Talk:Eloi language

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Alternatives to SVC

I have some difficulty believing that serial verb construction is a good explanation for the typical Eloi sentence length of two words. I'm not a professional linguist either, but I'll do my best to explain my thoughts.

The Time Traveller's comment about two-word sentences reminded me mainly of telegraphic speech. A sentence structure resembling telegraphic speech would explain the two-word length more consistently than would SVC. Of the sample texts on Wikipedia, only the second is two words long, and it originates from a language where verbs conjugate for tense and person (a complexity unlikely to exist in the Eloi language). To explain it differently, it seems more reasonable for the two words to be an explicit subject+verb than a SVC of two verbs.

Some questions:

  • How would a linguist reliably distinguish SVC from other syntactical possibilities in a language that has little or no conjugation?
  • Are you aware of scientific papers that aim to extrapolate human linguistic evolution into the distant future, using assumptions more or less compatible with those of H. G. Wells?
  • Have notable commentators on the book identified speakers of strict-SVC languages as significant evolutionary contributors to the Eloi species? You mention Chinese and "some African languages," but the latter can be ruled out by consideration of socioeconomic status.
  • According to Wikipedia, "Serial verbs are found ... in many pidgins and creoles." What currently existing languages might give rise to the Eloi language after passing through a pidgin or creole stage? How could this relate to the question above?
  • Is it possible that what the Time Traveller identified as a "sentence" may really have been a clause? This allows the possibility that most Eloi sentences are an even number of words long but not necessarily two. How would this affect our hypotheses?

Eighty5cacao 11:34, 19 August 2010 (MST)

My SVC guess was indeed based on an interpretation of what the Traveller called a "sentence" as a clause. (Even spoken English often falls back to telegraphic speech (sentence fragments) in answers to questions.) Unfamiliar prosody patterns might confuse a non-linguist. For example, a "valley girl" dialect of English causes statements to sound like questions, or pitch patterns in an SVC language might cause someone to confuse VPs for a string of sentences, but I'm guessing that a linguist might be able to draw more accurate clues from prosody. If they are clauses, one might look at an utterance as a chain of two-word telegraphic clauses, assume anything that isn't a noun is a verb, and interpret SVC from that. In rough BNF:
  • Sentence => Clause+
  • Clause => (Noun Nonnoun) | (Nonnoun Noun)
How did you think the creolization of two-word-stage language might play out? --Tepples 15:19, 19 August 2010 (MST)
My mistake was in getting hung up on fine points of grammar, misleading me to think that typical telegraphic speech is incompatible with typical SVC.
Concerning your last question, I don't have an answer ready - I'm not qualified to speculate beyond a fan-fiction level, given the time scale of hundreds of thousands of years (with a loss of advanced communications technology at some point). I hope you don't mind me rephrasing some of my questions:
  • Do you know of any reliable sources that discuss matters related to the Eloi language? (From 2nd & 3rd bullet points above)
  • How strong is the preference for a sentence length of two words? Among longer sentences, is there a preference for even vs. odd lengths? What is the maximum reasonable length? (From 5th bullet point above)
The Time Traveller apparently learned the Eloi language at a basic conversational level with little difficulty (after some initial probing), so I feel he must have had a reasonable grasp of the grammar, and he mustn't have been too confused by the prosody beyond the sentence vs. clause issue. Eighty5cacao 23:27, 20 August 2010 (MST)
No, I am not aware of such sources. Do you know of good ones available on the web outside the Springer/JSTOR/Wiley/Elsevier paywall that I often hit when researching linguistics issues? And yes, the usually in "usually simple and of two words" states that they can be longer. For example, the English grammar of Tesяfkǝm calls its noun-verb clauses "adverb clauses"; there might be some adverbs that stand alone.
  • Clause => (Noun Nonnoun) | (Nonnoun Noun) | AdverbParticle
I'm still disinclined to fully trust this unreliable narrator's eurocentric notions of "word" and "sentence". --Tepples 13:25, 21 August 2010 (MST)

I am not currently on an university campus, and my major is unrelated to linguistics, so I can't help with reliable sourcing for the conceivable future. My point about sentence length was that evenness or oddness may give clues as to sentence and clause structure, but that is only useful given enough variation in sentence lengths (as opposed to, e.g., a strict maximum of five words). Eighty5cacao 23:11, 22 August 2010 (MST)

Other clues

Should the "clues from the book" mention something about the name Weena, which is the only known Eloi proper noun (and indeed the only known Eloi word of any kind)? It may be relevant to phonology, although we are not in a position to reconstruct anything further. Eighty5cacao 23:42, 20 August 2010 (MST)

To clarify: In chapter 5, the Time Traveller states that the name Weena "somehow seemed appropriate enough." This is obviously not a neutral statement, but I think it relates to the possibility that the Eloi are highly neotenous compared to present-day humans, and hence their vocal tracts resemble those of present-day young children. This restricts the range of sounds that the Eloi can pronounce accurately. (More on the neoteny issue in my Uncyclopedia userspace) Eighty5cacao 11:31, 21 August 2010 (MST)
While still on the topic of phonology: The Time Traveller appears to have intended "exquisite" as a synonym for "beautiful" and/or "delicate." (Wiktionary definition 1 is closest but not close enough.) Eighty5cacao 23:32, 22 August 2010 (MST)

Regarding "...and the name of the Eloi and Morlock races themselves": I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to mention the Morlocks here, since the name "Morlock" is more likely to originate from the Morlock than the Eloi language, and it doesn't fit other clues about Eloi phonology as well. Eighty5cacao 20:10, 23 August 2010 (MST)

But it could still give clues as to what sounds are admissible in borrowed words. For example, the Eloi had never seen fire. When the Traveller demonstrated fire, the Eloi might have borrowed the Modern English word for it (pronounced [faɪə] in RP). Besides, neither "Welsh" nor "German" looks anything like the respective cultures' endonyms. In 2002-film Eloi, for example, "Morlock" is revealed to be a compound word, with "mor" having much the same meaning it has in Quenya and Sindarin (see Mordor). --Tepples 12:16, 28 August 2010 (MST)
As the article already states, the Eloi would probably not pronounce the "r" in "Morlock" in the same manner as in present-day English or Spanish. I acknowledge that if it is indeed reasonable to analyze "Morlock" as a compound word, the division probably occurs near the "r", allowing it to get lost in the shuffle. (For a different view that also addresses the "r" issue, see a commentator that proposes Biblical origins for the names Eloi and Morlock.) Eighty5cacao 12:50, 28 August 2010 (MST)
Interesting. The coincidence of Eloi as "[children] of God" had occurred to me, a possible false cognate sitting in the back of my mind. But Morlocks == Molech (as in Leviticus 18:21 and Leviticus 20:2-5, next door to the gay-bashing provisions) had not. The KJV, NIV, and NKJV all use the vowels "Molech", and I guess vowels sound more salient to an English speaker than to a Hebrew speaker. As for the 'r', that might have been the outer narrator's invention given the nonrhoticity of RP. For example, "Weena" sounds just like the name of a sausage on a bun that is well known in the United States. --Tepples 13:24, 28 August 2010 (MST)

For what it's worth, here's some commentary that discusses the name Weena. H. H. writes that the name suggests "a child who has yet to be weaned." Keep in mind that the writers are students, and I do not agree with all their viewpoints. (Text archive available on request in the event that the page goes down) Eighty5cacao 21:40, 28 August 2010 (MST)

I was late to notice this: "The name 'Eloi' may be derived from the ancient Greek word 'Eleutheroi', which referred to free men, or men of leisure[1]." Eighty5cacao 00:08, 1 November 2010 (MST)

Complexity of grammar

My impression is that in 802,701 AD, the Eloi grammar would be too simple to leave much room for "simplification when speaking to a foreigner." Specifically, I feel that it is reasonable to assume zero conjugation and declension; do you still agree?

To what extent is Toki Pona a reasonable model for the Eloi grammar? (I'm already aware that it's a poor model for the vocabulary, but I digress.) Eighty5cacao 12:15, 21 August 2010 (MST)

The whole reason I got attracted to Toki Pona was the Eloi connection, though Sonja Kisa was unfamiliar with TTM when I first brought it up to her. But languages do drift between highly inflecting and highly not. Nostratic is thought to have been far less inflecting than Sanskrit, then IE was highly inflecting due to fossilization of words as clitics and then affixes (and Sanskrit kept most of this), and now English is drifting back toward isolating. Word order definitely can't be predicted; witness the path from SOV in Nostratic to VSO in Welsh. But given the limited mental capacity, and the fact that pidgins and creoles end up isolating, I guess a purported Eloi conlang might plausibly be isolating, even if not oligoisolating like TP. --Tepples 13:33, 21 August 2010 (MST)
I brought this up because I generally assumed an isolating grammar in "Alternatives to SVC" above (isolating grammar implies preference for explicit pronouns, which means that sentences containing SVC will usually be longer than two words). I acknowledge that I misused the term "zero." Eighty5cacao 23:01, 22 August 2010 (MST)
A monovalent language has one verb for each role in an action. For example, in a monovalent isolating language, "Colin threw the ball" would gloss as "Colin threw; ball flew", and "he threw the ball" would become "he threw; ball flew". But if "threw" could also be inferred from context, the sentence would become the appropriately telegraphic "ball flew". So instead of being pro-drop, a language exploiting this would be adverb clause-drop. --Tepples 16:08, 23 August 2010 (MST)
Let me put it another way, a Hemingway to be specific. Say Eloi is an isolating language that concatenates short, flat clauses into arguments. If so, then to a linguist who has studied the polysynthesis of what John McWhorter in The Power of Babel called "How do they even speak this" languages such as Cree, these language must sound like Hemingway would sound to a fan of Nabokov. In fact, complexity of a language's morphology can be estimated quantitatively, and English ends up near the bottom near the creoles. --Tepples 17:33, 24 August 2010 (MST)
Again, thank you. I think I understand everything now - I'm still not much of a linguist... Eighty5cacao 20:32, 24 August 2010 (MST)

For the record, the Hemingway connection runs even deeper. Telegraphic speech was named after telegram style, and as of today, the lead of the latter article describes telegram style as "Hemingwayesque". --Tepples 14:28, 11 May 2012 (MST)


This relates to #Other clues above, but for readability I have created a new section.

In the article's "Phonology" section, you wrote, "Languages whose phonology sounds 'beautiful' and/or 'delicate' to an anglophone ear may include Italian and the conlang Toki Pona." I have no objection to Toki Pona, but I'm not sure whether Italian is a good example because (1) it may give newbie readers the wrong impression, since European languages other than English are unlikely to be major contributors to the Eloi language; (2) "delicate" is at least as important as "beautiful" here - I've long thought that most anglophones consider Italian "beautiful" but not necessarily "delicate," depending on dialect.

I would have boldly removed Italian from this sentence, except that I wasn't sure what to replace it with (Japanese perhaps?). Do you have any suggestions? Eighty5cacao 10:26, 27 August 2010 (MST)

Yes, the beauty of a language's phonology is in the eye (or in this case ear) of the beholder, as I think Mario Pei had pointed out. (Do you want me to go try digging up the book I read this in?) Italian wins on singability among European languages, but other aspects are disputed. The unrounded /u/ of Japanese (realized as [ɯ] (not really; see below)) doesn't appear to qualify as "soft, cooing notes", and the clusters resulting from its common dropping of /i/ and /u/ between voiceless consonants might not be any more "delicate" than clusters in Italian. And given the sort of drift that can happen in ten millennia, let alone eight hundred, I fail to see the point of paying much attention to "contributors" from the modern age. Listen to German, Italian, French, Russian, and Welsh, and consider that historical linguists believe they were all exactly the same only six millennia ago. --Tepples 14:42, 27 August 2010 (MST)
Again, sorry for nitpicking given that I've probably had less formal linguistic training than you. Japanese was not meant to be an example suitable for the article; it's just something my mind came up with in a hurry, and I was probably affected by systemic bias.
(Redacted/rewrote comments about dubious fan-fiction ideas)
I have assumed (for purposes of fan-fiction development and otherwise) that loss of communications technology would slow the generation of new vocabulary. To what extent would it slow down linguistic evolution overall? Hypotheses like those of the 1960 and 2002 films are clearly unreasonable, but I think not much would have happened linguistically for the last 100,000 years or so prior to the Time Traveller's visit, since the Eloi lack the means to communicate with distant peoples and to create novel ideas.
I could attempt to guess some of the socioevolutionary and sociolinguistic changes that might happen prior to that point (which is what I was alluding to by "contributors"), but I acknowledge that there is no scientifically valid way to do so, and that still leaves plenty of time for today's languages to change beyond recognition. Eighty5cacao 18:58, 27 August 2010 (MST) (last edit: 22:22, 27 August 2010 (MST))
Then lack of technological development would leave drift, caused by imperfect learning of the language by each generation, as the major driver of language change. This is probably what happened in humans between Eve (or Eve) and writing, and John McWhorter has reported a case of change at the "mouthful of air" pace, in which words get fossilized into obligatory verb-prefixes within a lifetime in one preliterate society (The Power of Babel). --Tepples 04:16, 28 August 2010 (MST)

Again, thank you. I admit I overreacted a little when I realized I was looking in vain for a single natural language to serve as a decent model for Eloi phonology. That leaves one question, which I hinted at earlier: Which linguistic component - phonology, vocabulary, or grammar - would be affected the most/least rapidly by such drift? Eighty5cacao 11:00, 28 August 2010 (MST)

"Limited basic"

Would "limited basic" really be distinguishable from any other "basic" level, given that:

  • The Eloi language has few registers due to the lack of social hierarchy
  • The Eloi language is so simple to begin with (not as simple as Toki Pona, but presumably close)?

Or did you mean that the Time Traveller was making frequent errors in grammar, etc.? Eighty5cacao 13:10, 29 August 2010 (MST)

The Time Traveller's native language likewise has few registers compared to, say, Japanese. But I'm inferring an incomplete understanding from the following assertion from chapter 5, with my emphasis: "I failed to convey or understand any but the simplest propositions." I take this to mean that natives were making propositions that the Traveller couldn't pick apart. --Tepples 14:44, 29 August 2010 (MST)
Okay, thank you. I (mis?)interpreted that phrase to mean that the Time Traveller's learning of the Eloi language was ongoing all through his visit. The Time Traveller would have had prolonged difficulties understanding the natives not because of complex ideas but rather due to linguistic features discussed in the above sections.
I meant to say that the Eloi language has only one register, or maybe at most two; how reasonable is that? What features would most easily distinguish different registers?
The reason I posted this comment is that I would like to revert your edit that added the word "limited"; it sounds a bit awkward. Eighty5cacao 15:14, 29 August 2010 (MST) (last edit Eighty5cacao 17:45, 29 August 2010 (MST))
You've got a point that Eloi probably has little or no register distinction. I believe in an inverted Sapir-Whorf effect: culture shapes grammar and vocabulary. A culture where all are comrades would have no need for keigo, and the "limited basic" cable analogy could mislead. --Tepples 20:44, 29 August 2010 (MST)

Phonology, continued

In #Italian above, you said that Japanese is a suboptimal example because its close back vowel is unrounded. I wanted to say something in the article to the effect that "'cooing' implies that the vowel nearest the close back position is likely rounded", but I couldn't think of a good wording.

Which type of roundedness is more likely, endolabial or exolabial? Also, how accurately can young children pronounce a close back vowel (which is what I was getting at by the word "nearest")? wikipedia:Phonological development doesn't seem to address vowels in isolation. Eighty5cacao 20:59, 1 September 2010 (MST) (last edit 10:21, 2 September 2010 (MST))

Just for the record, I think Tepples and I have already made reasonable attempts to address this. I wasn't clear enough that I had in mind "The infant’s tongue fills the entire mouth, thus reducing the range of movement," which would seem to affect vowel height and backness more than roundedness. Thus it is correct to say that the Eloi counterpart to "u" should be rounded, but it may not be exactly a close back vowel. Eighty5cacao 23:45, 3 September 2010 (MST)
But by age 5 or 6, which to me appears to fit the rest of the Eloi body type, the tongue has a bit more breathing room, so to speak. --Tepples 08:25, 4 September 2010 (MST)
Okay, thank you for reminding me. (I was hinting at the previous discussion about physical neoteny, and I would have boldly edited the article - probably introducing some inaccuracy - were it not for this discussion. The Wikipedia article did not appear to discuss middle childhood anyway, and I did not have a reliable source handy.)
What I meant to say is that the article is already correct on this matter; the word "near" in "near the close back position" covers any reasonable deviation in pronunciation. Eighty5cacao 09:19, 4 September 2010 (MST) (last edit 09:25, 4 September 2010 (MST))
More specifically, the farthest that Eloi u would be from close back is probably near-close near-back. Eighty5cacao 10:41, 5 September 2010 (MST)

Phonology - Japanese issue

Wikipedia gives Japanese as an example of a language containing a close back rounded-compressed vowel, with reference Ladefoged, Peter; Ian Maddieson (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8. It mentions nothing about Japanese at Close back unrounded vowel, and wikipedia:Japanese phonology#Vowels says, "...a somewhat centralized close back compressed vowel...with the lips compressed toward each other but neither rounded...nor spread to the sides."

Could you explain what reference you are using for the existence of a close back unrounded vowel in Japanese? "The Revised Hepburn system of romanization uses a macron to indicate some long vowels" - does vowel length account for the discrepancy? Eighty5cacao 10:57, 5 September 2010 (MST)

The symbols ɥ ɰ u ɯ vaguely remind me of the calma series in Tolkien's tengwar. But seriously, I must have mistaken wording such as "no forward movement of the lips" to refer to unrounding as opposed to compression. And confusion about what sound ウ really represents appears to be widespread; this source links it to German <ü> [ʏ]~[y]. The "somewhat centralized" (tending toward [ʉ]) character might contribute to this. --Tepples 12:28, 5 September 2010 (MST)
I found another source linking Japanese /u/ to [ɯ]: an Indiana University linguistics primer which calls Japanese /u/ an "unrounded high back vowel". --Tepples 13:25, 18 February 2011 (MST)
So does the article need to be changed further? Or do we just agree that it's a matter of dispute and leave the article alone? Eighty5cacao 16:20, 18 February 2011 (MST)
There appears to be some disagreement desu. At this point I'd handwave Japanese /u/ as dialect differences desu. So I might as well leave Japanese out of consideration desu. Thus "cooing" could mean that A. the vowels are more "tense" or more "pure" as in Spanish or Italian, as opposed to the lax [ɪ] [ʊ] [æ] [​ɐ] crap common in English and several other Germanic languages, and B. a sound that can be classified as /u/, however it is realized, is more common than it is in English or Spanish or especially some native North American languages that don't even have a close back vowel (see wikipedia:Vowel#Use of vowels in languages). --Tepples 18:57, 19 February 2011 (MST)

Negative demonstrative

I am planning to add some wording like the following to the paragraph of the "Grammar" section that discusses demonstratives:

Note that "none" (might not|need not) translate to a single Eloi word, as it (could|would more likely) be expressed by another demonstrative and a negation word.

This is to address an item on my TODO list. How might the wording be improved? Do you have any strong objections to the overall idea? Eighty5cacao 23:48, 28 December 2010 (MST)

Justification: Again, I had Toki Pona in mind, in that I was assuming a primarily isolating grammar. (However, I am aware that Toki Pona isn't that great of a model — it only has one demonstrative, while the Eloi language would probably distinguish at least between "this" and "that.") Eighty5cacao 11:25, 29 December 2010 (MST)
According to wikipedia:Demonstrative#Distal and proximal demonstratives, Toki Pona isn't alone in having one demonstrative. German and the Scandinavian languages do fine with one (modulo declension): the expressions for "this" and "that" gloss roughly as "this here" and "this there", pushing the problem out to determining the location adverbs. But I agree that Eloi demonstratives are not necessarily this simple (or that simple). English once had a 3-way contrast like modern Spanish éste/ése/aquél or Japanese kore/sore/are to mirror the three persons of personal pronouns, until that replaced yonder. Other languages have more categories: "visible" vs. "invisible", "standing" vs. "coming" vs. "going", etc.
But now that you mention Toki Pona, I feel obligated to bring up another point that I had brought up back when TP forums were on Yahoo! Groups. Someone unfamiliar with the written form of the language might not catch word boundaries within set phrases and compound words in rapid speech, especially after sandhi has mucked them up. For example, a scout observing a clan of TP speakers might initially transcribe <jan pona> [jɐm'bɔnɐ] meaning "friend" as "yambona", not immediately understanding that it's a compound of underlying <jan> [jan] "person" and <pona> ['pɔnɐ] "good/simple", especially because the idiomatic meaning "friend" appears more than the sum of its parts until one realizes the implied Speaker Point Of View of TP adjectives. An effect like this might bolster the illusion of clauses that are "simple and of two words". --Tepples 15:42, 29 December 2010 (MST)
Ok. So is the demonstratives section of the article still worth clarifying further? I hope it doesn't seem like I'm being lazy about researching the necessary linguistic background.
One thing I forgot to mention: What about the possibility of a negation word alone functioning as a demonstrative? How often is Toki Pona <ala> used this way? Eighty5cacao 16:11, 29 December 2010 (MST)
Certainly plausible. Look no further than English "not", which arose as a weakening of "nought". And look how both Chinese and Toki Pona (ab)use function words as verbs and the like (is TP <tawa> a verb meaning "go" or a preposition meaning "to"?). English is no stranger to this: "out" is an adverb and preposition but also a noun meaning the elimination of a player in a bat and ball sport and a verb meaning to expose someone's sexual orientation, and an "in" is a case of clout. --Tepples 20:00, 29 December 2010 (MST)

Mixed skin color in 2002 film (formatting)

If we are going to have this particular link to TV Tropes at all, it should probably be in a new sentence, preferably with a citation. (Sorry for not explaining in more detail now.) Suggestions? Eighty5cacao 14:23, 25 January 2011 (MST)

The closest citation I have for brown == amalgamation after a bit of time with Google is this article, which claims the existence of press notes stating that the brown skin "reflect[s] the evolutionary path on which it appears humanity is heading." --Tepples 18:43, 25 January 2011 (MST)
Ok, thanks. "Suggestions?" referred mainly to rewording the text to put the link in a separate sentence (to minimize easter egging), not to the citation request. I am reluctant to add a reflist to the page given that it doesn't yet have other references. Sorry for any inconvenience. Eighty5cacao 20:24, 25 January 2011 (MST)
Actually, upon further consideration I'll just withdraw the request for rewording. trope:InTheFutureHumansWillBeOneRace (the cause) links to trope:AmbiguouslyBrown (the symptom), which is good enough for me. Eighty5cacao 20:29, 25 January 2011 (MST)
I reworded it anyway once I decided to incorporate the purported press notes into the article. Go ahead and cite.php-ify OR pages if you feel the need. --Tepples 13:12, 26 January 2011 (MST)

One note about Morlock language

I'm not sure whether this belongs here or whether I should have noted it at User:Eighty5cacao/TODO first, but I'd like to remind you that the Time Traveller also described some sounds of the Morlock language as "cooing": see paragraph 6 of chapter 9 (paragraph numbering is based on Bartleby).

Of course, mutual intelligibility between the Eloi and Morlock languages is next to nil, as was brought up in chapter 6. Eighty5cacao 19:16, 9 February 2011 (MST)

"Peculiar cooing sounds from the Morlocks" uttered in the presence of Eloi and Eloi-friends might be A. an attempt to speak Eloi, possibly mocking, or B. similar phonology within a Sprachbund. Here's a wild conjecture: the languages are related, but the open class words in each are the other's avoidance speech. Does the text joss this? --Tepples 08:07, 10 February 2011 (MST)
I believe not, but I'll get back to you if I find out anything. I will admit that the existence of avoidance speech messes up my guess of the mutual intelligibility being "next to nil," though it is probably still poor.
My main concern in posting this section was where on the wiki we should mention the known facts about the Morlock language, as there does not appear to be enough for a separate article. Perhaps a "Comparison with Morlock language" section in this article might be appropriate? Eighty5cacao 11:14, 10 February 2011 (MST)
Yeah, go ahead with the comparison section. --Tepples 13:49, 10 February 2011 (MST)

Split to User talk:Eighty5cacao/Eloi physiology#Neoteny vs. progenesis --Eighty5cacao 21:23, 10 February 2011 (MST)


I saw "Time Travel Realities" in your edit summary and immediately thought of the Wikia wiki on The Time Machine, which postulates four timelines. It took me a few seconds to see the URL to a Cracked article. (I had read the Cracked article previously. I am aware that wikia:timemachine is poorly maintained.)

That is not really relevant to this Pin Eight article nor generally to Eloi–Morlock linguistics; I just wanted to dump this info here. Eighty5cacao 10:57, 3 October 2011 (MST)

Strictly monovalent?

Do you propose that the Eloi language is strictly monovalent, or might some exceptions exist? If the latter, can you give some examples of verbs that may be divalent, and how might the grammatical structure accommodate them? (Obviously, trivalency or higher is likely never to be used.) Eighty5cacao 11:07, 3 October 2011 (MST)

What we do know is that clauses are "usually simple and of two words", and that "concrete substantives and verbs" dominate. I'm not ruling out divalency; I just don't see it as at all common. One way to find where a language might need divalency is to try to translate the Graded Sentences into monovalent pidgin-shit English.
Another thing: There are plenty of languages that don't have an adjective class distinct from verbs, and I'm guessing Eloi is one of them given the implication that few "substantives" (nouns) are abstract. I see "to hunger", as in "I hunger, coward", as more likely than a construction like Dutch honger hebben and French avoir faim, meaning "to have hunger". --Tepples 12:41, 3 October 2011 (MST)
I started looking over level 1 of the Graded Sentences, and the first things that caught my eye were the common nouns such as "car" and "telephone" that have no obvious equivalents in the Eloi world (or indeed many other conworlds). Although this isn't relevant to the question of valency, it could become important for other explorations of the Graded Sentences. Do you have any alternative corpuses or other suggestions? Eighty5cacao 13:00, 12 October 2011 (MST)
I think the first of the McGuffey Readers is on Project Gutenberg. --Tepples 13:34, 12 October 2011 (MST)

Then again, our article on valency currently supports my original point. Eighty5cacao 20:02, 5 September 2012 (MST)

I put that in the article because I've been browsing the universals archive curated by Frans Plank of Universität Konstanz. But I've also been browsing Prof. Plank's Das grammatische Raritätenkabinett, a collection of rare features in languages, many which appear to violate universals. There are plenty of things thought impossible until a linguist happens upon a natlang that does it, the source of the conlanger jargon ANADEW. For example, it is rare to have nouns agree in tense with verbs, but it happens in Kayardild and Lardil according to Bernice Wuethrich's article, and diachronically this appears to have happened in some languages as verbs developed into adpositions and ultimately cases (rarum 45). But I'm still open to proposed mechanisms behind such telegraphic tendency other than the Traveller's misanalysis of serial intransitive verbs. --Tepples 06:10, 6 September 2012 (MST)
Sorry for the oversimplification. (Consider this a placeholder for a more detailed response ... or, maybe not.) Eighty5cacao 23:11, 7 September 2012 (MST)

Unreliability of names

Per discussion at my TODO page, I was about to add the following sentence at the end of the Phonology section:

Also, these names may be totally incorrect if the Traveller mistook some interjections for proper nouns during his early conversations.

but then I realized it doesn't fit there because even an incorrect name is likely representative of the phonology. Where do you suggest that I work this in? Eighty5cacao 23:37, 7 October 2011 (MST)

I tried to word it as such. But because of double unreliability, we can't infer too much from the lack of names in the text; perhaps the outer narrator just skipped over them when putting them down. --Tepples 05:59, 8 October 2011 (MST)


What was the reason for removing some verbiage in this edit? Was it mainly to recognize that the name Weena may have been unintentionally derogatory by present-day standards? Or was it because the trope Appropriated Appellation is not purely about derogatory nicknames?

Also, if we are going to bend out-of-universe tropes YMMVs to work in universe, then I may as well say that I previously thought about I Am Not Shazam — your idea is admittedly closer, though. Eighty5cacao 17:57, 18 October 2011 (MST) (last edit 13:28, 20 October 2011 (MST))

No, I wasn't trying to imply that "Weena" is Have a Gay Old Time, though the entries for three girl's names in Don't Name Your Baby by David Narter (ISBN 9781581821918) would beg to differ. I was considering a minor rearrangement of the tropes in the footnote to make room for the new one in the sentence, and I forgot to click "Show changes" to see if I had unwittingly dropped any text. That's been fixed. As for bending YMMVs to work in universe as tropes, that's been done: look at the Olive the Other Reindeer example on Lady Mondegreen. --Tepples 18:47, 18 October 2011 (MST)
For the record, the meaning of "derogatory" I had in mind was unrelated to sexual suggestiveness. It was more along the lines of "childish" and/or "belittling," as I tried to mention elsewhere. Eighty5cacao 19:07, 18 October 2011 (MST)
Also, yes, I know Template:Trope is deprecated; do not use, but I didn't pay attention to the YMMV template at the top of Lady Mondegreen. Eighty5cacao 13:28, 20 October 2011 (MST)

Only known by their nickname

I was thinking about adding one more trope to the third sentence of the appropriate footnote, using wording similar to the following:

...and Only Known by their Nickname, because there is no evidence that any Eloi has a longer [bipartite?] name.

but I wasn't sure whether this would be too obvious to mention. This trope isn't as close a fit as the other three anyway, which is why I wasn't bold. What do you think? Eighty5cacao 23:00, 15 April 2012 (MST)

Go ahead. --Tepples 05:29, 16 April 2012 (MST)

Tense vs.

While looking for something unrelated (the possibility to have nouns between an auxiliary and a main verb) for a different conlang, I found a PDF article about how verb tense is the first thing to go when one loses grammar function due to head trauma. According to "Split Inflection in Neurolinguistics" by Na'ama Friedmann and Yosef Grodzinsky, tense becomes error-prone before agreement.

On the other hand, while trying to verify this, I ended up at "The acquisition of tense in English: Distinguishing child second language from first language and specific language impairment" by Paradis, Rice, Crago, and Marquis. This article claims that auxiliaries (e.g. "is" in "is running") are fully learned later and may be omitted in a child's speech before agreement is fully learned. This could over time lead to loss of auxiliaries and of any distinction between finite verbs (e.g. "runs") and nonfinite verbs (e.g. "running").

Perhaps both processes have operated in the past in novel!Eloi to some extent. Tense sounds like it'd go easily if their attention span is as short as it appears, as there would be little need to speak of the distant past or future. (Google redirections removed, grumble grumble) --Tepples 19:20, 11 May 2012 (MST)

I have no objections to any of this, though it would take me a little while to formulate a more extensive reply.
In response to your grumbles, I forgot to suggest Live HTTP Headers to view the redirections without actually opening the PDFs or Google/Yandex search link fix to solve the problem more directly, assuming you are using Firefox. (Or consider an alternative search engine - DuckDuckGo, Ixquick, or Eighty5cacao 19:59, 11 May 2012 (MST) (last edit 22:03, 24 May 2012 (MST))
I'm still thinking about a possible wording to use to incorporate this material into the article. Eighty5cacao 23:07, 15 June 2012 (MST)

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