Saturday, February 26, 2011

Inlis: Grammatical Overview

[I don't know what I was thinking. Though this is only an overview, it's still hard to fit in enough detail to justify the title. I ought to list the personal pronouns, verbs, and such, but that would require a post on individual features. I may get to that eventually, but I need to resume the other topics I had already begun. I'll limit myself to a post or so per month on Inlis.]

There have been a lot of changes since I first unveiled Inlis, and more changes lie ahead. Unfortunately I don't have time to just sit down and elaborate the system properly, and there have been long stretches of inactivity.

It's a pity Interglossa isn't better known; I could explain Inlis in terms of Interglossa both quickly and easily. (No, Glosa isn't close enough to Interglossa for this: Inlis is closer to Interglossa than Glosa is.)

To begin with: no flexions. Once you learn a word, you're done with it. Ia ("ear") never becomes *ias; bi never becomes am, was, etc. (though these forms do exist: "arm," "wasp").

Like Interglossa, Inlis has functional classes for its words, though the divisions are different. I've combined "amplifiers" and "substantives" as "general words," which can function as modifiers (adjectives and adverbs) and noun phrase cores (nouns as such), but never as verbs. Prepositions as such are few and function only as prepositions and modifiers. Verbs are also restricted and have no other function.

Basic Structure
One of the things that bothered me about Interglossa, despite Hogben's criticism of Latino Sine Flexione's lack of proper syntactic markers, is that word functions were largely unmarked, making parsing unnecessarily difficult. So in Inlis, I've built in some markers. They constitute a few of the major divergences from Interglossa.

Noun phrases are marked in the standard language. Hogben does this too: Inlis da is almost the same as IG u(n), though it isn't always singular. Da is not a definite article! It just marks the beginning of a noun phrase. The end of a noun phrase is marked by a preposition, a verb, or some other element that just won't occur in a noun phrase, including the end of the sentence. Am I rigorous about this? No. Making the system completely self-parsing would be a pain for everyone. I want something that will seem fairly natural and simplify the parse.

Pronouns and names are not marked, so a sequence such as da mi is incomplete: it begins a possessive, such as da mi buk ("my book"). Similarly, da Frans gavan ("the French government") and da Laplas transfom ("(the) Laplace transform").

(Yes, adjectives precede nouns, and I prefer to render names phonemically. Realistically, we'll see names written out as in English with pronunciation in parentheses. That also means "Moscow (Moskau)" instead of "Moskva." Sorry, Dmitry.)

Verb phrases are marked by verbs. (Who knew?) As in IG, there aren't many real verbs, though they produce predictable (non-idiomatic) phrasal verbs. These are always verbs, too: unlike IG verboids, they are never nouns or modifiers. They do have predictable corresponding general words: bi has bien, hav has havin, and so on. Most verbs have two related meanings, one literal (triggered by a following noun phrase) and one more figurative (followed by one or more general words not preceded by da or its equivalent). Thus

Mi mek da haus I make/build a/the house.
Mi mek klin da haus I clean (make clean) a/the house.

Next we'll look at the name game in auxlanging.