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I asked Frommer some questions. And he responded. Here they are:

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Kaltxì nìmun, ma Taronyu.

See below for some answers.

--- Quote from: Taronyu ---In your Language Log, you show in the trapezium that [a] is the low back vowel, in contrast to [æ]. Did you mean to say [ɑ]? I am aware that you use an old American system.
--- End quote ---

I meant [a], a low central vowel; essentially the corresponding vowel in Spanish and Italian, or in the standard American pronunciation of 'hot.' So you're right: phonetically it's not really back.

--- Quote from: Taronyu ---Is transitivity lexically marked: you've shown that 'promise' is ditransitive in the guide, but what about the other words? Will you be showing us how to do this soon?
--- End quote ---

Well, I've been pretty much leaving it up to the semantics to determine what's transitive and what's not, when it's clear. "Sleep" is clearly intransitive, for example; "kill" is clearly transitive. So I don't need to annotate those in the lexicon. For verbs like 'begin,' however, you have to be told which one you're talking about. So for those, I've indicated the type in the complete glossary. Until that's published, let me know what's not obvious and I'll get back to you.

--- Quote from: Taronyu ---I've noticed in a shot of a script that you stress monosyllabic words when they have an inflection (and therefore are polysyllabic), but not otherwise. Should all monosyllabic words be stressed normally?
--- End quote ---

Yes indeed. I underlined the stressed syllables in polysyllabic words for the actors, so they could pronounce their lines correctly. I've done that in the glossary too for all polysyllabic words.

The rule for inflected verbs is that whatever vowel is stressed in the root keeps its stress in the inflected form. So for example, the root for hunt, as you know, is taron, stress on the first syllable. So all the inflected forms retain stress on the original a of the root: tivaron, tolaron, tayarängon, etc. Cf. pängkxo "chat, converse," where the stress on the ultima. The stress stays there in the inflected forms: pivängkxo, polängkxo, payängkxängo.

--- Quote from: Taronyu ---If a verb is understood to be transitive (depending on your answer above), when the direct object is replaced by a verb phrase, is the subject still marked as ergative? Essentially, which is more correct: Oe new pivlltxe or Oel new pivlltxe?
--- End quote ---

Good question.

First note that for "can" and "must," the subject is considered intransitive:

Oe tsun kivä. 'I can go.' (NOT *Oel tsun kivä.)
Oe zene kivä. 'I must go.' (NOT *Oel zene kivä.)

"Want" MAY follow the same pattern:

Oe new kivä. (That is, it patterns like a modal.)

But since want, unlike can and must, is a transitive verb, there's an alternate pattern:

Oel new futa (= fì'ut a) kivä.

And you also have sentences like:

Oel new futa Taronyu kivä. "I want Taronyu to go."

So in the sentences you asked about, Oe new pivlltxe is fine. In one with oel, though, insert futa.

--- Quote from: Taronyu ---Is sänume indicative of a sä- nomilinalizer to show the instrument of the verb?
--- End quote ---

The sä- prefix is a bit of a loose end. So far I only have one example of it in the lexicon: nume "learn" vs. sänume "teaching, instruction." You're right: I was thinking of it as something like an instrumental affix: instruction is the thing BY MEANS OF WHICH you learn. On that basis, since mun'i is the verb "cut," sämun'i could be a word for a general cutting instrument. I'll need to think more about that, however, since I'm not sure these two cases are comparable. In the second case, you have a concrete instrument, which must be present in order to implement the verb. With nume, though, you can learn by other means than teaching: from experience, from trial and error, etc. So should sänume refer to any means whatsoever of learning something? I'm not sure yet. Thanks for the question!

No problem if you share any of this.

BTW, let's take a look at your sentence again:

(1) Oel new pivlltxe nìNa'vi mì oeyä letrra tìrey, (2) slä oel tsun pivey (3) trrit a ngat taying (oe new tìying!) ayoe nì'ul aylì'u!

(1) and (2) are virtually perfect: just change oel to oe in both cases. I like letrr for daily! I'll add that to the glossary, with RL in the Source column. :-)

(3), though, needs a little help. Are you awaiting "the day that you will give us more words?" If so, the verb for "give" is tìng, so it should be:

trrit a nga tayìng (or, hopefully, tìyìng) ayoer(u) aylì'ut nì'ul.

But if I've misinterpreted you, please let me know.

Hope that helps!

P.S. You know who's awesome? Frommer is awesome. -Taronyu.

poan nawma tutean livu lam

Thanks for sharing mate.

I just LOVE this guy. He's so kind and it's plain that he likes getting in touch with us.  :)

Most people involved in such a big project would ignore fan e-mails or send a standardized answer, but he actually answered to each and every point of your e-mail.

He's a god.

excellent. I'm really happy sä got cleared up.

Lance R. Casey:
Great to get something like this nìyey ta meseyri pa'liyä as Roger so cleverly put it! :)

A couple of things stand out to me:

Regarding the issue of transitivity, there's another clue sitting right there in the example phrase. Pey wait is used intransitively in the letter (nìaynga oe perey nìteng like you, I too am waiting), but here it is "made" transitive simply by adding an accusative (oe tsun pivey trrit I can await the day). This is neither a huge revelation nor a surprising one, but it serves to remind us not to be too English-centric, where we sometimes need to modify the verb in some way to get the transitive meaning.

Regarding the recent discussion about nì-modified words I instigated, that same phrase is of some interest. Just by looking at it and comparing with the translation, it might be tempting to posit an adjectival relationship in nì'ul aylì'u (as more words), but the lack of an attributive marker is telling. Again the English may be more ambiguous than it seems at first glance, so that a more literal rendering would be "you will give us words to a greater degree". Thoughts?


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