There've been so many interesting replies! I'll add some remarks to all of
them here, so as not to hit my posting limit half-way through! :)
On 9 September 2011 14:05, yuri <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 9 September 2011 23:47, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
> > So, how do other natlangs handle describing the state of knowing? And
> > how do you handle that in your conlangs?
> My conlang, Klakha (or KlaXa, I haven't decided how the name is
> transliterated into latin alphabet) makes the same distinction that
> French makes, and Dutch - weten/kennen, and I suspect many other
I didn't even think about Dutch! I should have remembered. I guess since my
native language already makes the distinction, I just fail to notice it in
languages that make the same one.
On 9 September 2011 14:32, Sam Stutter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Ah, but at the basic level, Spanish doesn't distinguish between "do" and
> "make", you have to get into "fabricar", "construir", "formar", etc.
Well, actually you don't use those ones unless you want to make specific
distinctions: _construir_, for instance, is "to build", _formar_ is "to
form". Neither would be used when in English you'd use a simple "to make",
unless you want to focus on *how* something is made. The same is true of
French of course: _faire_ covers both "to do" and "to make", and you have
other verbs like _fabriquer_, _construire_, etc.
Note that in French there really seems to be no will to make a distinction
between the meanings of "to do" and "to make": while _fabriquer_ is supposed
to mean exclusively "to make", in Spoken French it's often used as a synonym
of _faire_, including in cases where that one corresponds to "to do". It's
used mostly when the speaker is annoyed:
Qu'est-ce que tu fais ? : What are you doing?
Qu'est-ce que tu fabriques ? : What the hell are you doing?
> I'd never really noticed the distinction before (it makes it a lot easier
> to remember when each verb is used!). I seem to remember someone trying to
> tell me that "conocer" meant "understand", it obviously doesn't fit.
Indeed. "To understand" in Spanish is _entender_, in French _comprendre_.
On 9 September 2011 17:40, Arnt Richard Johansen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Back in the day, there was a long discussion on the Lojban mailing list
> over the idea that English “know” (and hence, Lojban's “djuno”, its
> definition being based on the English word “know”) had a hidden
> presupposition. If I remember correctly, the argument was that
> X knows Y
> is equivalent to
> X is convinced that Y
> Y is, in fact, true
> so saying that “X knows Y” means that you're sneaking in the implication
> that Y, without explicitly asserting it, which does not harmonise well with
> a language whose design goals include enabling explicitness.
Indeed, it seems that the main semantic distinction between "know" and
"believe" is the implication on the truth value of Y: "know" indicates the
subject presupposes Y is true, while "believe" indicates that the subject is
only of the opinion that Y is true (although I've noticed some people fail
to understand the difference).
On 9 September 2011 19:09, Daniel Burgener <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> My main conlang, Brenjak has a three-way distinction.
> "kϕî" - to know through perception/book learning ("I know that France is in
> "kϕar" - to know through experience ("I know my mother", "I know how to
> "kîar'(uh)" (the "(uh)" is a character with no unicode equivalent) - to
> understand deeply, boththrough experience, and factual knowledge. ("Michael
> Jordan knows how to play basketball", "My grandpa knows his wife")
So basically, Brenjak distinguishes based on the nature of the knowledge
(and its intensity), rather than on the nature of the thing known.
On 9 September 2011 21:04, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> In TAKE:
> γνῶ (gnô) = to know (from experience), to perceive
> ἐπίστα (epísta) = to know (how to), to understand
> γνώριζε (gnṓrize) = to know (a person), be acquainted with
OK. Indeed, Modern Greek also has the distinction between _ξέρω_: "to know
(how to do) something" and _γνωρίζω_: "to know someone".
On 9 September 2011 22:59, Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 20:09, Sam Stutter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Apparently "to ken" was originally the causative form of the verb
> "cunnan" (which became English "can"), thus "ken" is "to make known". I'm
> not sure I'm reading the etymology correctly, but (as far as I can tell) is
> känna / kennen / kende both "to know" and "can"?
> Not in modern German, at least - "kennen (kannte, gekannt)" is "to
> know (a person), be acquainted with", while "can" is "können (konnte,
What about dialects? In Standard Dutch, there is a distinction between
_kunnen_: "can" and _kennen_: "know, be acquainted with", but many people
confuse the two (or switch them around!) In Southern Dutch dialects at
least, _kennen_ is used for both "to know someone" and "to be able to".
But then it's a confusion I can somewhat understand. After all, even in
English one can say "I can swim" when they mean "I know how to swim", i.e.
"can" can be used to indicate knowledge of a skill.
French doesn't allow one to use _pouvoir_ in this way. To indicate knowledge
of a skill, _savoir_ is the only alternative (_je sais nager_ means "I know
how to swim). _Pouvoir_ can only indicate possibility or *immediate*
capacity (i.e. not only knowledge of the skill but circumstances allowing
one to use this skill immediately if one wants to. So _je peux nager_ could
only be used in an area with enough water for someone to swim in :) ). The
same is true with Moten's capacitive mood (which can only indicate immediate
capacity, not possibility).
On 10 September 2011 05:18, Daniel Bowman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> However, it distinguishes three types of knowledge, and these words are
> based on emotional proximity. That is, they move from dispassionate (sana)
> to invested (rala) to emotive (lara).
> sana: To have book learning, to know a skill. "I know the world is
> rala: generally translated as "to understand": This can mean "knowledge
> charged with personal meaning" such as "I know that I love her", or it can
> mean knowledge brought about by personal effort "I know Angosey" (and that
> has been one of my goals)
> lara: Also means "to perceive". It means to have an intimate connection
> with, to understand through an emotional rather than intellectual force "I
> know what it's like, because I have suffered in that way"
Interesting distinctions, once again distinguishing the nature of the
knowledge rather than the nature of the object known. I find it interesting
so many a priori conlangs make distinctions based on the nature of the
knowledge, while most (all?) natlangs, when they make a distinction at all,
make it based on the nature of the object known.
On 10 September 2011 15:16, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Loucarian is quite different. It differentiates "inner / divine" versus
> "external / worldly" knowledge, but apparently only in nouns. al tabab is
> worldly knowledge while al nossion is inner knowledge. There are three
> verbs that mean to know: clevere, sabire and scire (which I don't even have
> a proper reference for). Sabire does duty for both connaitre and savoir,
> like English. Clevere I have as meaning "understand" once, but the usual
> Loucarian is haptere en cardiem, to have grasped in the heart. It could be
> that haptere means "know or understand al nossion" while scire means "know
> or understand al tabab". The way I had used clevere vs. scire might
> indicate a distinction between "come to know or understand" (clevere) as
> opposed to "know in general terms, recognise, know factually (sabire /
I really need to think about how to translate "understand" in Moten. Maybe
in the same way as knowledge in general is translated.
> Sometimes (or rather, often) in Loucarian when there are two words one of
> which is ancient, it usually carries the most basic meaning while the
> younger word carries an extended meaning. Clevere is certainly more ancient
> than sabire or scire (or haptere), but it doesn't seem to have cornered
> the market on basic meaning.
> IC jecceto moulvaniccere al sabouwem, ett’ ica anawatto ziccuccent al
> mathêtes. IC pejeito adis ican: mire ziccuccere itan, qouem, mi pejeito
> itan. men gar tim haptere itan en al iccàm cardiem na. Movero, baccare ‘ti
> Jesus finished making a teaching, and he saw the disciple writing. Jesus
> said to him: do not write it, that, I said it. For indeed you understand
> it in your heart. Now, go and do!
> POIC Avir trais dieyes en al icaica anouram an: acco: histenumver etti vas
> nan poudire moutasiare ican; eiomver etti vas nan sabire ai vas eiothayare
> enis ican swe nan eiothayare enis ican; mendê hotimver etti vas melere
> moulvaniccere al agathom en ica na.
> Said Jesus: There are three days in this world: look, a yesterday and you
> can not alter it; a tomorrow and you don’t know if you will enter into it
> or if you will not enter into it; but indeed a today and you should lief
> do good within it.
I also really need to learn more about Loucarian, if only because of the
deliciousness of the examples you keep giving about it! ;)
> Talarian is different still. In that language, one verb, weytam, suffices
> for both "see" and "know", depending on whether the verb is durative or
> stative. The durative form is "see", while the stative form is "know":
> akâ com weytâ; wâytâ-he com akâ = I see him and I know him. Seeing is
> clearly an active concept while knowing is a state one has arrived at as a
> result of action. And indeed, if the knowledge of the person is garnered
> *as a result of* looking at him, then we could use the resultive stative:
> akâ com weytâ; wewâytâ-he com akâ = I see him, and as a result of examining
> him, I know him. A bit odd to say that. Usually, a resultive stative is
> found only in more concrete senses: mortâ = I am dead vs. memortâ = here I
> lie dead, having been murdered.
So this is not unlike Moten. If the act of seeing (or watching) is
considered enough to know a person, you could say:
Ka|se ludosun pe|laz ito.
ka|se l<d>os-n pe|la-z i-to.
man that.over.there<ACC.SG>-ACC see-PTCP PRS-be.
I know that man (literally: "I've seen/watched that man").
On 11 September 2011 14:09, Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hallo conlangers!
> On Saturday 10 September 2011 21:07:41, Roger Mills wrote:
> > --- On Fri, 9/9/11, Adam Walker <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > > Chinese makes the same distinction
> > > between knowing facts and knowing people,
> > > etc. with zhi1dao4 知道 meaning "to be aware of" and
> > > ren4de 認得 meaning "to
> > > recognize" and 認識 "to know a person."
> > So does Indonesian/Malay (tahu 'know (things)~ know how vs. kenal 'know
> > person)'). Not sure about other AN languages, however.
> I think most languages do. The polysemy of English _know_ is
> just an idiosyncrasy of English, I think. Shows how much a
> conlanger should look at other languages besides his L1 in
> order to avoid copying the idiosyncrasies of his L1.
AFAIK Japanese only has _shiru_, which can mean both "to know something" and
"to know a person". There's _wakaru_, but it means rather "to understand".
I'd be delighted if someone would correct me if I'm wrong :) .
But in general, it seems indeed that splitting the semantic space of
knowledge is more common than not.
Thanks for all your replies so far! Keep them coming! It's great food for