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This is simply a noun class system; lots of them exist in natural languages.
My very first language had a system like this that was based on Arabic, but
a more common instantiation is probably the kind I did with Zhyler:

http://dedalvs.com/zhyler/nclasses.html

I wasn't familiar with Rick Morneau's take on this.  I have to admit: I've never
fully read the great big monograph on Lexical Semantics.  :(  Some day...

-Dave

On Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM, Linvi Charles <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I am just wondering how the people on this list regard the method of the
> construction of vocabulary which Rick Morneau illustrates in his
> monograph "Lexical
> Semantics of a Machine Translation
> Interlingua<http://www.eskimo.com/%7Eram/lexical_semantics.html>",
> especially in this<http://www.eskimo.com/%7Eram/lexical_semantics.html#S3_2>section.
> If you think that this system is inefficient or ineffective, please
> explain why, and if you think that a different system is more efficient or
> effective, please explain it.
>
> In this approach, one defines two, large collections of words: (a) the
> classifiers and (b) the modifiers. Each one of the classifiers represents a
> class of words and each one of the modifiers represents a vague idea or
> concept. To construct a word, (1) one first chooses the classifier which
> represents the class in which the class of the word exists, for example, the
> class of the word which denotes "shirt" exists in the class of the words
> which denote "clothing", "human-made items", "things" et cetera, and, then,
> (2) one chooses a modifier which somehow suggests, imprecisely and just
> mnemonically, the subclass.
>
> To provide an example of this approach, I will quote Rick Morneau directly:
>
> "For example, the root meaning "bicycle" consists of the numeric modifier
> meaning 'two' plus the 'vehicle' classifier."
>