On Tue, 3 Jul 2001 12:19:23 +0200, Christophe Grandsire
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>En réponse à Jeff Jones <[log in to unmask]>:
>> BTW, Christophe,
>> I'm planning to use either {U} ([xO]) or {u} ([xU] or [x]) for the 2nd
>> person pronoun, and either {I} ([ZE]) or {i} ([ZI] or [Z]) for the 1st
>> person exclusive pronoun. The indefinite marker might be {a} ([gU] or
>> [N]).
>> I also looked at your Reman page since I want to use relative tense, but
>> my French isn't quite good enough, although I was able to follow most of
>> the phonology part.
>Well, relative tense is quite easy: while absolute tense means that all
>clauses share the same reference point as for time (like in English or
>French), relative tense means that subclauses take as reference point the
>time of the main clause they depend on.
>It means that instead of marking absolute present, past or future, in
>subclauses present means simultaneity, past means anteriority and future
>means posteriority to the situation of the main clause.
>The main advantage for this system is that you don't have to change tenses
>for indirect speech :) . Another is that you don't need tenses like
>pluperfect and future perfect, and yet be perfectly precise. It means also
>that a present in a subclause can be translated in English by a present, a
>past or a future depending on the tense of the main clause.

Good -- that's what I thought. My main problem with using it is that I
think in English, so until I finalize the morphology and practice it I'm
going to keep getting confused.
I like that bit about being perfectly precise without a perfect!
Actually, I do have a sort of perfect, but it's strictly aspectual,
referring to a state or the result of an action. This contrasts with
actions in progress (or transitions to a states) and with actions taken as
whole. My big problem with aspects is that auxiliary verbs have their own
aspects making it hard to turn them into prefixes (the ones that have the
same tense, subject, etc. as what they're to be prefixed to).

>I think that languages like Chinese and Japanese work with this principle
>too. In fact, I'm wondering how frequent is relative tense. It sounds so
>logical and practical to me (in fact, I had introduced it in my first
>conlangs even before knowing that it already existed in natlangs) that I
>wouldn't be surprised if I learned that it's more frequent than absolute
>tense marking as in French or English.

I was wondering that myself; while it does seem more logical, I didn't know
specifically which or how many natlangs used it.


Thanks for the quick response! One problem solved, 99 left to go by next