Wow--thanks, David!

On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 1:06 AM, David Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Based on your description below, I'm not sure you have the same thing
> going on. You describe what, indeed, sounds like a noun class system
> below, but Navajo has something a bit more like ASL--specifically, for
> certain verbs of motion (not all verbs), one of eleven class elementals
> are employed which describe the shape of the body in motion. Usually
> this type of thing is done because the language is sensitive to how objects
> of different sizes and shapes move differently (e.g. throwing a ball is
> rather a different thing from throwing a handful of rice). As such, the
> classifier system applies more specifically to verbs than to nouns (and
> then, only to the noun that is in motion).

Ah, right. What I drew from Navajo (did I really type Najavo? ay...) was its
structuring of the class system based on more concrete properties of
objects, rather than general attributes like "animate/inanimate,"
"human/nonhuman," etc.

> Do the noun class markers take the place of third person arguments, and
> are they still present for 1st and 2nd person arguments (in the form of
> whatever noun class marker would be used with other human beings)?
> The answers to these questions should solidify just what these elements
> are.

Class markers are present in third person arguments (alongside a
stance/number marker), and they are not present in 1st and 2nd person

> You're talking about the agreement markers? Why would they be standalone
> nouns?

Ah--this may be my ignorance showing. Based on my readings on Oneida's
classifier noun incorporation, I gathered that it was still considered noun
incorporation (as opposed to just marking the verb to agree with its
arguments) because the incorporated class marker could also be used as a
standalone noun representing a member of the class. However, my readings on
Oneida are thus far meager...

> Noun incorporation usually serves a specific pragmatic function, and
> there's
> a good reason why it's usually objects that are incorporated. If it's only
> locative
> nouns that are incorporated, I'd wonder what the purpose would be, as most
> of the time locative phrases are already outside the main argument
> structure
> of the sentence, either modifying a noun, or modifying the entire verb
> phrase
> itself. What function did you have in mind for the incorporation?
My intent is to make the mindset of the speakers a little more apparent in
the language; feayr cognition is very location-oriented, so that in the same
way that a Navajo motion verb is considered distinct depending on its
object, so a Feayran verb is considered distinct depending on its locale.

> > 3) Ideas for refining/completing the noun class system. As mentioned, I'm
> > having a hard time, and would appreciate assistance.
> Really? It seems like you've got it almost sewn up.

Eh--it had a few too many large gaps that I wasn't entirely sure how to deal
with. After some thought, though, I think I've solidified a good system with
plenty of potential for metaphoric applications and overlap of classes,
allowing the speaker to disambiguate objects and make distinctions for

-G- (meat/small prey)
This class will include objects which smell of edible things, including
small animals, fruits, nuts, other munchies, hunting, chasing, fish, etc.;
possible application as a pejorative

-T- (large prey)
Larger game animals, hunts for large game, goals/desires, etc.; a weaker
pejorative, possible application as a euphemism for objects of arousal

-D- (noncompetitive predators)
Non-prey animals which do not pose a threat; also, other non-rival feayr.

-RHR- (competitive predators)
Predators which pose a threat; rival feayr.

-LK- (masculine smells)
Fairly self-explanatory, but it will have plenty of metaphorical

-LSH- (feminine smells)
Counterpart to the above, obvious concrete usages with plenty of potential
for metaphor

-Z- (excitement smells)
Objects carrying scents indicating agitation--could mean distress, arousal,

-NG- (decay smells)
Rotting meat, molding undergrowth, smells of sickness; again, lots of space
for metaphor.

-N- (water smells)
Water, lakes, shellfish, reeds, marshes, etc.

-F- (medicine smells)
I had a hard time with the name for this class; it will probably have more
metaphorical applications than concrete ones. Used for herbs, aromatic
plants, etc., but also for useful things.

-NT- (familiar smells)
Kin, things that smell of kin, things the speaker is familiar with...

-SHT- (unfamiliar smells)
Counterpart to the above, strange things, foreign things, things with which
the speaker is not familiar.

-S- (no smell/abstract)
Things with no discernible scent, and some abstract concepts; spirits and
the deceased will usually be included in this class.

-SH- (???)
I've given up on the "sources" tag for this group. It's probably going to be
the most miscellaneous class. Currently it contains rivers, wind, birds,
words, stories, thoughts, smells, sounds, music, some spirits...

-R- (traces)
Ash, blood, tracks, markings, colors, tastes, smoke, bones, children...

-THK- (territory)
In most cases, this is a non-smell-based class used for locations within the
speaker's territory; mountains, forests, clearings, trees, boulders...

-NK- (nonterritory)
Counterpart to the above, locations outside of the speaker's territory.

> > 4) Any other guidelines, suggestions or warnings concerning my design
> goals:
> > polysynthetic/Native American aesthetic, focus on location and smell.
> Both Dirk Elzinga and Jeff Burke would have a good deal to say,
> I'd wager.
Does Jeff Burke still frequent the list? His material on the ZBB and the
conlang wikibook was tremendously helpful.

As were you! Many thanks, David!

Any other comments or suggestions?