lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Unit 9. Sentence grammar

And this is the reason why every man should expend his chief thought and attention on the consideration of his first principles: – are they or are they not rightly laid down? – and when he has duly sifted them, all the rest will follow.

(Plato. Κρατύλος)

Caution! We have to think!

(Franz Schoberleitner)

Halfway through this tutorial, it is time we had a closer look at sentence grammar.

Lemizh does not distinguish full sentences, incomplete sentences such as ellipses, clauses, phrases, and other kinds of speech. Every grammatical unit above the word is considered a sentence (or a sequence of sentences) and thus subject to the rules of sentence grammar. Indeed, even words are cited as one-word sentences – with a full stop at the end: sxnèz. –, as you have seen in previous units.

You already know three of the rules from unit 2. Here they are again:

One. Sentence structure

A word of level n is subordinate to the nearest word of level n−1 in front of it; the parole acts as a word of level zero.

Two. Definition of objects

An object of a word in a sentence is a word subordinate to the former, its predicate, plus all of its own objects.

There is no rule defining the word order of sibling objects. Possible reasons for deciding on an order include, but are not limited, to:

Inversion and desorption allow for even greater freedom of word order.

Three. Outer case

The outer case of the first word of an object defines its relation to its predicate’s stem via its descriptor; the outer case of a level 1 word is zero.

These are the remaining rules:

Four. Identity of action

An instance of a word stem designates a specific action.

When you instantiate (say or write) a word stem, for example the one in weaveà., you are thinking of one certain action – one of weaving in our example. This may involve the action of several weavers (as in ‘We are weaving’), the use of several threads or the production of several cloths. It need not even be temporally or spatially connected (as in ‘We are weaving every Thursday morning’). In other words, you are thinking of a certain subset of all the weaving there is (in the real world as well as in hypothetical worlds; see Rule Seven below). Everything referring to your instance – i.e. the word itself, its objects and relative pronouns – refers to this same subset, to this action of weaving.

Note that this set model has nothing to do with the one we encountered in the chapters on partitive cases.

Naming the same word stem (weaveà.) for a second time creates a second instance, which may or may not be identical to the first instance. Recall the difference between speaká wìe. ‘He is speaking to himself: the sender of speaking is the recipient of the same action of speaking’ and speaká speakìe. ‘The one being spoken to is speaking: the sender of an action of speaking is the recipient of an action of speaking, but not necessarily the same’.

Even the stem of a relative pronoun instantiates an action: one that is identical to the referred stem’s action (or to the parole).

We will informally also say that weaveè. instantiates a person or a group of people when we really mean its stem instantiates the action of weaving that defines the weaver(s).

The following two rules qualify or narrow down this subset; they provide additional information about it. They are the actual reason why weaveà. can refer to a subset of weaving (as opposed to all the weaving there is).

Five. Completeness of cases

A case characterises the action it refers to completely with regard to its case descriptor.

When you have instantiated a word stem, you can add objects to describe its associated subset more specifically, to restrict it. For example, you could add a nominative object. If you do so, it has to name the complete sender – meaning that a nominative object ‘father’ excludes from your instance of weaveà. all weaving that is not done by father. A temporal object ‘every Thursday morning’ excludes all other times he weaves. A dative ‘wool’ … but you get the idea. In this way you can say more and more precisely what subset of all weaving you meant when you said weaveà.. Likewise, if you add a nominative object ‘goats’ (a word of level three) to your instance of wool, this restricts the set of wool, which in turn restricts the weaving. (Ah yes, and restricting twinkleà. with a dative object ‘Seamus’ excludes all the twinkling light that doesn’t reach Seamus’s eyes.)

By the way, restricting a set does not necessarily mean reducing it. If father is only weaving on Thursday mornings anyway, the temporal object will not reduce the size of the set, but it will still add meaning to the sentence. Rule Seven will make this clear.

The stems of objects are in turn restricted by their predicate and its other objects: the mentioned wool can only be wool woven by father on Thursday mornings. This can be formally shown by an inversion.

The instance of weaving we have been talking about so far cannot include a group in which father is weaving, since naming the nominative object ‘father’ has already established him as the complete sender. We can, however, instantiate a new action of weaving (that is, say or write weaveà. for a second time) with the group as nominative, of which father can be a part: weaveá groupfatherÌne. ‘Grouped people, one of which is father, are weaving’. (The coordination has to equate father with a set of grouped people, not with a set of groups; therefore groupì. needs an inner dative.)

The same applies to inner case. Brackets (and coordinations) are important applications of Rules Four and Five. In the phrase manÌ speakèy., the man is the same as the speaker because both words cover the content of the same instance (Rule Four) of man-making completely; the predicate via its inner case, the object via its outer case. The inner cases of relative pronouns are also covered by this rule. Using pronouns to refer to things that have already been introduced ensures that we are referring to the same things, not to new ones of the same kind: recall these two examples.

Partitive revisited

The mechanism described above implies that Lemizh objects are inherently restrictive in the sense of English restrictive clauses and phrases (‘the man that is speaking, the speaking man [as opposed to the silent one]; Nechwatal the mechanic [as opposed to Nechwatal the cardiologist]’): these help identify their referents, or, in Lemizh terms, the instances of ‘man’ and ‘Nechwatal’, respectively. Contrast this with non-restrictive clauses and phrases (‘the man, which is speaking; the speaking man; Nechwatal, the mechanic [the only Nechwatal I know]’): these provide additional information about their referents, which are already identifiable beforehand.

Only Lemizh cumulative brackets and coordinations aren’t restrictive. Brackets cannot restrict their predicate because the restriction has already been done by the predicate’s inner case. (The man is the same as the speaker.) And this is the reason why we need partitive brackets to express restrictiveness: technically, they aren’t brackets because their outer case does not match their predicate’s inner case, and so this argument does not apply. The same case can be made for cumulative and partitive coordinations. However, we do not need to translate all English restrictive constructions with partitives, as we will see in a moment.

The same affair, seen from a different viewpoint: twinkleà stareèn hemÌsi. ‘Some [or possibly all] of the stars twinkle at Seamus’ differs from the non-partitive phrasing in that the stars that twinkle at Seamus are not necessarily all of the stars instantiated (Rule Four) by the word starè.. This becomes important whenever this instance of stars – but now the whole instance – is referenced a second time, as by an object or a pronoun. The reference to the whole instance is not necessarily grammatically overt, as in the third and fourth examples.

twinkleà mèqxen tyé hemÌsi.The twinklers are thought to be taken from the set of these stars.
That which twinkles at Seamus is from the set of these stars.
Some [or possibly all] of these stars twinkle at Seamus.
twinkle-fact1 star-nom-partnom2 this-acc-nom3 Seamus-acc-dat2.
jerxilfkà mèqxy. twinkleà fyèn hemÌsi.The twinklers are thought to be taken from the set of rising stars.The stars are coming up. Some [or possibly all] of them twinkle at Seamus.
rise-fact1 star-nom-acc2. twinkle-fact1 PIIn−1-acc-partnom2 Seamus-acc-dat2.
speakè Ìxen.The speaker is thought to be taken from a set of men.
a speaker from a set of men
the speaking man (restrictive)
speak-nom1 male-acc-partnom2.
jirxàf sailùyn.The lifted thing is thought to be taken from a set of the means of sailing.I am hoisting the sail. (tool noun)
lift-fact1 sail-ins-partacc2.

While omitting the partitive in the first two examples would definitely change their meaning, this is not so for the speaking man example: as Ìx. is the only instantiation of ‘man’ here, it can instantiate any set of men, notably that of speaking men (or a subset of it). This renders the partitive unnecessary in most situations, even those that are restrictive in the above sense. Conversely, the partitive case implies that the speaker has a larger set of men in mind, perhaps the ones he is pointing at, or the ones present in the room, or the ones he will refer to in the next sentence. Sometimes, though, we want to mark a clause or phrase expressly as non-restrictive, i.e. as not necessary for identifying the referent; strategies for doing so will be discussed in unit 16.

Finally, leaving out the partitive is not possible with the tool noun, because there is no action of sailing for which the sail is the complete means. We say there is no instantiable action. (Another example would be a single twin.)

For inner partitives, have a look at the second of the above arguments again. The first of the following examples refers to the weavers twice (once completely and once via a partitive), while in the second the reference to the whole set of causes is not overt.

weaveá qmiè psrÌnbe.Father is thought to be taken from a set of weavers.Father is weaving in a group. Father is part of a group of weavers.
weave-fact1 group-dat-nom2a father-partacc-nom2.
nàt xnyntèl doorÌy.The wind is thought to be taken from the set of causes for opening the door.The wind opens the door.
open-fact1 wind-partacc-caus2 door-acc-acc2.

Completeness of cases is also the reason for the somewhat weird descriptors for partitive cases. The sender of an action could be taken from any number of sets, so the partitive nominative could never be a complete characterisation save for the addition of ‘thought to be taken’ to its descriptor, as this excludes all possible sets but the one the speaker is thinking of in the current context. (I have often omitted part of the descriptor, or paraphrased it, in example sentences because it is just a technicality and adds nothing to clarity.)

Six. Missing objects

A missing object is equivalent to the absence of information about its descriptor.

Normally, you will not add objects in all existing cases. If you leave out, say, the locative object, Rule Five cannot restrict the weaving with respect to its location. But thanks to Rule Six this does not mean you refer to all locations where father is weaving wool every Thursday morning. It rather means that you omitted any spatial information about your instance of weaving. Leaving out the nominative object of ‘wool’ does not mean this instance of wool refers to wool by all woolly animals. It might still be only about goat’s wool, but this information has not been included in the sentence.

Typical reasons for omitting objects are:

Another example: 1/1Ì roomÌyn. ‘all rooms’ does not necessarily describe all rooms there are, because roomÌ. could have a missing accusative object greenÌ.. If so, the object of 1/1Ì. would only be the ‘green rooms’ (which is, incidentally, a good example of the importance of Rule Two). But of course we can only omit the information that the rooms are green if it is clear from context anyway. If it isn’t, we can safely conclude that the mentioned phrase is really intended to mean ‘all rooms there are’.

Rules Five and Six imply that every instance of a word has exactly one action, one sender, and so on: Five excludes additional senders if one nominative object is already present, and Six gives meaning to missing objects, establishing them as an integral part of Lemizh sentance grammar.

Seven. Degree of reality

Given an object and its predicate, the predicate is considered more real and the object more hypothetical.

The sentence làxt xOàjy sokrateÌse. ‘I want1 to hear2 Socrates3’ contains the information that you want something (i.e. to hear Socrates), but not that you actually hear Socrates. The main predicate ‘want’, so to speak, lives in the world the sentence is talking about (more formally, the world of the parole), which is the more real, while its object ‘hear Socrates’ lives in the world of your wish, which is the more hypothetical of these two worlds. For all practical purposes, this means that the first word of the object, ‘hear’, lives in the hypothetical world of your wish; while its object ‘Socrates’ lives in the still more hypothetical world of your hearing. (More on the reality of nouns will follow in a moment.) The parole, having level zero, acts as the predicate to the sentence as a whole and is therefore still more real. This reflects the fact that the parole is part of the real world; it is as real as anything linguistic can be. Turning this around, we see that the sentence, i.e. its main predicate for all practical purposes, is more hypothetical than reality: it can be a metaphor or some other figure of speech, a statement about a fictional or otherwise imagined world, an error, a lie, a linguistic example sentence, etc. We will call this kind of reality that is just one level more hypothetical than the parole and the real world grammatical reality. Every sentence claims grammatical reality of its main predicate, or, loosely speaking, claims its main predicate.

The sentence believeà làxty xOàjy sokrateÌse. ‘I believe1 I want2 to hear3 Socrates4’ claims that you believe something, while the other two verbs, so to say, are pushed down one degree of reality: ‘want’ becomes more hypothetical, and ‘hear’ even more so. In the sentence dmàt mÌse lÌbvy. ‘I see1 white mice2’, the object ‘white mice’ is hypothetical as well: there is no claim that the mice actually exist. But, depending on the situation, the addressee might still justifiably conclude that the mice do exist, if there are no other good explanations such as a hallucination; but this is a question of meaning and context, not grammar. In ‘Lucy2 gets1 a bottle2 from Father Christmas2’, Lucy is only as real as the mice: her existence has to be concluded from the fact that an inexistent person cannot be given a bottle. The same is true, of course, of Father Christmas and the bottle. Such conclusions, which are not licensed by Rule Seven but by logic and/or context, are called pragmatic reality. Pragmatic reality even works for missing objects: ‘Lucy gets a bottle’ implies the existence of a giver even if the nominative object is not overt.

Whether and to what extent an object is pragmatically real can depend on many factors: in ‘She eats1 it because of the vitamins2’, the existence of the vitamins is less then certain because it is possible that she only thinks there are vitamins. In ‘The beaver makes1 lace2’, the lace only exists in the hypothetical world of the beaver’s lace-making intentions until it is finished.

Here are some consequences of Rule Seven:

Compounding Rule Two revisited

Per Rule Two of compounding, ‘in the relationship between the original predicate and object (modifier and head of the compound), the rules of sentence grammar are retained as far as applicable’.

Punctuation and other symbols

Here is an overview of the puctuation marks. We already know the pauses of speech, the separators and the straight quotes.

Pauses of speech
space[space][space][space]barely audible
comma ,,,a bit longer
full stop ...the longest one (the pause at the end of a sentence)
emphasising space[wide space][double space](!)have the same grammatical functions as the ordinary pauses, but add emphasis to the preceding sentence or object; similar to an exclamation mark
emphasising comma ;;,(!)
emphasising full stop ::!
straight dash a-y--separate parts of text: letters, moræ, words, objects, sentences, paragraphs, etc., for stylistic reasons such as enhancing readability of compounds or long sentences. The straight dash is the weakest, the pointy dash the strongest separator.
round dash a~y~
pointy dash a^y^
straight parentheses (y)( )( )enclose parts of text. A sentence without the contents of the enclosure must be grammatically complete: for example, when enclosing a word, all of its objects must be contained in the enclosure as well.
The straight enclosures are the weakest (also outermost), the pointy enclosures the strongest (also innermost). The accent of the last word in front of the enclosure determines the level of the first word in the enclosure.
round parentheses [y][ ][ ]
pointy parentheses {y}{ }{ }
straight quotes <y>< >‘ ’enclose mentioned parts of text, as in ‘“Socrates” has eight letters’. This includes quotations.
round quotes ‹y(none)“ ”
pointy quotes «y»(none)“‘ ’”
short ellipsis –(none)marks omission of one or several letters, as in abbreviations
long ellipsis —(none)marks omission of one or several words
Astronomical symbols
These symbols are used for enumeration (e.g. footnotes) and as abbreviations for weekdays (see Appendix, Date), gods, etc.
NameSymbolKeyboardTranscriptionCommon uses
Sun🞼(none)unnumbered (e.g. for bulleted lists), Sol/Helios, day
Moon(none)unnumbered, Luna/Selene, night
Mercury(none)#1, Wednesday, Mercury/Hermes
Venus(none)#2, Friday, Venus/Aphrodite, born
Earth(none)#3, Saturday, Terra/Gaia, female
Mars(none)#4, Tuesday, Mars/Ares, died
Jupiter(none)#5, Thursday, Jupiter/Zeus, male
Saturn(none)#6, Monday, Saturn/Kronos, land
Uranus(none)#7, Sunday, Neptune/Poseidon, sea (See here for an explanation of the Uranus/Neptune confusion.)
Neptune(none)#8, Midwinter day, Midwinter God


  How many different actions occur in the following sentence?
singé singìe.Solve
  Which actions do the cases in the following sentence characterise completely?
speaká wiè 3/4ÌaR.Solve
  What can you conclude from the presence of the word greenÌ. in the following sentence, apart from that we are talking about all the green rooms?
1/1Ì roomÌyn greenÌy.Solve
  Can you tell whether the beavers in the following sentences exist, and by which kind of reality?
seeà beaverÌi.Solve
seeà beaverÌe.Solve
seeè beaverÌe.Solve
loveà veè seeèy beaverÌe.Solve
  Translate, and invert the translations unless inversion ban applies:
He eats nothing-acc.Solve
The sound of a piano came from nowhere-ela.Solve