(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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KaiTheHomoSapien
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

When an umlauted letter "ü" is spelled out as a digraph sans the diaeresis "ue", would that still be called "transliteration" or is there another term for it ("transcription", maybe)? Just wondering.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
17 Mar 2020 21:20
When an umlauted letter "ü" is spelled out as a digraph sans the diaeresis "ue", would that still be called "transliteration" or is there another term for it ("transcription", maybe)? Just wondering.
Transliteration is, in its strict sense, an accurate rendition of a script letter by letter (or grapheme by grapheme, if you prefer). For example, Arabic خمس ست سبع 'five six seven' could be transliterated as "xms st sbʕ".

Converting a language into the Latin alphabet in linguistics, often combining a transliteration with pronunciation in a slightly ad hoc manner, is properly referred to as doing a romanization. There are standardized romanizations for many languages in existence, but they're often not followed in actual works. That Arabic example could be romanized as "xamsun sittun sabʕun". In practice, people in language teaching/learning and conlanging circles sometimes refer to romanizations as "transliterations".

A transcription may refer to a transliteration (when transcribing an old engraving, say), a romanization, writing down something in a standard or altered orthography, or writing down the pronunciation of something with a system like the IPA or Americanist notation. Transcriptions of the sound [ˈxæmsʊn ˈsɪtːʊn ˈsæbʕʊn] could be "khamsun sittun sab`un", "خمس ست سبع", or "خَمْسٌ سِتًٌ سَبْعٌ" (with vowel diacritics), or /xamsun sit:un sabʕun/ (or the [ˈxæm...] equivalent).


I'd say adapting <ü> as <ue> due to limitations with diacritics or the availability of reasonable input methods is called "it's 2020, why can't I input some damn basic letter from the second Latin Unicode block, English is not the only language in the world, this is an OUTRAGE".
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
17 Mar 2020 21:20
When an umlauted letter "ü" is spelled out as a digraph sans the diaeresis "ue", would that still be called "transliteration" or is there another term for it ("transcription", maybe)? Just wondering.
Wikipedia has this to say:

"When it is not possible to use the umlauts (for example, when using a restricted character set) the characters Ä, Ö, Ü, ä, ö, ü should be transcribed as Ae, Oe, Ue, ae, oe, ue respectively, following the earlier postvocalic-e convention; simply using the base vowel (e.g. u instead of ü) would be wrong and misleading."

That would suggest "transcription" which also "the systematic representation of language in written form" (so, vaguely, "writing something down"), as distinct from "orthographic transcription" (writing a spoken word from one language using the orthography of another), and "transliteration" (converting one script into another).

I'd think transcription should work, although at least in the case of ü ~ ue, that's just a case of alternatives within an orthographic convention, i.e. they both represent the same sounds, but ue is written when ü is unavailable for use. In this case I'd guess "X can be alternatively written as Y".
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thank you guys. [:D] I wanted to know after a friend asked me a question about it. He's reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and took note of some German names in the book that seem to employ both strategies, e.g. "Bürgerbräukeller" written as "Buergerbräukeller". I assumed that was just a typo.

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Post by Omzinesý »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
19 Mar 2020 03:45
Thank you guys. [:D] I wanted to know after a friend asked me a question about it. He's reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and took note of some German names in the book that seem to employ both strategies, e.g. "Bürgerbräukeller" written as "Buergerbräukeller". I assumed that was just a typo.
Names are written like parents decide hey are written. Steven and Stephen thing.

The name of the famous author is Goethe, not Göte.

But names are also transcribed very oddly sometimes. Even in one book there can be different versions.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen »

Omzinesý wrote:
19 Mar 2020 11:42
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
19 Mar 2020 03:45
Thank you guys. [:D] I wanted to know after a friend asked me a question about it. He's reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and took note of some German names in the book that seem to employ both strategies, e.g. "Bürgerbräukeller" written as "Buergerbräukeller". I assumed that was just a typo.
Names are written like parents decide hey are written. Steven and Stephen thing.

The name of the famous author is Goethe, not Göte.
Well, strictly speaking, I don't think his parents decided on the spelling of their surname – although I suppose they might have, depending on how established the spelling was at the time. However, the Bürgerbräukeller wasn't a person (although no doubt someone's tried to name their daughter after it), and its... "parents" apparently used the spelling <Bürger Bräu Keller>, so that's clearly not the reason in its case. It's just a German spelling convention; <ä ö ü> are historically just shorthands for <ae oe ue>, and writing the digraph in full is still allowed, even if I don't think it's exactly commonplace anymore.

But yes, names (such as, indeed, Goethe) do often come in several variants, for a bunch of reasons. Typically some bearers of a name (or their parents or scribes or whatever) might have chosen to continue using a spelling that's otherwise obsolete in the current orthography.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

There’s a chain of Basement Burger Bars in the Detroit metro area.
It looks like the “burger brew cellar” you’re talking about inspired a translationism!
Are the names related at all?

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Post by Omzinesý »

Xonen wrote:
19 Mar 2020 20:13
However, the Bürgerbräukeller wasn't a person (although no doubt someone's tried to name their daughter after it), and its... "parents" apparently used the spelling <Bürger Bräu Keller>,
I feel a bit ashamed. [:$]

eldin raigmore wrote:
19 Mar 2020 22:05
There’s a chain of Basement Burger Bars in the Detroit metro area.
It looks like the “burger brew cellar” you’re talking about inspired a translationism!
Are the names related at all?
She must be their granddaughter!
Last edited by Omzinesý on 21 Mar 2020 10:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

This is a question I have been thinking long.
It is a hard one, so I I'm waiting for discussion rather than facts (though they would be even better).

SAE languages are quite flexible when it comes to syntactic transitivity. You can always add an object to an intransitive verb. "sing a song", "sneeze a handkerchief over the room" etc. Similarly, a transitive verb can be used "intransitively" or with a generic implicit object "Corona kills.".

In examples of some "more exotic" languages there is an subject-verb clause that is however translated 'He ate it" or something. The point is that there is a definite anaphoric object "it" supposed. So, there must be a stricter distinction between transitive verbs (for which that "it" is supposed when there is no explicit object) and intransitive verbs (for which no object is supposed).

Is the distinction a lexical one, or does it derive "from the context"?
What would it imply for creative language use? Should there be an antipassive to code lack of such "it"?


I once read an article on Basque (unfortunately I have forgotten what it was) that it is actually very dialect-dependent which verbs are "transitive" in that they take their subject in the ergative.
Last edited by Omzinesý on 21 Mar 2020 12:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Creyeditor »

Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 10:27
Is the distinction a lexical one, or does it derive "from the context"?
In the variety of Papua Indonesian I learned, it is derived from the context. Makan to eat if used without an over object can be understood both with an implied anaphoric object or with a more genereic meaning. The generic meaning appears more frequently, I would say. If you ask "Are you hungry?" you can answer:

(1)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate.

On the other hand, if you ask "Where is my chocolate?", it is completely okay to answer with the same sentence. This now implies that you ate the chocolate, so the meaning is not generic anymore.

(1)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate it.
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Post by Omzinesý »

Creyeditor wrote:
21 Mar 2020 12:05
Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 10:27
Is the distinction a lexical one, or does it derive "from the context"?
In the variety of Papua Indonesian I learned, it is derived from the context. Makan to eat if used without an over object can be understood both with an implied anaphoric object or with a more genereic meaning. The generic meaning appears more frequently, I would say. If you ask "Are you hungry?" you can answer:

(1)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate.

On the other hand, if you ask "Where is my chocolate?", it is completely okay to answer with the same sentence. This now implies that you ate the chocolate, so the meaning is not generic anymore.

(1)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate it.
Interesting!

Can "it" be expressed explicitly and if so when would it be used?

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Post by Reyzadren »

Have you considered the possibility that instead of such languages are missing an anaphoric object "it" from a supposed "meta-language", it's actually the opposite whereby "it" seems to be an assumed projection of (meta-)languages that you are familiar with? This veers more into conlangs than natlangs, but as you wanted a discussion, I'll provide facts from both for you [:D]

Natlang:
That other natlang that I speak defines transitivity differently in the grammar book. It defines intransitive as a verb that can take an object (Obj definition beware), where a transitive verb MUST take an object in the (regular affixed) active voice. This creates an unusual situation (eg, "kick" is an intransitive verb!), but the more important thing here is this: one needs to know which words are transitive, otherwise not having "object/it" is ungrammatical. There is no way to know this, one must simply memorise what's in the dictionary.

So, it doesn't seem to be "from the context" here.
Spoiler:
Conlang:
My conlang defines transitivity differently too, from both your known sources as well as that other natlang that I speak. In my conlang, a transitive verb is a verb that can take an object (again, Obj definition beware), while an intransitive verb can never take a noun object. Note: "Can" is not "is", unlike typical conlangers' viewpoints. So, here, again, one must memorise which are intransitive verbs from the dictionary. With regards to transitive verbs, one only says the object if one wants to, easy. There is simply no context involved.
In both cases, subject-verb does indeed translate into "He ate it". However, consider this from their perspective: It has less to do with the natlang's or conlang's speakers wanting or not wanting to say the object, but more about English's grammar requiring you to say "it" imo.

That, and I don't think that that other natlang that I speak as well as my conlang are "exotic", they seem quite normal/simple.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Simple to you, but still bizarre and atypical compared to all other human languages!

-----

I think the first step should be clarify terms, to be honest. In particular, to distinguish valency, a syntactic property, from transitivity, a semantic property.

If a verb is transitive, that means it involves a particular kind of semantic relationship between two nouns. The exact definitions are debateable, and slightly different definitions may be relevant in different languages, but broadly it means that an agent has successfully acted upon a patient.

If a verb is bivalent, that means that syntactically it takes two arguments in a clause.

European languages tend to have zero-derivation of valency, and English takes this to an extreme, happily turning almost any bivalent into a univalent and vice versa.

Furthermore, European languages do not explicitly mark transitivity. And although transitivity correlates with valency, there are very frequent mismatches.

So, in English, we have, for example:
I saw a cat - bivalent, but intransitive (the cat is not acted upon)
I missed the show - bivalent but intransitive (the show remains unaffected!)
She ate - univalent, but transitive (something is by definition acted upon in the eating process)
That hurt - univalent, but transitive (it hurt somebody!)
It rained cats and dogs - bivalent, but impersonal (neither semantic subject nor object!)

----------------------------

In the case of bivalent transitives, it's usually at least conceivably possible to reduce valency simply by omitting the object - although some such univalents would almost never actually occur in speech (how often would you ever hear, or see in writing, "she massacred"? It's theoretically, grammatically, possible, but I doubt it would ever be encountered in the wild - "to massacre" is an extremely transitive verb). However, NB this is a lexical property of the verb, not a general syntactic rule. How can we tell? Well, English allows almost any verb form to appear in a univalent context, but it doesn't allow every semantic verb, in the sense of a paired token+meaning, to be univalent.

Instead, it has a stock of inherently univalent verbs, and a stock of inherently bivalent verbs. If there is a bivalent verb that lacks a univalent partner, then the bivalent verb can be zero-derived easily into a univalent with the same semantics. But if there is already a univalent verb with the same form but different semantics, then the bivalent verb cannot produce a new univalent without resistance (though in some cases this can result in two univalent verbs with the same form but different semantics - the original and the derived).

So, for example: bivalent I ate it very easily becomes univalent I ate, while retaining its (transitive) semantics.
But bivalent He hanged them does not easily become a univalent transitive. You CAN say "He hanged", but it virtually never has transitive semantics. That's because "to hang" ALREADY is a univalent verb, with, as it were, the opposite semantics from the bivalent (the object of the bivalent is the SUBJECT of the univalent).

[we should be here using words like "unaccusative" and "unergative", but let's not...]

There are also some bivalent verbs where it's simply not possible to reduce the valency. An example of this is I enjoyed it - there is no "I enjoyed" (even though it's semantically intransitive already!).

[In English, this is often connected to aktionsart. Verbs indicating attitudinal states are relatively often undevalenciable. A good example of this is "dislike". Until recently you could not say simply "I dislike"; however, now you can, but only by giving it new semantics that make it into an action, not a state (i.e. "click the 'dislike' button). Similarly but more subtly, the valency of "to regret" encodes aspect - the relatively rare univalent "I regret" indicates an active mental process (a feeling you're having right then), whereas reducing the valency of the verb while maintaining its stative aspect requires a periphrasis like "I have regrets"...]

------------------------

With univalent intransitives, meanwhile, it's harder to increase valency, because you can't make a transitive verb out of them, so you can't give them a true object.

Instead, something else has to be stuck into the object slot and this again, NB, is largely lexical. Some verbs allow you to create dummy factitive objects, where the 'object' has no semantic content at all, and often this is transparent from the appearance: "I dreamt a dream", for instance, or "he died a noble death" (which just means the same as 'he died nobly'). But you can't easily say ?"I fainted a faint", for example, so this is a lexical property of some verbs, not a general syntactic rule.

Sometimes we use 'objects' that aren't semantic patients, but are in some way legitimately connected to the verb semantically, in some other role - indirect objects, causes, beneficiaries, etc. This, again, is lexical. Most prominently, English treats a lot of verbs of intentional states and ostensive actions as though they were transitive, by taking their intentional object or cause as an object- "I saw the cat", "I enjoyed the show", "I liked the omelette", "I indicated the sign". But we can't do that with other intentional objects - we can't say "I phoned the party" to mean "I phoned about the party". If you have a discussion about X, you can "discuss X", but if you have an argument about X, you can't "argue X" - instead "argue" takes a dummy factitive like "the argument" or "the point" (or, occasionally, you can argue X if X is a proposition, though you'd more usually then argue THAT X).

And although you can indicate a house, you can't point a house. Or you can, but it means something COMPLETELY unrelated. Because "to point" already HAS a transitive verb with that form, and it happens to be unrelated in meaning to the intransitive verb.

Other verbs let you use reflexive dummy objects. We don't do this very much in English as a form of derivation - although we often use dummy reflexives for bivalent intransitives when their usual object is absent (which it can be because, again, these aren't transitive, so they have no essential patient). So you "enjoy yourself" if you're not enjoying something specific. [but again, this is lexical: you can enjoy the show and enjoy yourself, and you can like the show, but you can't like yourself (or, you can, but it means something different).]

Other European languages, however, use dummy reflexives much more often.

And other verbs let you use what are really adverbial prepositional objects shorn of their preposition, to indicate a duration, extent, or time or place. So you can "sleep a wink" or "sleep two hours", or "run a mile" or (possibly?) "collapse two metres". But again, this is lexical, with most verbs insisting on a "for" or "through" or the like.


-------------


And then there are just some verbs that haven't got lexically permittted objects. Because English is so, so flexible in this regard - there's an automatic assumption of zero-derivation - you might be able to force some novel use, but this wouldn't be standard. Because this is all lexical, it's pretty unpredictable which verbs this applies to. And there are a bunch of verbs where you can zero-derive a bivalent, but the semantics are completely whacked (because this is derivation, not inflection!).

So I can't dine a meal, but I can dine a woman. I can't point a sign, but I can point a stick - even though I indicate the sign, not the stick.


-------------------



ANYWAY.

The point of all this is just to say: even in English, one of the most freely zero-deriving languages, we're still dealing with lexical derivational processes, which are sometimes more arbitrary and complicated than they may at first appear, rather than with transparent syntactic rules.


-------


CONVERSELY.

When you say "he eats", not meaning that he eats a specific thing, you're not changing the transitivity per se (in an abstract sense, although some languages may act as though you do, if 'transitive' in their rules is defined more narrowly). You're changing the specificity of the object from determinate to indeterminate.

English usually indicates an indeterminate object by treating the verb as "intransitive" (i.e. making it univalent). Although, as we've discussed, not always - to indicate an indeterminate object of "enjoy", you instead use a dummy reflexive. But as that example indicates, using valency to indicate indeterminacy is just a technique English uses, and in English it's even lexically regulated. Other languages also use valency, in a similar way, to indicate incompleteness, partitivity, or atelicity.

But these things have nothing to do with transitivity! And nothing inherently, therefore, to do with valency. Some languages will force you to use overt indeterminate objects ("I ate something"), or will force you to use a particular aspect, with or without valency or indeterminate objects ("I've eaten", "I've flown something before"). Some languages even explicitly mark indeterminacy, or some very similar concept, directly on the verb.

Hungarian, for example, marks definiteness on the verb; it does let you drop the object to create a univalent indeterminate, but because indeterminate objects are indefinite by definition, you have to mark the verb for indefiniteness first.


-------------------------------------


Regarding Omzinesy's second question:

An antipassive cannot indicate the lack of a semantic patient of a transitive verb, because transitive verbs always have patients (whether or not you state them overtly).

There's really two questions here:
- (how) can the language produce univalent transitives?
- (how) does the language use valency to indicate object indeterminacy?


The "antipassive" is a way to produce univalent transitives (as is the passive). Some language do require this. Others allow relatively free zero derivation. Others make it very difficult to reduce valency (outside of a passive), by using a lot of suppletion or periphrasis.

And just as some languages explicitly mark valency (with voice, or with lexical valency), other languages explicitly mark transitivity on the verb, regardless of valency.

So some languages would create "he eats (it)" by giving you a bivalent transitive verb, and then explicitly marked univalency; others would give you a univalent intransitive verb, and then explicitly mark transitivity.


----

Having said all that, I doubt any language is 100% on requiring explicit transitivity and/or valency marking. There's a tendency for common verbs to have multiple valency/transitivity forms, and less common verbs to be more specialised and require explicit marking - as, indeed, is the case in English. I can easily say "you said!" or "you told!" (although, NB: "you told" is the univalent form of "you told ON me", not of "you told me" or "you told a story"), but I can't easily say "you commanded!"

[except that English also has syntactic rules about object dropping that apply non-lexically to all verbs, which is basically say that certain adverbs like "(just) as" and "so" syntactically 'count' as providing an object - so I CAN say "as you commanded" or "you commanded so"]


-----------

And now I'll end by undermining my own use of terms.

In some languages it's useful to talk about valency as being how many arguments a verb CAN has, in which case you really need another word for how many arguments it DOES have, but I don't know that word, at least off the top of my head.

Second, in some languages it's useful to distinguish a narrow semantic category of transitivity from a broader category of having an obvious object (eg perception verbs would meet the broader criterion but not the narrow criterion, because their obvious object is not a patient). Again, I don't know a good term. Sometimes people talk about verbs being "dyadic" if they have a semantic object but aren't necessarily transitive; however, "dyadic" can also be used by others to describe specifically syntactically bivalent verbs that aren't necessarily transitive - that is, some people use 'dyadic' as a syntactic term, and others as a semantic term.

--------------------------

I probably haven't helped answer your question, but maybe I've added some background confusion....

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

I hope you don't feel that I neglect your long answer when I comment so shortly.

@Salmoneus
Languages have the thing called transitive construction. Haspelmath's definition of it as a comparative concept is: 'To kill' is the most semantically transitive verb. Transitive construction is the one where 'to kill' has an agent and a patient.

All verbs that appear in transitive construction can be called syntactically transitive. So we avoid speaking about semantic transitivity, which is a continuum, like Hopper and Thompson argue. Transitive construction is so common in English that bivalent and syntactically transitive are almost synonyms.

I think your answer to the first question was that coding the generic object "something" with zero is determined lexically (at least in English, and there are many lexemes that do not allowed it.)

However, you forced me to think semantics. It really seems that omitting the agent really changes the semantics of the verb while omitting the patient only makes the identity of the object fuzzy.

@Reyzadren
Yes, I am not saying meta-language is any better. I'm just used to SAE languages. I'm trying to develop some kind of typology (without any scientific method atm) on how the generic object "something" can be coded. There is the definition of transitive verb above.

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Post by Ser »

PEOPLE, STOP POSTING. I don't like making such long posts... It... makes me feel bad for some reason.
Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 10:27
SAE languages are quite flexible when it comes to syntactic transitivity. You can always add an object to an intransitive verb. "sing a song", "sneeze a handkerchief over the room" etc. Similarly, a transitive verb can be used "intransitively" or with a generic implicit object "Corona kills.".
I believe that what you say is true in typical European languages, but I just wanted to point out that in Romance, especially in colloquial Spanish, there is a category of "reflexive transitive" verbs, bearing both a reflexive indirect object and a separate direct object, whose members as a whole can't be used with an implied dropped object ("Corona kills"). That may be interesting to you...

For example, in colloquial Spanish, "to finish eating [something]" is comerse [algo]. Se comió la cena ("REFL he.ate the dinner") 'He finished eating the whole dinner'. You have to use a direct object with these, at least a direct object pronoun (also the indirect reflexive pronoun). If you don't, then comerse alone can only mean 'to eat oneself' (as if the subject is eating its own flesh, not something native speakers get to say much in real life though).

I think it'd also be helpful to be clear about (morpho-)syntactic transitivity (= "valency") vs. semantic transitivity. In "Corona kills", "kill" is syntactically intransitive (= "univalent") as it has no explicit object, but is semantically transitive because an action on an unmentioned direct object is implied.
In examples of some "more exotic" languages there is an subject-verb clause that is however translated 'He ate it" or something. The point is that there is a definite anaphoric object "it" supposed. So, there must be a stricter distinction between transitive verbs (for which that "it" is supposed when there is no explicit object) and intransitive verbs (for which no object is supposed).

Is the distinction a lexical one, or does it derive "from the context"?
You find both things in natlangs. Some of those languages might generally do it lexically (e.g. Ojibwe, which marks transitivity and partly valency morphologically), and some might generally be ambiguous and rely on context a lot but not all of the time (maybe the Papua Indonesian mentioned by Creyeditor). When context is relied on, you might be able to use pronouns, if you really need to clarify meaning. There are languages that extensively use both strategies, in which some verbs do the former and others do the latter (Mandarin Chinese, although with a host of further complications). See also Salmoneus' introspection about the possible meanings of "you told!" in English, where he feels it can be used in only some meanings / situations, other situations needing "you told it!" (or "you said it!").
What would it imply for creative language use? Should there be an antipassive to code lack of such "it"?
You could have an antipassive, yes (my understanding is this is what Mayan languages basically do, but I admit it's never been all that clear to me).

There are other ways though. You could lexically treat some verbs as intransitive in the basic form, and others as transitive in the basic form (whether syntactically or semantically). Then you add valency-changing affixes to change their transitivity, say, -a for intrans. > trans. and -ot for trans. > intrans.

And the valency-changing "affixes" could be other things too, like verbal agreement with the object, or incorporated generic object roots (for trans. > intrans., like transitive eat > intransitive eat-rice, used for any kind of food). It could involve syntactic constructions with an auxiliary verb. At least in a subset of verbs, it could involve suppletion with entirely different roots (Latin ardēre 'to burn', as in "the building is burning", and its causative friend ūrere 'to burn [something]').

Again, you could also just rely on context for the most part (= Salmoneus' "relatively free zero-derivation"), adding a direct object pronoun like "it" only if there is a perceived need to be carefully unambiguous.



EDIT: I finished this reply and left it without posting it for a few hours, and now I just saw Sal's reply. I edited the above a little bit, but I have a couple replies to Sal.
Salmoneus wrote:
21 Mar 2020 15:15
Simple to you, but still bizarre and atypical compared to all other human languages!
Is it? He's just saying his supposed natlang basically marks valency morphologically, while his conlang purely marks (semantic) transitivity morphology. Sure, I imagine that if he told us what his natlang is, we'd probably find in a published grammar examples of further complications, but anyway, it doesn't sound too exotic. What'd be exotic would be using word order to mark valency... ("love 3S.NOM", "3S.NOM love 3S.GEN wife.ACC").
In some languages it's useful to talk about valency as being how many arguments a verb CAN has, in which case you really need another word for how many arguments it DOES have, but I don't know that word, at least off the top of my head.
AFAIK there aren't words for the distinction, and it has been a source of annoyance for me for years. In my conlangs, I deal with this in dictionaries by using punctuation when listing the syntax each verb uses:
lesht vt.
# to join [sth] {lesht [j]}
# to become friends [with sb]; make friends {lesht (j)}
Here, [j] (= jaha 'something') means a mandatory argument, and (j) means an optional one. And in the translations, you can see that it's suggested to translate the second meaning as "become friends with sb" when the optional argument is present, and "make friends" when it's absent.
I probably haven't helped answer your question, but maybe I've added some background confusion....
I think you did, I mean, it basically comes down to "natlangs do all sorts of things, including multiple things at the same time" and "BTW it'd be useful for you to distinguish valency from semantic transitivity in your terminology".



EDIT 2: Okay, just saw Omzinesý's new reply.
Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 17:23
Languages have the thing called transitive construction. Haspelmath's definition of it as a comparative concept is: 'To kill' is the most semantically transitive verb. Transitive construction is the one where 'to kill' has an agent and a patient.

All verbs that appear in transitive construction can be called syntactically transitive. So we avoid speaking about semantic transitivity, which is a continuum, like Hopper and Thompson argue. Transitive construction is so common in English that bivalent and syntactically transitive are almost synonyms.
Well, first of all, clearly me and Salmoneus assumed you knew less than you actually do. I at least was led astray by your sentence "Similarly, a transitive verb can be used 'intransitively'", which seemed to confuse semantics and syntax, but maybe you were trying to simplify the terminology for us.

I'm not sure what your objection here is. The way I see your post, you seem to want to replace the terms "syntactic transitivity" (= valency) and "semantic transitivity" with "(in)transitive construction" and "transitivity" (no modifiers) respectively, without changing the definitions. I don't understand how semantic transitivity being a continuum is an argument against the need to have a term for the concept (plus you do keep the concept around as the unmodified "transitivity", although apparently to suggest that in some or many languages like English the two are close). I wouldn't say the use of semantically transitive verbs as monovalents ("Corona kills") involves trivial cases in English; they should be addressed.

I wonder if the quibble in Hopper and Thompson's paper (1980) is actually about some linguists and many lexicographers' tendency to treat syntactic-semantic transitivity as clear, white-and-black categories, not the usefulness of semantic transitivity as a concept. I should go read that...
However, you forced me to think semantics. It really seems that omitting the agent really changes the semantics of the verb while omitting the patient only makes the identity of the object fuzzy.
Not true of pro-drop languages, especially East Asian and Southeast Asian languages like Mandarin, Japanese and Burmese where it's very normal to drop subjects while lacking agreement conjugations for the subject, retaining the subject as implied. English shows a bit of this with its pro-drop syntax in the spoken registers ("love you" = 'I love you', or less commonly 'we love you'), but it is terribly common in those Asian languages, for all persons.
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Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 12:28
Creyeditor wrote:
21 Mar 2020 12:05
Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 10:27
Is the distinction a lexical one, or does it derive "from the context"?
In the variety of Papua Indonesian I learned, it is derived from the context. Makan to eat if used without an over object can be understood both with an implied anaphoric object or with a more genereic meaning. The generic meaning appears more frequently, I would say. If you ask "Are you hungry?" you can answer:

(1)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate.

On the other hand, if you ask "Where is my chocolate?", it is completely okay to answer with the same sentence. This now implies that you ate the chocolate, so the meaning is not generic anymore.

(2)
Sa su makan.
I already eat
I already ate it.
Interesting!

Can "it" be expressed explicitly and if so when would it be used?
The third person singular pronoun is generally only used for animate referents. You could use a demonstrative, but the pragmatics would be slightly different.

(3)
Sa su makan itu.
I already eat
I already ate it. (e.g. "... I thought it was mine.")
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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I've started noticing when reading English language academic papers about linguistics, that often times French quotes are left completely untranslated. I've seen enough papers do this that I'm wondering whether or not it's standardized in the field maybe or at least was at some time. Anyone else ever encountered this?

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All4Ɇn wrote:
03 Apr 2020 08:55
I've started noticing when reading English language academic papers about linguistics, that often times French quotes are left completely untranslated. I've seen enough papers do this that I'm wondering whether or not it's standardized in the field maybe or at least was at some time. Anyone else ever encountered this?
Yes. As a general rule you don't translate languages that you can expect the reader (or perhaps the ideal reader) to have a working understanding of. In papers from the early 20th century you still encounter people leaving Latin and Ancient Greek untranslated, which I'd wager to be rare today.

So it would seem an educated anglophone linguist today is expected to have a basic understanding of French [:)] I recall also seeing Spanish left untranslated in English-language papers (perhaps it's relevant that the author was American?).

There can be a certain amount of tradition to this practice as well. For example, in Swedish-language papers, English and German are usually left untranslated, despite knowledge of German no longer being as widespread as it used to be.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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All4Ɇn wrote:
03 Apr 2020 08:55
I've started noticing when reading English language academic papers about linguistics, that often times French quotes are left completely untranslated. I've seen enough papers do this that I'm wondering whether or not it's standardized in the field maybe or at least was at some time. Anyone else ever encountered this?
Traditionally, anyone reading in English professionally was assumed to also be fluent in French, Latin and Ancient Greek, and probably Italian. In philosophy, and presumably in the hard sciences as well, you were also expected to be fluent in German. Anyone of a religious bent was also expected to read Hebrew and Aramaic, and in some cases Syriac.

These expectations largely lasted to... I'd say mid-20th century? And then rapidly dwindled in most disciplines to "can understand some English, if there isn't any complicated punctuation".

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Post by All4Ɇn »

Thanks for the responses. It's really amazing how quickly things have shifted since then. Coming from a working class background on both sides of the family, I had no idea that that recently there was still an expectation, even in America, of most scholars being able to speak so many languages. Something I wish we had carried over into the modern times!

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