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>I have been reading Anna Siewierska's "Person", in which I came across a 
>version of the Animacy Hierarchy that extends the lower end somewhat.

>The version (of the Animacy Hierarchy) in question is her (51)c. on her 
>page 149, which looks like this:
>
>human > animate > inanimate > abstract

Well, what do you know! That's almost exactly the hierarchy /  gender system 
I'm currently using in Uwjge!
Using your markup, hers are [+SA(L)C] [-S +AC] [-SA +C] [-SAC]. Mine are 
approx. [+S] [-S +AC] [-SA +C] [-SAC].
(I can't speak for her system, but myself, I find the living/unliving 
disctinction not really useful enough to make it as basic as a gender.)


>(Abstractions cannot speak new sentences, nor understand new sentences, nor 
>learn languages --- so they can't be Sapient.)

I think some would position God or gods and other spiritual beings as [+S 
+A].


>(Abstractions cannot move from one place to another under their own motive 
>power and control --- so they can't be Animate.)

This might be a little stretched ... but how about dreams? They're certainly 
not concrete, and yet they can be quite animate.


>Remember when we said that infectious diseases would be (nonsapient 
>inanimate) Living?  (Because they can grow or multiply or --- this is the 
>key one in the "infectious disease" case --- spread.)
>
>Well, an idea or organized group of ideas which happens to be "infectious" 
>or "contagious" --- a "meme", in not-too-unmodern SF parlance --- could be 
>considered "Living".  Of course, it would also have to be considered 
>"Abstract".

A good analogy. I think people who haven't discovered germs yet would likely 
consider real diseases "abstract" as well...


>[Nonsapient] [Inanimate] Living Abstract (Memes, e.g. -- growing or 
>spreading religions or schools of thought or movements in politics or art 
>or litcrit or whatever)
>
>[Nonsapient] [Inanimate] Nonliving Abstract (really, really boring
>ideas, for example)

Drawing the line between these two groups is not easy. Even the memeticists 
themselves do not agree which ideas are memes and which (if any) are not. 
Now, your examples are quite obvious ... but what about public opinion? 
History? Widely accepted beliefs & theories - and not only "theory of 
evolution" level, but also "grass is green"? With this disctinction in 
place, the language would end up having at least some of your own beliefs 
hard-coded.


>I could abbreviate this, I think into a "bit vector"; for example,
>
>[+S +A +L +C] == Sapient    Animate   Living    Concrete
>[+S +A -L +C] == Sapient    Animate   Nonliving Concrete
>[+S -A -L +C] == Sapient    Inanimate Nonliving Concrete
>[-S -A -L +C] == Nonsapient Inanimate Nonliving Concrete
>[-S -A -L -C] == Nonsapient Inanimate Nonliving Abstract
>
>That requires only 13 characters to write the gender, instead of 32 to 40.

>Thanks for writing,
>
>Tom H.C. in MI


And if you group all the pluses and minuses together, and skip undefined 
distinctions, as I've done in this message, you can save a few further 
bytes.

John Vertical
PS. I'll reply to your other messages as soon as I have the time... my 
available internet time is currently relatively limited.

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