Author Topic: Predication  (Read 1037 times)

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Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Predication
« on: June 14, 2014, 03:35:06 pm »
In a different thread, an interesting sentence came up:

Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso ftxìvä’ lu nìngay. - 'They always cooked truly terrible meals'.

This sentence is Canon from Naʼviteri, and contains some interesting constructions.

The first is the left-branching attribution using the a. There is nothing really unusual about this, other than a tendency for those who read left to right to prefer right branching attribution.

The second is the seeming lack of an a between wutso and ftxìvä’ lu nìngay. ftxìvä’ lu nìngay looks to act as an adjective to wutso, and would normally have an a between them. However, there is something just a bit subtle going on here, one that could be an easy 'gotcha' for those not well versed in grammar or linguistics.

We know that when an adjective describes a noun, an -a- (or in some cases, a le-) needs to go on the adjective on the side facing the noun it describes. But there is a special case where an adjective is used in a way that it is not directly describing a noun. This is called a predicate. In English, this would be a sentence like 'The leaf is green'. In Naʼvi, this would translate to rìk lu rìkean. You can also say this in a way that is not predication, and simply have 'A green leaf'. In Naʼvi, this would simply be rìk arìkean. The difference is a vowel, ususlly something thatmeans 'is', 'are', etc. like lu.

You could write the above sentence as Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso lu ftxìvä’ - 'They always cooked terrible meals'. The predicate portion here is very obvious - wutso lu ftxìvä’ - 'The meal is terrible'. But the meals just aren't terrible. They are downright awful, consistently (like my mother's meatloaf or spareribs ;) ). So, you can write (or say) Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso lu ftxìvä’ nìngay. This works because nìngay is an adverb, and an adverb can describe an adjective. But Naʼvi has relatively free word order, so you can also write or say Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso ftxìvä’ lu nìngay., as above. At first glance  the ftxìvä’ lu nìngay. portion looks like a phrase, that should be attributed to wutso with an a. But because nìngay is an adverb, and not a noun, what you really have here is an adjective here, that describes a noun as a predicate, and has the added complication of being described by an adverb. The verb lu is in a place we might not all be really familiar with for such a construction. Thus, this sentence looks strange, but is absolutely grammatically correct.

Does this make sense, or help anyone?


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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Predication
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2014, 04:10:15 pm »
Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso ftxìvä’ lu nìngay.
‘As always, the dinner they cooked tasted really terrible.’

This sentence reads to me exactly as Pawl translated it.

First of all, Nìfrakrr is a sentence adverbial, the speaker's added note about the situation. It means "as always,". Which is pretty straight forward so that can basically be taken out as extra.

Second, as you pointed out, we have left-branching attribution. {fol 'olem a wutso} which means "the they cooked meal". In English, we would say this as "The meal they cooked", since left-branching attribution isn't really a thing in English like it is in Na'vi.

There is no a between wutso and ftxìvä' lu nìngay because of the meaning of the sentence.

A.) We are saying this: {The dinner they cooked} is truly nasty.
B.) We are NOT saying: They cooked {dinner which is truly nasty}.

B is the sentence you would get if you put a between wutso and ftxìvä' lu nìngay. And having a in both places would be a fragment that would not make really much sense:

C.) ???: the they-cooked dinner which is truly nasty.

In conclusion, I think you got the meaning confused. We are not saying, "They always cooked truly terrible meals." but instead we are saying, "As always, the meal they cooked is truly terrible."
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 04:13:19 pm by Tirea Aean »

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Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Predication
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2014, 04:16:47 pm »
TA-l tolakuk oet ;D

I would write it in a other way:

Ftxìvä’ lu nìngay wutso a nìfrakrr fol ’olem.
The dinner = they always coocked is really disgusting.

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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Predication
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2014, 04:18:11 pm »
TA-l tolakuk oet ;D

I would write it in a other way:

Ftxìvä’ lu nìngay wutso a nìfrakrr fol ’olem.
The dinner = they always coocked is really disgusting.

The most English (and therefore probably most understandable) way to write it is:

Nìfrakrr, wutso a fol 'olem lu nìngay ftxìvä'.
As always, dinner which they cooked is truly nasty.

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Offline Plumps

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Re: Predication
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2014, 04:18:28 pm »
Perhaps it’s just a matter of how you translate that sentence. I don’t expect another a here because the main clause is just wutso ftxìvä’ lu nìngay “the meal is very terrible”. As you say, because of Na’vi’s relative free word order it’s totally valid. And it’s true, left-branching takes some getting used to and I’m not sure I would ever come up with such a construct spontaneously while speaking … but who knows, practice is the charm :P

I also think that if it had been translated as “the meals (that) they cooked are always truly terrible”, that confusion may never have come up ;)

What I’m interested in is whether we will ever see left-right-branching ;) as in

     Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso a ngola’ ngrrit ftxìvä’ lu nìngay.
     Nìfrakrr [fol ’olem a >] wutso [< a ngola’ ngrrit] ftxìvä’ lu nìngay.
I would translate that as,
     “The meals that they cooked and that contained root are always truly terrible.”

As far as I know, there is no example of this in the corpus to date.

Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Predication
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2014, 04:22:28 pm »
What I’m interested in is whether we will ever see left-right-branching ;) as in

     Nìfrakrr fol ’olem a wutso a ngola’ ngrrit ftxìvä’ lu nìngay.
     Nìfrakrr [fol ’olem a >] wutso [< a ngola’ ngrrit] ftxìvä’ lu nìngay.
I would translate that as,
     “The meals that they cooked and that contained root are always truly terrible.”

As far as I know, there is no example of this in the corpus to date.[/size][/font]

I see absolutely no reason why not. We can already do this with single adjectives.

For example: Nìfrakrr soma wutso astxong ftxìvä' lu nìngay
Why not do it with phrases using free-float a?

I would see your sentence as valid and translate it as, "As always, the dinner they cooked that contained roots was truly disgusting."

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Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Predication
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2014, 05:05:27 pm »
I will also agree that Plumps sentence is fully grammatical. But sentences like that would take a little getting used to, if common. And although I don't want to see Naʼvi dumbed down, there comes a point when a sentence becomes so complex that a reader/listener cannot easily decode it. And although occasional use of left-branching attribution is absolutely fine and desirable, I think the vast majority of people generally process language in the direction they read/hear it. (That would mean that a Hebrew reader might have a little challenge with right-branching attribution in Naʼvi!)

As far as what the original sentence means, I lean more towards the way Tìtstewan translates it. This shows that there is definitely some variation in the way we interpret sentences.

I would likely write this sentence as: Nìngay Ftxìvä’ lu wutso a nìfrakrr fol ’olem.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 05:10:42 pm by `Eylan Ayfalulukanä »

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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Predication
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2014, 06:20:46 pm »
I will also agree that Plumps sentence is fully grammatical. But sentences like that would take a little getting used to, if common. And although I don't want to see Naʼvi dumbed down, there comes a point when a sentence becomes so complex that a reader/listener cannot easily decode it. And although occasional use of left-branching attribution is absolutely fine and desirable, I think the vast majority of people generally process language in the direction they read/hear it. (That would mean that a Hebrew reader might have a little challenge with right-branching attribution in Naʼvi!)

As far as what the original sentence means, I lean more towards the way Tìtstewan translates it. This shows that there is definitely some variation in the way we interpret sentences.

I would likely write this sentence as: Nìngay Ftxìvä’ lu wutso a nìfrakrr fol ’olem.

really, left-branching attribution is not too insane or against the left-to-right reading grain. We use left branching adjectives practically exclusively in English.. How much more crazy is it to use a whole phrase there as if it were an adjective taking the same place there?

Poan lu ke yom tsnganit a tute. He is a doesn't eat meat person.
Poan lu txantsana tute. He is an excellent person.

These have more or less precisely the same structure.

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