And Rosta said:
> What you describe matches my recollections. The CY design is very
> coherent & conceptually spare, but since it is intrinsically
> incapable of expressing any distiction of meaning that cannot be
> expressed lexically or morphosyntactically, it would *for me* not
> be a candidate for the holy grail of engelangs... A random example
> of a distinction hard to capture lexically:
> "Three men longed to fabricate idols in honour of two goddesses"
> Reading 1. 3 men, 2 goddesses.
> Reading 2. 3 men, 2-6 goddesses.
> Reading 3. 2 goddesses, 3-6 men.

Okay, I'm not understanding the parameters of the problem you're posing.

Could you spell out for us the three readings you think this English
sentence has? We need to get some agreement on what readings there are
before I can think about how the different readings would be expressed in
CY. (And if this is about numbers, don't forget to include different
readings for different numbers of _idols_ as well.)

One thing bears mentioning already, though: a CY noun (and the noun group
it heads) can be definite (entails that its referent is identifiable by
the hearer), indefinite (entails that its referent is not identifiable by
the hearer) or unspecified (entails nothing about the identifiability of
its referent, i.e. the utterance remains vague on this point).

This scheme doesn't necessarily match up very well with the use of
definiteness/indefiniteness marking in natlangs, so noun groups like
"three men" or "idols" or "two goddesses" might be expressed in CY as
definite, indefinite or unspecified. A finite clause with three noun
groups might be expressed in CY as any combination for a total of 3x3x3=27
possible translations (although some of them are probably not reasonable
translations of the English example).

I think there's more going on (such as scope ambiguity) in your example
sentence than just definiteness ambiguity, though, but I'll wait until
you've had a chance to spell out the readings you're seeing before I get
into that. By the time we've combined the scope ambiguity with the
definiteness ambiguity already mentioned, there may be *hundreds* of
possible translations of this sentence into CY. I doubt that I'd have the
time to construct all of them, but it should suffice if I can at least
explain how they would be derived.

-- Mark

San Antonio, TX