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Deriving Positionals from Directionals

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  • Anthony Miles
    Traffic seems slow this week, so here s a thought that I ve had brewing for a while. The impetus for founding the Guild of Scholars, who regulate the Martian
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 15, 2013
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      Traffic seems slow this week, so here's a thought that I've had brewing for a while.

      The impetus for founding the Guild of Scholars, who regulate the Martian language Siye, was to eliminate misunderstandings between the two dialects of the City. Dialect A had affricates in the very important directional suffixes (and elsewhere, such as cases, but the directionals are my point here), so the suffixes /tu/, /su/, /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [tsu] [su] [na] [nu] [tSi]. Dialect B had passed the affricate phase and moved onto fricatives. In Dialect B, /tu/, /su/. /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [su] [su] [na] [nu] [Si]. Thus, in Dialect B, the allative directional /tu/ and the ablative directlonal /su/ were homophonous.


      Now, I could render the directionals as meaningless in the later speakers of Dialect B, but where's the fun in that? So I thought about it, and I concluded that the Dialect B speakers reanalyzed [su] as a horizontal POSITIONAL suffix, with a phonological basis: [s] is associated with the horizontal, [S] with the stative, [n] with the vertical. Within this system, [s] only appears with [u] and [S] only appears with [i]. [n], however, appears with [a] and [u]. My question is: given the current development of this system, what is the most likely outcome of [na] and [nu]? Would Dialect B keep both? Favor [na] because it contrasts with [su]? Favor [nu] by analogy with [su]? Or would [na] and [nu] develop a semantic distinction other than that between 'up' and 'down'?
    • Leonardo Castro
      ... Which direction each of these correspond to? ... I think anything can happen in your world. Sometimes, words change their meaning by unpredictable
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 20, 2013
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        2013/7/15 Anthony Miles <mamercus88@...>:
        > Traffic seems slow this week, so here's a thought that I've had brewing for a while.
        >
        > The impetus for founding the Guild of Scholars, who regulate the Martian language Siye, was to eliminate misunderstandings between the two dialects of the City. Dialect A had affricates in the very important directional suffixes (and elsewhere, such as cases, but the directionals are my point here), so the suffixes /tu/, /su/, /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [tsu] [su] [na] [nu] [tSi].

        Which direction each of these correspond to?

        > Dialect B had passed the affricate phase and moved onto fricatives. In Dialect B, /tu/, /su/. /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [su] [su] [na] [nu] [Si]. Thus, in Dialect B, the allative directional /tu/ and the ablative directlonal /su/ were homophonous.
        >
        >
        > Now, I could render the directionals as meaningless in the later speakers of Dialect B, but where's the fun in that? So I thought about it, and I concluded that the Dialect B speakers reanalyzed [su] as a horizontal POSITIONAL suffix, with a phonological basis: [s] is associated with the horizontal, [S] with the stative, [n] with the vertical. Within this system, [s] only appears with [u] and [S] only appears with [i]. [n], however, appears with [a] and [u]. My question is: given the current development of this system, what is the most likely outcome of [na] and [nu]? Would Dialect B keep both? Favor [na] because it contrasts with [su]? Favor [nu] by analogy with [su]? Or would [na] and [nu] develop a semantic distinction other than that between 'up' and 'down'?

        I think anything can happen in your world. Sometimes, words change
        their meaning by unpredictable ridiculous ways. A possibility is that
        [na] will be understood as both "up" and "large" and [nu] as "down"
        and "small".

        BTW, why did you choose [na] as "up" and [nu] as "down"? I've been
        thinking about these ideophones. It's interesting that [a] is a "low
        vowel" and [u] a "high vowel". Also, as it's just our jaws that move
        when we open our mouths, [a] is open and low, while [u] is close and
        high. OTOH, the relative position between jaw and palate is greater,
        so [a] could be felt as "higher" than [u].

        So, strange associations could happen and make [na] mean "tall",
        "large" but "low position" and [nu] mean "short", "small" but "high
        position".
      • Anthony Miles
        ... Which direction each of these correspond to? R: /tu/ is allative/directive, /su/ is ablative/elative, /na/ is superlative/superessive, /nu/ is
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 24, 2013
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          2013/7/15 Anthony Miles <mamercus88@...>:
          > Traffic seems slow this week, so here's a thought that I've had brewing for a while.
          >
          > The impetus for founding the Guild of Scholars, who regulate the Martian language Siye, was to eliminate misunderstandings between the two dialects of the City. Dialect A had affricates in the very important directional suffixes (and elsewhere, such as cases, but the directionals are my point here), so the suffixes /tu/, /su/, /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [tsu] [su] [na] [nu] [tSi].

          Which direction each of these correspond to?

          R: /tu/ is allative/directive, /su/ is ablative/elative, /na/ is superlative/superessive, /nu/ is sublative/subessive, and /ki/ is stative/"motion within a space". Example: /lesulotuma/ 'we come', /lesulosuma/ 'we go' /lesulonama/ 'we go up', /lesulonuma/ 'we go down', /lesulokima/ 'we wander', because the root 'to move' contains inherently the notion of motion. /lekimlokima/ 'we are' has a stative /-ki-/.

          > Dialect B had passed the affricate phase and moved onto fricatives. In Dialect B, /tu/, /su/. /na/, /nu/, and /ki/ were pronounced [su] [su] [na] [nu] [Si]. Thus, in Dialect B, the allative directional /tu/ and the ablative directlonal /su/ were homophonous.
          >
          >
          > Now, I could render the directionals as meaningless in the later speakers of Dialect B, but where's the fun in that? So I thought about it, and I concluded that the Dialect B speakers reanalyzed [su] as a horizontal POSITIONAL suffix, with a phonological basis: [s] is associated with the horizontal, [S] with the stative, [n] with the vertical. Within this system, [s] only appears with [u] and [S] only appears with [i]. [n], however, appears with [a] and [u]. My question is: given the current development of this system, what is the most likely outcome of [na] and [nu]? Would Dialect B keep both? Favor [na] because it contrasts with [su]? Favor [nu] by analogy with [su]? Or would [na] and [nu] develop a semantic distinction other than that between 'up' and 'down'?

          I think anything can happen in your world. Sometimes, words change
          their meaning by unpredictable ridiculous ways. A possibility is that
          [na] will be understood as both "up" and "large" and [nu] as "down"
          and "small".

          BTW, why did you choose [na] as "up" and [nu] as "down"? I've been
          thinking about these ideophones. It's interesting that [a] is a "low
          vowel" and [u] a "high vowel". Also, as it's just our jaws that move
          when we open our mouths, [a] is open and low, while [u] is close and
          high. OTOH, the relative position between jaw and palate is greater,
          so [a] could be felt as "higher" than [u].

          So, strange associations could happen and make [na] mean "tall",
          "large" but "low position" and [nu] mean "short", "small" but "high
          position".

          R: /nu/ is an abbreviation of /umnu/ 'downward' (a noun). I didn't want to use /um/ because /um/ means 'man' and I thought it might end up as a generic pronoun /um/. I was still on my 'one syllable morpheme stage. /na/ was a fault in my intial vocabulary generation cipher - it should have been /pa/ from /pate/ 'upward' (a noun). It's too late to rework /nu/~/na/ in Standard Siye. But dialects are a different matter.

          Here's my current suggestion for a pattern, since I like your idea:
          The changes I have described happened as I have described them. The speakers reanalyze /nu/ and /na/ as /n/ 'vertical' + /u/ 'large/low position' or /a/ 'small/high position'. A later generation extends this analysis to /su/ 'horizontal', creating /s+u/ 'large' and /s+a/ 'small', since the allative/ablative contrast was lost much earlier. Now the descendant of Dialect B has a suffix that includes both positional and augmentative/diminutive positions. It's equally complex and yet "wrong" by Standard Siye standards (which is not as standard as the Guild of Scholars would have you believe ;-)


          The two other major changes that the fricativization produces is the conflation of the Benefactive-Dative /-tu/ and the Directive-Dative /-su/ into a single Dative /-su/. And the loss of the directionals forced the case system to bear more weight.
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