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Inquiry into the cognitive linguistics of Arka

Translated from the original Japanese on 2021-01-04.

  1. Inquiry into the cognitive linguistics of Arka
    1. Objective and subjective understanding
    2. Arka’s way of understanding situations
    3. The cognitive style of Arka
    4. Duplex understanding
      1. The third understanding
      2. Thinking about the dichotomy between logic and emotion, between objectivity and subjectivity
      3. For events, objective understanding is used
      4. 「今行くよ」 or “I’m coming”?
      5. Is the reflection in the mirror “I”? Or “you”?
      6. The proper use of subjective and objective understandings
    5. Duplex understanding is natural for humans
    6. The a priori quality of Arka in terms of cognitive linguistics
    7. Verification
      1. Perception of verbs: objective > subjective
        1. DO vs. BECOME
        2. On action chains
      2. State of cognitive subject: objective > subjective
        1. Events are perceived objectively
        2. Subject, animacy, and change of focus
      3. Perception of situations: objective
      4. Existence or possession: objective
      5. Focus of verbs / end intentionality: objective > subjective
      6. Perception of nouns / schema of nouns: objective > subjective
        1. For Arka nouns, the unmarked state shows “either an individual or a general concept”
        2. Cat or cat meat?
        3. How poor is Arka in unboundedness?
        4. Zero cats
        5. Demonstrative pronouns
      7. First-person pronouns: subjective > objective
        1. Abundant registers
        2. Cases when one refers to oneself by name, and cases when one may address a superior without a title
      8. Honorific language: subjective > objective
      9. Pronoun omission: objective > subjective
      10. Impersonal subjects: objective
        1. Formal subjects (expletives)
        2. Natural phenomena
        3. The god of weather
      11. Topic vs. subject: objective
      12. Adnominal modification pattern: objective
      13. Perception of “here”: special
      14. Subject-object merger: objective
      15. Expression of modality: objective
      16. Dative case vs. indirect object / Indirect passive: objective
      17. Middle construction (as in English): objective
      18. Verb- vs. satellite-framing: subjective
      19. Subjective predicates: objective > subjective
      20. Onomatopoeias and phenomimes: objective
      21. Present tense in past narratives: special
      22. Direct and indirect speech: objective
    8. Is Arka’s cognitive style modernistic?
    9. Delayed cognitive linguistic inquiries
    10. Reassessment of linguistic relativism and miscellaneous impressions
      1. Cognitivism and generativism
      2. Does this “I don’t understand” mean “I can’t comprehend it” or “I can’t sympathize with it”?
      3. As Arbans say, “I comprehend it but I don’t sympathize with it”
      4. What is influenced by language is limited to thinking habits at most
      5. Role language and linguistic relativism

Objective and subjective understanding

In cognitive linguistics, a cognitive subject can be defined as an understanding of the situation. Cognitive patterns can be divided into two main styles.

In one style, one grasps the situation from the outside, which Ikegami (2004, 2005) calls objective understanding.

In the other style, one grasps the situation from the inside, which he similarly calls subjective understanding.

As a matter of fact, linguists express the same concepts with their own terminology. For example, Langacker (1985) calls the concept of objective understanding optimal viewing arrangement, and Nakamura (2004) calls it the D-mode (Dモード). In the same way, Langacker calls the concept of subjective understanding egocentric viewing arrangement, and Nakamura calls it the I-mode (Iモード). This manuscript uses Ikegami’s terminology because it is the easiest to take meaning from the literal expressions.

The DO-languages mentioned in “How to create a linguistically consistent conlang” correspond to objective understanding, and the BECOME-languages correspond to subjective understanding. The number of features later mentioned in this text is few, including DO/BECOME, MONO/KOTO, and HAVE/BE, and they were explained primarily through the antithesis between DO and BECOME. However, because we will be dealing with many different features in this text, it becomes even more difficult to understand the divide as between DO and BECOME. Therefore, from here on, we will unify the terminology into objective understanding and subjective understanding.

Of course, there are different nuances to each term. For instance, Nakamura (2004) analyzes the divide philosophically, calling the I-mode “the epistemology of Nishida” and the D-mode “the epistemology of Descartes”. Although such nuances for each term in their meanings differ, we will adopt Ikegami’s terminology in this text for convenience.

Arka’s way of understanding situations

In the previous article, we made clear that Arka has features associated with both objective and subjective understanding. In general, if a certain language has objective understanding for its cognitive subject, then there will be few aspects of subjective understanding included. Moriyama (2009) describes it as follows.

There are two ways of understanding that come into putting an outside situation into words: objective understanding and subjective understanding. Each language will fall into one side or the other in terms of typological features, depending on which mode it prefers.

Because objective and subjective understanding are not rules but rather tendencies, even a language with objective understanding might have some features of a subject-understanding language. Arka, too, is one such example.

Then to what degree concretely are objective and subjective understanding intermingled within Arka? To begin to answer this, we will need to list various features typical of objective and subjective understanding.

The following shows an analysis of Arka’s various features based on Nakamura (2004 p41). Suitable edits have been made: the number of items listed differs from Nakamura (2004) and Kawahara (2009), and we use “subjective understanding” and “objective understanding” in this text instead of “I-mode” and “D-mode”.

If an entry in the column for Arka reads as “obj”, then it implies that Arka is an objective-understanding language with respect to that row’s heading. Conversely, “subj” means that it is a subjective-understanding language in that respect. “obj > subj” means that the subjective-understanding variant is allowed but the objective-understanding variant is preferred as more natural, and “subj > obj” shows the reverse. There are some special cases shown as “special” that require a special mention in the verification section.

Homologous item Subjective understanding Objective understanding Arka
Perception of verbs BECOME DO obj > subj
State of cognitive subject Sentient Agent obj > subj
Perception of situations KOTO (“event”), TOKORO (“place”) MONO (“thing”) obj
Existence or possession BE HAVE obj
Focus of verbs Action-centric Result-centric obj > subj
End intentionality Absent Present obj > subj
Perception of nouns Unboundedness Boundedness obj > subj
Schema of nouns Continuous schema Discrete schema obj > subj
First-person pronouns Varied Fixed subj > obj
Honorific language Developing or grammaticalized Respectful expressions subj > obj
Pronoun omission Common Rare obj > subj
Impersonal subjects Absent Present obj
Topic vs. subject Topic-prominent Subject-prominent obj
Adnominal modification pattern Pragmatic Grammatical obj
Perception of “here” Location-centric Person-centric special
Subject-object merger Present Absent obj
Expression of modality Epistemic Deontic obj
Dative case or indirect object Dative case (dative of interest) Indirect object (receiver) obj
Indirect passive Present Absent obj
Middle construction (as in English) Expresses direct experience Expresses special accounts obj
Verb- vs. satellite-framing Verb-framing Satellite-framing subj
Subjective predicates Present Absent obj > subj
Onomatopoeias and phenomimes Many Few obj
Present tense in past narratives Many (e.g. ru-form) Rare special
Direct and indirect speech Almost only direct speech Indirect speech also developed obj

The cognitive style of Arka

We analyze the results of the table above.

There are three entries where subjective wins out over objective, or about 12.0% of all entries. From this fact, it is evident that Arka overwhelmingly fits into the objective archetype. That is, it is a member of the same category as English from this classification.

However, let us dig a bit deeper into the matter. If we include the items labeled “subj > obj”; that is, the items on which the subjective has encroached, the total becomes 11 out of 25, or 44.0%. If we exclude the special cases from our count, it becomes 11/23 or about 47.8% where the subjective has encroached.

Surely objective and subjective understandings are no more than tendencies. However, the rate at which objective-understanding languages mix in subjective understanding is generally low; it is usually difficult to think of a language where the two types of understanding come in equal proportions. The set of features inspected above are relatively strong as tendencies; for instance, English and Chinese, which are classified as objective, have almost all of the features on the “objective” side.

When compared to these, Arka’s way of understanding seems to mix objective and subjective understandings considerably. If we include the entries where subjectivity is present in any amount, then the subjective and objective are mixed in equal quantities. That is, Arka is a language with its distinctive mode of understanding, different from Japanese or English or Chinese. In other words, Arka has a distinctive, a priori cognitive style of its own.

The theme of this text is to clarify the cognitive style of Arka. By understanding Arka’s distinctive cognitive style, we will look at the regularity of Arka’s mode of understanding felt to lack consistency in the table above. Then together with that, we can make clear what is idiomatic in Arka. This information will be indispensable in reading Arka texts, and of course, writing Arka texts as well.

Duplex understanding

The third understanding

If we add a third type of understanding to Ikegami’s objective and subjective understandings, we see the true nature of Arka.

Objective understanding is a style of understanding a situation from the outside.

Subjective understanding is a style of understanding a situation from the inside.

Then, for Arka, cognitive subjects are divided into two: objective cognitive subjects and subjective cognitive subjects, and the language has styles of understanding a situation from both the inside and the outside. This style is called duplex understanding.

Because we have continued the conceptual talk for long enough, let us list an example. Suppose that there is a soccer match and a goal is scored at this exact moment. If you were in the audience, looking at the state of the shot, your perspective would represent objective understanding. On the other hand, if you were a goalkeeper, your perspective would represent subjective understanding. Then duplex understanding is equivalent to observing the goal being scored from both points of view. In a television broadcast, the scene of the goal would be broadcast repeatedly at varying angles. There is footage from the audience seats, and there is also footage from the goalkeeper’s point of view. Seeing both videos is equivalent to duplex understanding.

The ancestor of “a” (Arka) is “ar” (Arbaren). In turn, the ancestor of Arbaren is “ls” (Lestilren), whose ancestor is “ly” (Lyudiaren).

Spoken in Arbazard are also “lt” (Tiaren, Lutiaren) and “n” (Nagili). Nagili is also called “alt” (Altiaren).

Among these, “ly”, “ls”, and “lt” use objective understanding. Since all of these abbreviations start with “l”, they can also be called L-type languages.

Meanwhile, “n” uses subjective understanding and can thus be called an N-type language.

“a” and “ar” both use duplex understanding. Since they both start with “a”, they can be called A-type languages.

In “sm” (the Selmel era), “n” entered and conquered the southern part of Arbazard, forming the country of Kalensia. This was an opportunity for subjective understanding to encroach onto “ar”.

As a successor of “ly”, “ar” until that time was an objective-understanding language, but it began to adopt aspects of subjective understanding by reconciling with “n”. As a result, the first duplex understanding was born.

Thinking about the dichotomy between logic and emotion, between objectivity and subjectivity

In Arka for Beginners, Alia states the following1:

For us Arbans, our language is a tool to:

  1. construct logic,
  2. and to analyze our feelings.

It is specialized for both introspection and assertion.

She describes Arka as able to skillfully express both logic and emotion, seemingly contradictory elements. As a matter of fact, the feature of Arka’s duplex understanding appears in these words. Arbans build up logic according to objective understanding and, at the same time, analyze their feelings according to subjective understanding.

Among the various features of the table above, they use objective understanding for what they think deserves a more logical grasp, and they use subjective understanding for what they think deserves a more intuitive grasp.

For instance, suppose that there is one woman here and call her Ridia. In front of her daughter, she is her mother; in front of her husband, she is his wife; in front of a superior, she is a subordinate. In front of her daughter, Ridia might address herself using noel. On the other hand, she might address herself using non in front of her husband and meid in front of her superiors. From an objective point of view, she is a human named Ridia and nothing more, but from her own point of view, she can become non or meid or such depending on the person to whom she is speaking.

In this situation, she divides herself into an objective cognitive subject and a subjective cognitive subject and looks at the situation from both the inside and the outside. Deciding one’s own designation is the role of a subjective cognitive subject, and one decides one’s first-person pronouns depending on one’s relationship with the other party as seen from oneself. Originally, Arbans had only a limited system of first-person pronouns, but since they acquired duplex understanding, they began seeing their own relationships with others subjectively and acquired the point of view of choosing their own designations. The result of this is the abundance of registers in Arka.

Furthermore, granting such things as interpersonal modality to ending particles is also a role of subjective cognitive subjects. The interpersonal modality of Arka appears at the end of the sentence, and it forms a structure that wraps up the whole sentence from the outside. Although they resemble the sentence-final particles of Japanese such as 「ね」, 「さ」, and 「よ」, one should note that there is nothing that is related to the predicate, as with 「~てしまう」 (“end up doing”), and thus they have the feature of wrapping up the event from the outside in terms of interpersonal modality.

That is, interpersonal modality in Arka is separated from the event itself (except for honorifics and designations, however). Moreover, Iori (2001), among others, provides an easy-to-read discussion on Japanese modality.

For events, objective understanding is used

In Arka, speakers do not use BECOME-language expressions such as 「今度結婚することになりました」 (“this time, it resulted in marriage”), so that the event of a man marrying with a woman is observed objectively. An event, unlike first-person pronouns, is no more than an incident that occurs; it is an objective matter. Hence, objective understanding is used for this case.

Therefore, “*ans sil mals im tuo” (“we will become married this time”) is ungrammatical, and “ans mals sil xok im tuo” (“we will marry each other this time”) is correct. In this manner, events are grasped objectively as a general rule.

「今行くよ」 or “I’m coming”?

Suppose that you are in a scene where you are in your room and someone calls you from the living room for dinner. In general, in an objective-understanding language, you would use something like “I’m coming” in English at that time. However, note that even in objective-understanding languages, there are cases when the way to use “I’m coming” is the same as in Japanese.

For example, in Spanish, you would answer such a call with “Voy” (“I go [am going]”), similar to Japanese 「今行くよ」 (“Now I go”). That is, you would not use “I’m coming”. The same is true for Arka; although its foundation is objective understanding, it uses the same wording as Spanish and Japanese when it comes to coming and going.

By the way, why does English express this answer as coming instead of going? Because the cognitive subject is placed outside the situation in objective-understanding languages, the person in the room answering the call is not the cognitive subject to begin with. Even within their own room, the answerer sees themselves “coming” to the destination of the living room, as if they were in an out-of-body experience. For this reason, the response uses “coming” instead of “going”. Conversely, in subjective-understanding languages such as Japanese, the cognitive subject is the person in the room, and thus they cannot answer 「いま来るよ」 (“Now I come”).

In the case of Arka, subjective understanding is often used for coming and going because the fact that one can personally experience the idea of the word “to come” is associated with subjective understanding. For instance, at the instant that a goal is scored in a soccer game, which side would get more of the true sense of the ball “coming”: the audience’s perspective or the goalkeeper’s? Obviously, it is the latter because there is more dynamism there. Because Arbans see this dynamism being gained in relation to coming and going, they use subjective understanding for it. Therefore, when being called to the living room, they answer not with “an luna van” but rather “an ke van”.

Then what would a scene not requiring dynamism look like? In short, it would be a situation where the coming and going is understood in an objective way, as in a news report. Interestingly, objective understanding would be used in this case. Therefore, “an lunat lestez” would be natural. The literal translation is “I came to the living room”, and it contrasts with Japanese 「私は居間へ行った」 (“I went to the living room”). In this manner, for coming and going, Arka uses subjective understanding in mundane situations, but depending on the state of affairs, objective understanding may be used instead. Because both can be used for different purposes depending on the situation, expression can be detailed.

Is the reflection in the mirror “I”? Or “you”?

When one calls out one’s reflection in the mirror or speaks to oneself in a monologue, there are languages in which one calls oneself “I” and others in which one calls oneself “you”. In the case of objective-understanding languages, one tends to address oneself in the second person in such situations.

In the case of English, for example, it is usually “you” which is used when talking to oneself. Of course, there are times when one would say things such as “What am I doing here?”, but in objective-understanding languages, there is a tendency to address oneself from an objective point of view and use the second person.

On the other hand, in Japanese, it is common to use first-person pronouns such as 「私」 or 「俺」 when addressing oneself. This is an embodiment of subjective understanding.

Then how does Arka handle this situation? The following quote is from a soliloquy from Alis in Dreamweavers:

“hai, non rens ax to a nain eyo? “ter, nainan! non inat adel yunen haadis vandor xe mana”? wein alis, ti lo ne xar tuube??”

“But what should I say to the police? “Listen, officer! I saw a demon that looks like a skeleton attacking a girl”? Come on, Alis, who do you know will believe this?”

When she talks to herself, she perceives the situation from an objective point of view by using “Alis” and “you”. From this fact, we are told that Arka is a language where one perceives oneself objectively.

The proper use of subjective and objective understandings

From the aforementioned points, we can start to see the intuitions of Arbans. If they think that they should mix together emotions into a matter, then they use subjective understanding; if that is not the case, then they use the objective understanding inherited from Arka’s L-type roots.

When we look at it in this manner, a line goes through the above table, which at first glance seemed mismatched and inconsistent. As a general rule, one can fill in “duplex understanding” in all of the cells in the “Arka” column. In short, these are itemized as labels such as “objective > subjective”.

Furthermore, at the end of the day, if one asks whether objectiveness or subjectiveness is predominant in Arka, the answer is objectiveness. That is because it was originally an L-type language that received strong influence from N-type languages. Because it was an L-type language in the beginning, its status as being predominantly L-type was not affected, regardless of how much influence it received.

Duplex understanding is natural for humans

As a matter of fact, duplex understanding is the natural cognitive style for situations in the standpoint of humans. After all, who in the world lives only with subjective judgements or only with objective judgements? Humans are constantly making judgements such as “while I personally don’t like this, I have to approve of this objectively”.

When humans must perceive affairs, they always use duplex understanding and judge situations both subjectively and objectively at the same time. Nevertheless, the notion that languages are the only thing to lean toward subjective or objective understanding is ridiculous to begin with. Because duplex understanding is the original cognitive style for humans, the cognitive style of Arka, which reflects this itself in its linguistic structure, is possibly the viscerally natural system to humans.

However, because there are no good examples of developed countries in which an archetypal objective-understanding language and an archetypal subjective-understanding language have coexisted and mingled together for centuries as to experience such a change, there is actually not enough data to see how naturalistic duplex understanding is.

Even with the Norman Conquest in 1066, the only language that intermingled were English and French. Even after Americans arrived at Japan in droves after Japan had lost the Pacific War, we Japanese have not become bilingual. Even after hundreds of years, neither Americans nor Australians have become bilingual in indigenous languages. Even though there was a time when Korea effectively made China a suzerain state, this, too, was nothing compared to the situation with Arbazard and Kalensia.

Not only has an instance of large-scale and long-term linguistic intermingling of objective and subjective, such as the one with Arbazard and Kalensia, never been observed in a developed country on Earth, but it is also hard to realistically think about getting detailed linguistic data about such a situation. Therefore, as far as duplex understanding in Arka is concerned, one can only make weak assumptions such as “does it comply with the cognitive style of humans?” or “isn’t it unnatural in the slightest that these languages can actually come to a mutual understanding without problems?”

The a priori quality of Arka in terms of cognitive linguistics

Arka is an a priori conlang. However, there are people who throw doubts at the notion that someone can create a language from zero. Other people are suspicious that even if one could do so, the resulting language could end up imitating the creator’s native language. But we have now made it clear that Arka has its own cognitive style different from those of both Japanese and English. Because of its distinctive cognitive style, duplex understanding, Arka has been demonstrated to be a priori in terms of cognitive linguistics.

Please bear in mind that even from the fact that one can grasp “to come” in both an objective and subjective style, it is clear that duplex understanding is not a simple mixture of subjective and objective understandings; like human cognition, it grasps matters objectively and subjectively at the same time.

Then based on this acknowledgement style of duplex understanding, let us inspect various properties listed in the aforementioned table.


”>” shows that the left sentence sounds more natural than the right sentence.

Perception of verbs: objective > subjective


However, if the subject is an inanimate noun such as pita, then “ti sil kea mil le pita” is preferred. Therefore, we judge this as objective > subjective.

On action chains

English: cause → agent → instrument → target

Arka: agent → target

From knowing that the nominative case marker sol originally meant “someone who does ~”, one can infer that the subject [of a transitive verb] is generally an agent. However, in passive sentences, this rule does not apply because the subject at sol and the object at yul are swapped. In addition, in certain verbs such as et, em, sil, ses, at, or or, the experiencer is the subject.

Other roles such as cause or instrument are shown using the oblique case.

State of cognitive subject: objective > subjective

Events are perceived objectively

In accordance with the above, for the duplex-understanding Arka, objective understanding is used for objective events that are unrelated to emotion:

lana twal rsit dajna emil e. : The literal translation is “Your goals command my kindness”, fitting perfectly into objective understanding. In this manner, when the animacy of each argument of the verb is low, it is natural to put an inanimate noun as the subject. Therefore, Arka’s original disposition toward objective understanding is strong. Japanese, in contrast, goes out of its way to place a high-animacy noun as the subject: 「(私は)(あなたの)目的次第では道を譲れない」 (“(I) cannot yield to (your) goals”)2. When comparing this example to the Japanese translation, the differences become stark.

Subject, animacy, and change of focus

Although events are certainly perceived objectively, there is a general rule that an agent comes as the subject. For that reason, as described by the action chain, causes and instruments generally do not fall in that position.

Because an agent is typically animate, it becomes easier to put it as the subject the more animate it is. Let us look at this in the following example. Because to (“what”) is lower in the animacy hierarchy than ti (“you”), “ak ti lunat tuube sern?” is preferred over “to piot ti a luube sern?”

In this manner, although the nominative case is usually reserved for high-animacy agents or experiencers, an inanimate noun appears as the subject in “lana twal rsit dajna emil e”. This happens because there is nothing higher in animacy in another case. If there were something higher in animacy in the accusative or dative case, then that would be preferred for the nominative argument, as with “ema rest lana twal > lana twal rsit ema”.

However, if one wishes to put the focus on certain inanimate noun phrase intentionally, that noun phrase can take the nominative case despite its inanimacy. If one wished to put the focus on “your goals”, then “lana twal rsit ema” would indeed be preferred over “ema rest lana twal”.

Perception of situations: objective

As seen below, Arka is a KOTO-language [recte: MONO-language]:

However, Arka has a faint subjective quality in having the distinction between koto and mono absent in English.

The English word thing is used to refer to either koto or mono without distinction. Arka is furnished with three different words: fam, vis, and tul. By the way, this distinction is specific to Arka; up to “f_ar”, they were all expressed with the single word al. The presence of the distinction was clearly an influence from “alt”.

Existence or possession: objective

As seen below, Arka is a HAVE-language:

Focus of verbs / end intentionality: objective > subjective

As described in “How to create a linguistically consistent conlang”, verbs in Arka do not imply the completion of the action in question. In that respect, it is a subjective-understanding language.

However, we must attach a condition to this that “it is considered to be completed unless otherwise stated”. In other words, if one says “an sosot la” (“I persuaded him”), then the action is generally presumed to be completed unless there is a proviso using tal (“but”) after that. In this point, Arka can be said to be quite objective.

In reality, Arka is structured very unusually but logically when it comes to the focus of a verb. At the same time it has an objective-understanding nature, it also possesses even more of a subjective-understanding nature than Japanese. We cite an example below.

In Japanese, which is a subjective-understanding language, a sentence such as 「説得したが聞かなかった」 (“(I) persuaded (him) but (he) didn’t listen”) is quite natural, but 「殺したが死ななかった」 (“(I) killed (him) but (he) didn’t die”) feels out of place as expected. Even so, “an setat la tal la en vort” is perfectly natural in Arka.

Without any proviso at the end, “an setat la” implies that the victim has died, as characteristic of objective understanding. Even so, because this implicature can be overturned by any sort of information in a tal-clause without batting an eye, sentences such as “I killed him but he didn’t die” that would sound out of place even in the subjective-understanding Japanese are perfectly natural in Arka.

In this point, the focus of verbs in Arka has the peculiar property of “generally objective but with an overwhelming subjective disposition when a proviso is attached”. Therefore, we make the conclusion that Arka is objective > subjective in this regard. Consequently, ending directionality [recte: intentionality?] is assumed to be present without any special marking but changes to “absent” if a proviso is attached.

In addition, note that although completion is implied in the past tense without any special marking, it is indefinite in the present or future tense without any marking. In “an soso la”, it is still unknown whether “he” has been persuaded, and it is possible that this action is not yet happening right now in the first place if this sentence is referring to the near future.

Perception of nouns / schema of nouns: objective > subjective

For Arka nouns, the unmarked state shows “either an individual or a general concept”

To put it simply, when nouns distinguish the singular from the plural and the countable from the uncountable, they are said to have boundedness and follow a discrete schema. We use the terms “boundedness” and “unboundedness” in the following material in order to avoid much of the complexity.

An objective-understanding language usually posesses boundedness, and this applies to “ly”, “ls”, and “lt”. English, as we all know, has boundedness, and in Chinese as well, 「我想要一个苹果」 sounds more natural than 「我想要苹果」 from a corpus survey. Thus, whether a language uses a logogrphic script or a phonetic one has nothing to do with boundedness or unboundedness.

Although “ar” has the boundedness inherited from “ls”, it started having traces of conditional unboundedness under influence from “alt”. That is, “the number of a noun is generally omitted if it is singular”. However, one cannot extract only the general idea of a noun with this. One cannot distinguish whether “apple” refers to the general idea of “apples” or “one specific apple”. Accordingly, it was relatively common to use a word meaning “one of ~” in conjunction with a noun for the singular sense.

As “a” progressed further into unboundedness, it became usual to “prefer to omit the number of a noun if it is singular”. There was no distinction between the concept and the individual, and if there was a need for one, one could show individuality by placing a number word such as “ko miik” or “vei miik”.

Moreover, “ly”, “ls”, “ar”, and “a” consistently had no morphological distinction between the singular and the plural. That is, there was no opposition between apple and apples. This lack of morphological number marking is a vestige from “f” and “fv”, which used the logographic harma, similar to the situation with Chinese.

From the discussion above, the unmarked state of Arka nouns can be shown to be “either an individual or a general concept”. While we have not touched on boundedness and unboundedness, it can be said that Arka nouns tend toward boundedness from the fact that there is a general criterion of singular number.

Cat or cat meat?

In English, whose boundedness is clearer than even Arka, one can say “I like cats, but I don’t like cat” (i.e. “I don’t like cat meat”). In contrast, the meaning of “an siina ket tal an en siina ket” is unclear. One would rather have to say “an siina ket tal an en siina yek e ket”. Arka tends toward unboundedness in this respect.

How poor is Arka in unboundedness?

Then does Arka have as much unboundedness as the subjective-understanding Japanese? That is, is there enough unboundedness to warrant judging Arka as “subjective > objective”? In conclusion, there is not. Therefore, we decide Arka to be objective > subjective in this regard.

In the case of 「虫がいる」 (“there are insects”) in Japanese, there is not necessarily only one insect. Here, the unboundedness of nouns is seen. On the other hand, “veliz xa atu” in Arka implies that there is one insect; thus, it differs from Japanese in that regard.

In addition, if one has bought three apples, then one would say 「りんごを3つほど買った」 (“I bought about three apples”). This sentence seems unnatural when one thinks about it logically, but it is perfectly natural in Japanese.

This kind of unboundedness is absent from Arka. The sentence above would be “an taut vi miik”; “an taut vi via miik” would imply that the person buying it did not remember exactly how many apples they bought and was not sure whether it was three. In this aspect, a property of objective understanding comes to life within Arka.

In addition, where Japanese would frequently use 「など」 (“and so on”), 「とか」 (“and the like”), or 「でも」 (“or something”), Arka frequently omits such words. wen is used strictly for cases when one wants to show that there are actually other items outside the ones listed. This point, too, shows the boundedness of Arka nouns.

Furthermore, the aforementioned tendency of Japanese to use 「など」, 「とか」, and 「でも」 results in obscuring sentences that are difficult to say. For example, if bananas were cheap, then it would be easy to say 「バナナが食べたい」 (“I want to eat bananas”), but if peaches were expensive, then one can use 「とか」 as in 「できればモモとかが欲しいんだけどなぁ」 (“but if possible, I would like peaches or something”). Here, saying 「モモとか」 (“peaches or something”) does not imply that one would also be satisfied with grapes, for instance. In the end, the speaker would not be satisfied unless they received peaches.

Although such reserved expressions in Japanese are convenient, similar expressions are possible in Arka. One can simple suffix -te to a noun to make it ambiguous, as in “non xen lan diaikte aan”.

Zero cats

In general, the more boundedness a language has, the more it tends to have a “zero” expression such as “nothing” or “no apples”.

Because Arka originally had a strong degree of boundedness, “an inat yuu ket” (“I saw zero cats”) is preferred over “an en inat ket” (“I did not see a cat”).

Demonstrative pronouns

When reading a novel in Arka, one expects to see “lu fian” near the start gradually become supplanted by “fian”.

This is not the omission of a demonstrative pronoun but rather the process of that girl becoming a proper noun, or more simply, characterization (キャラ化). The moment the girl becomes “fian” means “let’s call this character ‘girl’ for now since we don’t know her name yet”. Because demonstrative pronouns are not required for proper nouns, there is no need to amend the rules.

First-person pronouns: subjective > objective

Abundant registers

Registers were developed under influence from Altiaren, and the first-person pronouns were diversified as a result. In the present, Arka has seen even more development in this area than Altiaren, having a total of 12 first-person pronouns3.

Cases when one refers to oneself by name, and cases when one may address a superior without a title

At the same time that it has the typical first-person pronouns, Arka also continues to have objective understanding held from its roots. For example, suppose Seren addresses his superior, Liiza, and tries to go to where she is. In this case, what he would say under subjective understanding would be “men ket liiza xanxa” (“I went to Liiza-sensei”). On the other hand, the expression under objective understanding would be “seren lunat liiza” (“Seren came to Liiza”).

Although Arka prefers subjective understanding when it comes to a few features such as coming and going or first-person pronouns, objective understanding is preferred for these features when the situation must be understood objectively. For example, in an official scene or a tense scene (such as in a battlefield), objective understanding would be preferred. Although calling oneself by one’s own name in Japanese subjectively carries a childish image, doing the same in Arka is usual when objective understanding is used, or rather, it has the image of adhering to formalities.

In fact, one tended to use subjective understanding for names in Old Arka, because Mel continually called herself “Mel”, not “non”, and that showed childishness. It is thought that with Seren’s liking of this, she might have reached the point that she called herself by her own name.

At the same time, because Old Arka had the above-mentioned custom of “addressing oneself by name and a superior without a title when speaking with objective understanding”, even Seren had addressed Liiza by name alone. That is, the case in which one calls oneself by one’s own name was not differentiated between the subjective understanding that shows childishness as Mel did and the objective understanding of “Seren came to Liiza”. Therefore, one had to judge from context whether this way of addressing oneself was childish or objective.

Now, in 2011, in spite of being a young girl, Xia addresses herself using non and yuna; thus, it seems that the subjective understanding in the meaning of addressing oneself by name to show childishness is falling out of use. Still, her older brother, Yult, sometimes uses such expressions as “xianyan luna soa kont yuutxan…” (“Xia-nyan comes like this while Yuu-chan…”), which is used to indicate play. Although this is grammatically objective-understanding, it can be seen as subjective-understanding from words such as xianyan. In this case, no judgement can be assumed.

Incidentally, Mel suddenly stopped addressing herself with her own name in the second half of the 2000s (although she often still does so in Japanese). It is as if Arka had lost the subjective-understanding use of this practice around the time when New Arka came to be. If we assume that the reason Mel started calling herself by name was that Seren enjoyed it, then that would be influence from Japanese. However, New Arka, naturally, purged this influence from the language. In other words, Arka purified itself in order to maintain its a priori quality.

To reiterate, calling oneself by name in Arka is not an embodiment of childishness, but rather one of objective understanding.

Arbans often use this mannerism in situations such as meetings. For example, as with “At 12:00, Alis came to the university. At 13:00, Xiva carried the drums to the clubroom”, it is preferred to be objective in such situations as discussing task progress, using proper nouns instead of first-person pronouns.

In this manner, one speaks subjectively or objectively depending on the situation, but in terms of ratios, the subjective is predominant. Therefore, we judge this as subjective > objective.

Honorific language: subjective > objective

Generally, because one views the listener from one’s own point of view in subjective-understanding languages, a hierarchical relationship is more salient in these languages, compared to in the bird’s-eye view of human relationships characteristic of objective understanding. As a result, it is easy to develop honorifics. There are some subjective-understanding languages that have established honorifics as a grammatical category, such as Japanese, Korean, Javanese, Thai, and Khmer.

But this does not mean that objective-understanding languages have no equivalent to honorifics. There is a satisfactory equivalent to Japanese’s keigo. However, compared to subjective-understanding languages, expressions of politeness or respect are often not grammatically systematic; if anything, in many cases they should be called polite expressions.

In Arka, human relationships and such are seen as something fitting for emotion more than logic, and thus subjective understanding tends to be used for them. As a consequence, similarly to first-person pronouns, subjective understanding is predominant toward honorific language. Polite language is systematic at the morphological level, and honorific and humble language is systematic at the syntactic level.

There are also instances in which honorific and polite language appears in words:

However, note that the words on the right were originally feminine or refined words, and in order to have an honorific meaning, they must appear in conjunction with mist as in “mist rens”.

In this manner, honorifics have developed in Arka, but they are never used in objective-understanding situations.

In the case of Japanese, suppose there is a company president called Yamada. Then if a low-ranking employee of the company wanted to address the president, then they would not be able to say 「山田は15:00時へ鈴木工務店に来る」 (“Yamada will come to the contractor Suzuki for 15:00”). However, this is a scene that is better to treat objectively, or rather, it is rude not to describe it objectively. Rudeness, in other words, is to give a rough feeling that is not made in earnest. This aspect is a remnant of objective understanding in Arka. Therefore, our judgement is subjective > objective.

Pronoun omission: objective > subjective

There is pronoun omission in Arka, but there are conditions attached. It is more frequent than in English but less frequent than in Japanese.

  1. The subjects of each clause in a compound sentence are coreferent: an ket felka, felat. (“I went to school, (and I) studied.”) / leevat felka, an kuit mar ka sea. (“(I) left school, (and) I ate doughnuts at the mall.”)
  2. The subjects of a main clause and its subordinate clause are coreferent: an kut soa im in la. (“I said that when (I) saw him.”)
  3. The subject corefers to that of the preceding sentence.
  4. It is deemed clear from context.

However, (4) is applied more strictly than in Japanese. Arka is not as high-context as Japanese.

In a scene with few characters in a story or conversation, specific pronouns might be repeated. Rules (3) and (4) have been adopted because such repetition is seen as cumbersome and awkward.

Rule (1) applies in all conditions; even English often does this, such as in the sentence “I went to the store and bought some brown sugar”.

Rules (3) and (4) are limited to occasions when repeating the same pronoun would be seen as cumbersome and awkward; for that reason, although a property typical of Japanese can be seen, its frequency is ultimately limited.

From the above, we judge this as objective > subjective.

Impersonal subjects: objective

Note: In objective-understanding [languages], there are impersonal subjects (not impersonal constructions). However, in the case of languages that conjugate the verb to show the subject, such as Spanish, the impersonal subject appears in the verb conjugation and no impersonal pronoun appears as a result.

Formal subjects (expletives)

tu et rat xel ti ke felka (“It is good for you to go to school”): because such sentences can be formed, Arka has impersonal subjects. Therefore, it is judged as objective in this regard.

Natural phenomena

Either “It snows a lot during winter” or “We have a lot of snow this winter” is natural in English. What about Arka, on the other hand?

The “we” in “We have a lot of snow this winter” does not refer concretely to the speaker plus other people, but rather vaguely to everyone living in the country or area. Its usage is close to the generic “they”, and it is a kind of formal subject.

Because Arka uses the pronoun el for generic referents, “el til sae di fol xier” would be natural, but the intention of this sentence ends up different from the case with ans. Since ans means “we, concretely”, “ans til sae di fol xier” would be used only for saying “our area gets more snow” (compared to the listener’s area) as if one were boasting of one’s hometown.

Therefore, although Arka treats impersonal subjects objectively, one must take caution of the usage of generic pronouns and bear in mind that el should be used for such purposes instead of ans or laas.

The god of weather

As a matter of fact, natural phenomena such as sae and esk do not take impersonal subjects in Arka.

Because there is a god of weather named Kleevel in Kaldia, the true meaning of esk as a verb is “Kleevel sends down rain at the location of the direct object”. It has simply reached the point that this Kleevel became omitted, giving expressions such as “eskat im fis”. Therefore, strictly speaking, impersonal subjects are not used for sentences describing natural phenomena.

Topic vs. subject: objective

This feature leads to the question of whether or not it makes sense to say the sentence 「僕はウナギだ」4.

At first sight, sol seems to take a subject in Arka. In reality, it is simply explained as taking the subject in the grammar for the sake of convenience. For instance, “an et beska” and “an et har” could mean “I’m ordering eel” and “I’m the one wearing red”, respectively. While Arka might seem like a subjective-understanding language in that regard from these examples, this is not actually the case.

This is because these were originally the results of ellipsis of “an et les retat beska” and “an et les sabes lein har”. Therefore, our judgement is objective.

The word sol, which marks the subject in Arka, originally came from something meaning “someone who does ~”; therefore, what belongs as the subject is generally an agent. It does not mark the topic.

Adnominal modification pattern: objective

According to Moriyama (2007):

It has become clear that regarding adnominal modifiers, whether they use relative clauses or the genitive adposition, English seeks an intrinsic relationship in spatial, logical, and grammatical meanings; Japanese, on the contrary, has developed, in addition to the usages above, a usage that relies on pragmatic deductions supported by the context of the situation. (own translation)

On the other hand, according to Langacker (2008):

Note that we say the color of the lawn but the brown spot in (*of) my lawn, the difference being that the spot is not supposed to be there.

Let us translate these two examples into Arka and contrast them:

Although the Japanese 「の」 forms an adnominal modifier in the form 「AのB」, the relationship between A and B is is understood pragmatically, or in other words, by relying on context and common sense.

On the other hand, the English “of” is consistently perceived to imply a spatial or grammatical relationship – that is, what Moriyama calls an intrinsic relationship – and “in” is used in the second sentence instead of “of”. Regarding the meaning of “perceiving something grammatically”, it is possible to designate the adnominal modification pattern of English as grammatical rather than pragmatic.

When we look at the Arka examples, the grammatical expression is more suitable. Therefore, we judge this as objective.

Perception of “here”: special

When we compare the idiomatic sentence that are not labeled with “?” [or “*”], it is clear that Arka does not belong to the same group as either Japanese or English.

An objective-understanding expression in the same style as English as in “an xa am?” is also possible, as is a subjective-understanding in the same style as Japanese as in “atu et am?” Nonetheless, both are unnaturalistic from the point of view of Arka. Therefore, we judge this case as special.

However, if anything, “tu et am?” itself is closer to the Japanese expression. In that case, this property might be seen as objective < subjective.

Subject-object merger: objective

Let us provide a comparison of an example sentence often used for this topic:

Arka is objective in the same way as English here; there is no subject-object merger.

Expression of modality: objective

There are many varieties of modality: epistemic, deontic, evidential, dynamic, and so on.

Epistemic modality expresses inferences, and such things as 「かもしれない」 and 「にちがいない」 fall into this category. In English, “may”, “must”, and “will” fall here.

Deontic modality expresses obligations, and such things as 「すべきだ」 and 「しなければならない」 fall into this category. In English, “may” and “must” can also be used with a deontic meaning.

One may notice that “may” and “must” can be used epistemically or deontically. They have wide meanings. Then if one must ask which sense was the original, it is the deontic.

Inferences such as 「かもしれない」 are, at the end, no more than judgements from one’s own subjective point of view. On the other hand, 「しなければならない」 shows an objective duty. Because English is an objective-understanding language, it has “must” as deontic modality to start with. Moreover, its epistemic sense, which translates to 「にちがいない」 in Japanese, is derived from its deontic sense.

Then if this question is asked for Arka, the answer is that it is a special case, because it uses different sets of words for the deontic and epistemic modal adverbs. In exchange for having many modal adverbs, Arka does not have much ambiguity in them. Consequently, it cannot be judged as objective or subjective meaningfully in this regard.

From a single word sen (“be able to”), one can derive klia (epistemic; “might”) and flen (deontic; “one may”).

The meaning of “able to” (potential) is classified not as epistemic but rather as dynamic. Then since “able to” indicates objective ability, “able to” (“can”) → “might” has the meaning of crossing from the objective to the subjective. In addition, flen represents a kind of deontic modality and thus has the meaning of crossing from the objective to the objective.

Because the meaning of a modal adverb widens from the objective to either the objective or the subjective, it is clear that Arka’s modality has its roots in the objective.

Furthermore, note that unlike the deontic adverbs (such as fal), which are classified as modal adverbs, the epistemic adverbs in Arka (such as klia) are classified as free adverbs5. Modal adverbs correspond to English auxiliary verbs, and free adverbs are simply one type of adverb, being no different from English very or hardly. From this fact, it is clear that Arka considers deontic words to be special members of the grammatical category of modal adverbs, but epistemic words are simply thrown into the pile of regular adverbs. That is, Arka considers deontic modality to be more important than epistemic modality, and our judgement is therefore objective.

By the way, English can has three different uses: epistemic (“it is possible that ~”), deontic (“it is allowed to ~”), and dynamic (“is capable of ~”); its rules of use are extremely broad. Among these, the original meaning was dynamic; therefore, on top of English being an objective-understanding language, it seems that the objectivity of modalities can be ordered as “dynamic > deontic > epistemic”. Consequently, the widening of Arka sen (dynamic) into klia (epistemic) and flen (deontic) shows the spread of modality from the objective to the subjective. Hence, it is reasonable to say that the roots of Arka modality lie in objective understanding.

Dative case vs. indirect object / Indirect passive: objective

Like English, Arka lacks any dative of interest.

Despite being European languages like English, Latin and Spanish both have the dative of interest; for instance, one could say in Spanish “Me llovió”, which translates to “it rained on me”, indicating that the speaker was inconvenienced by the rain.

In Arka, the same idea would be expressed as “eskat (an) sin”. The modality of the malefactive mood is shown by wrapping up the event from the outside with an ending particle.

In the same way, Arka lacks any indirect passive. The indirect passive can be divided into two main uses: the “suffering passive” (「私は雨に降られた」 ≈ “I got rained on”) and the “owner passive” (「私は財布を盗まれた」 ≈ “I got my purse stolen”).

For 「私は雨に降られた」, an ending particle is used as described above. The passive voice is not used; “an eskat yu” is ungrammatical. The malefactive mood cannot be taken out.

For 「私は財布を盗まれた」, the passive is used as in “an eftat yu on gils sin” (“I was stolen regarding my purse”), but the malefactive mood ultimately manifests as sin. However, of course, the contents of the sentence can sensibly be understood to indicate inconvenience, even without sin. Furthermore, “xe eftat an on gils”, “xe eftat gils ant”, and “xe eftat gils it an” are all acceptable; the nuance of each varies. In the last sentence, it is possible that the purse did not belong to the speaker and it was merely left in their charge.

Although the use of the passive voice in “gils eftat yu it an” is possible, no sense of nuisance comes from this sentence. However, when one thinks of it sensibly, it would convey a sense of nuisance even without sin. Of course, it is acceptable to attach sin to the sentence anyway.

For “owner passives”, one can consult the dictionary entry for eft.

From the above, our judgement is objective. There is no sign of the passive voice being used in a pattern peculiar to Japanese. In Arka, the passive voice is used only to focus on the object of an active sentence.

Middle construction (as in English): objective

In Arka, verbs have no differences in transitivity to start with: all verbs are transitive. The subject sol is the agent in nearly all cases, and the object yul is the “object” in nearly all cases. It is very clearly a DO-language.

Therefore, middle constructions themselves such as “This book sells well” are absent in Arka to begin with. If one intentionally tried to translate this literally, it would become the unnatural “tu lei em atm ati di”. Then what about “el tau tu lei ati di”? Nay: because “a crowd of purchasers” is more concrete than the generic el, it ascends to the subject position. As a result, “lan di tau tu lei” should be the most natural wording. Then when we verify this against the sense of Arka in the real world, it indeed is felt to be the most natural way to word it. If we wanted to focus on the book, then we would say “tu lei tau yu ati di”.

It is clear that the words and the sentence structure used in Arka are completely different from the English “This book sells well”. Heed caution when translating the middle construction.

Although Arka lacks a middle construction, the corresponding translation “lan di tau tu lei” is an expression typical of DO-languages. Therefore, we judge this as objective.

Verb- vs. satellite-framing: subjective

When it comes to the expression of verbs showing movement, there are verb-framed languages, which tend to show distinctions of the means or form of motion in the verb itself, and satellite-framed languages, which tend to show this distinction in indeclinable particles (adverbs or prepositions) or affixes attached to the verb. The former category is represented by the Romance languages (such as French or Spanish) and Japanese. For example, various verbs such as 「入る」 (“enter”), 「下る」 (“descend”), 「通る」 (“penetrate”) are commonly used to encode the path of motion. The latter is represented by many European languages such as English, German, and Russian, as well as Chinese. For instance, English uses expressions such as “go in”, “go down”, and “go through” that share a common verb. German uses similar affixes to make distinct verbs6.

In this regard, Arka is traditionally a verb-framed language because harma upholds the one-word-one-meaning principle even more strictly than kanji. Even “ly” and “ls”, which are more representative of objective understanding, retains this property.

In reality, even languages on Earth that are classified as objective-understanding at their core, such as French and Spanish, are verb-framed and fall into the same category as Japanese or Arka in this regard. Because of this, this feature is felt to have a weak binding force to begin with.

Subjective predicates: objective > subjective

In Japanese, one can say 「私は嬉しい」 (“I am happy”) but not 「彼は嬉しい」 (“He is happy”). One must instead say 「彼は嬉しそうだ」 (“He seems happy”). This difference arises from the fact that Japanese uses subjective understanding. In the end, after all, when the speaker looks at someone, they do not know for sure whether the subject is truly happy or not. This is a subjective predicate. Because objective-understanding languages such as English assume an omninescent view, they do not have subjective predicates.

In the case of Arka, both “an na nau” and “lu na nau” are natural. Therefore, we can judge this as “objective”. However, “lu na nau in” is also natural. Although the roots are in objective understanding, ending particles such as in, ter, and yun, reminescent of subjective understanding, are used when one wants to intertwine emotions or human relations. In that respect, some subjective understanding is blended in, and we judge this as objective > subjective.

Onomatopoeias and phenomimes: objective

As with French, there are almost zero. We judge this as completely objective.

Even from a historical viewpoint, phenomimes were absent save for a few such as tanta.

In reality, because Arka formed when different races coexisted, speakers were unable to share a vague sense of onomatopoeia, and onomatopoeias – or phenomimes, strictly speaking – failed to develop in the language. They did not develop because there were many different races, even by the standards of Kaldia.

Further more, after Mel joined in reality, so-called sound symbolism – that is, deciding what sounds represent what meanings – was born. Because sounds are specialized in concrete sound symbolism, the opportunities to use the vague onomatopoeias further decreased.

We cite an example of sound symbolism. e shows something related to water. Even in the modern language, there are too many to count: er, eria, eri, lue, and so on. In this manner, as sound symbolism became predominant in the Arka of reality, onomatopoeia was further met with a cold reception.

By the way, in Kaldia, sound symbolism developed at about “f” or “fv”, and this had the mythological motive of eeste theory in the background. Because this is a different field from linguistics, we will omit it from here. Please consult the respective entries in the dictionary.

Furthermore, onomatopoeias are different from phenomimes, and the former is abundant. In particular, due to the existence of deductive words (演繹音), it is endowed with onomatopoeias more systematic than even Japanese or Korean.

Why did onomatopoeias systematized to this degree? It is because if they were not systematic, then it would be hard for people of different races to sympathize with them. These circumstances were similar both in real life and in Arbazard, a country in Kaldia.

Present tense in past narratives: special

Suppose that the current year is 2011 and you were telling a story spanning one year from 1991.

In the case of English, the reader, who is the cognitive subject, looks at the 1991 story from 2011 objectively. For this reason, the past tense would be used throughout the text.

Although this is also the case with Japanese, there are times when the cognitive subject is immersed inside the story and the present tense is used. This is a subjective viewpoint and adds a sense of presence in the story. Although the use of the present tense in the story can serve other purposes than immersion, the most important fact is that Japanese uses the present tense subjectively when moving the point of view.

Arka does not belong to either of these two cases. Only the year 1991, which this story is set in, is cut off from the rest of history. Any period of time before of after this span can be discarded, and a separate span of time is formed. Therefore, the cognitive subject, who exists in 2011, can also be pruned. In other words, Arka’s peculiarity lies in the omission of the cognitive subject.

The story is always told in the present tense as the story progresses. Imagine that you are watching a video on your PC. The seek bar shows the current position of the video. In Arka, the perception of a story is the same as that of the video: what comes on the position of the seek bar is told in the present tense. Regardless of the year in which you watch the video, the seek bar advances, whether you watch it or not. That is, the story advances without the cognitive subject. Therefore, Arka can be said to belong to a special type that is neither objective understanding nor subjective understanding.

A story in Arka is quite like a movie theatre with no one inside. Whether there is an audience or not, the screening continues.

To put it another way, the default tense for the narrative part in Arka is the present tense. It is not tenseless. It is expressed as if the story were unfolding at the moment before one’s eyes. Because the default tense is the past for Japanese, there might be a sense of discomfort in this.

Surely the narrative part defaults to the present tense, but the past tense can be used for events that are in the past from the perspective of that context. In other words, the past tense can be used when referring to events that have happened prior to the current position of the seek bar, even within the narrative part.

Direct and indirect speech: objective

Indirect speech in Arka is quite developed. It is similar to English in this regard, and we judge this as objective.

However, when the subjects of a main clause and its subordinate clause are coreferent, the subject of the subordinate clause is either omitted or replaced with nos. Because it is felt that such a replacement with nos somewhat matches perspectives with the subject of the main clause, it is possible to say that it is not as objective-understanding as English in this regard.

When it comes to sequence of tenses, it is done in comparison to the main clause in Arka. If the main clause and its subordinate clause describe actions done at the same time, the subordinate clause uses the present tense, even if the main clause might use the past tense.

In Arka, indirect quotation is overwhelmingly more frequent than direct quotation.

Is Arka’s cognitive style modernistic?

Compared to cognitive styles that lean either toward objective understanding or subjective understanding, duplex understanding is closer to the original cognitive style of humans.

Humans are constantly grasping situations around them from both subjective and objective viewpoints, choosing the appropriate side for each situation.

This is close to how a TV show is cast. During the recording process, multiple cameras are recording the scene at the same time, and the camera footage that is the easiest to transmit to the viewers is broadcast as appropriate. If a goal is scored in a soccer match, then the point of view from the goal is broadcast. When a person gives a punch line in a variety show, the video is switched from the camera looking over all of the guests to the one giving a close-up of that person. The video from a TV show is close to the duplex understanding of humans. For that reason, viewers can accept the video without feeling out of place.

If we put this together, the fact that languages are the only thing that lean toward either objective understanding or subject understanding is the discomforting one from the point of view of human cognitive style.

In addition, as far as the matter of tearing off the story from the temporal axis and always using the present tense within that story is concerned, it is quite as if the story is finished at the center of a DVD and the seek bar shows the current position. For Arka, the use of the present tense within a story corresponds to the seek bar of the DVD, separated from the temporal axis.

Whether it be a TV show or a DVD video, it feels as if the language called Arka is reproducing the cognitive style of humans when one looks at examples such as the duplex understanding of Arka or the present tense in narratives.

Delayed cognitive linguistic inquiries

The author first became aware of Arka’s idiomaticity around middle school. Next, he started to be strongly aware of it in his high school days. Then the first half of his time in the university, when he was creating Established Arka, was when he thought of writing this manuscript. Even so, it was not until 2011 when he made his cognitive linguistic inquiries into a coherent article; before then, all he wrote were fragmentary investigations.

Because the creators of Arka created the language before having touched on linguistics, it went through many twists and turns. Thus, we recommend studying linguistics first, so that you, a creator starting late, will not have to make a double effort.

By the way, a wonderful thing has happened from long ago. The fact is that a language sense of “this sentence fits well with Arka” came to be shared among Arka users, as if they were children learning the language naturally, although it’s not as if they particularly arranged this beforehand.

Naturally, this cause was unknown in the beginning. However, in reality, there were definitely some rules beyond a shared language sense. If one performs a linguistic inquiry, then surely these rules should become visible.

Although it was not understood what these rules were, everyone had picked them up, so he had been thinking of starting a concrete investigation sooner or later. However, this ended up being postponed until 2011.

Now that you have seen the cognitive style of duplex understanding, there might have been a few times where you have thought, “so what?!” Some examples are listed below.

Reassessment of linguistic relativism and miscellaneous impressions

Cognitivism and generativism

The author started studying linguistics with the goal of creating a conlang. From the point of view of someone studying linguistics, that is quite an unusual way to enter the field. He came to continually evaluate linguistic theories based on whether they would be useful for Arka or not.

In addition, when he came into contact with people of many origins during his adolescence, he was keen on the different ways that different peoples understood things.

For this author, the linguistic theory with which he felt the most sympathy was the so-called “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis”. Whorf’s remarks can be found in Whorf (1964).

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis branches off primarily into linguistic determinism and linguistic relativism. As one would expect, the author does not agree with determinism, but even so, he approves of relativism, which is near determinism.

Furthermore, when it comes to cliques in linguistics, the author is clearly a cognitivist. He is especially skeptical of Pinker and Chomsky.

Among other things, he refuses to agree with the baseless criticism against the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis brought out by Pinker (1995). If Pinker were to build up a language and a world from zero while having discussions with people of various ethnicities – or if he at least had deeper knowledge of foreign languages and cultures – he might have a better feeling of how much influence languages give to humans. Wierzbicka (2009) has a point when criticizing Pinker on this matter. Moreover, this book is one that the author of this article wants to read, even as he knows how language and culture are related.

Incidentally, that is not to say that the author has been opposed to generativism from the beginning. At the start, the author, being in the sciences, felt that generativism got along better with him than the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – at least on paper. However, when he read about it in practice, he noticed that the theory was quite far from reality, and he ultimately evaluated it as one that did not conform to it.

Does this “I don’t understand” mean “I can’t comprehend it” or “I can’t sympathize with it”?

Once you are aware of duplex understanding, you might respond, “I see, so now what?”

When you watch Japanese TV, you might see a lot of situations where people are arguing. There is various content such as discourse related to politics, but you can often hear remarks such as 「理解できない」 (“I can’t comprehend it”) or 「分からない」 (“I don’t understand”). However, you would seldom see someone saying something like 「理解はするが共感はしない」 (“I can comprehend it, but I can’t sympathize with it”). Why is this the case?

It is because Japanese is a subjective-understanding language. This trend does not happen in objective-understanding languages. Logic is suited for objective understanding, and emotion is suited for subjective understanding. That is to say, Japanese tends toward subjective understanding, even when expressing logic. This evidence is 「分かりました」. This sentence can mean either “I’ve comprehended it” or “I’ve acknowledged it”. It does not specialize in either logic or emotion.

In the objective-understanding French, it is idiomatic to use different words for these two: “Est-ce que vous comprenez?” (“Do you understand?”) and “d’accord?” (“do you agree?”). Most of all, even though French cannot be said to be uniform in this regard, as the expression entendu (“I acknowledge (it)”) comes from entendre (“comprehend”), loki (“comprehend”) in Arka does not have the meaning of xiyu (“acknowledge”), yuta (“accept”), or okna (“sympathize”). A review of the corpus indicates that 「わかったよ」 is translated not as “loki” but rather “xiyu”. However, even in Arka, in an environment where there is an intention of obeying the listener, the very act of the speaker’s comprehending effectively implies acknowledgement.

One could get the impression that Japanese has quite a hard time detaching logical understanding and emotional understanding from each other, even though that does not mean that English and French are exactly able to do so. A Japanese thinks that by saying 「わかった」, they are accepting the other party’s demands, and they might have trouble saying 「わかった」 for that reason. As a result, it seems that remarks such as 「わからん」 (“I don’t get it”) or 「まったく理解できん」 (“I can’t quite comprehend it”) fly about when an argument comes to a standstill.

Could it perhaps be that one thinks that one is making a commitment by saying 「わかった」 even once? In the end, even if one only meant “I comprehend what you said” by 「わかった」, there is a risk of being hounded, “Didn’t you say you understood at that time?!”

In Arka, even “an lokik ti” (“I’ve understood you”) does not imply sympathy, and therefore, it never implies that any kind of commitment is taken by the speaker.

As Arbans say, “I comprehend it but I don’t sympathize with it”

What do Arbans think about this matter? Although this was also the case in the Old Arka of reality, the wording typical of Arbans is “Ah, I see, I get what you want to say. But I don’t agree with your opinion.” This is an expression in which logic and emotion are completely separated.

Japanese people do not use such expressions very often. In fact, there is even a fear that saying such things creates a brutal atmosphere.

Nonetheless, Arbans use such expressions very frequently. This is the boon of duplex understanding. Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English, and French all lean toward one side of the subjective-objective continuum, and speakers of these languages are not used to thinking in both ends concurrently. If the habit of routinely saying “I comprehend it but I don’t sympathize with it” is something belonging to duplex understanding, then can one really dismiss the influence of language on thought?

From the start, Arbazard was exposed to the threats of the magic corps of Lutia, the legendary beast corps of Metio, and the warriors of Altia. The reason that Arbazard became the strongest country in the world was that it always thought rationally, straightened the nails that stuck out instead of hammering them down, praised great people instead of deriding them, rewarded good and punished evil, and adopted good things without fussing over tradition. Without acquiring such a national character, this country, this country, rich in flat land among its surroundings, could not have kept its power for so long; in the worst case, it might not have managed to survive.

The way that Arbans negotiate is extremely skillful:

With this sort of attitude, negotiation is considered to be a completely rational act.

At the same time, they also put it this way:

In their eyes, negotiation is based first on reason, with an emotional face added onto that. This is a mindset that completely separates logic and emotion and ends up feeling somewhat alien to Japan. For those who do not practice this custom, it might seem “mechanical and cold-hearted”. Conversely, they might think, “those people are rational, logical, and clever; no wonder why they’re so advanced”.

What is influenced by language is limited to thinking habits at most

The customs of Arbans, who understand situations both subjectively and objectively at the same time, often feel strange, as such habits are seldom seen among, of course, the Japanese, but also among the Americans and the French.

However, now that we know that this stems from duplex understanding from this inquiry, we now reevaluate the theory of linguistic relativity that was strongly appreciated until now.

While the author might support linguistic relativity, he does not go as far as supporting linguistic determinism. Although there is no place for doubt on whether language influences thinking habits, it probably does not have the power to determine one’s thoughts.

For example, because the author has considered subjectivity and objectivity as separate, even before making Arka, it seems that he personally had duplex-understanding habits from the start. This is considered rare for a Japanese person, but if linguistic determinism were correct, then it should have been after he studied Arka that the author would have thought of the subjective and the objective separately.

Role language and linguistic relativism

In addition, linguistic relativism is also thought to be related to the concept of “role language” (役割語) advanced by Kinsui (2003, 2007).

Let us compare Japanese and Korean, which have an abundance of so-called “character suffixes” (キャラ語尾), with English and French, which do not. Can speakers of the latter languages feel the same characterness (キャラ性) as speakers of the former languages do? The answer is no. At the very least, the characterness conveyed by character suffixes are certainly lost in translation. This problem also occurs when translating from a language with abundant first-person pronouns to a language without them.

Here is an example. If one were to translate 「わたくし、磯鷲早矢と申しますの」 or 「拙者、緋村剣心でござる」 into English, one could only word them as “I am Haya” or “I am Kenshin”.

Japanese has the expression 「わたくし~ですわ」, which brings up the image of a young lady. The thinking habit of sensing the speaker’s personality from the use of first-person pronouns and ending particles is one present in the minds of Japanese people.

Of course, even in languages that lack sentence-ending particles or more than one first-person pronoun, the personality of the speaker can be inferred from other parts of speech or expressions. Still, there does not arise any thinking habit of sensing the speaker’s personality from first-person pronouns or ending particles. This means that there is certainly an influence from language on thought, and it feels as if there is a relationship between linguistic relativism and role language.

Like Japanese, Arka has abundant first-person pronouns, and its ability to indicate characterness is its forte. Consequently, Arbans can be said to foster the thinking habit of surmising someone’s nature using such elements.

(The bibliography is omitted here; it can be found in the original article.)

  1. Although an English version of this page exists, I have provided my own translation instead because I feel that the official translation is inaccurate. 

  2. To be honest, I don’t know why this is listed as the Japanese translation, since it seems to imply the opposite idea from the original Arka sentence. 

  3. Or 13, counting the alite register. 

  4. This is “I (topic) eel (copula)”, or “As for me, it is eel.” In a topic-prominent language, this could be used to show, for instance, that “I” am ordering eel, depending on context. In a subject-prominent language, in contrast, a similarly-structured sentence would necessarily mean “I am an eel”, which is obviously nonsensical. 

  5. This is not a difference in naming only; see this summary for more about this. 

  6. From the Wikipedia page about verb- and satellite-framing.