Author Topic: Small Active Participle Update  (Read 722 times)

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Offline Mako

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Small Active Participle Update
« on: August 29, 2020, 01:49:11 pm »
Hey all,

A discussion on the Kelutral Discord server resulted in the following exchange with KP.

Quote from: Mako
And while I'm at it, we had a fascinating discussion today regarding stative verbs like sti or zo, and their use with <us> or <er>.

So from that, my question is this: Can you explain in more detail how the Na'vi perceive words like sti? Is it as if there is an inherent lu auxiliary or is it more akin to "I hunger", or "I thirst", a primal instinct/feeling? Would you expect them to use tute a sti or tute astusi to say 'the angry person'?

Irayo nìli!

Quote from: KP
Interesting questions!

Take the words ngeyn and sti. They both refer to internal states, but the first is in adjective while the second is a verb. That makes the syntax different:

Po ’efu ngeyn. ‘He’s tired.’ OR ‘He feels tired.’

Po sti.  ‘He’s angry.’ OR ‘He feels angry.’

Two different structures. The question is, is there anything inherent in the concepts of “tired” and “angry” that makes the adjective structure more appropriate for “tired” and the stative verb structure more appropriate for “angry”?

I think the answer is No. It would have been just as possible, and justifiable, for ngeyn to be a stative verb and sti to be an adjective. The choice was arbitrary.

That said, one could ask a different but related question: Do the Na’vi experience anger and fatigue somewhat differently as a result of the unconscious influence of the different grammatical structures? (As you see, this turns the logic around. Before, we were asking, “Does the experience influence the linguistic structure?” Now we’re asking, “Does the linguistic structure influence the experience?”) We could speculate about that. Perhaps anger, which is expressed by a verb, is experienced as more—I don’t know—intrinsic and wholistic, and less transitory, than fatigue, which is “only” an adjective? Again, I suspect the answer to that is No.

This touches on a current and controversial discussion in linguistics: To what extent, if any, does the structure of your language influence the way you perceive the world? That is, does language influence thought? It’s a big question with huge implications, and books can be, and have been, written about it. To illustrate the contentiousness, these are two books I currently have on my shelf, by respected, prominent linguists:

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, by Guy Deutscher
The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language, by John McWhorter

As to whether it’s tute a sti or tute astusi, they’re both good, and I’d say that that choice too is arbitrary, although I might want to think about that. I have a slight gut feeling that tute a sti refers more to a person who tends to be angry by nature, while tute astusi is more for someone who happens to be angry right now—but I wouldn’t want to commit to that yet.

I should mention that some languages that allow both types of structures seem to find one more idiomatic than the other. There’s a well-known brand of French cheese called, in English, “The Laughing Cow.” To say that in French, you have two choices, just as you do in Na’vi:

La Vache qui rit (cf.: yerik a hangham)
La Vache riante (cf.: yerik ahusangham)
Not being a native French speaker, I would have gone with 2, but in fact the famous cheese is 1. Are there any native French speakers on kelutral? If so, I’d be interested in their reactions to this. Do they find 1 and 2 equally idiomatic? Are they interchangeable? Why or why not?

Quote from: Mako
So it sounds like we’re settling that they’re interchangeable for now re: active participle vs. attributive clause?

Quote from: KP
Sran. In most cases they're interchangeable. I personally lean towards the clause, since it's easier to process and one less syllable than the active participle. But let's hold on to the "for now," since subtleties may arise.

Offline Toliman

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Re: Small Active Participle Update
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 02:23:56 pm »
Interesting :) Thanks for sharing here!


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