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Hi!

Ray Brown <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> On Thursday, April 22, 2004, at 02:51 PM, Henrik Theiling wrote:
>...
> > I'd consider one case the same as zero cases. :-)
>
> IMO it doesn't make sense to talk of nouns & pronouns having one case.
> That'd mean all the world's languages decline their nouns & pronouns which
> seems to me counter-intuitive.

Hmm, I don't mean by case that the nouns are morphologically changed.
E.g. Chinese also has two cases (the one in front of the verb and the
one after) but marks none by morphological processes.  In contrast to
your intuition, I find it counterintuitive to speak of zero cases,
since with no case, you cannot talk. :-)

> I think it only becomes meaningful to speak of noun/pronoun cases
> when there are at least two contrasting forms as, e.g. in Old French
> & Old Provenšal (nominative ~ oblique).

Agreed.  But is it necessary to have contrasting forms or would you
say, as I did above, that Chinese has two cases?  (In some verbs even
three (the typical 'give': 'Wo3 gei2 ni3 shu1')).

> > And if you only have one class of things, I'd consider it arbitrary
> > whether to call them nouns or verbs.
>
> On the basis of that argument, one might say they could be called
> adjectives, adverbs or whatever term comes arbitrarily to mind.
> I guess they are, in fact, then just 'words'.

Ok, that's what I wanted to say, actually.

> "AllNoun has only one part of speech, which is largely but not entirely
> analogous to nouns in other languages. Thus the name AllNoun."
>
> It seems to me fairly obvious that Tom was starting with semantic concepts
> broadly analogous to nouns.

Ok.  But although intuitively clear what he wants to say, 'noun' would
still be a misnomer, since it is a syntactical category.  'objects' or
'entities' or 'thing made of matter' would probably be better.  I
don't think he starts with nouns like 'work' or 'lonelyness', but
rather with 'pencil' and 'food'.

But ok, it's (quite) clear why it's 'AllNouns'.

> That you'd have to take up with Tom; he named the language. But then many
> languages, including some natlangs (e.g. "Hittite"), have names that are
> strictly misnomers - but we habitually use them.

That's very confusing about linguistics for someone who started with a
mathematical/computer science background like me.  As soon as I
understand a linguistic concept, I like to stick to a fixed term with
a clear definition.  If some language's grammar uses misnomers, I'd
rename them.  It's sometimes hard to find the right term for me when
learning linguistical nomenclature for there is often some confusion
and I don't find the *current* agreed on terminology immediately.
Then I tend to consistently use a term in a way that is totally wrong
for a linguist until I learn either a) that I did not understand the
concept, or b) I should use another word for it. :-)

**Henrik