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Patrick Dunn done wrote:

>My language Hatas-Oa, the notes of which have been lost, had no negative
>forms.  To say, "don't shut the window!" you'd have to say "let the window
>remain open."  It required a strange sort of precision, actually.
>
>"Do you want somethiing to drink?"
>"I am satisfied."
>
>"Do you want some tea?"
>"I like coffee."

Very interesting.  Reminds me of Laadan, in which it is allegedly impossible
to directly contradict someone (although, as we've discussed on this list,
that's not strictly speaking true).

It seems that the Hatas-Oa system would work for concepts that have
opposites ("open" and "shut", for instance), but that it would run into
problems with non-polar concepts.  How, for instance, could you express
something like "John is not my brother" or "It didn't rain yesterday"?
I suppose you could come up with non-negative paraphrases which would
get those ideas across (e.g. "John is someone else's brother", "It was
sunny yesterday"), but of course those don't convey exactly the same
meaning.

Hatas-Oa speakers must have a rather unique understanding of truth-
conditional semantics...  :-)

Matt.

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Matt Pearson
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UCLA Linguistics Department
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543
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