Mark P. Line wrote:
"That said, I think it's [marking tense on the noun is] an *awesome*
idea for a conlang. It's different enough from the way natlangs work
to be intriguing, while not so different that it would prevent usage
(unlike, say, unrestricted center embedding).  Lots of natlangs have
clause-level markers on nouns, after all -- but they tend to be
involved with valence assignment and/or pragmatic functions that are
more-or-less intimately tied up with the noun being marked."

..and Jim Grossmann wrote [fascinating example snipped]:
"I threw proximate vs. remote into the mix because, to me, it seemed
pleasing and "natural" in a very broad esthetic sense to pair
information about location in time relative to the moment of the
utterance with information about the literal or figurative spatial
relationships that the referents of the nouns have to the speaker.   I
couldn't help picturing imaginary hillbillies saying things like "that
then dog" instead of "that there dog." "


I'd already thought it might be interesting to compare my T4 (=Telona,
on which you commented helpfully a couple of years ago, Jim) to Mark's
idea, but this remark of Jim's really forced my hand.  It was true
last time I posted about T4, and remains so now, that it has a single
open word class and a pared-down, binary-branching syntax
(  Over the last three months, it's
become even more isolating than it was before, and at the same time a
new system of marking number and aspect has emerged.

Each referent is marked for both number and aspect.  The
referents in a sentence correspond more or less to those in its
English translation; although every open-class word has a referent,
groups of words within a sentence co-refer.  The options for number
and aspect form parallel sets, as follows:

(1) singular (number) / eventive (aspect)
- bounded, internally continuous, indivisible
(2) plural / iterative
- bounded set, divisible into a number of mutually similar parts
(3) quantal / perfective
- bounded, homogeneous, indefinitely divisible
(4) diffuse / imperfective
- unbounded, homogeneous; surrounding, environmental

The number and aspect of a particular referent are independent of each
other - this scheme is purely an organising principle of the grammar.

In addition, each number marker and each aspect marker (separately)
are marked for definiteness at one of six levels:

(1) under active discussion, usually in the same sentence or the
preceding one; also used for introducing new referents whose existence
can be inferred by the listener from context
(2) identifiable by / known to both speaker and listener, but not
active in the current discourse
(3) identity known to speaker but not listener; used for introducing
new definite referents ('there was a certain X, which ...')
(4) identity not known to speaker, but potentially discoverable
(5) identity known by speaker to be unknown (or inaccessible) to the
community at large
(6) each example of the class; Xs in general

The definiteness markers apply to the object referred to (atemporally)
and to the time period referred to (independently of spatial or other
identity).  Each new referent is therefore marked fourfold, for
number, definiteness, aspect and 'temporal definiteness' (for want of
a better term).  In addition to these markers, there is also a pair of
words meaning "same individual as the last referent" and "same time
period as the last referent".

Some examples (unfortunately the phonology of T4 is lying in little
pieces all over my workroom and really isn't a pretty sight, so all in
English paraphrase):

"There's a shop down the road."

Two referents, the shop and the road.
- shop: number = singular, def. (3); aspect = imperfective, def. (1)
- road: number = diffuse, def. (2); aspect = "same as prev. referent"

Applying definiteness (1) (which I tend to think of as 'the') to time
generally implies that the time period includes the time of speaking,
or perhaps the 'now' of a narrative.  The road, though definite, is
thought of in this context as unbounded, a contextual or environmental
entity.  In saying: "The road will be closed tomorrow.", one would
probably use the singular number.

"A flood springs up and blocks the road."  [sound familiar? :) ]

Translated in two clauses - paraphrase: "A flood starts to show
itself, and as a consequence the road is blocked by it."
{surprisingly inchoative + be-perceived flood, consequence road -

Therefore three referents, the flood in each clause (referred to by
the word {block} in the second) and the road.
- flood: quantal (3), eventive (1)
- road: singular (1), "same as previous"
- blocking thing (=flood): quantal (1), "same as previous"

The road is now seen as an object which can be operated on, so is less
likely to take the diffuse number.  The definiteness of the flood goes
from (3) in the first clause to (1) in the second, from 'a certain' to

It seems to me that this is parallel, if not quite equivalent, to
Jim's double "this dog in the past" and "that dog in the future"

Any comments?


[reply to jonathan underscore knibb at hotmail dot com]
'O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages...'
Auden/Britten, 'Hymn to St. Cecilia'