I'm trying to figure out a way to embed uncertainty about others into
the language. So historically I was thinking the 'subjunctive case'
would have come from a system of noun-verb tense agreement, which
though long-unraveled would still be somewhat preserved when politely
referring to people, because saying to someone 'you are happy' would
be impolite because you are making a claim they might disagree with.
The most polite form would be something like 'your appearance suggests
you might be happy', but this then gets shortened to 'you might be
happy' for ordinary speech.

So to put it more clearly: In the old speech there is a verb meaning
'be happy' and a separate tense marker indicating the subjunctive, and
people tell each other literally "it makes sense you might be happy"
meaning "you look happy". Then, people start just saying 'you might be
happy', the pronoun 'you', the verb 'be happy', and the subjunctive
present particle.

Then I was thinking the particle would attach to both the verb and the
noun, something I'm not sure would really happen, to create a system
of tense agreement between verbs and nouns. Within this system
sentences like "I liked the old ways better" would mark 'ways' as past
but 'like' and 'I' as present.

Then my idea is that nouns lose tense inflection except for
subjunctive, while verbs stop marking subjunctive. This then is the
modern situation, in which 'you look happy' marks 'you' as subjunctive
and 'happy' as present. 'The hypothetical you (the one I hypothesized
upon seeing you) is happy.'

But maybe I don't in fact want "agreement" in the middle language,
since my example allows separate tenses for noun and verb anyway. I
could instead have separate tense and mood particles in the early
language, and one turns to an adverb and then a tense system, the
other into an adjective and then a case system.

:) It seems I've put off messing with my phonology and gone mostly to
jotting down grammatical ideas for the past week, though I still keep
trying to design the alphabet.

On Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Eugene Oh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> To me, personally, the subjunctive doesn't quite mesh with politeness—the
> uncertainty would more be over whether Your Majesty would like your humble
> servant to do such and such, rather than Your Majesty being an uncertain
> person, and other such.
> But do you have an example sentence to show us how you think it should work?
> Eugene
> 2009/9/21 Daniel Demski <[log in to unmask]>
>> What do you think of nouns marked for subjunctive? I'm not sure
>> whether all nouns in subjunctive sentence or clause would be marked;
>> it would seem much better to just mark the uncertain one. I'd also
>> like to require for politeness that people be in subjunctive, as well
>> as certain objects.