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From:  Wayne in Maine
Date:  Wed Mar 15, 2000  11:45 am
Subject:  Non-phonetic writing

I'm sending this again as my GIF file got messed up and wasn't very legible.
Sorry to bother everyone.
- Wayne in Maine
Cecelia and Joe wrote:
> How do you tell the person watching you that THIS time, the sign >MINE
>means MY and other times it means MINE? I don't know the answer to this;
>I assume it is a problem the >designers of SEE and other systems have dealt
>with. Maybe a special >accusative case marker???

In modern English, "mine" is a possessive pronoun, substituting for a
known noun ("That is her car and this is mine"). "My" is a possessive
adjective which must be followed by a noun ("my car"). In Old English (yes,
Beowulf and all that), "my" was indeed "min" which developed into modern
English "mine" but lost its adjectival use except for a few fossilized forms
("Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" starts out the
Battle Hymn of the Republic). In any event, it would not have been nor is
it now an accusative case marker. For first person singular, the accusative
case form would be "me". Actually an accusative case "marker" would be like
the Japanese particle "(w)o" placed after a noun to mark it as the direct
object of the verb.

>I know that similar polysemy is common--Chinese /TA/ comes to mind; >it is
>articulated (signed/spoken) >the same for "he" or "her," but >the written
>character is different.

True. In the spoken language, "ta" means either he or she (in some
situations even "it"), and the fact that there is (sometimes) a distinction
in the written form between masculine "ta" and feminine "ta" was largely the
result of Christian missionaries arriving in China to translate the Bible
and frustrated by the fact that the original "ta" character was used for
people of either sex. So along with developing a character for "she", they
even developed characters corresponding to "He" (the divinity), "it"
(things), and "it" (animals). See the GIF below.

I hope that SignWriting never goes beyond the phonetic level to start
making distinctions between, say, "he" and "she" that don't exist in the
language being transcribed.

- Wayne in Maine

Type: image/gif
Size: 4k

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