On 11/17/05, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> caeruleancentaur wrote:
> > --- In [log in to unmask], Herman Miller <hmiller@I...> wrote:

> > David Crystal in "a Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics" defines
> > as idiom as "...a sequence of words which is semantically and often
> > syntactically restricted, so that they function as a single unit."

> And Trask defines 'idiom' thus:
> "An expression consisting of two or more words whose meaning cannot be
> simply predicted from the meanings of its constituent parts."
> It can't be cannot if? A single word may be used metaphorically - but I
> fail to see how it can be an idiom.

What about a compound word whose
meaning cannot be deduced from the
meaning of its component morphemes?
Like, in Esperanto, "eldonejo"
(= publishing house, literally
"out-giving-place" -- I think it's
a calque of one or more
natlang words, but I can't recall if
the original is German, Russian
or what).  The original Esperanto
had "elrigardi" (a calque of "aufsehen",
I think?) for "to seem, appear",
but later on "aspekti" was coined
to replace that.  I think I usually
hear such terms described as
"idiomatic compounds".
Volapük and Speedwords
have this kind of idiomatic compound
in even greater abundance,
if my impression is correct.
Toki Pona doesn't form compounds
as such, but has many idiomatic
fixed phrases like "tomo tawa"
= automobile (lit. "house go").

To go back to the non-idiom
Yahya mentioned ("strewth"),
suppose there are two languages,
conlang or natlang, that both have some
conventional kenning for "falsehood"
that glosses as "devil's truth".
If it's a two or three word phrase
in one and a compound word in the other,
is it an idiom in one and not in the
other?  Why?

gjâ-zym-byn has several idiomatic
compound words, mostly built with
suffixes similar to Esperanto's "-um";
each such suffix has a general way of deriving
one meaning from another, but
each particular compound using them
is defined more narrowly than the product
(so to speak) of its component morphemes.

For instance, "-jqa" means "something
rotated 90 degrees from the referent of the root",
so "swynx" = desk, table; "swynx-jqa" = shelf.

> In fact, there seems to have been a dearth of stuff about Conlangs
> recently. In any case, we engelangers are not going to be able to
> contribute much, it seems to me    ;)

I haven't been working on gjâ-zym-byn much
lately.  I've been thinking about a possible
new project, and have been typing up some
scattered handwritten notes about it,
but I'm not quite ready to post here
about it yet.

Jim Henry
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