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Hi!

Leigh Richards writes:
>...
> Design goals:
>...

I'd add gender to enable you to encode lexical distinctions in the
gender agreement somewhere else in the sentence, when the nouns are
homophonous.  The same could be done with plurale tantum words what
happend to sound exactly like the singular of another word and are
made unambigous only be agreement effects.

E.g. German feminine and masculine nouns both have the articles 'der',
only for different cases (m: nominative, f: dative/genitive).  And
'den' occurs in singular as well as plural, only with different cases.
The kind of thing I mean can be shown with prepositions taking
different cases:

    mit  den Jungen  =  with    the boys
    ohne den Jungen  =  without the boy

Note that 'den Jungen' is plural in the first phrase, but singular in
the second.  And unambiguously so, since 'mit' takes dative case and
'ohne' takes accusative case.  So singular vs. plural is coded (not
very overtly...) in the article triggered by agreement with the
preposition.

Another weird example playing with this:

    Der          Finne entspricht           der          Norm.
    the.M.SG.NOM Finn  conforms/corresponds the.F.DAT.SG norm
    'The Finn conforms to the norm.'

    Der          Finne    entspricht           der          Schwanz.
    the.F.SG.DAT back_fin conforms/corresponds the.M.NOM.SG tail
    'The tail corresponds to the back fin.'

Semantical correctness aside, the gender of 'Schwanz' or 'Norm'
determines the meaning on 'Finne' here.  Which I think is quite an
obfuscation.  If it was the norm in German, even more people would
hate to learn it. :-)

Word order is used for topicalisation, so it has no influence on
argument structure here.

(I think 'Finne' is 'back fin', but I don't know exactly.  The general
'fin' is 'Flosse' in German.)

**Henrik