On 16 March 2016 at 08:47, Decremental Bug <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I had once read somewhere on Wikipedia - a theory that a language without
> the verbs of form 'to be' will help reduce prejudice. I can't remember it's
> justification or link. It had examples like : "This box is red" will be
> translated as "This box looks red in colour".
OK, ignoring that the original idea is beyond stupid (even the most stupid
ideas can be used to generate interesting conlangs)...

> Anyways, encouraged from that, I am trying to remove genitive case from the
> conlang I am working on. Justification is that the people speaking this
> conlang really abhor the concept of permanent ownership of objects or using
> possessive pronouns for people.
It's not that difficult to remove the genitive case from a language. My
Haotyétpi lacks one for instance (well, it does have one, but it's
obsolete, on par with "thou" in English). Removing the entire idea of
ownership, however, is more difficult, I agree.

> So, I am replacing the possessive pronouns with either appropriate
> adjective clauses (eg: 1, 3, 4) or other sorts of replacements (eg: 2, 5).
> Examples :
> 1. "Meet my wife" -- becomes -- "Meet the woman whom I married".
> 2. "My wife is pretty" -- becomes -- "<Name> is pretty".
> 3. "I have lost my pen" -- becomes -- "I have lost the pen that I was
> holding".
> 4. "This is my new house" -- becomes -- "This is the house that I newly
> bought".
> 5. "I am going to my home" -- becomes -- "I am going to where I live".
> However, I am failing in case of the inalienable ones like -
> 6. "I moved my hand" -- becomes -- "I moved ??? "
> Options :
> a. "I moved the hand that is attached to me" -- very awkward.

Only in English, because of the length of the verb and the need to use a
passive. In Haotyétpi, the verb _més_ means "to be/become attached to" (in
the literal sense). Because it's so short, it is indeed used in relative
clauses, usually to indicate that something is part of something else (as
in "the branch of the tree").

> b. "I moved the hand" -- assumes I would only move my hand. But what if I
> did move someone else's ?
In this situation, it's not unusual for languages to use a reflexive to
indicate possession by the subject of the object, i.e. "I moved my hand" is
rendered as "I moved myself the hand". French does that for instance, but I
think it's cross-linguistically common. The reflexive is sometimes omitted
when context is clear that one is talking about their own limb.

> Looking for suggestions to handle this. Also, any other gotchas or advice
> or ideas or points to take care of ?
Just that you shouldn't confuse removing the genitive case from a language
from removing the entire concept of ownership. The former is easy enough to
do. The latter, I'm not even sure it makes sense to do it in a human
language. If the speakers are aliens, though, with a strong collectivist
bend and no concept of individual property, not even of their own bodies,
then why not? :)
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
President of the Language Creation Society (

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