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czHANg wrote:

>     I have yet to see good info on Lisu, a Sino-Tibetan language
> (Lolo-Burmese, actually) that reportedly is free word order AND isolating AND
> has no morphological cases to  mark Subject or Object!
>     Now that - if this is in fact true - Lisu violates a good number of
> theories of implicational universals.
>     According to what I have read Lisu-speakers get by on context,
> alternative grammatical structures and common sense alone (I imagine they are
> a very gestural people as well... that body language has a lot to do with
> their language).

Speaking of this, I have to tell you what my teacher told me today
about David Gil who has written everything there is to know about Riau
Indonesian, a language similar in weirdness to Lisu. Everytime Gil
is in Stockholm to lecture, he has new fabulous findings to share
about Riau. First he said that there were no ways of deciding on
which NP was agent and which was patient. The next time he claimed
that Riau had no word classes. And the last time he lectured here
he said that it didn't even have words! Now, we're just waiting for
him to lecture once more and tell us that Riau has no phonology or
even speakers! ;)

But seriously. I recommend Aleksandr E. Kibrik's article "Beyond subject
and object: Toward a comprehensive relational typology", in Linguistic
Typology 1 (1997), 279-346. It really is a must for a conlanger. I think
I've said that before, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it. It's a real
eye-opener. His references to Riau Indonesian and Lisu are:

Riau:
* Gil, David. 1994. "The Structure of Riau Indonesian". Nordic Journal
  of Linguistics 17: 179-200.

Lisu:
* Li, Charles & Sandra Thompson. 1976. "Subject and topic: A new
typology of language". In Li (ed.) 457-489.
* Hope, Edward. 1974. The Deep Syntax of Lisu Sentences. (Pacific
Linguistics, B-34.) Canberra: Australian National University.

Kibrik's article gives you loads of great ideas if you want something
really different for your conlang. I mean, up til I read it, I thought
active languages were weird. :)

Daniel