9.10. Modal relative phrases; Comparison

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:



restrictive relative phrase



incidental relative phrase



zmadu modal



mleca modal

Relative phrases and clauses are explained in much more detail in Chapter 9. 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:

Example 9.64. 

la.apasiionatas.poise cusku
la.artr.rubnstain.cuse nelcimi

Example 9.65. 

la.apasiionatas.noise finti
la.betovn.cuse nelcimi

In Example 9.64, la .apasiionatas. refers to a particular performance of the sonata, namely the one performed by Rubinstein. Therefore, the relative clause poi se cusku uses the cmavo poi (of selma'o NOI) to restrict the meaning of la .apasiionatas to the performance in question.

In Example 9.65, however, la .apasiionatas. 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 Example 9.64 and Example 9.65 to:

Example 9.66. 

la.apasiionatas.pela.artr.rubnstain.cuse nelcimi
TheAppassionataofthat-namedArthurRubinstein is-liked-byme.

Example 9.67. 

la.apasiionatas.nela.betovn.cuse nelcimi

Here the precise selbri of the relative clauses is lost: all we can tell is that the Appassionata is connected in some way with Rubinstein (in Example 9.66) and Beethoven (in Example 9.67), 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 Example 9.66 and Example 9.67 as:

Example 9.68. 

la.apasiionatas.pe cu'u
la.artr.rubnstain.cuse nelcimi

Example 9.69. 

la.apasiionatas.ne fi'e
la.betovn.cuse nelcimi

Example 9.68 and Example 9.69 have the full semantic content of Example 9.64 and Example 9.65 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:

zmadux1 is more than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4
mlecax1 is less than x2 in property/quantity x3 by amount x4

Here are some examples:

Example 9.70. 

That-namedFrank likesthat-namedBetty,

Frank likes Betty more than (he likes) Mary.

Example 9.70 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.

Example 9.71. 

That-namedFrank likesthat-namedMary,

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 Example 9.70 using me'a rather than semau, and Example 9.71 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 Example 9.70 and Example 9.71, the modal sumti (la .meiris. and la .betis. respectively) would become attached to the bridi as a whole, producing a very different translation. Example 9.71 would become:

Example 9.72. 

That-namedFrank likesthat-namedMaryis-less-thanthat-namedBetty.

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:

Example 9.73. 


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.