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Mon, Feb. 20th, 2012, 12:14 am
nutter4: Plurals

Not sure if I'm missing something here - am I right in thinking the only way to tell if you're dealing with a plural object is if there's an adjective involved? 

e.g. Bíi yod le yuth wa = I eat the fruit or fruits
but Bíi yod le woliyen woyuth wa = I eat the green fruit.  cf. Bíi yod le mewoliyen woyuth wa - I eat the green fruits.

Is this right?  It seems odd to have no plural noun form (though I know of other languages where that's the case), but more odd to have the plural indicated at some times and not others.  Or is there some other way of marking it that I haven't got to in the lessons yet...?

Thu, Feb. 23rd, 2012 04:36 am (UTC)

I just began Amberwind's Lesson 4 and it appears to me that plurals are indicated with a prefix on the verb:

me- (with an h afterwards if needed to prevent doubled vowels)
n- before words that begin with d, and the "nd" combination is allowed.

And now I just realized that you meant the object, and I'm not that far yet. I looked at the lesson on objects but I'm not sure I see anything different than simply marking the verb.

In your example you use "le" which is the singular I so I think if you marked the verb only it is clear that you mean "fruits."

In other cases, like "the needleworkers ate the fruits," I don't know how you'd tell which was meant to be plural. I'll keep my eyes open as I go through the lessons too, and hopefully someone else will weigh in here as well.

Fri, Feb. 24th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)

I thought a bit more about this and decided that Láadan only pluralises the verbs. The adjective on the object tells you the number simply because adjectives and verbs are the same thing. (I think. Don't quote me!)

Tue, Feb. 28th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)

Correct. The adjectival function is fulfilled by a class of verbs known as "stative verbs" (that describe a state of being rather than an action). Only verbs take the plural.


Tue, Feb. 28th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)

Wil sha, Zhanáhe.

The main verb in the sentence carries the plural only for the Subject. The Object must (a) have its own relativized verb, (b) have a quantifier or number, or (c) go unmarked for number. Option (c) is disturbing in English; not so much in Láadan.

In your example (The needleworkers eat the fruits--which I'm transposing in to present tense, because I don't want to address the time auxiliaries with you 'til you say you're ready), we have to decide how many fruits we want to talk about them eating; this will allow us to pick the right number or quantifier to follow the noun.

So: "Bíi meyod dathimá yuth nedebe wáa." (According to a trusted source, I say that the needleworkers eat several fruits.)
Or: "Bíi meyod dathimá yuth menedebe wáa." (According to a trusted source, I say that the needeworkers eat many fruits.)
Or: "Bíi meyod dathimá yuth boó wáa." (According to a trusted source, I say that the needleworkers eat three fruits.)

... and so on.

Fri, Feb. 24th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)

Argh - and I thought I was confused before. Have hit the identifier case - which is (as I recall) the same as in Russian. But how do you tell when you're dealing with stative verb-subject or an identifier-equivalent pair? Vastly different meanings!

Tue, Feb. 28th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)

Wil sha.

The identifier case can be a bit confusing, because there's usually no apparent verb--and there's no case marker on the identifier case phrase.

As to the apparent similarities of the subject/identifier case and a stative-verb/subject, context will usually lead you right.

Eg: Bíi liyen hesh wa. (The grass is green--or--Greenness is grass) Seems pretty clear. A computer programmed to "translate" Láadan might mistake the meaning; few humans would.

A slightly more problematic example appears in Lesson 3 and then is mentioned again in Lesson 14: "Bíi áya wíi wa." (Being alive is beautiful.--or--Being beautiful is being alive.--or--Beauty is aliveness.--or a goodly number of other English sentiments). That an identical Láadan sequence gives two very different English sentiments may say something about the culture embedded in Láadan as contrasted with that in English. On the other hand, it may be no more troublesome, in context, than the English example "Visiting relatives can be troublesome."

Dathimithedeyul (Amberwind)

Tue, Feb. 28th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)

Yes, that is correct. Nouns do not carry the plural in Láadan; only verbs do. How many of something isn't Láadan's main focus, so it takes a little more work to talk about it.

The adjectival function is accomplished by pairing a stative verb (a verb that describes a state of being--as differentiated from a verb that describes an action) with a noun (a process known as relativizing) by the mechanism of attaching the relativizing prefix "wo-" to both. As you noted, we can indicate that there is more than one of the noun by pluralizing the relativized verb. Since the plural prefix "me-" is always the final thing added to any verb, it will appear at the very front of the plural relativized verb.

So: "Bíi yod le yuth wa." (I eat a fruit/some fruits.)
And: "Bíi yod le woliyen woyuth wa." (I eat a green fruit.)
And: "Bíi yod le mewoliyen woyuth wa." (I eat some green fruits.)

If there isn't a verb associated with the noun we want to make plural, we can use a Quantifier or a Number. Quantifiers are postpositional (that is, they occur immediately following the case phrase that is to be modified). There are several of them: "nedebe" (few/several/2-5); "menedebe" (many/6+); woho (all/every); waha (any). Numbers are used in the same way grammatically; there are, of course an infinite number of numbers.

So: "Bíi yod le yuth nedebe wa." (I eat several fruits.)
Or: "Bíi yod le yuth menedebe wa." (I eat many fruits.)
Or: "Bíi yod le yuth woho wa." (I eat all fruits.)
Or: "Bíi yod le yuth waha wa." (I eat any fruit.)
Or: "Bíi yod le yuth shin wa." (I eat two fruits.)

And you can combine these functional bits to make the plural relativized verb more specific.

So: "Bíi yod le mewoliyen woyuth shin wa." (I eat two green fruits.)
Or: "Bíi yod le mewoliyen woyuth waha wa." (I eat any green fruits.)

And now that that's all as clear as mud. I'll take my leave. If I've left questions unanswered, just ask.

Dathimithedeyul (Amberwind)

Tue, Feb. 28th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)

No, that makes it clearer, thank you! It hadn't occurred to me to actually state number/amount (haven't come across numbers or nedebe yet), I suppose in part because English has an obvious plural form so it's not necessary to be more specific. In a way, that's the tantalising thing about a conlang - if Láadan was an evolved language, would its native speakers worry about this? I suspect not...