Author Topic: Distributive Property of Adjectives  (Read 726 times)

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Offline Tirea Aean

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Distributive Property of Adjectives
« on: March 15, 2015, 11:32:57 pm »
Kaltxì ma frapo! I have a little confirmation here. It may have been obvious to some, but I wanted to be totally sure of this.

The other day, Neytiri and I were discussing what the following phrase means:

eana kelku sì taw

And so, we resolved to send him an email. Here is the email I sent to Pawl:

Quote from: Tirea Aean

Kaltxì ma Pawl!

Oel ngati kameie.

[...]

So here is the quick question, about how a certain phrase in Na'vi works...

A.) eana kelku sì taw

Is this ambiguous or not? How should it be parsed?

1.) {eana kelku} sì taw

OR

2.) eana {kelku sì taw}
= eana kelku sì eana taw

Although we do know that to break any ambiguity, we can say:

B.) kelku aean sì taw

and it can only parse as

{kelku aean} sì taw

I suppose a question is, Does the adjective ean in (A) distribute across both nouns connected by sì? (Like in English, and like (2)) or is it already unambigous and (1) is the only correct interpretation?

This has really been making Neytiri and I think a lot today.

Eywa ngahu,
Ta Kori

And out of the blue today, he decided to call my mobile with the reply to this email. I will try my best to recall verbatim quotes from memory. (I really wish I had a means at the time to record the conversation!)


Quote from: Tirea Aean
So did you get my email about whether or not adjectives can distribute to both things?

[...]

I just assumed that the attributive adjective applies exclusively only to the noun it is placed next to and the a points to.

Quote from: Paul Frommer
Ah yes. I did, actually. [...] I've actually used a similar example before when teaching about this same ambiguity in English. The example was something like:

Older men and women...

As you know, this phrase is ambiguous in English. It's natural in cases like these to distribute the adjective to both nouns.

[...] So you assumed that the adjective doesn't distribute?

Quote from: Tirea Aean
Yes. That seemed to make intuitive sense to me. But then I thought about it --

Quote from: Paul Frommer
Hmm.. If the adjective didn't distribute... then there would be no real way of having it apply to both nouns without .. without repeating the same adjective again.

Quote from: Tirea Aean
Right, yes. And I could see that being cumbersome.

Quote from: Paul Frommer
You're right; it would be cumbersome. I think it's natural to be able to distribute it across without repeating it again. But yes, that certain word order of the phrase would be ambiguous. What do you think of this?

kelku sì taw aean

Quote from: Tirea Aean
I'd say house and blue sky; where taw is ean but not necessarily kelku. Again I didn't assume distribution across, even if the adjective is at the end. But I can see how this would work.
Okay, so this very same ambiguity of whether or not the adjective is supposed to distribute exists in Na'vi. I see. But yet we survive.

Quote from: Paul Frommer
Yes, exactly, we survive. And as you said, we can disambiguate by moving the word ean in this case.

Quote from: Tirea Aean
Ah, that makes sense. So now we know this basically works more or less exactly like in English.
[...]

And that's pretty much it about that.

I also asked him quickly as an aside about the existence (or non-existence) of the word: le'ul.

Quote from: Tirea Aean
By the way, does le'ul exist? the adjective version of nì'ul? We seem to have run across the same kind of problem we had with nì'aw before. And then le'aw came out to solve it.
You can literally put the word only in any slot at all in an English sentence and it drastically changes the meaning in a different way every time.
It would be useful to have le'ul to say stuff like "More people do X than do Y" as opposed to "People do more X than they do Y"

Quote from: Paul Frommer
Ahh. Hmm That's an interesting question.. Let me think about that for a little while and I'll get back to you on that.



Well, there you go. Another confirmation, and possibly one more to come. :)
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 11:36:02 pm by Tirea Aean »

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2015, 12:21:24 am »
 :D Seiyi irayo!

Quote
Another confirmation, and possibly one more to come
Oh, looking forward to hear/read it. :)

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Offline Blue Elf

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 03:59:19 pm »
Interesting discussion! So if I understand well:
eana kelku sì taw = eana {kelku sì taw} = eana kelku sì eana taw (can ambiguous)

while
kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw
kelku sì eana taw = kelku sì {eana taw}  = kelku sì {taw aean}, srak?
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Offline Vawmataw

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 04:46:20 pm »
So the adjectives don't necessarily distribute. Oh well...
In French, Esperanto and Spanish, no ambiguity would exist since you can add the plural to the adjectives: la maison et le ciel bleus / la bluaj domo kaj ĉielo / la casa y el cielo azules (the sky and the house are blue). But Karyu Pawl is the boss!

Quote from: Karyu Pawl
we can disambiguate by moving the word ean in this case.
Where?

Offline Ftiafpi

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2015, 10:46:34 pm »
I imagine much of this ambiguity can be cleared up by context.

For example if I own a blue house and say "blue house and sky", then you know I mean both are blue because the sky is a known color. I think similar ambiguity in Na'vi could likely be resolved in a similar way. If further clarity was required then double adjectives could easily be used.

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 01:05:06 am »
If I remember me correctly what Tirea explaine to me in TS,

eana kelku sì taw = {eana kelku} sì taw or eana {kelku sì taw} (ambiguous)

kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw (not ambiguous, because very very litteral it is: {kelku a-ean} sì taw [house that is blue and sky])

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Offline Vawmataw

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 04:29:33 pm »
If I remember me correctly what Tirea explaine to me in TS,

eana kelku sì taw = {eana kelku} sì taw or eana {kelku sì taw} (ambiguous)

kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw (not ambiguous, because very very litteral it is: {kelku a-ean} sì taw [house that is blue and sky])
oh! Now I understand!

Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2015, 01:56:25 am »
Interesting discussion! So if I understand well:
eana kelku sì taw = eana {kelku sì taw} = eana kelku sì eana taw (can ambiguous)

while
kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw
kelku sì eana taw = kelku sì {eana taw}  = kelku sì {taw aean}, srak?

Correct. :)

So the adjectives don't necessarily distribute. Oh well...
In French, Esperanto and Spanish, no ambiguity would exist since you can add the plural to the adjectives: la maison et le ciel bleus / la bluaj domo kaj ĉielo / la casa y el cielo azules (the sky and the house are blue). But Karyu Pawl is the boss!

I actually kind of like that we don't have to worry about adding more things.

Quote
Quote from: Karyu Pawl
we can disambiguate by moving the word ean in this case.
Where?

See Blue Elf's post :)

I imagine much of this ambiguity can be cleared up by context.

For example if I own a blue house and say "blue house and sky", then you know I mean both are blue because the sky is a known color. I think similar ambiguity in Na'vi could likely be resolved in a similar way. If further clarity was required then double adjectives could easily be used.

^ Yeah, this.

If I remember me correctly what Tirea explaine to me in TS,

eana kelku sì taw = {eana kelku} sì taw or eana {kelku sì taw} (ambiguous)

kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw (not ambiguous, because very very litteral it is: {kelku a-ean} sì taw [house that is blue and sky])

^ And this. It's consistent with my and Blue Elf's posts.

If I remember me correctly what Tirea explaine to me in TS,

eana kelku sì taw = {eana kelku} sì taw or eana {kelku sì taw} (ambiguous)

kelku aean sì taw = {kelku aean} sì taw (not ambiguous, because very very litteral it is: {kelku a-ean} sì taw [house that is blue and sky])
oh! Now I understand!

Yep. That's pretty much it. Like I said, there is nothing at all Earth-shattering going on here that we did not expect could happen.

Offline eejmensenikbenhet

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Re: Distributive Property of Adjectives
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 04:19:15 am »
Hmm, I never even thought of this as an ambiguity since I'd always (incorrectly, as I know now) link the adjective to the noun directly 'touching' the -a-.
Good to know that I was wrong, learning more every day!

 

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