At 1:10 pm -0800 15/2/00, Keolah Kedaire wrote:
>On Tue, 15 Feb 2000, Raymond Brown wrote:
>> I thought - tho I may be wrong - that trigger systems were to do with
>> fronting the 'topic' (or 'theme') as in, e.g. Japanese, Samoan and, closer
>> to home, German.  The English passive is surely an example of
>> topicalization, not focus.
>I don't know what it is myself, I've never studied linguistics, it just
>struck me as something to try.

Yep - always a good idea to try things out.  And there is definitely
fronting going on - not uncommon in natlangs but the best way IMO to get
the feel of things is to try them out.

'topic' is what one is talking about and the new sentence adds 'comment' to
it.  Some linguists use the terms 'theme' (topic) and 'rheme' (comment).
'focus' is new information added in the 'comment'' not all sentences have
real focus in that sense.

If I asked what she give him for his birthday, you could reply:
"For his birthday she gave him a book".

"For his birthday" is the topic - "she gave him a book" is the comment.
In this case, the comment finishes with the new information, i.e. the
focus, "a book".

German habitually fronts the topic, thus, e.g.
'Zum Geburtstag hat sie ihm ein Buch geschenkt.'

The focus here comes immediately before the perfect participle which must
end the sentence.

Latin word order also tends to be topic first, focus last (if there is a

>> Welsh is a focus fronting language; but such languages seem to be much less
>> common than topic fronting ones.
>Don't know anything about Welsh. What's it like?

The unmarked word order is Verb-Subject-'the rest'

But a new focus causes fronting.  The normal way of saying 'She gave him a
book' is:
Rhoddodd hi      lyfr iddo fe.
Gave     she (a) book to   him.

But if we want to focus on the book - i.e. this is new information, it
would be:
Llyfr roddodd hi iddo fe.

>> >Hmm, not sure what you mean about (1),
>> The 'normal' sentence order when there is no marked emphasis upon either
>> topic and/or focus.
>I wouldn't call any of them more normal than the rest. If anything, it is
>more common to begin with a noun unless the verb is somehow more
>important (and it is more versitile)

In practice, a language will have a 'favorite' word order.  If noun first
is more common, it sounds like topicalization.   I think as you develop
your language, you'll find certain words orders turn out to be more common
than others.

>Okay, here's something else I was toying with with it:
>akali va penu ka nu atana ke na kiri zai itana ke na kiri
>"God said, Let there be light, and there was light"
>kal - root for god (that kal sure gets around, it was originally Zarhain
>meaning "silver-blue light" refering to the light of the blue star
>Shazmar, and was adopted into Rivertongue meaning "the light of God" and
>hence "God" and was re-borrowed into Zarhain to mean the Christian God.
>pen - root for say
>tan - actually the root for person, but as a verb it means 'to be alive'
>kir - root for light
>zai - imperative
>i- - what follows resulted from the previous statement
>note: i'm confused, and still trying to work things out, so this might not
>be entirely correct.

Looks very much like 'topic' fronting.  I assume the topic is God's
creation.  The focus is surely 'light'.

But keep on experimenting.  It looks interesting.


A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                   [J.G. Hamann 1760]