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Greetings Matthew, Dave, and Kjell,

Matthew Barnett :
> It's the same in English too: blood (water, rivers,
> etc.) can "run" but not "walk".

Na, und?  The point is that there's no logical reason
(in any language, well, no reason that I know of) why
fluids should run but not walk. The teacher attempted
to supply one and then realised there wasn't one.  The
fact that it's the same as English doesn't matter.
That was a personal example of the phenominon where
the "relatedness" of languages doesn't always help.
The Dutch students in the study hesitated to talk
about the "eye" of a potato, and I hesitated to talk
about "running" blood.

How could Jens's metaphor idea help us here?  Could
we conceive of a language with just one word for
running and flowing?  Would that be good?  How about
trickling, or gushing, or rushing, or creeping,
walking, or strolling?  I could conceive of a language
with one word for any kind of forward motion, and then
use other words if necessary to say whether this
motion is fast, slow, on foot, powered or unpowered,
(e.g. coast, glide) or involves certain specified
rhythmic foot motions (skip, trot, galop, run, speed-
walk, canter, march), but I wouldn't want to use
said language to coach a young bicyclist or to teach
horseback riding.


MacLeod Dave,

I suspect that "head/leader" is universal, or very
nearly so.  The head leads the body not only by
thinking, but in other ways.  The head usually looks
wherever the body is about to go, and it can be
exploited as a way to move people and animals around.
Where the head goes, the tail will follow.  Many
people think that we think in our hearts, but all
people have seen how the head is first in motion.

> [Turkish] kendisine gelmek (to come to oneself)

Does Japanese have any metaphoric phrase for this
concept, even if a different metaphor?  Is there
anything in the spiritual beliefes of the respecitive
cultures which might offer an explanation?

> Also words like hücre that mean cell in both senses
> (room + biological cell), where J and K use separate
> words for them.

PIV lists several definitions of "cxelo", not just
two.  It'd be interesting to know what these languages
use for all of them.

Peeking in my Japanese dictionary, I notice that the
word for "biological cell" is written in Chinese
characters.  Is it a Chinese loanword?  What do the
elements sai and boo mean?  The word for "jail cell"
is glossed simply as "jail, prison" in the other side
of the dictionary.  If the Japanese use a word meaning
something like "room" to describe an individual room
in a prison, does that count as using the same
"metaphor"?

> Sometimes I've seen phrases like "quo esas kun vi
> Europani" for "what is with you Europeans" in Ido
> but wonder if that would be understandable for a
> Japanese learner of the language.

What if the speaker had specified "wrong" or "the
thing"?  This strikes me as a fairly mild example
of leaving out a word.  I know what you mean, though.
I notice a lot of this kind of thing in Interlingua
(much less so in Esperanto), where I won't understand
something till I try mentally translating it into
English.  I've stopped asking about it, though.  It
sometimes results in a demonstraton that the structure
is known in other languages, and always results in a
long, boring explanation.

Kjell:
> My idea was that you may observe a person in front
> of you, i.e. you can draw a straight line from the
> person observed to your own eye. Then a line in an
> angle from the guy in front of you to the tree.

I just asked my wife about this while prompting her
as little as possible, and she said that I (i.e. the
person) was "hiding behind a tree."  She then started
to speculate that perhaps I was "spying."  When I
explained that the question was whether I was "behind"
the tree, she immediately said that because of the way
I was facing, I was behind it, but added "but you're
not behind it to me." (*)

I notice that if I was just standing there (and not
hiding), I would be "next to" the tree - but the
act of hiding presumes the exististance of a seeker,
whose perspective is then used to define the
orientation of the tree.  The observer changes, but
the relationship of "behind" to the observer does not.

In some languages, though, you'd say that I was hiding
"in front" of the tree, since the "front" would be
defined as the side further away from the observer.

> Obvously, the question about having one's past
> before oneself is a question of changing
> perspective.

I'm not sure whether I agree or disagree.  It depends
on what you mean by "perspective."  Do you mean
between languages or within a single language?  The
"front" of a tree can change within a language if
the point of view changes.  It can also change
without changing the point of view, if the definition
of "front" changes.

In a language where faceless objects are assumed to
be looking in the same direction as the observer, I
could use a word like "before" (in front of) to
describe a day which is on the far side of tomorrow.
If Friday is looking to the future, Saturday is
"before" (in front of) Friday.

This doesn't seem to be the situation for the Aymara,
though.

> Let's say that "you" arrived at a given place at 7
> o'clock and i arrived at 9 o'clock, that is, you
> arrived before me, but if I imagine looking at this
> from a point of observation from the outside,

By "from the outside", do you mean "from a physical
rather than temporal perspective", or do you mean
from a temporal perspective which can view the time-
line going from left to right?

> then the guy who gets there at 7 will stand after
> the one who arrives at 9, given that the we let
> time go from left to right, and the guy arriving
> at 9 will be standing mor to the right than he who
> arrived at 7, given I haven't got everything wrong!
> :-)

If time goes from left to right, the guy who arrives
at 7 will arrive "left of" the other guy, not "before"
or "after".

But isn't that an interesting question?  So far it
seems universal that all people imagine that time
runs perpendicular to the axis defined by their
shoulders, and not from right to left or left to
right.  I suspect that they used to have a concept of
time not unlike our own, but then "turned around"
in part because of the way their language requires
one to mark whether an event hearsay or not.

(*) For those who are interested, here's some more
detail.  After the initial unprompted questioning
of my wife, I told her a little bit about this
discussion.   She agreed that "in front of a bus"
normally means "in the path of the normal motion of
the bus" while the default of "in front of the bottle"
was relative to the speaker, since the particular
bottle we were discussing had no front or back.

I asked my son (age 7) some similar questions.  When
asked to go stand "antaux la kamiono", he stood next
to it, but between me and it. We went to another room
and I asked him where the truck would go if it went
"antauxen" and he then demonstrated that "antaux la
kamiono" meant in the path the truck would take.  When
I asked him to stand "malantaux pilko", he faced away
from me with the ball on the far side.  When I asked
him to face me and stand behind the ball, he then
stood on the far side of the ball.

My take is that he was just looking at these
situations from a different point of view than I
would expect.

Amike salutas,
Thomas/Tomaso ALEXANDER.
www.NightinGael.Net
---Anything below this line is not from Thomas ---


 
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