Author Topic: the evidential at last  (Read 1800 times)

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Offline roger

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the evidential at last
« on: February 19, 2010, 02:09:26 pm »
Just got this:

Quote from: Frommer
Ma oeyä eylan,

Fpìrmìl oel futa aynga natsew tsive’a fi’ut.

[ -ìrm- : past proximate imperfective – “was just thinking . . . “

-ats- : 2nd position infix indicating uncertainty or indirect knowledge: “you might want.” Could be used with “kxawm,” redundantly, for reinforcement.]

I was corresponding with someone from Wales, and the question of lenition in Celtic came up. I mentioned the connection to Na’vi and thought you might to see it too. No new content here, just history. :-)

“In 1998 I visited Ireland and of course wanted to try to learn a little Irish for the occasion. Wow! I consider myself a pretty sophisticated language learner, but Irish knocked me for a loop. (And they say English spelling is hard!) I found the mutations—if I remember correctly, eclipsis and lenition—very interesting. And lenition wound up influencing Na’vi. I had also studied Hebrew, where there’s a process of “spirantization” that has something of the same effect although in different environments, so that was an influence as well.

“The final influence was Malay/Indonesian, where certain prefixes mutate the initial consonant of the root. It always tickled me that in a Malay dictionary, you need to look up the word “menarik” under T, the word “memandang” under P, and the word “menyatukan” under S! And that situation, of course, has a parallel in Na’vi, with the “short plurals.” (You look up “hilvan” under K, “sute” under T, “fizayu” under P, etc.)

Pawl

Offline Plumps

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 02:26:32 pm »
And there I thought all my talk about Irish, lenition and certain forms were just my imagination :P

Wow, what a treat today!
Thanks for sharing!

Offline Ftiafpi

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 02:33:48 pm »
wow, I would love to have a full biography of the Na'vi language, that would be so great.

Offline Eight

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 02:59:15 pm »
Is that going to be part of a full evidential system then?

At the moment it looks like a pretty simple epistemic modality infix... a boody handy one though.

Offline Prrton

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 03:07:59 pm »
Is that going to be part of a full evidential system then?

At the moment it looks like a pretty simple epistemic modality infix... a boody handy one though.

Oel fperìl futa furia *nìtì'efu 'aw'u 'awpor livaw ke livaw, fra'u *fafì'itlì hasey lu.

Keyawr?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 03:23:07 pm by Prrton »

Offline wm.annis

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2010, 03:14:19 pm »
I am happy to see our evidential (might be the only one).  My brains hurt, though, to see it in a subordinate clause.
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Offline Eight

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2010, 03:26:40 pm »
Is that going to be part of a full evidential system then?

At the moment it looks like a pretty simple epistemic modality infix... a boody handy one though.

Oel fperìl futa furia *nìtì'efu 'aw'u livaw ke livaw, fra'u *fafì'itlì hasey lu.

Keyawr?
Oel ke tslamängam futa ngal oeru pìmeng. :D

Edit: Forgot ke - quite important in this case.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 03:29:09 pm by Eight »

Offline roger

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2010, 04:33:49 pm »
Is that going to be part of a full evidential system then?

I think that's it. There's still a question whether it's only pragmatic, or if it will be grammatically required in some constructions. I mean, can we honestly say po new kivä, since we can't really know what another person feels? Or would that be ungrammatical?

Offline wm.annis

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2010, 04:48:36 pm »
I think that's it. There's still a question whether it's only pragmatic, or if it will be grammatically required in some constructions. I mean, can we honestly say po new kivä, since we can't really know what another person feels? Or would that be ungrammatical?

Sure we can — they can tell us, or otherwise say things that let us know.

Evidentials must be clearly distinguished from mood (the subjunctive).  The evidential is about epistemology — how you know what you're saying.  The subjunctive mood says things about possibility, although in Na'vi some uses border on pure syntax.
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Offline roger

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2010, 05:34:46 pm »
I think that's it. There's still a question whether it's only pragmatic, or if it will be grammatically required in some constructions. I mean, can we honestly say po new kivä, since we can't really know what another person feels? Or would that be ungrammatical?

Sure we can — they can tell us, or otherwise say things that let us know.

In some languages you can't. If they tell you, then you must use a quotative particle, but you can't just say someone is happy: they look happy, sound happy, etc., but not *are* happy. I suppose you might be able to say that if you're in tsaheylu, though.

Offline Eight

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2010, 06:51:37 pm »
I think that's it.
Oh :(

Never studied a language with an explicit evidential system before... I was hoping for one here.

But I just don't see -ats- as particularly evidential unless we're supposed to concentrate on the second part of "indicating uncertainty or ìindirect knowledge" and in which case, anyone got a better English translation than "might"?

aynga natsew... I hear you might want... I'm told you want...

But in a subordinate clause it translates really badly

I was just thinking that I'm told you want...

Uck.


Offline wm.annis

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2010, 07:02:39 pm »
Never studied a language with an explicit evidential system before... I was hoping for one here.

And this one's a doozie.  I don't know how common it is to have the inferential evidential as the sole explicit form.  It seems unusual to me.

Unless he goofed in his wording on the Language Log post, I don't expect to see any more evidentials for Na'vi.

Quote
But I just don't see -ats- as particularly evidential unless we're supposed to concentrate on the second part of "indicating uncertainty or ìindirect knowledge" and in which case, anyone got a better English translation than "might"?

To quote myself, from a different post —  "English (and Dutch, it turns out) uses the verb "must" to indicate both obligation and this suppositional notion.  If you're going to meet a friend to see "Avatar" for the 32nd time or whatever, and you get there and don't see him, you could say, "he must be inside already."  This isn't a statement of obligation, but of judgement."

So, "you must want to see this" catches the flavor, though it sounds just a bit off to me.  Based on the deluge of mail he's been getting from us, he's thinking we must want this information... that works a bit better.
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A Na'vi Reference Grammar

Offline roger

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2010, 07:05:14 pm »
Oh :(

Never studied a language with an explicit evidential system before... I was hoping for one here.

But I just don't see -ats- as particularly evidential unless we're supposed to concentrate on the second part of "indicating uncertainty or ìindirect knowledge" and in which case, anyone got a better English translation than "might"?

aynga natsew... I hear you might want... I'm told you want...

But in a subordinate clause it translates really badly

I was just thinking that I'm told you want...

Uck.

A lot of Na'vi is like this: something exotic, but just a bit of it, so that the language is still accessible. A full evidential system would be extremely difficult for an English speaker to master, because not only would you have to report with every clause what your source of knowledge was, but if you were talking about other people, you'd have to keep track of what their source of knowledge was for every clause too! That's why the Chinese have such difficulty we he / she: it's not the concept, which is easy enough, but training oneself to keep track of something that one grew up ignoring. (Though it doesn't help that they are homonyms with a Mandarin accent!)

We effectively have two evidentials here. Remember, there is no indirect speech in Na'vi. So in effect 'san ... sìk' function as a hearsay/reported-speech evidential. <ats> could then be the inferential evidential. If grammatically required in some constructions, it could be quite interesting.

Offline Eight

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2010, 07:13:22 pm »
So, "you must want to see this" catches the flavor, though it sounds just a bit off to me. 
That sounds good to me actually. Nice thinking.

A lot of Na'vi is like this: something exotic, but just a bit of it, so that the language is still accessible. A full evidential system would be extremely difficult for an English speaker to master, because not only would you have to report with every clause what your source of knowledge was, but if you were talking about other people, you'd have to keep track of what their source of knowledge was for every clause too!
I'm not so concerned with employing evidentials in Na'vi (I think people would be fine with that), more so in producing half decent translations back in English. But my thinking comes from having no experience in using them, only from grammatical knowledge of their existence. Does it cause many problems going back and forth between English and the real world languages that use them?

Offline Eight

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2010, 07:20:31 pm »
Missed this...

I don't know how common it is to have the inferential evidential as the sole explicit form.  It seems unusual to me.
Me too.

If you have one evidential... and are essentially using auxiliary verbs to indicate the other meanings, then it would not be unreasonable to suspect that the last evidential form would be dropped over time by speakers, and replaced with a dual verb construct to match the others.

But... I actually think Dr. Frommer will at least give us one more to indicate there is evidence to support what the speaker is saying. No basis for saying that other than gut feeling. :D

Offline Skyinou

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2010, 05:01:34 am »
Quote from: Frommer
-ats- : 2nd position infix indicating uncertainty or indirect knowledge: “you might want.” Could be used with “kxawm,” redundantly, for reinforcement.]
The fact that this one goes with "ei" and "äng" make me think that it is more an indication given by the speaker, and not a grammatical rule. Then the translation is up to the reader, taking account of context. The first effect might be to have a more personal (with feeling) message.

non-personal and general statement: "aynga new"
personal feeling of the writer: it seems for him that we want: "aynga natsew" [Changed]
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 02:41:13 pm by Skyinou »
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Offline roger

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2010, 01:45:02 pm »
The fact that this one goes with "ei" and "äng" make me think that it is more an indication given by the speaker, and not a grammatical rule. Then the translation is up to the reader, taking account of context. The first effect might be to have a more personal (with feeling) message.

non-personal and general statement: "aynga new"
personal feeling of the writer that we may be interested and/or I know/hope you want: "aynga natsew"

You seem to be taking it as meaning certainty, when F says it indicates uncertainty or inference. So I'd either state "ayga nacew cat", because it seems like you want it, or ask "ayga new srak?", where I'm not asking for inference, but for a factual statement that only you can make.

Offline Skyinou

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2010, 02:00:12 pm »
You seem to be taking it as meaning certainty, when F says it indicates uncertainty or inference. So I'd either state "ayga nacew cat", because it seems like you want it, or ask "ayga new srak?", where I'm not asking for inference, but for a factual statement that only you can make.
Thanks for the comment, but that's not what I meant. I wanted te say something like what you say.

"po new tsat srak?" When you ask, it is not yet tainted with personal "feelings". But when you answer for him, you can add "ats" "because it seems like" he want.
"Srane, po natsew tsat".

Yes, sorry, I should have written simply:
personal feeling of the writer: it seems for him that we want: "aynga natsew"

[Edit] ma Plump: Of course.. sorry!
« Last Edit: February 20, 2010, 02:41:06 pm by Skyinou »
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Offline Plumps

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2010, 02:33:10 pm »
"Srane, po natsew cat".

If you decide to use the scientific writing system, could you please be careful to do it consistantly? It's very confusing to read it one way and in another the very next word...
Irayo :)

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Re: the evidential at last
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2010, 02:31:53 am »
If you decide to use the scientific writing system, could you please be careful to do it consistantly? It's very confusing to read it one way and in another the very next word...
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