----- Original Message -----
From: "Matt Trinsic" <[log in to unmask]>
> > From: Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@W...>
> > Date: Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:09 pm
> > Subject: Re: DRAFT: Numbers from 1 to 12 in Ayeri
> > And looking at your Ayeri grammar (to which I found a link in the
> > ZBB discussion), I hit upon a somewhat bizarre phenomenon, namely
> > an animate-inanimate distinction in 2nd person pronouns. One doesn't
> > often talk to inanimate objects; does one need special pronouns
> > for this purpose?
One talks to inanimate objects all the time; it's called "apostrophe." O
more than moon! Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere! (okay, the
moon's a woman in Donne's poem, but there are plenty of other examples. O
tempora!) And sometimes they talk, especially in riddles where they ask you
to guess them; then it's called prosopopoeia.
> But wouldn't it be interesting to invent a language in which a 2nd
> person inanimate is useful? Maybe a language where it is used when you
> are writing a letter? Viewing it as yourself talking to the paper, and
> the paper later talking to the intended recipient. I am sure there must
> be other interesting ways of making 2nd person inanimate useful as well.
> Or maybe I am just a sucker for bizarre languages ;)
I love the idea! But what use would it serve? A compelling human tendency
is to animate everything. "The tree likes to be watered every other day."
In addressing the letter you're writing, you would be treating it as a
hearing thing. I suppose it would make sense in a language that has
animate/inanimate gender instead of masculine/feminine gender. Curious:
what natural languages genderize the second person? You feminine singular
as opposed to you masculine singular?
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