?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Rant from lunch - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Rant from lunch
Okay, whose fault is this? What were they thinking? It's like an Easter egg or something....

I hithimwith the ball I hit her with the ball
I tookhis ball I tookher ball
The ball ishis  The ball is hers 

Current Mood: angry exasperated

10 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
twe From: twe Date: June 28th, 2005 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 28th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

Um. It bugs me that the pronouns are not symmetric. There are two pronouns to cover three cases for both male and female, but they don't map the same. Maybe I'm the only person that finds this sort of thing, um, unaesthetic. Or something.

It doesn't have any more context than that. :)

twe From: twe Date: June 28th, 2005 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

Ah, ok. (And here I was thinking someone had hacked your spell-checking software to be more "gender-sensitive" something...)
mijven From: mijven Date: June 28th, 2005 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?


Bugs me. Try explaining it to kids. "No, 'amn't' is not a word. But good try!"
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: June 29th, 2005 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

I'm impressed by your ability to make the text line up like that.

I guess it doesn't bother me because I see it as the whole chart of pronouns. I wonder if we started with three for each gender and then smooshed them.

We could invent & use extra pronouns! {him, his, hisen} {hera, her, hers}
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 29th, 2005 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

Note that there's three for "them": them/their/theirs

The thing that it makes me wonder is whether there are actually more distinct parts of speech than three, and I just don't *notice* them because in all cases one word covers the different parts.

Like, um, are there other languages in which you would use a different pronoun for any of "my nose" "my car" "my idea" "my mother" (concrete v. abstract, possession v. relation, connected v. not...)? I happily think of those as all the same part of speech, but perhaps if I were raised with a different language, I wouldn't.
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: June 29th, 2005 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)

pronouns

I don't know of any languages that distinguish between "my nose" and "my idea" (but see The Screwtape Letters for a non-linguistic discussion of this idea), though it seems not out of the question.

As far as English goes, though: part of what you're pointing at is the remains of noun cases. German and Latin have them; English only makes a token wave at them these days. I probably can't call up all the Latin ones, not actually knowing Latin, but German has: nomenative (*He* hit the ball), accusative (the ball hit *him*), dative (give *him* the ball), and genetive (*his* ball). It also lets you say "the ball is his," which is a little different, but I don't know what that's called offhand; that's different from declining nouns, though.

In German/Latin, of course, nouns also have gender, so the pronoun in "his daughter" is different from that in "his son."

But in German, there's still some overlap where different-meaning pronouns use the same word. (Including "ihr" for the "her" in "he hit her" and the "her" in "her ball"--except the latter gets a gender ending tacked on for the gender of "ball", where the former doesn't. Wierder is "sie" = "she", "sie" = "they" (as long as they include at least one man), and Sie (with a capital S) = "you (formal)".
navrins From: navrins Date: June 29th, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

Larry Niven wrote a short story referencing an alien race that uses different possessive pronouns that way, but you probably know that and that's why the idea occurs to you. I don't think any human languages make those distinctions, which is interesting.

Latin and Russian do a lot more casing than English does, and French does a little more than English but much less than those. Learning the grammar of one of those languages is actually really helpful for learning about English.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 29th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

Hmm, I don't explicitly remember the Niven story, but I tend to forget things quickly. I suspect you're right and that I've read it. :)

I was also thinking of things like Spanish having different verbs for the transient "to be" versus the permanent "to be" in a way that English doesn't.
twe From: twe Date: June 30th, 2005 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Could I have a side of context with that rant, please?

The thing that it makes me wonder is whether there are actually more distinct parts of speech than three

Noun/pronoun cases in English often all have the same form and usualky have far fewer forms than cases. Ditto for verb tenses. Latin has piles of them. :)
10 comments or Leave a comment