Hi Gary, Roger et al,
On Wed, 20 Sep 2006 Roger Mills wrote: 
> Gary Shannon wrote:
> > Do any natlangs make frequent use of implied verbs?
> Malay/Indonesian, to some extent-- with preps. of motion or location:
> ibu ke/pasar (mother to/market) 'mother is going to the market'
> ibu di/pasar (mother at/market) 'mother is at the market'
> The second is especially common, there being no good equivalent 
> of "to be" 
> (ada ~adalah are quite formal).
> and the very common greeting--
> Mau (or, kau) kemana? (want [you] to/where) 'where are you going?'

Seconded.  "be" and "go" are the verbs most often elided in Malay.

Or, in informal English, an exasperated parent might say to a child:
 What now?

short for:
 What do you want now?

or perhaps:
 What's the matter now?

These are cases where more than the verb is implied.

> but not quite in the way your examples work, I think.
> I don't know if this is valid or not-- it strikes me as perhaps 
> "literary/poetic"-- 
> dari hutan, tiga singa 'from the forest, (came) 3 lions' 

/* begin long digression to discuss the 'pantun' form of poetry */

This strikes me as the perfect paradigm of a line from a "sajak"
(verse poem) and more particularly, from a "pantun" - antiphonal
rhymed quatrains (*) which were for centuries the main medium 
of contests in literary skill between rival villages.  

An ulterior purpose of such contests was, of course, to allow
young marriageable persons extended opportunities to size up
prospective partners.  The first couplet would enunciate a 
metaphor, and the second would apply it to the ever-important
matters of good manners and right conduct.  A pantun which
replied to the opposition's and defeated its point with a stronger
(deeper, wiser, more moral) overriding point was judged specially

Such a pantun match could last for hours, each side seeking
to overmatch the other - rather like a debate with an unlimited 
right of reply - until one side, unable to extemporise (or perhaps
recall) a fitting response to the last challenge, conceded "kalah"
 - defeat.  At which point the feasting could begin in earnest ...

(*) sometimes couplets, sometimes double or quadruple quatrains,
but almost overwhelmingly, single quatrains with rhyme scheme 

Here's a modern pantun illustrating the metaphor and explication
approach of most pantun:

 Semua orang bergelang tangan,
 Saya seorang bergelang kaki,
 Semua orang berkata jangan,
 Saya seorang menurut hati. 

 Bracelets are worn by all and sundry,
 With my anklets, though, I would not part,
 Many - oh many - have sought to stop me, 
 Though all alone, I followed my heart. (&)

(&) taken from

The English translation is by the author, and is far from literal.
That would be more like this:

 Everyone wears bracelets,
 I alone wear anklets;
 Everyone says "don't",
 I alone follow my heart .

(Well, actually, "hati" means "liver" ... but it is the metaphoric seat
of the emotions for Malay-speakers, just as the heart is for 

I ran quickly thru my collection of pantuns (which includes those 
of Wilkinson & Winstedt, Singapore 1914), but without spotting 
a verbless sentence in the style of your:
 dari hutan, tiga singa

but it's very tempting to write one ... the structure is quite 
authentically pantun-like, in rhythm and substance.  Let's see

 Dari hutan, dua singa,
 Dilangit malam, tujuh bintang.
 Dialam sari, dua telinga,
 Diakhir nanti, dengar tak tertentang.

 From the jungle, lions two,
 In the night sky, seven stars.
 In daily life, one's ears but two,
 In the life to come, hear from afar.

No, that's pathetic. ;-)   There are, however, many *good* pantun 
on the Internet.  Ah, here's one: 

 Ruku-ruku dari Peringgit,
 Teras jati bertalam-talam;
 Rindu saya bukan sedikit,
 Nyaris mati semalam-malam.

(Wilkinson & Winstedt: 205)

 Sweet basil (comes) from (far) Portugal,
 Heartwood of teak holds many a tray;
 My longing (for you) is not just a little,
 Almost it kills me, each night and day.

(My translation.)  The connections may at times seem tenuous,
in the extreme; but the reader needs to know that "jati" (teak)
used attributively is a metaphor meaning "genuine".

Here's a modern one with verbless phrases for the first two 
lines; I don't know whether to analyse them simply as nominal 
phrases, or as vocatives:

 Pulau Pandan jauh ke tengah
 Gunung Daik bercabang tiga
 Hancur badan dikandung tanah
 Budi yang baik di kenang juga (^)

 Pandanus Island way out in the ocean
 Daik Mountain with its threefold peak
 Perish the body contained in the coffin
 Memories of character never grow weak

(^) Found online at: and translated
by me.

See also for more pantun.

/* end long digression to discuss the 'pantun' form of poetry */

I thought perhaps some members might find this ramble 
about pantun (a) informative and (b) suggestive of possible 
directions for literature in their conlangs.  Also, it touches
in some slight measure on Gary's original question.


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