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On 31/10/2011 00:59, Scott Hlad wrote:
> OOPS... I was thinking in terms of natlangs. Here's what I'm thinking:
>
> Acc_prep noun verb dative_prep noun nominative_prep noun
>
> The pencil gave to the boy the teacher.
>
> The most important item in the sentence is "pencil" and pencil as opposed to
> "pen". The second is "boy" and boy instead of "girl".

Why all the prepositions.  Welsh has focus fronting, but 
doesn't find any need for marking the nominative or 
accusative with a preposition or, for that matter, any case 
ending.

Normal, unmarked sentence:
Rhoddodd yr athro    'r pensil   i'r bachgen.
Gave     the teacher the pencil to the boy

If we want to focus the pencil, then we have:
Y pensil (a) roddodd y athro i'r bachgen.

The teacher gave the PENCIL to the boy.

_a_ is a relative particle and is normally omitted in 
speech, but the soft mutation it causes is retain, hence 
_roddodd_ not _rhoddodd_. It is used if focus the subject or 
the object.  Thus:

Yr athro (a) roddodd y pensil i'r bachgen.
The TEACHER gave the pencil to the boy.

If we want to focus any other part of the sentence, the 
relative particle _y(r)_ is used; but it is normally omitted 
in speech and does not cause any mutation, thus:

I'r bachgen (y) rhoddodd y athro 'r pensil.
The teacher gave the pencil to the BOY

>
> Then it makes me think about having the verb be the most important.

Ah, trickier in welsh, as the verb normally comes first. 
Presumably in your conlang in an unmarked sentence 
something, may be the subject, will come first - something 
has to first!  So how do we mark.

In Welsh we put the verb into the verbnoun form (i.e.a 
gerund) and use the verb 'to do' as the finite verb:
Rhoddi'r pensil i'r bachgen (a) wnaeth y athro
The teacher GAVE the pencil to the boy.

More literally: GIVING the pencil to the boy [is what] the 
teacher did)      :)

[snip]
> statement. We can start a question with an Adverb (how, why, when, where)
> but then I suppose that in this case I would need some sort of marker for a
> question (Polish: czy; French: est-ce que; Portugues que e que)

Indeed you can.  In literary Welsh it's _ai_ - but in spoken 
Welsh it's merely a change in the tome of the voice.

> Thinking on this some more, languages that inflect nouns could make those
> sentences without prepositions at all.

Yep:
magister stilum puero dedit.
stilum magister dedit puero.
stilum dedit magister puero
dedit stilum puero magister
dedit puero stilum magister
puero dedit magister stilum
puero magister dedit stilum
magister puero stilum dedit
magister puero dedit stilum
puero magister stilum dedit
puero stilum magister dedit
stilum puero dedit magister
stilum dedit puero magister
dedit stilum magister puero
dedit magister stilum  puero
magister dedit puero stilum
magister dedit stilum puero
dedit magister puero stilum
dedit puero magister stilum
puero dedit stilum magister
puero stilum dedit magister
stilum puero magister dedit
stilum magister puero dedit
magister stilum dedit puero

..are all possible and unambiguous Latin forms!

But, to complicate things, Latin pushes focus to the end - 
it fronts the topic     :)

There's no acounting for the behavior of natlangs    ;)

-- 
Ray
==================================
http://www.carolandray.plus.com
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Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.
[WELSH PROVERB]