tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Nov 22 19:43:18 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (suomichris@gmail.com)



By this line of logic, the English sentence "We kill robots" might
actually mean that we are robots who kill (somethings)... I just don't
see what good it would accomplish trying to parse sentences like this.

On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 18:46, Steven Lytle <lytlesw@gmail.com> wrote:
> I disagree on both counts.
> "Sor" can be plural, so it can mean 'trees'.
> The subject of "mapum" is 'we'. Thus in "mapum Sor" the subject "Sor" is
> also the subject "we", hence "we trees". While this is controversial, it's
> not necessarily ungrammatical. It* is* definitely not canonical.
> Transitive verbs can take the no-object prefixes. So even though transitive
> "pum" means 'accuse', it can still have no object mentioned and form verbs
> like "mapum", "jIpum", etc.
> It's the intransitive verb "pum" that can't take (as far as we know) object
> pronouns.
> lay'tel SIvten
> On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 4:07 PM, Christopher Doty <suomichris@gmail.com>wrote:
>> "mapum" might not be ungrammatical, but what is "mapum Sor"??  If we
>> translate literally into English, we get
>>
>> "(A/the) tree we fall."
>>
>> What does that mean?  How can you write a computer program to provide
>> a translation of something that doesn't really mean anything?
>>
>> I also disagree with "mapum" being ambiguous.  The verb "fall" is
>> intransitive, and the verb "accuse" is transitive.  If we see a "ma-"
>> prefixed to "pum," then that "pum" is the verb "fall" and not the verb
>> "accuse," which needs an object, and so ought to have different
>> prefixes.
>>
>> Chris
>>
>> On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 12:12, Steven Lytle <lytlesw@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 1:48 PM, Christopher Doty <suomichris@gmail.com
>> >wrote:
>> >> > "mapum" doesn't mean 'fall'. It means "we fall" (or "we accuse"; "pum"
>> is
>> >> > two different verbs). There is no point in losing information that is
>> >> given
>> >> > in the original just because the translation is odd.
>> >> > In fact, "mapum Sor" could be interpreted as "We trees fall", although
>> >> this
>> >> > use of a noun as subject with a non-third-person prefix is
>> controversial
>> >> at
>> >> > best.
>> >>
>> >> I think this exactly what Tracy meant in saying that, for
>> >> ungrammatical (or "controversial") sentences, the machine translator
>> >> isn't going to work very well due to ambiguity.  You posit three
>> >> possible interpretations of "mapum (Sor)" because of the ambiguity
>> >> found in an ungrammatical sentence.  There seems little point in
>> >> having an automatic translator that could posit every single possible
>> >> esoteric meaning for anything ungrammatical...
>> >>
>> >> Chris
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> > But "mapum" is not ungrammatical. It is ambiguous. It can mean "we fall"
>> or
>> > "we accuse", and only context can resolve which is meant. The subject
>> "we"
>> > and the word "Sor" are the only unambiguous parts of the sentence. To
>> omit
>> > one leaves a poor translation.
>> > And controversial doesn't mean ungrammatical.
>> >
>> > lay'tel SIvten
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>>
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