you think of the
                        > stakes. I am in the game for you; but what is in this wager for me?”
                        >
                        > The man considered within himself, but he had no answer to that question.
                        > And so with great craft
                        > and skill, he shot the questioner.


                        What a cool story! And the idea of twisting existing proverbs and aphorisms
                        sounds clever, too. During my long lurking period I've already gathered
                        that your World seems quite elaborate; I wish I had gotten this far
                        already... I started to work on a creation myth months ago and have only a
                        few sentences to show for it. These kinds of tales are perfect for filling
                        up a world with culture and provide insight into the way of thinking, and
                        they conjure up an image of the Avantimen being very good at narrating with
                        the sort of deadpan delivery of an abrupt ending that this story requires.
                        I like them already ;) I assume that "scôte" means 'shot' and that, judging
                        from other sentences, the language isn't usually verb-last? If so, there
                        you have a sign of irony and comedic timing: leaving the verb - the crucial
                        word that undermines your expectations - until the very end of the
                        sentence. I imagine that in telling the story, one might make a short
                        dramatic pause before the verb to prepare the listener for the surprise,
                        although I think that the irony has a more subtle impact without such a
                        pause; I'd prefer it that way.

                        > […]
                        >

                        Lisa
                      • Padraic Brown
                        ... This is one I didn t write -- just translated! But its style fits well with the philosophical gumbo that sloshes around the City. Actually, I would be
                        Message 11 of 23 , Jul 29, 2013
                          > From: Lisa Weißbach <purereasonrevoluzzer@...>

                          >
                          >> On fornez this man yoet yahend on thon watersithon with his beuhen ande
                          >> his arhweuô,
                          >
                          > What a cool story!

                          This is one I didn't write -- just translated! But its style fits well with the
                          philosophical gumbo that sloshes around the City. Actually, I would be
                          interested , as an aside , in knowing what your impression of the language
                          is, being a German speaker. Obviously, it's not intended to mimic German
                          per se, but it's quite a bit different from ModEng!

                          > And the idea of twisting existing proverbs and aphorisms
                          > sounds clever, too.

                          Ah, hast uncovered and laid bare the very root of all Philosophy!

                          > During my long lurking period I've already gathered
                          > that your World seems quite elaborate; I wish I had gotten this far
                          > already...

                          Well, in all honesty, I've been working at it since the mid 1980s or so.
                          Gosh. I didn't realise twas quite thát long a time! It's certainly gotten
                          much more attention and more depth the last ten years or so.

                          > I started to work on a creation myth months ago and have only a
                          > few sentences to show for it.

                          Those could be some of the best sentences ever written! Myth is so
                          much fun to work with. It's basic to every culture. Well, every culture
                          that has some spark of the divine about it. They help the writer not
                          only fill in some gaps of knowledge about the constructed language but
                          also about the culture that speaks it. It is at once liberating to create
                          the writing, but also binds creator and creation more closely together.
                          Very intimate things, myths. They are the secret language of the
                          conlanger speaking to her own creation within their own world.

                          > These kinds of tales are perfect for filling
                          > up a world with culture and provide insight into the way of thinking, and
                          > they conjure up an image of the Avantimen being very good at narrating with
                          > the sort of deadpan delivery of an abrupt ending that this story requires.
                          > I like them already ;)

                          Thanks! I've become rather fond of that particular place in the World as
                          well. There and Westmarche.

                          > I assume that "scôte" means 'shot'

                          Yes. Sceuten is a second ablaut conjugation verb. My favorite in the class is dreuwnen,
                          to lead (one) down the garden path, to deceive.

                          > and that, judging from other sentences, the language isn't usually verb-last?

                          Indeed not, though as with any highly inflected language, word order can be
                          freed up a little. The usual order seems to be SVO, although verb first is also
                          met with: "Lehhete then se hundô lîthund, them yahundum hwôpand he seyete...";
                          laughed then the hounds' leader, (to) them hunters whooping he said... and
                          verb final is also met with: "Ande they thon fohhe fefênen and his throwte scêren
                          ande they Rahhnhardo qurfe, his blôd fram his throwte douwn rane." -- And they that
                          fox grabbed and his throat (they) ripped and they Reynard slew, his blood from
                          his throat down ran.

                          Nominative and accusative are generally very clearly delineated, so se fohs vs. se
                          fohhe are obviously different to an Avantiman listening to the story while the fox
                          vs. the fox would not be so different to an Englishman. Of course, that doesn't
                          work with all nouns: some, like water, share a nom./acc. in common.

                          > If so, there
                          > you have a sign of irony and comedic timing: leaving the verb - the crucial
                          > word that undermines your expectations - until the very end of the sentence.

                          Yes, I think that is a good point. Undoubtedly, verb final kind of makes a good
                          place to leave the hearer with a strong sense of drama -- we don't really know
                          what happened until the very last word! Like the sentence above: the writer
                          còuld have said "ande they fefenen thon fohhe and sceren his throwte..." and it
                          would have been perfectly good Avantimannish. But it would nòt have been
                          good sawyery!

                          In a similar way, the story teller can smack his audience, as it were, by
                          confronting them immediately with the action by placing the verb first.

                          >  I imagine that in telling the story, one might make a short
                          > dramatic pause before the verb to prepare the listener for the surprise,
                          > although I think that the irony has a more subtle impact without such a
                          > pause; I'd prefer it that way.

                          Ya. I read it with only the slightest pause at the comma after wiscraftinesse.

                          > Lisa

                          Padraic
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