LINGUIST List 10.1293

Sat Sep 4 1999

Disc: Universal Word Order

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Patrick C. Ryan, Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order
  2. Peter T. Daniels, Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order

Message 1: Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order

Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 19:27:21 -0000
From: Patrick C. Ryan <proto-languageemail.msn.com>
Subject: Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order



> -------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------
>
> Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 12:25:31 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Dan Moonhawk Alford <dalfordhaywire.csuhayward.edu>
> Subject: Re: 10.1289, Disc: Universal Word Order (and Whorf)
>

<snip>

> [witty]
 >
> Not at all Dan, you missed the point. There is no universal word order
> because all "true" word orders are universal. From what I have found from
> analyzing languages, the closest thing to a universal word order is SV,
> and the O is inconsequential. For those who acknowledge VSO as a "true"
> word order, which I don't, add that to your pantheon of universal word
> orders. In short, searching for a single all encompassing word order is a
> fruitless endeavor.
>
> [moonhawk]
>
> We couldn't agree more. And I did miss it.

Dear witty, Moonhawk, and Linguists:

In attempting to analyze CVC(V) roots in a number of language families
(details at my website: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2803/),
I have discovered that these CVC(V) roots are analyzable (or so it seems to
me) into CV + CV components, of which the second component is semantically a
verb. The first component is only the "subject" when the "verbal" idea is
"intransitive", as, for example, in T?A-RHA, 'hand-fly', 'tremble'; most
often it is loosely an adverbial (?E-NHA, '(to)yonder-move', 'remove';
P?FE-RE, '(with the)foot-scratch', 'dig').

This is, of course, loosely a Modifier-Modifend syntax; and, if these
formulations underlie CVC(V) roots in languages which presently may have a
different syntax (as I would claim), there is some reason to posit an
*original* word-order of Modifier-Modifend, which would, of course,
correlate with OV.

The natural development from OV is probably SOV, with additional modifiers
being added at the left. There may even be a phsyiological reason for
this.All animals view motional and "stationary" objects differently, and
motion always attracts more attention than a static object. We might also
think of this order in terms of Comment-Topic.

I do not want to intrude in your interesting interchange but I thought these
observations might be of slight interest to some list-members.


Pat
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Message 2: Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order

Date: Sat, 04 Sep 1999 18:16:57 -0400
From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: 10.1292, Disc: Universal Word Order

LINGUIST Network wrote:

> Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 12:25:31 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Dan Moonhawk Alford <dalfordhaywire.csuhayward.edu>
> Subject: Re: 10.1289, Disc: Universal Word Order (and Whorf)

> my "for speakers of simple-syllabic languages" clause was intentional.
> Speaking from ignorance, I ask whether the syllable structure of Korean is
> more or less complex than that of Chinese. My own hypothesis would be that
> phonetic writing systems, even ours, arise when writing systems developed
> for simple-syllabic systems only badly fit complex-syllabic phonological
> systems.

Nope, it hasn't happened that way: languages muddle along with whatever
script happens to get handed to them, except in one circumstance: If
there's already a grammatical tradition for the recipient language, the
writing system can get seriously reworked and come out as something new.
I know of three examples: the Indian adaptation of an Aramaic model; the
Tibetan adaptation of an Indian model; and the Korean adaptation of
(ultimately) a Tibetan model. (This was presented in my paper at the May
1998 meeting at Urbana on East Asian literacies, the publication of
which is in limbo.)

> And I speak from the experience of developing a Roman alphabet and writing
> system for Northern Cheyenne in the early '70s, only to find that writing
> Cheyenne in Algonquian/Blackfoot/Cree Syllabary was incredibly more
> parsimonious and elegant. So, to phrase it differently: do you think a
> phonetic/phonemic writing system is simpler than a syllabary for
> simple-syllable languages?

It's probably not more difficult, anyway.

> [Witty]
> 
> Similarly, the Roman alphabet is simpler than the Northern Semitic
> syllabary
> 
> [moonhawk]
> 
> again, for whom? Seakers of N. Semitic langages?

The invention of the alphabet (among Greeks, adopting Phoenician) was
quite accidental; note that it didn't happen a few hundred miles away, a
few centuries later, where Iranian scribes also took over a Semitic
script (Aramaic) to write an Indo-European language. (Presented at the
AOS in Baltimore and a symposium in Philadelphia, both March 1999;
publication of the latter is expected.)
- 
Peter T. Daniels					grammatimworldnet.att.net
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