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On Tue, 9 Mar 1999, Tim Smith wrote:

> I like that.  I can certainly see "on" becoming an accusative marker in that
> way.  But I wonder if it would also take on the dative, allative, and
> locative functions, or if it would end up being accusative only, with "to"
> having those other functions?

Probably initially (i.e. in Proto-Neo-Anglic) it would only be an
accusative marker only.  Perhaps later on down the line it would replace
"to" as a dative/locative marker.  Either that, or "to" would replace
"on"...

> I also like the [I]->[E] sound change that you've implicitly introduced,
> although it has to be modified to get [in] instead of [En] for the
> imperfective suffix.  How about: [I]->[E] before voiceless stops (or all
> voiceless consonants), otherwise [I]->[i]?

Or perhaps: [I]->[E] in stressed syllables, and [I]->[i] (or schwa, or
whatever) in unstressed syllables.  You might contemplate a Russian-like
system, where certain vowels remain contrastive in stressed syllables
but become non-contrastive in unstressed syllables.  How about [a], [E],
[e], [i], [o], [O], [u] in stressed syllables, but only [a], [i], [u]
in unstressed syllables?  Something like this would be a rather natural
development from the vowel reduction patterns found in Modern English.

> more about sound changes.  The strategy I've followed so far has been to
> keep the sound changes pretty conservative, avoiding anything that isn't
> already attested in real-world creoles and/or "non-standard" varieties of
> English, but to make the orthography very different, so that to a
> non-linguist it would look quite "foreign" on paper but would be fairly
> intelligible when spoken.  (Hence your comment that it's not strange
> enough.)  But I think I had in mind all along that this was just the
> beginning, and that once I had the grammar down I'd start introducing more
> sound changes.

You could also have lots of lexical changes: borrowings from other
languages and that sort of thing.  Of course, that would force you to
make some commitments about the social history of Neo-Anglic.  Perhaps
it has lots of loanwords from Mexican Spanish, or Japanese, or Russian?
Lots of possibilities here...

> The thorniest problem, I think, is what to do about gender.  I've long
> thought that "they" is well on the way to becoming a gender-neutral singular
> pronoun, as well as a plural one.  (As several people on this list have
> pointed out at various times, this is not a "PC" innovation, but rather a
> revival of what used to be standard usage until the prescriptive grammarians
> decided that it wasn't "logical".)  But if this happens, will "they"
> supplant "he" and "she", as "you" supplanted "thou", or will "he" and "she"
> remain in contexts where the gender of the referent is known and relevant?

Initially, "he" and "she" would probably remain, and be replaced by "they"
only in contexts where gender is irrelevant, or where the pronoun has
a bound interpretation (e.g. "Everybody(i) loves their(i) mother"), much
as in Modern English.  Later developments, it seems to me, are up for
grabs.  (When I read the initial sketch of Neo-Anglic, I assumed,
forgetting the creole connection, that "he" and "she" had reduced
to "i" as a result of sound changes, but I guess that's not what you had
in mind.)  I like the idea of replacing "he" and "she" with "they"
across the board, even though it may not seem probable from the
standpoint of current English.  One possibility:  Neo-Anglic has just
one third person pronoun, "de", used for both singular and plural.
To disambiguate singular from plural, a demonstrative may be used instead
(singular "disgai", plural "aldisgai", etc.).  This is essentially what
Malagasy does, so there are definite natlang precendents...

Matt.