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Once again, I've forgotten that replies to Dana's messages have to be
manually directed to the list....so now I'm replying to a message that
didn't make it to the list.

On 3/18/07, Dana Nutter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> There may be no formally defined word order for E-o, but the defacto
> rule is SVO.


No.  There is no such rule.  Rules are prescriptive and there is no
prescription in Esperanto for SVO.  If what you meant is that SVO is
commonly used, then yes, as a descriptive generalization that's accurate.
But departures from SVO are far from rare.

  I never said it the inflection was "worse" because it does
> serve a purpose, but the issue is one of what's lost and what's gained.
> What's lost is really nothing since making it optional will still allow
> changes in word order.  What's gained is the time normally spent trying
> to learn it.


An optional accusative must still be learned.  As far as that goes, the time
spent is the same.  But the "option" to use the accusative when the sentence
is not in SVO order imposes the additional burden of keeping track of when
sentences are and aren't SVO.  The Ido rule therefore offers no economy of
learning time, and may actually be harder than Esperanto's rule, since it is
more complicated.

I'm not arguing against the *accusative*.  It exists in all languages.
> I'm just saying why put a marker on it and make students spend long
> hours drilling it into their brains when it's really not necessary.
> Language is a set of habits, and learning new habits takes time.  Why
> not mark the nominative too?  There are languages like Japanese that do.


By "accusative" I just mean the marking of a direct object by some
morphological element, rather than by syntax.  In that sense, it doesn't
exist in all languages.  Yes, the direct object must be indicated in all
languages.  This can be done by morphology (inflection or particle) or by
syntax.  I don't know of any other way.  My point is that one way is not
inherently easier than another.  The syntactic way is easier for some people
in some constructions; the morphological way is easier for some other people
in some constructions.

Right!  Their L1 doesn't have it.  This applies to *lots* of people
> though.
>
> > and (b) learning it requires understanding the concepts of subject,
> > object, and transitivity.  I don't know how things may be elsewhere,
> but in the
> > US, education in grammar has just about hit bottom.  You can't count
> on even
> > educated people understanding these grammatical terms anymore.
>
> Right again! Joe Sixpack probably doesn't even know a noun from an
> adjective.  As sad as the U.S. educational system is, you can count it
> being even worse in most of the world.  Most people on the planet get
> little or no formal education and are illiterate.


I agree, but then the Japanese or Hindi-speaking counterpart to Joe Sixpack
must still learn about subjects, objects, and transitivity in order to learn
how to produce sentences in SVO order, and the German speaker will need to
learn about them in order to understand how to rearrange subordinate clauses
from the familiar SOV.

> Then when we come to a sentence such as "What do you
> > have that I want?"  To keep it SVO we have to do "Vi havas kio, mi
> deziras kiu."
> > That is pretty unnatural for anglophones, and I suspect we can expect
> to see a
> > learning curve and mistakes there.  You might decide to allow
> deviations from SVO
> > under certain conditions.
>
>         "Vi havas kiu kio mi deziras."
>         you have what that I want
>
> > This will introduce further syntactic complexity, but
> > the point is that these syntactic rules still require speakers to
> master the
> > concepts of subject, object, and transitivity, unless the rules happen
> to match
> > those of their L1, in which case the rules don't have to be "learned"
> at all.
>
> You have two groups of people here.  Those who mark, and those who
> don't.  Those who do can easily learn to stop marking.  Those who don't
> will have to spend a lot of time learning to mark.  The price is that
> those who mark will have to adjust to a more rigid word order.


No, the price is higher than that.  Those who mark must learn the
grammatical concepts in order to know how to use the more rigid word order.
Also, those who don't mark but use a different word order must learn the
grammatical concepts in order to know how to use the new, but rigid, word
order.  We both agreed that learning these concepts is a big part of what
makes the marked accusative difficult.  Rigid word order doesn't remove that
difficulty.  That sentence "Vi havas kio, mi deziras kiu" is what you get in
rigid-SVO Esperanto without the accusative.  That is *not* going to be easy
or natural for anglophones, francophones, hispanophones and in order to get
the hang of it they will still have to understand about subjects, objects,
and transitivity.

That's one mistake I see in a lot of language references and learning
> materials.  They tend to load up on linguistic terms.  One reason I have
> a lot of respect for Berlitz's teaching methods is that they concentrate
> more on the development of habits rather than worrying about terminology
> or teaching "rules".  Instead they present sentence structures and
> repeat them until they become habit.  This works even for learning
> inflections, but the issue is that it takes time to develop new habits
> and some habits are easier to acquire than others.


I suspect most adults learn languages by some combination of rules and
patterning.  The advantage of rules, of course, is that they effectively
*summarize* many sentence patterns.  The disadvantage is that they require
understanding of the grammatical structures that they summarize.  Whether
it's syntax or inflections, the acquisition of the correct habit is made
faster if there are few exceptions to the patterns involved.

No, it doesn't deal with Ido but a marker is a marker.  The only
> difference being that Ido doesn't use it in a basic SVO sentence.  The
> point in the article was that by dropping the -n, these native speakers
> are demonstrating that its superfluous.


It doesn't begin to demonstrate that, any more than any other mistake that
children make with language demonstrates that that aspect of the language is
superfluous.

> Although adjectival accord is redundant, the accusative isn't.
>
> I find it redundant when the it's perfectly clear what's meant without
> it.
>
>         "hundo mordas viro"


That sentence is ambiguous and in fact it's not only not clear what's meant,
it's impossible to say what's meant.  You may *guess* that it means "A dog
bites a man" but that guess is based on your expectations of who bites and
who gets bitten.  If you take something like "Rabisto pafis policisto" then
all bets are off, and if you assume it's SVO you may not get what was trying
to be expressed.   Even if SVO sentences outnumber OVS by 5:1 in Esperanto,
the accusative is still not redundant.

This is one of the things I've found elegant about Chinese grammar.
> Superfluous information is omitted, but markers sill existing for
> occasions when they are needed.  Even POS markers are available when
> needed, but generally they are not used.


Information about subject and object is not superfluous, and although I
don't speak Chinese I'll bet the farm that this information is not omitted.

Todd Moody