A purely subjective language?

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A purely subjective language?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2017-09-12, 5:30

Wow, is this forum dead or something? Most of the recent threads are mine. And I don't post here that often.

Anyway, this is something I've been toying around with for a while.

To explain what I mean by a 'subjective language', let me give an example.

The difference is in how words for feelings or emotions work. Compare the two words 'to scare' and 'to fear' in English. They mean essentially the same thing, but the arguments are treated differently. In 'to scare', the cause of the fear is treated as the subject, while the experiencer is treated as the object. But with 'to fear', its the other way around. The subject is who/what experiences the fear and the object is the cause. Well, there is a mild difference in that 'to scare' places blame on the cause while 'to fear' places blame on the experiencer.

Most words related to feeling function like 'to scare'. I.e. 'to please', 'to upset', 'to piss off (someone)', etc... Our language for the most part essentially places the blame for feelings on the cause. I was thinking of having a language where this was impossible. All words relating to feeling were purely subjective. You could say 'someone/something experiences a feeling', but its not possible to say 'someone/something causes a feeling' (well, aside from using a causative construction of some sort perhaps).

This however would have some seemingly impractical implications. For instance, if feelings were always treated as being subjective, then it would be impossible to refer to something as funny or scary because that would imply a worldview that everyone would see whatever is being talked about as funny or scary. That's of course normal for us, but is it really necessary? Can you get away without it? To me that would seem to impractical because it would limit what you could express. I mean, you can't even refer to a movie as being funny, scary, sad, or w/e, outside of using some weird construction that literally breaks down as 'the movie causes everyone to experience fear' or something like that.

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Re: A purely subjective language?

Postby Dormouse559 » 2017-09-12, 6:16

To use your scare vs. fear example, all I'd need to say "That movie is scary", with your restrictions, is "One fears that movie" or "That movie is feared". And naturally, "I fear that movie" would be a valid translation since most value judgements like that are implicitly subjective; the particular style of the language speakers would determine which version they preferred when not translating.
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Re: A purely subjective language?

Postby Ser » 2017-09-12, 11:29

I agree with what Dormouse says. If you eliminate "scary" you can still use "to fear" in a variety of constructions. There's the ones he gave as well as "People fear that movie".

Don't underestimate your "weird" construction either. After all, Mandarin Chinese uses it a lot! Mandarin doesn't really have an adjective equivalent to "disappointing", instead, it uses "causes people to lose expectations": 令人失望 ling4 ren2 shi1 wang4. Of course, in Mandarin it's just four syllables. There's many other examples (almost all of them four syllables long too, sometimes just three).
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