Chapter 9: To Boston Via The Road Go I, With An Excursion Into The Land Of Modals
10. Modal relative phrases; Comparison
The following cmavo are discussed in this section:
pe GOI restrictive relative phrase ne GOI incidental relative phrase mau BAI zmadu modal me'a BAI mleca modal
Relative phrases and clauses are explained in much more detail in Chapter 8. However, there is a construction which combines a modal with a relative phrase which is relevant to this chapter. Consider the following examples of relative clauses:
✥10.1 la .apasionatas. poi se cusku la .artr. rubnstain. cu se nelci mi The Appassionata which is-expressed-by Artur Rubenstein is-liked-by me. ✥10.2 la .apasionatas. noi se finti la betovn. cu se nelci mi The Appassionata, which is-created-by Beethoven, is-liked-by me.
In ✥10.1, “la .apasionatas.” refers to a particular performance of the sonata, namely the one performed by Rubenstein. Therefore, the relative clause “poi se cusku” uses the cmavo “poi” (of selma'o NOI) to restrict the meaning of “la .apasionatas” to the performance in question.
In ✥10.2, however, “la .apasionatas.” refers to the sonata as a whole, and the information that it was composed by Beethoven is merely incidental. The cmavo “noi” (also of selma'o NOI) expresses the incidental nature of this relationship.
The cmavo “pe” and “ne” (of selma'o GOI) are roughly equivalent to “poi” and “noi” respectively, but are followed by sumti rather than full bridi. We can abbreviate ✥10.1 and ✥10.2 to:
✥10.3 la .apasionatas pe la .artr. rubnstain. se nelci mi The Appassionata of Artur Rubenstein is-liked-by me. ✥10.4 la .apasionatas ne la betovn. se nelci mi The Appassionata, which is of Beethoven, is-liked-by me.
Here the precise selbri of the relative clauses is lost: all we can tell is that the Appassionata is connected in some way with Rubenstein (in ✥10.3) and Beethoven (in ✥10.4), and that the relationships are respectively restrictive and incidental.
It happens that both “cusku” and “finti” have BAI cmavo, namely “cu'u” and “fi'e”. We can recast ✥10.3 and ✥10.4 as:
✥10.5 la .apasionatas pe cu'u la .artr. rubnstain. cu se nelci mi The Appassionata expressed-by Artur Rubenstein is-liked-by me. ✥10.6 la .apasionatas ne fi'e la betovn. cu se nelci mi The Appassionata, invented-by Beethoven, is-liked-by me.
✥10.5 and ✥10.6 have the full semantic content of ✥10.1 and ✥10.2 respectively.
Modal relative phrases are often used with the BAI cmavo “mau” and “me'a”, which are based on the comparative gismu “zmadu” (more than) and “mleca” (less than) respectively. The place structures are:
zmadu x1 is more than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4 mleca x1 is less than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4
Here are some examples:
✥10.7 la frank. nelci la betis. ne semau la meiris. Frank likes Betty, which-is more-than Mary. Frank likes Betty more than (he likes) Mary.
✥10.7 requires that Frank likes Betty, but adds the information that his liking for Betty exceeds his liking for Mary. The modal appears in the form “semau” because the x2 place of “zmadu” is the basis for comparison: in this case, Frank's liking for Mary.
✥10.8 la frank. nelci la meiris. ne seme'a la betis. Frank likes Mary, which-is less-than Betty. Frank likes Mary less than (he likes) Betty.
Here we are told that Frank likes Mary less than he likes Betty; the information about the comparison is the same. It would be possible to rephrase ✥10.7 using “me'a” rather than “semau”, and ✥10.8 using “mau” rather than “seme'a”, but such usage would be unnecessarily confusing. Like many BAI cmavo, “mau” and “me'a” are more useful when converted with “se”.
If the “ne” were omitted in ✥10.7 and ✥10.8, the modal sumti (“la meiris.” and “la betis.” respectively) would become attached to the bridi as a whole, producing a very different translation. ✥10.8 would become:
✥10.9 la frank. nelci la meiris. seme'a la betis. Frank likes Mary is-less-than Betty. Frank's liking Mary is less than Betty.
which compares a liking with a person, and is therefore nonsense.
Pure comparison, which states only the comparative information but says nothing about whether Frank actually likes either Mary or Betty (he may like neither, but dislike Betty less), would be expressed differently, as:
✥10.10 le ni la frank. nelci la betis. cu zmadu le ni la frank. nelci la meiris. The quantity-of Frank's liking Betty is-more-than the quantity-of Frank's liking Mary.
The mechanisms explained in this section are appropriate to many modals other than “semau” and “seme'a”. Some other modals that are often associated with relative phrases are: “seba'i” (“instead of”), “ci'u” (“on scale”), “de'i” (“dated”), “du'i” (“as much as”). Some BAI tags can be used equally well in relative phrases or attached to bridi; others seem useful only attached to bridi. But it is also possible that the usefulness of particular BAI modals is an English-speaker bias, and that speakers of other languages may find other BAIs useful in divergent ways.
Note: The uses of modals discussed in this section are applicable both to BAI modals and to “fi'o”-plus-selbri modals.