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199207Re: Introducing myself and my half-baked language

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  • Alex Fink
    Oct 20, 2013
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      On Thu, 17 Oct 2013 05:25:56 -0300, Vítor De Araújo <vbuaraujo@...> wrote:

      >Hello, conlangers!
      >
      >I have been lurking on the list for a month or so and reading the
      >archives, and I thought I might introduce myself. I am a Computer
      >Science undergrad student. I have little formal study in Linguistics,
      >but I have been reading about languages and Linguistics on the web and
      >occasionally books quite a bit since I was 15 (I'm 22 now), and I did
      >one semester and a half of a Language and Literature / Japanese major
      >where I had some Linguistics courses before leaving for Computer
      >Science.

      Welcome! I also studied some computer science as an undergrad, though I've drifted over to maths now.

      >Vreksi [...] I will describe
      >what I have currently. It is going through a lot of reformulation
      >recently, so the following explanation includes a lot of "this used to
      >be this way but I'm thinking about changing it to that way".
      >Suggestions are of course welcome.

      There's a lot to like here. Some of my favourite bits that I don't further comment on below are the interaction of the mobile particles with affixal case, and the breeakdown of the plural pronouns.


      >Vowels may also be "marked" or "unmarked". In the original project of
      >the language this distinction was one of length, but I'm not sure
      >anymore; I have been thinking about high vs. non-high tone. This
      >distinction is employed grammatically. In general, a vowel must be
      >stressed for it to be marked.

      Tone, being extremely suprasegmental, is more liable to get used for purely syntactic functions (like marking out the verb) than length is, certainly.

      >There is also the curious case of /ks/, which I
      >have been meaning to remove from the language but I am not sure. [Is it
      >too weird to forbid stops in the coda _except_ in one single
      >combination?]

      I don't think it's too weird. It wouldn't be so hard to arrange that /ks/ is the only relict of former more general clusters involving a stop coda, most of which have historically decayed into something else. (Though in that case I'd be curious where /ps/ went.)

      >Nominative is unmarked. The original accusative was marked with "-mo".
      >I have recently been playing with the idea of having two accusatives:
      >one for when the patient has some kind of participation or volition in
      >the action ("-le") and one when not ("-mo"). Inanimates usually always
      >take "-mo", but people and other animate beings may take either
      >depending on the situation. The distinction is somewhat subtle. So, for
      >example, "me sele kīsta" means "I kissed her/him (with her/his
      >consent)", while "me semo kīsta" would be a "stolen kiss".

      Interesting. I wonder whether _-le_ has some other uses with e.g. more comitative shading. Participatory patients alone seems like a relatively small portfolio for a case affix, especially in a language that's moving in the direction of loosening (?) its case affixes to particles.

      On similar lines, agency contrasts on the A are more common than on the P, as far as I know. How do agents behave in Vreksi with respect to volition? "I [accidentally] broke the table" and all that.

      >Verbs

      You seem to have a whole lot of verb stems ending in _s_ (of the verbs you mentioned here just _gwēl-_ and _fūlv-_ don't, if I've segmented out the latter right). Is there something behind that?

      For that matter, presumably there's some (morpho)phonological rule that fixes up _fūlv·ta_ phonotactically...

      >I am thinking about killing the separate tense/aspect marking, at least
      >in its current form. "-ta" is in the process of becoming a "perfect
      >aspect, implied past unless combined with other tense morpheme like
      >-wes" morpheme.

      It is certainly uncommon to have orthogonal tense and aspect systems, though far from unheard of.

      >Incidentally, "-wes" comes from the verb 'wēse' "to intend".

      How about _-wos_? Is that derived from an ablaut variant of _wēse_ (and if so does that stem survive)? or is it derived from _-wes_ rather than primarily from a verb? or just accidentally similar? or?

      >Adjectives are really intransitive verbs. There is a special
      >attributive form (a kind of participle) for verbs:
      >
      > se gwēle (it is green)
      > gwelea talpa (green table; stress falls on "gwe")

      (But you don't write _gwélea_?)

      Can all verbs be attributivised? Can clauses of more than a single verbal word be attributivised too? -- this could well be useful in a reform of relative clauses.

      >There is a system of "lenition" (phonologically rather than
      >grammatically conditioned) to avoid sequences of the form "CV₁-CV₂"
      >across morphemes, where C is the same consonant (the vowels may or may
      >not be the same). This can be seen in "me" (I) + "-mo" (acc.) = "mewo".
      >I haven't fleshed this out yet, though. In particular, the conditions
      >that trigger this are not well defined.

      What do other leniting consonante lenite into? /m/ to /w/ is sensible on its own (reminds me a little of Hittite /w/ > /m/ near /u/). But if this were a process of broad applicability I'd expect that place would be more readily dissimilating than manner, I think. E.g. crosslinguistically, the phenomenon that CVC roots disprefer homorganic consonants are common, but for manner I don't know any cases.

      Alex
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