Print

Print


Nik Taylor wrote:

> Tommie Powell wrote:
> > There's a world of difference between a language which _permits_  polysynthetic
> > expressions (like French) and a language which _requires_ them (like Cheyenne).
> >
> > How can you (Nik) and Ray blithely ignore that difference?  It's the difference
> > between being free to express a particular thought in a variety of ways (as in
> > what I've called "modern languages") or being forced to express it in only one
> > way (as in what I've called "Stone Age languages").
>
> Well, "permitting" and "requiring" aren't as much a difference as you're
> making it out to be.  I don't know much French, but it's my
> understanding that in spoken colloquial French, those polysynthetic
> tendencies are obligatory.  Most languages only have one or two ways of
> expressing a gramatical relationship.  For example, in Spanish, you must
> say "Lo veo", never "*Veo lo" (and it's only a small step from using
> clitics to making it into a prefix, "loveo", as it already has in the
> imperative, e.g., "ma'talo"), altho one has a choice as to "Yo lo veo"
> and "Lo veo", or "Puedo verlo" and "Lo puedo ver".  And the restriction
> on syntax is a characteristic of polysynthetic languages, not "stone age
> languages".  Look at the history, too.  French is descended from Latin,
> an inflecting language, with great freedom of word order.  Modern French
> has some polysynthetic tendencies, and has a more restricted word
> order.  The polysynthetic tendencies are new *and*, IINM, *growing*.
> Perhaps one day French will be polysynthetic, or at least
> agglutinating.  We have observed among other languages an evolution
> *toward* the polysynthetic type, and I can easily see how a language
> might evolve from isolating to that.  Imagine if English began to use
> suffixes like "-ize" and the like more, so that words like
> "presidentize" became the norm (meaning "elect president") (Bill Clinton
> was presidentized in 1992 and 1996, or "Bill Clinton waspresidentized
> in1992 and in1996.", where "was" has become a prefix, as has "in").  I
> grant that polysynthetic *may* be more common among stone age peoples,
> simply due to the fact that they would communicate with other peoples
> less.  A polysynthetic language would tend to become more isolating with
> a large number of L2 speakers, so that "make X" would tend to replace
> "X-ize", to use an English example, but that's not because isolating is
> any more "advanced" or "sophisticated".
>

I agree -- entirely!  And I'm designing my constructed language for L2 speakers,  so
I'm isolating its morphemes.  But I'm giving it sentence structures that are as rigid
as in purely polysythetic languages, so that there's really only one way to express
each thought.  This is difficult to design, but I think it will be exceptionally easy
to learn if I do it well.

-- Tommie