[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Jorge once more on ZAhOs

As I just promised Colin that I wouldn't post more on the mix-up subject,
if others consider it settled, this is my last post about it, unless
others want to keep discussing it, here or by private mail.

This is a response to Bob's post.

> Jorge;
>    ... the old man is a "perfective" man, while the child is an
>    "inchoative" man. Now, we have to choose from "pu", and "ba" their
>    first name. (Their common surname is "'o".) Lojban calls the child
>    "pu'o" and the old man "ba'o", I would prefer the other way
>    around.  i.e. instead of following the same man from childhood to
>    old age, and looking where he is at each point with respect to his
>    prime, I prefer to look at them both at the same time, and consider
>    from there where is the prime for each of them.
>    ...
>    I think I repeated many times that I understand that the ZAhO do not
>    refer to time, but rather to the status of an event, but obviously
>    I'm not making myself clear.
> Your language suggests an imaginary journey in time.  This is why I
> keep coming back to time.  You use the phrase `following the same man
> from childhood to old age' which suggests a _journey_ through time;
> you use the phrase `consider from there where is the prime', which
> suggests another journey.

Ok, but if you want no relation whatsoever with time, then what's the point
of the very similar looking ba-ba'o and pu-pu'o? Obviously, they come from
some, even if remote, connection.

> It may be helpful to abandon use of time as a metaphor for translating
> event contours into English.  These imaginary time travels detract
> from the underlying meaning of event contours.
No problem with this.

> If you "consider from there where is the prime for each of them." then
> you lose one of the interesting features of ZAhO, which is that the
> event contours are *not* intended to be time-related in the English
> sense.  As far as event contours are concerned, time is only one of
> several possible metaphors for making translations.

The idea is that {le pu'o nanmu}, "the man to-be", uses the word {nanmu},
so, if you are designating a child, you are forced to find a potentiality
for a man, not in the future, if you want, let's just say a "potentiality".

In the same way {le ba'o nanmu}, "the man has-been", requires you to think
of a termination of a man, let's not say a past man, so as not to bring in the
time, but the idea that the man is over. (I know that an old man is still
a man, so in this regard my metaphor is a bit weak; I was going to use
a foetus and a corpse, but I didn't want to be so morbid, and the use of
"le" allows me to avoid the issue.)

Don't call them "man to-be" and "man has-been" if you think this brings in
the time, just potentiality and termination. To me, "ba" suggests potentiality
and "pu" termination, even if they don't mean that.

> Consider a static spatial metaphor.  Imagine a piece of paper with a
> line drawn on it.  At one side, say the right, is a region refered to
> as {pu'o}; on the other side is a region refered to as {ba'o}.  In the
> middle is a region refered to as {ca'o}.  These regions symbolize
> different aspects of a process, inchoative on the right, continuative
> in the middle, and perfective on the left.  The regions or aspects of
> a process have characteristics.

I understand this perfectly, my complaint is that you want to call {pu'o}
the inchoative side and {ba'o} the perfective side without any justification,
while I think I have a justification to name them in the opposite way.

> When you talk about a tree, you could say, `That tree is on the left
> of being alive'; it is in the aftermath of being alive.
Yes, totally agree. But this does not provide a justification for which
word to choose for perfective.

> These regions are arbitrary aids to understanding.  Their location has
> no more relation to time than noting that on most maps printed in the
> northern hemisphere, Sidney, Australia is printed to the right of
> Perth.  (For culturally motivated reasons of my own, I prefer that a
> schoolbook diagram place {pu'o} on the left of a picture, as Lojbab
> did in his spatial metaphor diagrams, but that is a different issue; I
> might prefer differently if I grew up reading Arabic.)

You mean that you prefer pu'o on the left because you see time flowing
from left to right, I suppose. For that very same reason, I prefer pu'o
on the right. If you really forget about time, then it should be
irrelevant what you call what. My point is that we need not go to the
extreme of giving them unrelated names, and this was not done, anyway,
so a connection with time, even if vague, exists, at least in the

> (If you want to use the chance similarity of letters in {ba} and
> {ba'o} as a mnemonic, use "{ba} related to `after' the present" and
> "{ba'o} related to `after'math".

I hope you are not serious in saying that it is a chance similarity.
In any case, the tense paper clearly says it is not. I prefer logic
to mnemonics, and logic points in the other direction.

> But don't try to make a mnemonic
> that involves a temporal journey, as in a journey from the old man to
> his middle age; that brings in too much a sense of time for what is a
> non-time tense.

I fail to see how this brings more a sense of time than using "after"
or "before".

  Also, don't try to suggest that the different ways of
> viewing the world are linked by using a metaphor such as "first and
> surname" for {pu} {pu'o} and {ba} {ba'o} (see above quote.)  This
> metaphor can lead readers to think that somehow the two ways of
> looking at the world, through temporal tenses and event contours, are
> more closely linked than they are.

Well, I hope the readers can make up their own minds, and I don't think
anybody should give that much importance to what I say. I think that how
closely they are related is not the issue. Even if the relation is
insignificant, using the opposite of this relation to name them can only

  Emphasize that the words are
> different and it is only a fortunate happenstance that `ba' works as a
> cue for `after'.)

But it isn't happenstance. It was done quite on purpose, as far as I know.

> Instead of thinking visually or temporally while making translations
> into English, one can think auditorially, and use words such as
> `inchoative aspect' or `resumptitive aspect', and drop or overspecify
> the English time markers:
>     le cmalylalxu di'a culno lo djacu
>     the small-lake I have in mind
>     resumptitive aspect
>     full/was full/will be full of
>     what is at least some of what is really water.
> This is the least misleading of English translations for ZAhO.

That's fine with me. I'm not at all interested in how the English
translations are made. I want to be able to think as much as possible
directly in Lojban, without any need to translate or think of keywords
in English, and the connection that pu-pu'o and ba-ba'o suggests, always
tends to make me think that pu'o means ba'o and viceversa. Not because
I'm trying to fit a time in there, just because "future" and "potentiality"
or "inchoativeness" or better still, don't give it any English name,
"ba" and "pu'o" have some vague and not precise but real relationship,
and the same between "past" and "completion" or "perfectivness", or again
better, between "pu" and "ba'o", even if one talks about time and the other
of a state. While between "pu" and "pu'o", or between "ba" and "ba'o", I can
find no relation whatsoever, in the Lojban way of looking at tenses.
This is my problem, that these words are obviously morphologically
connected, and yet semantically, they are not only unrelated, but the
subtle relationship that does exist is the opposite than what the
morphology suggests.