Ithkuil: A Philosophical Design for a Hypothetical Language


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5a Verb Morphology
9 Syntax
Introduction
5b Verb Morphology (continued)
10 Lexico-Semantics
1 Phonology
6 More Verb Morphology
11 The Script
  2 Morpho-Phonology  7a Using Affixes 12 The Number System
   3 Basic Morphology 7b Using Affixes (continued) The Lexicon
  4 Case Morphology   8 Adjuncts Revised Ithkuil: Ilaksh

 

Chapter 5 (continued): Verb Morphology

5.5 Modality
5.6 Level
5.7 Case-Frame

5.5 MODALITY

Modality corresponds roughly to the function of both modal verbs in Western languages (e.g., can, may, must, should, etc.) as well as those verbs which modify a following verb such as to want to, to choose to, to need to, to offer to, to demand that, etc. However, in Ithkuil, the effect of such modifications on a verb causes a fundamental change in the cognitive interpretation of the verb, usually resulting in a modification of both the Essence (see Sec. 3.8) and the Perspective (see Sec. 3.3) of the verb, as well as invoking the use of the ACTIVATIVE case to mark the “subject” noun (see Sec. 4.3.9). The nature of these modifications is explained as follows:

As we saw in Sections 3.8 and 4.3.9, it is possible in human language to speak about events that are either unreal, as-yet-unrealized, or alternative versions of reality. Specifically, nouns and verbs can make reference to hypothetical representations of real-world counterparts from within an “alternative mental space” created psychologically (and implied linguistically). This alternative mental space is essentially the psychological realm of potential and imagination. It is seen, for example, in the following sentences.

1) You must come home at once.
2) That girl can sing better than anybody.
3) Our troops should attack at dawn.
4) Mother needs you to come with her.
5) The teacher requests that I dance for you.
6) The man believes clowns are dangerous.

Each of the above sentences describe potential or unreal events, not actual real-world happenings that are occurring or have occurred. In Sentence (1) no one has yet come home, in Sentence (2) the girl may choose never to sing again, Sentence (3) does not tell us whether any attack will actually occur, Sentence (4) does not indicate whether you will come or not, Sentence (5) does not indicate whether I will dance, nor does Sentence (6) establish whether or not clowns are, in fact, dangerous.

Because the clauses following the verbs must, can, should, need, request, believe, in the above sentences all refer to unrealized, imagined, or hypothetical events, the nouns and verbs within those clauses would be marked in the ABSTRACT perspective (see Sec. 3.4) and the REPRESENTATIVE essence (see Sec. 3.8). The “subject” nouns which invoke the event (the nouns you, girl, troops, mother, teacher, and man in the six sentences above) would be marked in the ACTIVATIVE case (see Sec. 4.3.9). It should be noted that not all Ithkuil modalities necessarily invoke hypothetical or unrealized events. For example, in the sentence She chose to move to Australia, the verb chose signals that the following clause is spoken of abstractly (i.e., it is the act of choice that is being talked about, not the move itself), but nevertheless refers to an actual event (i.e., she did, in fact, move to Australia). Thus, the move to Australia clause would be marked in the ABSTRACT perspective but would not be marked in the REPRESENTATIVE essence. Thus, the requirement that an Ithkuil modality construction invoke modifications in the perspective, essence and case of the associated nouns and verbs is entirely dependent on the semantics and cognitive intent of the utterance.

There are 30 modalities in Ithkuil. Modality is marked by a word-final vocalic suffix to a conflational or valence adjunct (see Secs. 5.2 and 5.4). In the absence of a conflational or valence adjunct, this vocalic suffix can stand alone as an autonomous word, functioning as a modality adjunct. The thirty modalities and their respective suffixes are described below.

 

5.5.1
DES
The Desiderative

The DESIDERATIVE more or less corresponds to English constructions expressing desire, e.g., to want to, to desire that, etc. as in The teacher wants the students to study hard. It is marked by adding the suffix -a to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.2
ASP
The Aspirative

The ASPIRATIVE corresponds to English constructions expressing wishing or hoping, e.g., to wish that, to hope that, etc. It is marked by adding the suffix -ü to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.3
EPC
The Expectative

The EXPECTATIVE corresponds to English constructions expressing expectation, as in He expected her to be beautiful, or I imagine he’s reached his destination. It is marked by adding the suffix -ď to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.4
CRD
The Credential

The CREDENTIAL corresponds to English constructions expressing belief, as in I think she has two sons, or We believe the earth to be round. Note that it does not correspond to English expressions of opinion, i.e., it would not be used in translating sentences such as I think she’s pretty. It is marked by adding the suffix -u to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.5
REQ
The Requisitive

The REQUISITIVE corresponds to English constructions expressing requests, as in I request his presence at the banquet, or I’d like you to visit your father. It is marked by adding the suffix -â to a conflational or valence adjunct.

5.5.6
EXH
The Exhortative

The EXHORTATIVE corresponds to English expressions of exhortation or demand, as in I demand you return my book or Let the gates be opened! It is marked by adding the suffix -ű to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.7
OPR
The Opportunitive

The OPPORTUNITIVE corresponds to the English modal verb can/could/be able where it means ‘have the opportunity to,’ as in Can we pass by our old house when we visit town? or Because of the delay, she was able to go to the museum after all. It is marked by adding the suffix -ai to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.8
CPC
The Capacitative

The CAPACITATIVE corresponds to the English modal verb can/could/be able where it means ‘have the ability or capacity to,’ as in Can she sing opera? or He could run like the wind. Note that it would also be used when translating English generic statements implying ability or capacity as in He speaks French like a native [i.e., the sentence does not imply he is speaking French at the moment, but rather his general ability to do so]. It is marked by adding the suffix -ei to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.9
PRM
The Permissive

The PERMISSIVE corresponds to the English modal verbs can/could/be able or may/might where they mean ‘be permitted to,’ as in Very well, you can have ice cream for dessert; or Could I talk to you? It is marked by adding the suffix -oi to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.10
PTN
The Potential

The POTENTIAL corresponds to the English modal verb can/could/be able where it means ‘have the potential to or the possibility of,’ as in Remember it can flood suddenly in this area, or That man could fly into rages for no reason. It is also used when translating generic statements implying potential or possibility, as in It rains unpredictably in the Northwest. It is marked by adding the suffix -ëi to a conflational or valence adjunct.

5.5.11
CLS
The Compulsory

The COMPULSORY corresponds to the English modal verbs must or have to/had to in their meaning of compulsory obligation, as in You must get up now, or I had to attend the ceremony. It is marked by adding the suffix -ui to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.12
OBG
The Obligative

The OBLIGATIVE corresponds to the English modal verbs should, ought to, or other phrases expressing optional but preferential obligation, as in You ought to see a dentist, I should tell her how I feel, or It would be best if the children stayed away from clowns. It is marked by adding the suffix -iu to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.13
IMS
The Impositive

The IMPOSITIVE corresponds to English expressions such as be supposed to, be expected to, or be to which impose an expectation upon a party, as in You’re supposed to smile when introduced, or He is to give a speech at the banquet. It is marked by adding the suffix -au to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.14
ADV
The Advocative

The ADVOCATIVE corresponds to English expressions such as suggest that or propose that which advocate a position, as in I suggest you study harder or They proposed that the clowns take their circus tent elsewhere. It is marked by adding the suffix -ia to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.15
ITV
The Intentive

The INTENTIVE corresponds to English expressions such as intend to, plan on or shall which convey an intention, as in The girls plan on travelling to Europe, or I shall see to it. It is marked by adding the suffix -ou to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.16
ANT
The Anticipative

The ANTICIPATIVE corresponds to English expressions such as to look forward to or to eagerly await which convey positive anticipation, as in We look forward to the clowns coming to town. It is marked by addition of the suffix -eu to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.17
DSP
The Dispositive

The DISPOSITIVE corresponds to the English expression to be willing to, conveying willingness as in He is willing to give his life to defeat the clowns. It is marked by addition of the suffix -äi to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.18
PRE
The Preparative

The PREPARATIVE corresponds to the English expressions be ready to or be prepared to, indicating readiness, as in She’s ready to host the party, or They are prepared to endure harsh weather. It is marked by addition of the suffix -öi to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.19
NEC
The Necessitative

The NECESSITATIVE corresponds to the English expressions need to or be necessary to, indicating necessity, as in You need to do something about those clowns in the yard, or It was necessary to inform her about the atrocities. It is marked by addition of the suffix -ëu to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.20
DEC
The Decisive

The DECISIVE corresponds to English expressions such as decide to or choose to, indicating choice, as in Peter decided to cook breakfast or Colleen chose to visit the clowns. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.21
PTV
The Proclivitive

The PROCLIVITIVE corresponds to English expressions such as tend to, be apt to, or be prone to, indicating tendency, as in The wolverine tended to eat platypus eggs, or Boris is apt to make a fool of himself when meeting women. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.22
VOL
The Voluntative

The VOLUNTATIVE corresponds to English expressions such as offer to or volunteer to, indicating an act of offering as in The foreman offered to put poison in my beer, or Mrs. Blathermot volunteered to bake artichoke pie for the Open House event. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.23
ACC
The Accordative

The ACCORDATIVE corresponds to the English expression agree to, as in Constance agreed to perform her go-go number at the talent show. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.24
INC
The Inclinative

The INCLINATIVE corresponds to English expressions such as to feel like or be up for, indicating an impulsive desire, as in He’s up for going to the shindig, or Molly felt like eating the entire chocolate cake. It is marked by addition of the suffix -öu to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.25
CML
The Compulsive

The COMPULSIVE corresponds to English expressions such as feel driven to or feel a need to, indicating compulsion, as in Jack feels driven to hunt wolverines, or My hairdresser feels a need to date bikers. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.26
DVR
The Divertive

The DIVERTIVE corresponds to English expressions such as like to, or enjoy, conveying simple likes and pasttimes as in Boys like to dream about cars, or My salamander enjoyed biting people on their rump. It is marked by addition of the suffix -äu to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.27
DVT
The Devotive

The DEVOTIVE corresponds to English expressions such as be devoted to or be committed to, indicating devotion as in Charlotte is committed to being the best seamstress in town, or They were devoted to rooting for the losing team. It is marked by addition of the suffix -ëď to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.28
PFT
The Preferential

The PREFERENTIAL corresponds to English expressions such as prefer, or would rather that, indicating preference as in He’d rather work by himself, or Muldane prefers that his cats eat live food. It is marked by addition of the suffix -ua to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.29
IPS
The Impressional

The IMPRESSIONAL corresponds to English expressions such as have an impression that, have a hunch that, or feel that, indicating a subjective belief or impression as in I’ve a hunch that the porter is an alcoholic, or Betty feels her husband flirts too much with the secretarial pool. It is marked by addition of the suffix -üa to a conflational or valence adjunct.

 

5.5.30
PMS
The Promissory

The PROMISSORY corresponds to English expressions such as promise, or swear that, indicating a self-imposed obligation as in She promised that her son would visit my daughter, or Hargreaves swears that the fish from that lake are sentient. It is marked by addition of the suffix - to a conflational or valence adjunct.


5.5.31 Examples of Modality in Use


_Listen!

 

 

5.6 LEVEL

Level corresponds roughly to what is known as degree of comparison in other languages. Many languages morphologically indicate degrees of comparison as exemplified by the English suffixes -er and -est seen in great-greater-greatest. Ithkuil incorporates degrees of comparison morphologically into its valence scheme by means of tone of the conflational adjunct (or valence or modality adjunct). Specifically, the four tones are used to show four different comparisons, each of which is termed a level of the verb. These levels are the INDETERMINATE, EQUATIVE, SURPASSIVE and DEFICIENT, and are explained below.

 

5.6.1
IDT
The Indeterminate

Shown by low or falling tone of the conflational, valence or modality adjunct. The INDETERMINATE is the default level and indicates either 1) that no comparison is being made between the first party and the second party, 2) that the degree of comparison between the first party and the second party is unknown or irrelevant, or 3) that comparison is inapplicable because the verb is monoactive (i.e., there is only one party participating).

 

5.6.2
EQU
The Equative

Shown by high tone of the conflational, valence or modality adjunct. The EQUATIVE level indicates that the first party performs its “half” of the action equally well in comparison to the second party. It corresponds to the English construction ‘as [well] as’ as in She sings as well as I do or He reads as fast as you do.

 

5.6.3
SUR
The Surpassive

Shown by rising tone of the conflational, valence or modality adjunct. The SURPASSIVE level indicates that the first party manifests a state or performs an action to a greater degree or extent than the second party. It functions equivalently to English -er as in I ran farther than he. It also corresponds to the English verbal prefix out- as in I out-sang him (i.e., I sang longer or better than he), although the SURPASSIVE is more flexible than the English construction, as it can be used with any of the thirteen valences of the verb. For example, when used with the NONRELATIONAL valence for a verb such as ‘laugh,’ it would translate something like I laughed more/harder than anyone did anything else. It can even be used with the MONOACTIVE valence, indicating that the party performed the action superlatively and no one else did. For example, the sentence I laughed in the MONOACTIVE valence and SURPASSIVE level would translate as something like I was the only one laughing and my laughter was superlative.

The SURPASSIVE can also be used to translate the English -est superlative construction, as in She is the nicest (of all) by simply naming a contextually universal second participant to the verb, i.e., She “out-nices” everyone else.

 

5.6.4
DFT
The Deficient

Shown by broken tone of the conflational, valence or modality adjunct. The DEFICIENT level corresponds roughly to the negative comparative less in English as in This test is less difficult, as well as the verbal prefix under- as in He under-performed tonight. Like the other levels, it can be used with any valence of the Ithkuil verb to indicate that the performance or state of the first participant to a co-active verb is worse or less than that of the second participant. It would thus render sentences corresponding to She “under-danced” tonight (i.e., she didn’t dance as well as she might have) or The boy “under-weighs” the girl (i.e., he weighs less than her).


5.6.5 Examples of Level in Use


__Listen!
 

5.7 CASE-FRAME

Virtually all languages allow for sentences to be hierarchically embedded within other sentences, a process termed subordination. In Western languages, the embedded sentence becomes either a subordinate clause or a relative clause, explicitly introduced by a conjunctions such as ‘that,’ ‘which,’ ‘who,’ ‘where,’‘although,’‘if,’‘while,’‘whereas,’ or a preposition followed by a conjunction, such as ‘through which,’‘by whom,’etc. In English, such clauses can also occur as an infinitive or gerundial verb construction. Both relative and subordinate clauses are illustrated in the following sentences:

The dog that ate my hat belongs to them.
I want him to stop shouting.
The committee voted to fire the superintendant.
We demand (that) you give us equal pay.
Although he’s a college graduate, he acts like a child.
This is the slot through which the letter is passed.
In case you’re unaware, I’ll be leaving next month.
The boy walking toward us is my nephew.

The Ithkuil equivalent to relative or subordinate clauses is known as a case-frame, or simply, frame. Conceptually, the sentence to be embedded is simply treated as a noun participant to the main verb of a sentence and is therefore marked for case like any other noun. For example, take the following two sentences:

She and I were working together.
The two nations were at war.

Suppose we want to use the second sentence to provide a temporal context for the first sentence. In English we could do this by subordinating the second sentence to the first using the conjunction ‘while,’ as in She and I were working together while the two nations were at war. Alternately, we could create a relative clause by inserting a connecting prepositional phrase, as in She and I were working together during the time (that) the two nations were at war.

In Ithkuil, temporal context for a sentence may be provided by a noun in any of the temporal cases such as the CONCURSIVE (see Sec. 4.9.1). A word such as ‘summer’ or ‘famine’ would be placed in the CONCURSIVE case to create a sentence corresponding to:

She and I were working together during the summer.
She and I were working together at the time of the famine.

Just as the single words ‘summer’ and ‘famine’ are placed in the CONCURSIVE case, so an entire sentence such as The two nations were at war can be placed in the CONCURSIVE case to provide the temporal context for the main sentence. In other words, Ithkuil treats the entire subordinate sentence as a noun phrase to be declined into any required case. That is the purpose of a frame, to place sentences into noun cases. By doing so, Ithkuil accomplishes the same task for which Western languages use relative and subordinate conjunctions. In theory, any sentence can be placed into any of the 81 cases and inserted into another sentence wherever a simple noun might be placed in the sentence using that same case.


5.7.1 Placement of Frames

To construct a case-frame, the second-order sentence (i.e., the sentence to be subordinated) is placed in the main sentence at the point where a noun declined for the required case would appear. Unlike the usual verb-final word order of main sentences in Ithkuil, a case-frame usually has its verb appear as the first element of the case frame. This is to easily recognize the beginning of the case frame. The actual case of the sentence is indicated in the verbal formative in the same way as for nominal formatives, i.e., by mutation of the stem vowel and mutation of the C2 radical consonant. Table 17 below offers a review of these mutations for each of the 81 cases. If inserted into the middle of the main sentence, the final word of the case-frame should be a noun (or a personal reference adjunct – see Sec. 8.1) and carries a special affix which signifies the end of the frame if this will help to avoid confusion as to which words in the sentence belong inside the frame (i.e., with the secondary sentence), and which belong to the main sentence.


Table 17: Case-Frame Markers (Mutation by Vowel Series and C2 Grade)

Label
Case
Series
& Grade
1
OBL
Oblique
A1
2
ABS
Absolutive
B1
3
DAT
Dative
C1
4
ERG
Ergative
D1
5
EFF
Effectuative
E1
6
IND
Inducive
F1
7
AFF
Affective
G1
8
INS
Instrumental
H1
9
ACT
Activative
J1
10
DER
Derivative
H2
11
SIT
Situative
J2
12
POS
Possessive
A2
13
PRP
Proprietive
B2
14
GEN
Genitive
C2
15
ATT
Attributive
D2
16
OGN
Originative
E2
17
PDC
Productive
F2
18
ITP
Interpretative
G2
19
APL
Applicative
A3
20
PUR
Purposive
B3
21
INH
Inherent
C3
22
CNV
Conductive
D3
23
MED
Mediative
E3
24
CRS
Contrastive
F3
25
PAR
Partitive
G3
26
CPS
Compositive
H3
27
COR
Correlative
J3
28
IDP
Interdependent
J4
29
PRD
Predicative
J5
30
ESS
Essive
A4
31
ASI
Assimilative
B4
32
FUN
Functive
C4
33
TFM
Transformative
D4
34
REF
Referential
E4
35
CSD
Considerative
F4
36
CLA
Classificative
G4
37
DFR
Deferential
H4
38
COM
Comitative
A6
39
CNJ
Conjunctive
B6
40
UTL
Utilitative
C6
Label
Case
Series
& Grade
41
BEN
Benefactive
D6
42
TSP
Transpositive
E6
43
CMM
Commutative
F6
44
ABE
Abessive
A5
45
CVS
Conversive
B5
46
CON
Concessive
C5
47
EXC
Exceptive
D5
48
AVS
Adversative
E5
49
PVS
Provisional
F5
50
PTL
Postulative
G5
51
SUP
Suppositive
H5
52
DEP
Dependent
G6
53
CMP
Comparative
H6
54
AVR
Aversive
J6
55
LOC
Locative
A7
56
ORI
Orientative
B7
57
PSV
Procursive
C7
58
ALL
Allative
D7
59
ABL
Ablative
E7
60
PLT
Prolative
F7
61
PEL
Perlative
G7
62
PRV
Pervasive
H7
63
PRH
Peripheral
J7
64
INT
Integral
G9
65
PSN
Positional
H9
66
NAV
Navigative
J9
67
CNR
Concursive
A8
68
ACS
Accessive
B8
69
DFF
Diffusive
C8
70
PER
Periodic
D8
71
PRO
Prolapsive
E8
72
PCV
Precursive
F8
73
PCR
Postcursive
G8
74
ELP
Elapsive
H8
75
ALP
Allapsive
J8
76
INP
Interpolative
A9
77
EPS
Episodic
B9
78
PRL
Prolimitive
C9
79
SML
Simultaneitive
D9
80
ASS
Assessive
E9
81
LIM
Limitative
F9

In general, the perspective of the verb in the secondary sentence operates independently from that of the main verb, however, it is also common for the perspective of the verb in the secondary sentence to be placed in the ABSTRACT, which has the effect of deferring all Perspective information about the verb to the main verb, similarly to the way English subordinate clauses using gerunds and infinitives defer all tense information to the main verb of the sentence.

Here is an example Ithkuil sentence containing a case frame:


_Listen!
 

5.7.2 Reinterpreting the Notion of a Relative Clause

There is no direct equivalent in Ithkuil to the relative clauses of Western languages. Ithkuil treats such clauses the same as subordinate clauses using case-frames as described above. However, the manner in which this is done, while ultimately logical, is somewhat complex and confusing from a Western perspective. Therefore, to analyze how Ithkuil reinterprets Western relative clauses into subordinate case-frames will first require us to review the nature of relative clauses in Western languages such as English.

A relative clause refers to an imbedded sentence which modifies or describes a “head” noun in the main clause. There are two types of relative clauses, restricted (or dependent) and unrestricted (or independent). The two types are illustrated in the following English sentences.

RESTRICTED CLAUSE
(1) Lions that like chasing their tails can be seen at any circus.
(2) That book (that) I just finished reading was written by a priest.

UNRESTRICTED CLAUSE
(3) Lions, which like chasing their tails, can be seen at any circus.
(4) That book, which I just finished reading, was written by a priest.

In the first sentence, the clause ‘that like chasing their tails’ refers to a specific type of lion found at a circus (i.e, not all lions chase their tails). Similarly, the clause ‘(that) I just finished reading’ in the second sentence is restricted in that it is considered by the speaker as being necessary in order to identify which book is being talked about, i.e., without the clause, the listener would not know which book the speaker was referring to.

Note the difference in meaning, however, when comparing the first two sentences to the third and fourth sentences. In the third sentence, the speaker implies that all lions chase their tails regardless of whether they are in the circus. In the fourth sentence, the identity of the book is already known to the listener, and the speaker is merely providing two additional facts about it: the fact that he just finished reading it and the fact about its author. Notice that in English, an unrestricted relative clause is set off in writing by commas and cannot begin with ‘that’ (rather ‘which’ or ‘who’ must be used); also, such clauses are normally spoken in a lowered intonation with juncture (i.e., brief pauses) immediately before and after the clause.


5.7.2.1 Restricted Clauses. Ithkuil treats the above notions about relative clauses in a different way. We will first analyze how Ithkuil creates equivalents to restricted relative clauses. This can best be approached by analyzing the underlying sentences which give rise to the main and relative clauses. Analyzing Sentence No. 2 above, it can be broken up into two discrete sentences:

That book was written by a priest. (= A priest wrote that book.)
I just finished reading that book.

In Ithkuil, the sentence which will be functioning as the main sentence acts as a “template” in which the secondary sentence is placed. The particular place in the template to be filled is dependent on what semantic role, i.e., case (see Chapter 4) the secondary sentence is to fill. Note that the common point of reference of the two sentences is ‘that book.’ In the main sentence, ‘that book’ functions in the semantic role of CONTENT (See Sec. 4.1.2), superficially equivalent to the direct object of the ABSOLUTIVE subject ‘priest’, therefore, the main sentence becomes the template ‘A priest wrote X’ where X is in the OBLIQUE case (See Section 4.3.1). Meanwhile, in the secondary sentence, the noun which is the common point of reference (what in Western grammar would be called the “head” of the relative clause) is marked with an affix indicating such. So we now have the two sentences as:

A priest wrote [ ]. I just finish reading that book-H.

The ‘-H’ in the second sentence above is meant to represent an affix marking the “head” or common reference point between the two sentences. At this point, Ithkuil inserts the second sentence as a case-frame into the empty “slot” based on the semantic role it will be playing, in this instance the role of CONTENT marked by the OBLIQUE case (see Sec. 4.3.1).

A priest wrote [OBL]. I just finish reading that book-H.

As described in Sec. 5.7.1, the verb of the secondary sentence is moved to the beginning of the case-frame and takes the relevant case marker (OBLIQUE).

A priest wrote I just finished reading-OBL that book-H.

Reverse translating this sentence back to English, the closest literal translation would be the rather awkward construction: A priest wrote what I just finished reading, that book. However, this is how Ithkuil translates the English sentence ‘A priest wrote that book that I just finished reading.’

Two observations can be noted from the Ithkuil sentence. First of all, unlike Western languages, the main clause contains no “head.” Instead, the “head” is marked from within the imbedded clause. Secondly, there is no difference between this process and the rendering of other types of subordinate clauses using case-frames, as the main sentence was rearranged (or reinterpreted) to provide a slot for the semantic role of the imbedded sentence, the exact same way that subordinate clauses are constructed in Ithkuil. Therefore, as was previously stated, Ithkuil makes no distinction between subordinate and relative clauses.

Similarly, the other example sentence from above, Lions that like chasing their tails can be seen at any circus would become in Ithkuil: At any circus one can see certain lions-H like to chase-OBL their tails. A literal translation into English would be: At any circus one can see (that) certain lions like chasing their tails.


5.7.2.2 Unrestricted Clauses. As for independent or unrestricted clauses, as shown in example sentences (3) and (4) earlier, Ithkuil treats these differently still. In Western languages, an unrestricted clause does not help to identify a noun or provide a context for it, but simply adds additional information about an already identified noun. Thus, unrestricted relative clauses serve a wholly different cognitive-semantic purpose than restricted clauses, a fact hidden by their nearly identical surface structures. Ithkuil acknowledges this profound difference at the overt sentence level by not subordinating any clause at all. Rather, the two sentences are given co-equal status as main clauses and simply joined by a coordinating affix. Thus sentences (3) and (4) from earlier become:

One can see lions at any circus and they like chasing their tails.
A priest wrote that book and I just finished reading it.


5.7.2.3 Use of the INHERENT Case In Lieu of Simple Relative Clauses. In Section 4.5.3 we analyzed how MONADIC or UNBOUNDED nouns in the INHERENT case take on a special function of existential identification corresponding to the English phrase ‘that/which/who is/are…’ to render forms structured as “the my-wife woman,” meaning ‘the woman who is my wife.” This construction allows a “short-cut” way of rendering what in English would be simple relative clauses involving descriptive identifications, eliminating the need in most cases to resort to a case-frame. For example, the sentence The man who came to dinner is my father is rendered as The “my-father” man came to dinner, where the noun father would be in the INHERENT plus POSITIVE focus (see Sec. 3.5) to indicate that it is the new information being conveyed by the speaker, i.e., to distinguish it from the reversed focus of The man who is my father came to dinner.


5.7.3 Examples of Case-Frames in Use


_Listen!

 

Proceed to Chapter 6: Additional Verb Morphology >>

 

Home
5a Verb Morphology
9 Syntax
Introduction
5b Verb Morphology (continued)
10 Lexico-Semantics
1 Phonology
6 More Verb Morphology
11 The Script
  2 Morpho-Phonology  7a Using Affixes 12 The Number System
   3 Basic Morphology 7b Using Affixes (continued) The Lexicon
  4 Case Morphology   8 Adjuncts Revised Ithkuil: Ilaksh

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