Skribis Rex F. MAY:

(On the shooting of rabbits...)

> I've done some thinking about whether things modify verbs
> or the whole sentence, or what.  I'll see if I can do some
> examples:
> I shot the rabbit in the garden.
> This is ambiguous, actually.  Either I or the rabbit or
> both were in the garden, and the shooting took place there,
> so for most purposes it doesn't matter.  But it could mean:
> I was in the house, the rabbit was in the garden, and I
> shot him from the house.  If 'in the garden' modifies the
> verb, then it would seem that at least a portion of the
> 'shot' can be said to be modified.
> Interestingly,
> In the garden, I shot the rabbit.
> Here, the prep phrase seems to make it clear that 'I'
> was in the garden, and, probably, the rabbit as well,
> certainly the shooting.  If the rabbit wasn't there,
> you'd say:
> >From the garden, I shot the rabbit.
> And here, the phrase definitely seems to modify the
> verb (or the whole sentence) because it can't modify
> 'I' or the rabbit.
> This could be avoided in a language by marking the
> phrase to eliminate ambiguity, maybe, and also utilizing
> syntax.
> I shot the rabbit (sentence modifier marker) in the garden.
> I shot the rabbit (noun modifier marker) in the garden.
> I (noun [or pronoun] modifier marker) in the garden shot the rabbit.
Esperanto equivalents:

Mi eng^ardene mortpafis la kuniklon.
Mi mortpafis la eng^ardenan kuniklon. (Or, if you want to be totally
symmetric, you could say, legitimately: "Mi eng^ardenan mortpafis la
kuniklon" ... but best leave this to poets.)
Mi eng^ardena mortpafis la kuniklon.

Most speakers of Esperanto, however, will fall back on more usual
habits for at least the second and third of these and use a standard
prepositional phrase (with appropriate syntactical placement and
lexical modifications) to give the appropriate impression, just as
you did above with English. (For some reason, compressing short
adverbial prepositional phrases into actual adverbs is stylistically
chic, while compressing short adjectival prepositional phrases into
actual adjectives is almost unknown in actual usage.)

(Another cute possibility is "Mi eng^ardenen mortpafis la kuniklon",
which essentially says: "I saw the dwatted wabbit standing outside
my garden looking longingly at my cawwots, so I whipped up my twusty
double-bore and let fly, and the blast hurled the furry cadaver over
the fence in among the cabbages." The expression "Mi mortpafis la
kunklon [ke g^i estu] eng^ardena", where the bracketed expression is
understood, has a similar meaning, though a stronger impression of
volition as opposed to mere result.)


By the way, has anyone here been following the interesting and
somewhat disquieting saga of Travlang, the Ergane dictionary and the
Toltran patent? This would seem to involve repercussions affecting
one major potential use of any planned IAL, assuming it holds up...
(English version at