Archive for February, 2020

Detail #390: If and Whether: Making a Tripartitie Division Instead

Monday, February 10th, 2020
In English, the word "if" prototypically marks conditionals. However, it can also mark indirect questions as well as lack of knowledge about polar statements:
Do you know if he will arrive within the hour?
I don't know if he can make it.
This might be my non-nativeness that influences me, but it seems a positive statement about knowledge gets weird with 'if', and 'whether' would be preferrable:
?I do know if he can make it, but I won't tell you.
I do know whether he can make it, but I won't tell you.
Now, much as subordinating conjunctions like these offer up a rich vista of potential rules, what I really wanted to introduce here was a thing that certainly some language has done, and I bet it's not even all that unusual - but most readers are probably not aware of it.

Consider making a decision... whether to do something.
Decide if you want to sell it/whether you want to sell it.
This could quite naturally have its own conjunction - and naturally, these three could have some overlaps in certain syntactic and semantic contexts. 
Things that easily could affect their distribution are: verbal mood (especially conditional and imperative), negative, and potentially the verb of the matrix clause.

Further, one could of course have some subtle morphological variation on them depending on whether there's negatives involved, or whether the matrix clause has an imperative, etc.

Detail #389: A Differential Object Marking System with a Minor Twist

Sunday, February 9th, 2020
Let us posit a language with a malefactive and a benefactive case. The benefactive is used for indirect objects that receive benefits from the action, whereas the malefactive marks objects - both direct and indirect - that are detrimentally affected by the act.

Other direct objects are marked by the accusative.

As a side note: the numbering's been off for a while, due to some overlap at one part of hte indexing. I will correct them once I find the time.

Dothraki Relative Clause Structure

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

Caroline Elizabeth Melton has a BS in biology from the University of Memphis and an MA in linguistics from Stony Brook University. Currently a PhD student in biology and bioinformatics at the University of Memphis, she looks for any excuse to compare language change to biological evolution, to the exhaust of her professors.


In this analysis, I aim to objectively assess the claim that Dothraki is a naturalistic language by comparing its case system and relative clause structures to known morphological and syntactic universals common to natural language.

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