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