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Using pre-existing conlang Roots to create a new language

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  • Elliott Lash
    Dear all, I have not been posting at all for a few years, but I have been trying to keep up with the conversations. One of my interests has always been to use
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 25, 2013
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      Dear all,

      I have not been posting at all for a few years, but I have been trying to keep up with the conversations. One of my interests has always been to use my database of roots for proto-Silinestic to create new languages, specifically languages that sounds like they are sort of like weird versions of real actual languages - like German for example. 

      I have finally found a way to make it work! I think.

      Here are some sentences:

      De See würe of den Esset ernören.
      "The dove was sitting on the nest."
      *ta sêwa busî opod tanô ess-sida essnorani
      (ta = that, sêwa = dove, bu-sî 'be-past', opod 'over', ta-nô 'that-dative', ess-sida 'on/in-sit', ess-nor-ani 'on/in-dwell-pres.participle' -  the umlaut of the 'ernören is due to influence from the infinitive which is from *ess-nor-ye-llo > er-nör-ie-l > ernör-e-l/n)

      By the way this would be, in Silindion:
      mistinë i siva emë i essiravi. 
      mist-i-në  i sivaemëessira-bi
      sit-them-impfthedoveonnest-loc
      (this has a totally different word for 'sit', but the word ernor- 'dwell' exists in Silindion and is related to ernör- in the above 'Germanic' language).

      You see here that the 'Germanic' language uses the dative ending -nô on the determiner, but Silindion uses the locative -bi (which was originally a post position). I am assuming the proto-language did not have any case endings (or perhaps just an nominative-accusative-genitive system).  I think that it is not unrealistic for related languages to differ with regard to the placement of post/prepositions and hence the different position of the later case endings can be explained.

      Another example:
      De Erzel fürte sên de Wetze! 
      "The prophet told me the truth!"
      *ta arhtilo bur- sêt-ni de westitû 
      (ta = that, arh-til-o 'future-see-er', bur- 'tell', sêt-ni 'me-dat', westi-tû 'true-abstr.noun')

      The Silindion would be:
      Avuri sinti i astilo i vestimán!
      a-vur-i sinti i astilo i westima-n 
      AUG-tell-PAST me.dat the prophet the truth-ACC

      Note that the 'Germanic' language differs from Silindion in having another abstract noun suffix -tû instead of -ma - this I think is fairly common amongst related languages.  

      The one thing to note her is that the past tense of the 'Germanic' language is -te. This is not directly from German -te, although of course it is modeled after it.  Instead, I found a pre-existing that could wind up as -te, depending on how I worked out the sound changes and the syntactic changes.

      So, there is a root *sthe^ (^ = glottal stop) in Silinestic.  The -th- stands for a aspirated 't'. This mean 'stand' (it is modeled on the PIE root of a similar shape). In Silinestic, its past tense was (a)-sth^-i. I decided that sth- would be simplified to 'th' in the 'Germanic' language. This would then change to 'd-' (aspirated t to voiced stop seems like a fair change to me). Then this would be devoiced (in the equivalent of the High German Sound Shift). 

      This would give:
      sth^i > th^i > thi > di > de > te 

      Now, where to attach this? I went with the infinitive:
      *bur-ye-llo 'tell-CLASS1-INF' (-ye- is one of several infinitive class markers that existed in Silinestic).   > pur-ie-l (with the equivalent of 'Grimms law', devoicing voiced stops) > pür-ie-l (umlaut) > pfürie-l (HG sound shift) > fürie-l (further change) > fürien (final -l to -n, just to get it closer to German), and then füren. 

      So, this gives you: fürente, with syncope (a general process in the language) you get: fürnte, which could be simplified to fürte. 

      So what do you think? 

      Elliott
    • Ph. D.
      ... On a somewhat related note, I am 58. When I was in college back in the 1970s, we students would call a graduate teaching assistant by his/her first name as
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 25, 2013
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        On 1/25/2013 7:27 PM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
        > On 26 January 2013 00:10, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...> wrote:
        >
        >> I have heard that the distinction between formal and informal pronouns
        >> (the T-V distinction) is kind of symmetric in some languages such as
        >> French and asymmetric in languages such as Japanese and Brazilian
        >> Portuguese.
        >>
        >> Let me explain: in French, a student uses a formal pronoun for her/his
        >> professor and vice-versa, while in Japanese the vice-versa part
        >> doesn't work (student uses a pronoun and professor uses other).
        >>
        > That's actually incorrect. When I was in primary and junior high school, we
        > pupils would all use "vous" towards our teachers, and they all used "tu" to
        > reply to us. So it was just as asymmetric as in Japanese. Only when I
        > reached high school did the usage change, and only then did the teachers
        > start to use "vous" towards us as well. So it's far more complicated than
        > French having symmetrical politeness and other languages having
        > asymmetrical politeness. At least age seems to have an influence as well.
        >
        > <snip>

        On a somewhat related note, I am 58. When I was in college back in the
        1970s,
        we students would call a graduate teaching assistant by his/her first
        name as
        they were only four or five years older, but we would refer to any
        instructor
        more than ten years older as Prof. Smith or Mr. Smith.

        When I took a few college classes a few years ago, I was shocked to hear all
        the students call their instructors by their first names, no matter how
        much
        older they were. The instructors didn't seem to mind.

        --Ph. D.
        --near Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
      • Alex Fink
        ... What s actually really common, I think, is for a language to have a whole bunch of suffixes (/ other processes) that it uses to make abstract nouns with
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 26, 2013
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          On Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:03:16 -0800, Elliott Lash <erelion12@...> wrote:

          > Note that the 'Germanic' language differs from Silindion in having another
          > abstract noun suffix -tû instead of -ma - this I think is fairly common
          > amongst related languages.  

          What's actually really common, I think, is for a language to have a whole bunch of suffixes (/ other processes) that it uses to make abstract nouns with different fossilised frequencies and patterns of behaviour; just one would be kinda weird. Of course, it is a very common historical development for different such suffixes to become more or less productive.

          > This ['th'] would then change to 'd-' (aspirated t to voiced stop seems
          > like a fair change to me).

          I must differ. To me, that change in one step seems actually impòssible if there is also a [t] in the language: [t_h] and [t] and [d] only differ in voice onset time, decreasing in that order, and since sound change is gradual [t_h] cannot jump over [t] to become [d]. Now, as it turns out, the *other* direction [d] to [t_h] is a common enough multi-step change in natlangs, with breathy voice as an intermediate, [d] > [d_h\] > [t_h]; but I've never seen this run in reverse (unconditioned voicing changes are virtually always towards the unmarked, and voiceless aspirated are less marked than voiced). The shortest way to get [t_h] > [d] I can see is [t_h] > [T] which in Germanesque style > [D] > [d].

          All that said, there are enough steps in your development that I'm sure you can find another way around it that does not need [t_h] > [d].

          > So what do you think? 

          Not my own cup of tea (I don't want my artlangs to have anything to do with German or Romance or other top-twenty natlangs, that's just so còmmon), but seemingly done with great craft. Bravo.

          Alex
        • Elliott Lash
          Thanks Alex for your comments (1) Silinestic languages have multiple abstract known formations, as you suggested. -tû and -ma are just two of them. There s
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 26, 2013
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            Thanks Alex for your comments

            (1) Silinestic languages have multiple abstract known formations, as you suggested. -tû and -ma are just two of them. There's also -rhai and -wa and -lo for some more that I can think of off the top of my head. The idea here is that although all would be attested in the daughter languages, only some are productive. Perhaps the 'Germanic' language chose to make -tû productive and extended it to roots which would have taken -ma in the proto-language.

            (2) As for the change from [t_h] to [d] change, I never implied that it was one step, I would assume it moved through [t], but after the voiceless sound had become [T]. So I am not sure if that renders your point moot, as I am not a phonologist. Otherwise, I could just use your alternative method of deriving [d], via [T]. That's fair enough.

            (3) Granted this sort of thing might be not everyone's cup of tea. But I would like to distance this type of endeavor from the more common approach to this kind of a postiori conlanging, which is to take a proto-language reconstructed by academic methods on the basis of real natlangs and then create a sort of alternative development to wind up with a new branch on the tree for the same language family. My design goals here are completely different. It is to take mostly a priori roots and apply sound changes that are similar, but possibly not identical to the sound changes posited in the development of the target language. In this way I can create an A PRIORI language that is superficially a like the target natlang. Of course Silinestic does have some influences from my study of Indo-European, so it's not completely free of a posteriori effects. What I have often found in the past in trying to do this with the Silinestic roots that I have is that the
            roots and the morphology that I designed for that proto-language do not really constitute a phonotactically suitable system for deriving fake Germanic (for example) via the actual sound changes that are posited for Germanic. That means that I really have to think a lot about how to get the same or similar result with different changes.

            Thanks again for your comments and I am glad you thought it was done 'great craft'! It was really just a quick attempt which I am sure can be greatly improved. For instance, I have noted that 'Esset' (*essida) and Wetze (*westitu) actually have the wrong development for 'd' and 't', if I want to wind up with something approximating the history of Germanic. -d- should become -t- and then (OHG) -zz- and then (NHG) -ss-, while -t- should become -T- then -D- and then -t-, and in fact that is what usually happens even in this fake Silinestic Germanic. However, since I like these words, I'll have to think of some new non-Germanic sound changes that have the effect of creating Germanic sounding words.

            Oh, and finally, this language is a practice language and really would never have developed in Oreni (the world where Silindion and its proto-language Silinestic are spoken)

            Elliott




            ________________________________
            From: Alex Fink <000024@...>
            To: CONLANG@...
            Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2013 6:33 PM
            Subject: Re: Using pre-existing conlang Roots to create a new language

            On Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:03:16 -0800, Elliott Lash <erelion12@...> wrote:

            > Note that the 'Germanic' language differs from Silindion in having another
            > abstract noun suffix -tû instead of -ma - this I think is fairly common
            > amongst related languages.  

            What's actually really common, I think, is for a language to have a whole bunch of suffixes (/ other processes) that it uses to make abstract nouns with different fossilised frequencies and patterns of behaviour; just one would be kinda weird.  Of course, it is a very common historical development for different such suffixes to become more or less productive. 

            > This ['th'] would then change to 'd-' (aspirated t to voiced stop seems
            > like a fair change to me).

            I must differ.  To me, that change in one step seems actually impòssible if there is also a [t] in the language: [t_h] and [t] and [d] only differ in voice onset time, decreasing in that order, and since sound change is gradual [t_h] cannot jump over [t] to become [d].  Now, as it turns out, the *other* direction [d] to [t_h] is a common enough multi-step change in natlangs, with breathy voice as an intermediate, [d] > [d_h\] > [t_h]; but I've never seen this run in reverse (unconditioned voicing changes are virtually always towards the unmarked, and voiceless aspirated are less marked than voiced).  The shortest way to get [t_h] > [d] I can see is [t_h] > [T] which in Germanesque style > [D] > [d]. 

            All that said, there are enough steps in your development that I'm sure you can find another way around it that does not need [t_h] > [d]. 

            > So what do you think? 

            Not my own cup of tea (I don't want my artlangs to have anything to do with German or Romance or other top-twenty natlangs, that's just so còmmon), but seemingly done with great craft.  Bravo.

            Alex
          • Leonardo Castro
            ... In Brazil, você was once the formal pronoun and tu the informal one (I think it remains like this in Portugal), but você has been banalized ,
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 26, 2013
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              2013/1/25, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...>:
              > [...]
              >
              > The usage of "tu" and "vous" has changed a lot in the last 50 years and I
              > think it is still changing. My grandfather (67 years old) was using "vous"
              > to talk to his father, but not all is sibling did because they were in the
              > period this was changing. Personally, I only have heard one time in my life
              > someone using "vous" for their parents and they were very old (I'm not
              > counting the times I've heard it on television since some movie take place
              > before 1960). Personally I always used "tu" with my grandparents (I'm 22),
              > and using "vous" would feel very distant for me. Most people I know of my
              > age use "tu" for their grandparents.

              In Brazil, "você" was once the formal pronoun and "tu" the informal
              one (I think it remains like this in Portugal), but "você" has been
              "banalized", maybe in a hystorical proccess similar to that of English
              "you", and the new formal pronouns are "o senhor" and "a senhora",
              literally "the Mister/Sir/Lord" and "the Lady/Madam".

              For instance, people would formally ask "O senhor quer água?" meaning
              "Do you want [some] water?"

              The pronouns "tu" and "você" are both used as the informal pronoun
              depending on the Brazilian region you are. Interestingly, as the Bible
              Portuguese translations always uses "tu" instead of "você", some
              people consider "tu" more ellegant and respectful. I think that
              similar phenomenon happens in other languages. It seems that exist a
              formal/informal cycle...

              [...]

              > My mother told me to ask people whether they prefer me using "tu" or "vous",
              > but that also feels awkward for me, because I feel that a person will not
              > necessarily admit s/he preferred being call "vous" but still might be
              > somewhat offended.

              My mother never wanted to be called "a senhora" because she said that
              she felt as being too old being called this way.

              > Personally, I would prefer there wasn't this constant dilemma in my mother
              > tongue, but there is. But I would rationally like to try to avoid using
              > "vous" as much as possible, but I still often do because it feels more
              > "right" and also because in some cases the person I'm talking to might think
              > I'm a better person because of this, which I think is silly.

              I dislike the "T-V distinction" as well.
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