Author Topic: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter  (Read 17382 times)

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Offline Robert Nantangä Tirea

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #220 on: January 21, 2010, 08:14:08 pm »
I think this is actually:

Ay-lì'ufa awnge-yä 'eylan-ä a'ewan...
PL-word(?) our-GEN friend-GEN young

So we get:

[Aylì'ufa [awngeyä ['eylanä a'ewan]]...
lit., "word of the young friend of ours..."

That's very poetic but if one has to read that much transformation into such a simple phrase to you're looking at an IMPOSSIBLE amount of mental processing if you're hoping to ever achieve fluent speach. I wasn't questioning the correctness or translation of the phrase by any means, I was bringing up for discussion the subject of the affect that placing the possessor after the possessed does on the sentence.

It looks like you're implying that constructing the relationship ikran oeyä states the ikran of mine. The inverse of this is would be oeyä ikran means my ikran. This works fine conceptually, and in most sentences this works and the relationship is understood and the free word order concept is preserved.

You've applied this defenition to the sentence Aylì'ufa awngeyä 'eylanä a'ewan... to create The words (by means) of the young friend of ours. This sounds fine written out EXCEPT, how in this case is the presence of "-ä" on friend supposed to tie to Ayli'ufa? If we take the claim it does infact refrence whose words are the means of, this implies it is refrencing Ayli'ufa even though awngeyä sits between them. If this is attributed to free word order, then what is stopping the sentence from being read The words (by means) of we of the young friend? which hardly makes sense at all. If it is assumed that the listener in this case would understand because only one construction makes sense (The words (by means) of the young friend of ours) then we are again full circle back around again to the issue that we are requiring the listener to sift thru and process and so many options that it would make normal conversation impossible.

That's why I stated that looked like a "chain"of possession was occuring and that this chain's presence on the right side of Ayli'ufa indicated that the noun with the possession was not bound to a specific side of the word it possesses (which fits with the ikran oeyä and oeyä ikran idea); BUT, under an instance of "chained" possession (aka my bow's string's length) that it is probably necessary to have them in specific order.

to me, it seams:
Aylì'ufa awngeyä 'eylanä a'ewan... could be just as equally written awngeyä 'eylanä a'ewan Aylì'ufa....

hope that helps clarify what I am  trying to say. I'm NOT saying the sentence is wrong, I am saying however that I don't think we should fall prey to classic "20-20 hindesight" factor of having a translation provided. Provided translations tend to make people gloss over otherwise confusing issues that haven't been explained. If I have tried to write the sentence "In the words of our friend Hunter..." BEFORE you read it in Frommer's email, what would you have said?


EDIT: fixed some spelling/grammar mistakes.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 08:21:21 pm by Robert Nantangä Tirea »

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Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #221 on: January 21, 2010, 08:33:44 pm »
hope that helps clarify what I am  trying to say. I'm NOT saying the sentence is wrong, I am saying however that I don't think we should fall prey to classic "20-20 hindesight" factor of having a translation provided. Provided translations tend to make people gloss over otherwise confusing issues that haven't been explained. If I have tried to write the sentence "In the words of our friend Hunter..." BEFORE you read it in Frommer's email, what would you have said?
[smartass]I would have said "We don't have a word for friend."[/smartass]

That said, the whole "genitive mosh pit" as I call it looks daunting, but try following along as someone tells you "My father's brother's cousin's sister's uncle's former roommate" then tell them exactly what that relationship is to you.  There's even a riddle that takes advantage of such genitive mind benders.  "That man's father is my father's son.  Who is that man?"  No matter the language, stacked genitives beyond reason can be confusing.

That said, you're looking at this from an English perspective, where you're trying to assign meaning to the word order.  There is none there.  Either direction means the same thing, which can either be "My thing" or "Thing of me".  We say them differently in English, but not all languages make the distinction.  "In the words of our friend" vs "In our friend's words" - even though we say it differently the meaning is the same.

That said, I don't remember if it was this thread or another where I took the ambiguous genitive bull by the horns and wrestled with it.  I found out two things with that exercise.  The first is that it's really hard to make an ambiguous genitive that doesn't start to deal with the whole stacking issue above.  The second is that it's also really simple to avoid.  Since it does not make sense that a pronoun can be posessed, if you include a pronoun (Us in Frommer's sentence) that becomes the head noun.  Just work outward from there.  HOWEVER, to avoid ambiguity, you MUST say it as the first OR last in a line of genitives.  (Think of English: My father's uncle's son vs The son of the uncle of the father of me.  Either of those orders would work fine in Na'vi.  If you didn't already have a pronoun, you can ALWAYS add one, even if it is just "this" or "that".

So to a native/fluent speaker, I suspect it's a non-issue.
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Offline wisnij

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #222 on: January 21, 2010, 08:56:12 pm »
To the best of my knowledge, it is as nonsensical to combine a noun case and adposition as it is to combine two noun cases.
Not necessarily.
I have never heard of this phenomenon, but fail to see how it is interesting...  Are you thinking this is what's happening in Na'vi?

No, just pointing out that double cases are not a priori impossible.
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Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #223 on: January 21, 2010, 09:04:07 pm »
Srane I will grant nga that, slä ayoeng have no reason to believe it makes sense in Na'vi.

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Offline suomichris

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #224 on: January 21, 2010, 09:13:19 pm »
That's very poetic but if one has to read that much transformation into such a simple phrase to you're looking at an IMPOSSIBLE amount of mental processing if you're hoping to ever achieve fluent speach. I wasn't questioning the correctness or translation of the phrase by any means, I was bringing up for discussion the subject of the affect that placing the possessor after the possessed does on the sentence.
Well, I don't think it requires very much processing.  But, if it did, well, the Na'vi are aliens, so maybe it's fine.  It's also possible that this form was chosen by Frommer as being particularly poetic, even if it is hard to parse.

Quote
It looks like you're implying that constructing the relationship ikran oeyä states the ikran of mine. The inverse of this is would be oeyä ikran means my ikran. This works fine conceptually, and in most sentences this works and the relationship is understood and the free word order concept is preserved.
I'm not doing this at all.  I was writing the English in the same order and using that structure to demonstrate the structure of the Na'vi.  I don't think the different word orders mean anything different.

Aylì'ufa awngeyä 'eylanä a'ewan... could be just as equally written awngeyä 'eylanä a'ewan Aylì'ufa....[/quote]I think we're saying (roughly) the same thing, but perhaps for different reasons.  Let's look at how I broke down the structure of this:

[Aylì'ufa [awngeyä ['eylanä a'ewan]]

Now, I think what you're saying makes sense, if we consider that in possessor-possessed constructions, we can have either order.  So, just as

Aylì'ufa [awngeyä ['eylanä a'ewan]

Is acceptable, so too might be:

[Awngeyä ['eylanä a'ewan] aylì'ufa

This is exactly the same kind of difference in oeyä ikran and ikran oeyä; namely, none.  BUT, a caveat.  This could lead to all sorts of confusion about whose what is whose.  I wonder if we won't see that, just as you can have either oeyä ikran or ikran oeyä, you can also have either order in more complicated strings of genitives, but you have to use the same order throughout. So it might really be that the equivalent of:

Aylì'ufa [awngeyä ['eylanä a'ewan]

would be

['ewana 'eylanä] awngeyä] Aylì'ufa].

More examples will tell!

Offline suomichris

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #225 on: January 21, 2010, 09:14:05 pm »
To the best of my knowledge, it is as nonsensical to combine a noun case and adposition as it is to combine two noun cases.
Not necessarily.
I have never heard of this phenomenon, but fail to see how it is interesting...  Are you thinking this is what's happening in Na'vi?

No, just pointing out that double cases are not a priori impossible.
Ah, okay... You hurt my head a little bit where I was trying to find out what in Na'vi was looking like that to you :p

Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #226 on: January 21, 2010, 09:23:23 pm »
Am I stealing your argument again suomichris? :P
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Offline suomichris

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #227 on: January 21, 2010, 09:42:46 pm »
Am I stealing your argument again suomichris? :P
Maybe....  Rä'ä!!

Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #228 on: January 21, 2010, 10:29:53 pm »
Oeru txoa livu!  New ke tsa'ut oel.
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Offline Lora Taw

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #229 on: January 24, 2010, 03:21:06 am »
Oeru txoa livu!  New ke tsa'ut oel.

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Offline Tanax

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #230 on: January 24, 2010, 02:08:56 pm »
Oeru txoa livu!  New ke tsa'ut oel.

I forgiveness wish to get! I don't want that ??
Or did I completely misunderstand your sentence?

Offline kewnya txamew'itan

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #231 on: January 24, 2010, 02:17:52 pm »
You got it right.

Idiomatically the first sentence is more like please forgive me.

Omängum was saying that he didn't want to steal suomichris-ä argument.
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Offline Tanax

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #232 on: January 24, 2010, 04:13:11 pm »
You got it right.

Idiomatically the first sentence is more like please forgive me.

Omängum was saying that he didn't want to steal suomichris-ä argument.

Oh.. right. I thought he first said "Please forgive me" and then after he said "I don't want that"(to be forgiven) so the 2 sentences contradicted each other when I first read it :P
Thanks for clearing that up.

Offline tawway

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #233 on: January 24, 2010, 05:26:50 pm »
After wading through this thread there was only one mention of the poor "e" disappearing. I listened to one of the simple sentences in the message ("kìyevame ulte eywa ngahu") quite a few times because the sounds stood out, only to conclude that either my ears are missing stuff or there are a few syllables missing.

It sounds like "kì.ye.vam ult ey.wa nga.hu" to me. I gather that it's a known phenomenon and I just haven't found any other mention of it?


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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #234 on: January 24, 2010, 05:59:43 pm »
After wading through this thread there was only one mention of the poor "e" disappearing. I listened to one of the simple sentences in the message ("kìyevame ulte eywa ngahu") quite a few times because the sounds stood out, only to conclude that either my ears are missing stuff or there are a few syllables missing.

It sounds like "kì.ye.vam ult ey.wa nga.hu" to me. I gather that it's a known phenomenon and I just haven't found any other mention of it?

Na'vi vowels blend together so having two e's, one after another, results in just one 'e' sound.

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #235 on: January 24, 2010, 06:42:10 pm »
Na'vi vowels blend together so having two e's, one after another, results in just one 'e' sound.

From the spoken Message, Frommer seems to be eliding final -e before several vowel sounds, not just another e
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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #236 on: January 24, 2010, 08:11:05 pm »
Na'vi vowels blend together so having two e's, one after another, results in just one 'e' sound.

From the spoken Message, Frommer seems to be eliding final -e before several vowel sounds, not just another e

Really? I didn't catch that and will go and listen for that. Am I correct though in that double vowels are generally blended? (or elided I guess?)

Offline tawway

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #237 on: January 24, 2010, 08:14:45 pm »
Na'vi vowels blend together so having two e's, one after another, results in just one 'e' sound.

From the spoken Message, Frommer seems to be eliding final -e before several vowel sounds, not just another e

Yes, in this case there is also an e before u. To me removing the double e makes sense but "kìyevam ulte" seems more like a french moment.

Good to know it's not my ears playing tricks although in one interview "kameie" sounds like it lost an e too. I wonder if that's just the final e being quiet/short and difficult to hear.

Offline tawway

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #238 on: January 24, 2010, 08:17:02 pm »
Na'vi vowels blend together so having two e's, one after another, results in just one 'e' sound.

From the spoken Message, Frommer seems to be eliding final -e before several vowel sounds, not just another e

Really? I didn't catch that and will go and listen for that. Am I correct though in that double vowels are generally blended? (or elided I guess?)

I suspect that it'll be doubles or difficult vowel transitions. Who knows, there may even be a rule or two somewhere in the jungle foliage. We'll just have to wait and see what future samples hold.

Offline suomichris

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Re: Language Update - a closer look at Dr. Frommer's letter
« Reply #239 on: January 24, 2010, 11:30:48 pm »
I'm thinking we should probably put an analyzed version of the letter up on the wiki, with links to sections about the relevant morphemes.  I'm happy to use my copy, and folks can make changes to what I've done directly.

Before I do this, though, is there any reason we shouldn't?  Since the letter is already publicly available here, it seems to me like it would be okay, but I am hardly an expert on such matters....

 

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