On Sun, May 2, 2010 at 10:23 AM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> And Rosta wrote:
>> R A Brown, On 01/05/2010 16:32:

>>> juna beletan amindumas fraulinon viro "The young man
>>> woos the pretty young_lady"
>> Good question. One would, I think, predict that such an
>> order would not occur in well-formed Esperanto,

> It has just struck me - and I feel a little sheepish at not
> having noticed it before - the trouble with the Esperanto
> example is that we know _juna_ and _beletan_ are adjectives,
> because Esperanto marks them as such.  We can't let attributive adjectives
> be separated from their noun by a finite verb.

> I wrote in an earlier email that in Latin the boundary
> between noun and adjective is fuzzy.  Indeed it is.  *Any
> adjective can be used alone as a substantive*.

A similar, but probably not identical, phenomenon, occurs in Esperanto:

Bertilo Wennergren analyzes such adjectives standing alone and acting
syntactically like nouns as abbreviated noun phrases where the noun is
obvious from context and thus omitted.  That happens most often, I
think, with language descriptors (thus "la angla" < "la angla lingvo",
and similarly for most natlangs where the name of the language and the
name of the people it is/was originally associated with are the same
or come from the same root), and with ordinal number adjectives
denoting an hour of the day or a day of the month.  But Wennergren
gives a bunch of other examples as well.  My impression is that an
adjective playing the syntactic role of a noun usually requires a
definite article before it, but not always.

The sentence:

La juna amindumas la beletan.

would be well-formed in a context that made it clear who those
adjectives refer to; and thus also

La juna la beletan amindumas.

with a focus on the verb, I think.  I'm not sure if

Juna beletan amindumas.

would work, however, and I'm not sure why it seems less well-formed
than the previous two sentences.

But omission of an implied head noun, and shifting the head noun to
the far side of the main verb, are different things.  I'm still
dubious about the acceptability of the sentence quoted at the top of
this post.

And further, I'm not sure this is fully equivalent to the phenomenon
Ray describes in Latin (and Greek, if I'm not mistaken?).  There, the
adjectives and the nouns pretty much get marked for the same
morphological categories in the same ways, and the only way to
distinguish them is by their semantics.  Esperanto makes a
morphological distinction between adjectives and nouns, as Ray points
out, and I suspect that's relevant to if not decisive for the analysis
of sentences like the aforementioned.  Arguably, a Latin or Greek
adjective standing alone could be a zero-derivation substantive,
rather than being implicitly followed by an omitted-because-so-obvious
head noun; that analysis is hardly plausible for Esperanto.

Jim Henry