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On 12/3/14, Paul Bartlett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 2014-12-02 11:01 PM, Stephen Rice wrote (excerpted for brevity):
>
> Thanks for responding.

I meant to do so sooner. Hectic schedule. I hope to get to other e-mails soon.

>> On 11/20/14, Paul Bartlett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> There were moves in that direction years ago. While the male/female
>> distinction may usually be ignored, adding inanimates and animals
>> overloaded the system, so there was an unofficial tendency (mentioned
>> in the grammar, I think) to use "esta" for "it." I'm not sure
>> precisely when they introduced "lo," however.
>
> However, are there not languages on this green earth which use only one
> third-person singular pronoun, regardless of sex / gender / animateness
> / inanimateness? After all, English uses only the indifferent 'they' in
> the plural, a "How can that possibly work?" feature in the estimation of
> users whose languages distinguish in the plural. (Even IALA Interlingua
> has separate plural forms, rather in contradiction to one of the basic
> -- supposed -- grammatical principles.)

There are quite a few languages that don't make that distinction. The
problem is that a very large percentage of the global corpus is in
languages that do, and they have quite a few speakers. It's like
translating from a tensed language to an untensed one: a feature that
is subtly present in the one is either not there at all or lit up with
a floodlight in the other. That's why I generally support allowing the
distinction without requiring it, as in LdP and Sambahsa. Even
Esperanto has genderless pronouns, which is why the riismo business is
ridiculous. If the distinction is optional, it will be used enough to
retain some subtlety without inconveniencing those unused to it.

It isn't an insuperable difficulty, but it is unnecessary and, for a
fledgling language without millions of native speakers and solid
financial backing, could prove overwhelming. I simply don't like the
odds.

As to LdP, the grammar article says,

"There are no gender distinctions between "he" and "she". If gender is
significant, one can use words like la fem, la om, la xica, la xico,
la fema, la mas (the woman, the man, the girl, the boy, the female,
the male), etc."

These forms have all the subtlety of a live grenade, and they are too
long to work well in poetry or song.

Incidentally, the same article mentions something else I suspect is problematic:

"Unlike in the Romance languages, there is no polite/impolite contrast
for the second person: tu is always used for the singular, vos always
for the plural."

Here Ido has a better idea with vu/vi, though I wish they would drop
tu. Romance speakers of LFN will surely be bothered by the Latin use
of tu/vos.

> I am wondering if this is another instance of, "My natlang has such and
> such a feature; therefore, any well-behaved conIAL must also necessarily
> have this feature." Granted, it is a design decision, but if you are
> going to multiply pronouns, perhaps you should go as far as that of Ido
> (although even Ido does not make the inclusive / exclusive distinction
> in first-person plural, as do some langauges).

Technically Inlis does: "wi" is generic, "yumi" inclusive, "felami"
exclusive. It's even possible to have sexed plural pronouns. How much
demand there will be for such features is another matter; they were
side-effects of rules that allowed forms that may prove more useful.

Steve