Comparison in Ŋʒädär

July 28th, 2016 by Miekko
In Ŋʒädär, the adjective for which two NPs are compared is in the instrumental case:
pöntü-rük ('with rough', 'with coarse', in comparative structures: rougher, coarser)
 However, it is also inflected like a verb:
lesnı-rık-ta-jut '(s)he is faster than you'
If both nouns are third person, the lesser one is marked by a circumposition, Un-[dative]-bI.
To compare non-subjects - something like 'I like her more than him', one would rephrase it as 'I like her, she un_him_bi like_ptcpl_instrumental_(3sg)_direct', or 'me.dat she un_him_bi like_pass.ptcpl_instrumental_(3sg)_direct'.

For even more oblique comparison, such as 'it's better at home than in the forest', one would construct the sentence as
soman* un orvur-(u)m bı maba-rak-s
home (than) forest-dat (than) good-instr-intransitive
For oblique comparisons, there is no way of using the inverse and direct to compare nouns of different rank - the circumposition is necessary.

Updated Trailer from The Story Reading Ape!

July 27th, 2016 by Lorinda J Taylor



July 27th, 2016 by surullinensaukko

Make a conlang based on vaporwave. The script shall include full-width Latin alphabet and both Japanese and Chinese characters. Borrow random words from Japanese and Chinese languages and often alter their meaning. Many chopped up and repeated words. Numbers must always be written with at least one decimal.

Detail #301: Lexicalized Paths becoming Verbalized

July 26th, 2016 by Miekko
Most readers probably are aware of satellite-framed and verb-framed languages. This idea takes verb-framing to eleven – by introducing way more lexemes.

Let's consider a culture where a variety of terms for different types of paths exist. A significant number of specific, real-world roads, paths, sea lanes, and waterways in general have specific proper nouns.
So, basically, verbs of movement often derive from proper nouns. These have affixes expressing
  • movement towards major location along the path 
  • movement towards personally significant location along the path (home, ritually important place, hunting grounds, etc)
  • movement away from a major location along the path
  • movement close to that path, possibly zig-zagging over it
  • movement up- or downstream with rivers, or uphill/downhill with very steep paths
Whenever movement along such a path is expressed, it is grammatically mandatory to use the path-specific verb. If no path is known, or the utterance refers to movement along paths in general, the verb is derived either from the four cardinal directions or more generic path-types.

The language doesn't let you walk, it lets you be moving along a named path, and maybe with an optional adverb that expresses 'walkingly'.

Detail #300: Suppletive "Half-Gender" Congruence

July 25th, 2016 by Miekko
Consider a language with two genders, ostensibly masculine and feminine. Have another distinction that almost creates a four-way gender system:
{masculine, feminine} x {animate, inanimate}
{masculine, feminine} x {human, nonhuman}
Now, let's have some marker that goes on verbs sometimes (maybe, say, only in the present tense, or maybe only in realis, or whatever, the details are not so important). However, we get some verbs having a suppletive form for only one out of the four combinations:

Each gender/animateness combination may be the one to get the exceptional form for some given verb. 

Of course, another thing can also happen: suppletive roots for the animate/inanimate distinction, but gender congruence according to masc/fem.


July 24th, 2016 by matan-matika

A diachronic change where voiced liquids and nasals are deleted, but voiceless ones are not.

For those who are sad to see those sounds go: if you liked it, then you should have put a r̥iŋ̊g on it.

Possession in Sargaĺk

July 23rd, 2016 by Miekko
Attributive possession in Sargaĺk has a few small complications:
  • the possessor is in the pegative-genitive case
  • if the possessum is in a locative case or the comitative cases, it remains in those cases
  • if the possessum is in the pegative case, it remains in the pegative case
  • if the possessum is in the nominative case, it will turn into the comitative or the familiar comitative case.
There are two basic ways of expressing "X has Y". The first, and most common with animate nouns has the following structure:
subj.peg1 pronoun.nom2 object.nom2 is
Thus, the owner is the subject, and the possessum is represented by a personal pronoun (agreeing in gender with the possesssum), and a noun phrase, the direct object, that is the possessum itself.
Sometimes, the pronoun agrees with the subject, and most speakers seem to grasp this as meaning the same thing.

This is probably analogous to how the ergative in many languages can be used in constructions along the lines of
noun1.erg noun2 is
for meanings along the lines of noun1 has noun2. The extra pronoun serves to make it ditransitive and thus license the use of the pegative case. 

The other construction uses a dedicated verb, k'ir-. This is common with inanimate nouns, abstract nouns, and with an adjective for object, it expresses some command over a quality - an ability to control or use a quality.
Xivar c'oman k'ir : Xivar has a lot of endurance
Beyond this, k'ir in combination with an infinitive expresses ability:
Osini falməs k'ir-m
Osini read has.fem
Osini knows how to read
Literacy is very unusual in Sargaĺk villages, and so Osini would typically function as the village's record keeper and in an almost semi-diplomatic fashion when interacting with Ćwarmin and later Bryatesle-Dairwueh officials.


July 17th, 2016 by cleverlittlefox

A conlang where /l/ is realized as its “light” [l] or “dark” [ɫ] variant based on the perceived brightness of the speaker’s environment, such as the time of day outside, proximity to light sources, whether or not their eyes are closed, if you’ve just been reading a Russian novel, etc. 

Sargaĺk Participles and their Use

July 17th, 2016 by Miekko
I previously outlined the semantics and the morphology of the Sargaĺk participles. This post sets out to describe their syntax and their pragmatics.

Participles often serve a role comparable to relative subclauses in English. However, the strategy used to express similar ideas usually is one of using different styles of subordinated coordination: when the x was swimming, rather than the swimming x. The three voices of the participles enable some relative-clause-like structure for subjects, objects and recipients of the embedded verb.
Topics tend to prefer the use of separate, subordinate clauses.

An exhaustive list of "general" traits of which one to pick would be:
  • "heavy" embedded VPs are more often rendered as subclauses than by participles
  • "heavy" clauses with an additional subclause that could be rendered by a participle often have participles rather than an additional subclause
  • topics prefer subclauses
  • focus prefers participles
  • certain participles form compound-like lexical structures, and these form an inseparable unit with their head noun. These generally have very full case congruence, and their evidentiality is inferential*. Examples include
    • "xalval ecdo", sweating house or house that sweats, essentially 'sauna'. xalval is not a gerund or anything like that; to some extent, this is a sort of implicit causative, 'house that sweats (you)'.
Beyond the use of participles as attributes in NPs, we have the use of participles with auxiliaries. Participles can be combined with the copula to form statements a bit like "X is verbing Y". The binary copula is only used when emphasizing a positive answer to a yes-no-question. Other than that, the copula-construction is almost always used when the subject is the focus. Thus, a focused subject enforces evidentiality marking in its VP.

Objects and recipients too can, by voice markings on the participle, be marked in this way, but this is somewhat less common.

A handful of auxiliaries require participles:
sanət - be [reputed to/inferred to/seen to/heard to/...] verbThis requires the active form of the present or past participle. (Uninflected). This auxiliary basically emphasizes the content of the evidentiality marker.

xk'arp- - resume

mər- continue

mərmər- continue despite attempts by others to stop one from doing

cease (participle in the ablative)
Further, a lot of verbs lack some participle forms, e.g. verbs of perception often lack  non-primary perception evidentiality forms, verbs of verbal interaction often lack everything but second-hand forms, etc. For some of these, this is more of a conflation of forms, for others it seems more like an actual gap. Lack of past or present forms, or of passive or recipient forms is also not unusual.

Finally, there exists an adverbial case that only exists for participles. This signifies by doing. Its marker is -(k)o, which also reduces the previous syllable's vowel if morphophonologically possible. This conflates a fair share of forms as well.

Sargaĺk: Adjective Congruence and the Copula

July 17th, 2016 by Miekko
The congruence bit of this post is obsolete.

The Sargaĺk copula is somewhat complicated – it is both morphologically defective, in lacking several forms that most other verbs have (specifically, it exclusively has indicative and a basic irrealis form. It lacks imperatives, and any other modal distinctions are just omitted). It also is morphologically extended, in having several forms that few and even no other verbs have. Some of the forms do not historically speaking derive from verbs, but from pronouns and participles, but are nevertheless syntactically and morphologically verbs by now.

Adjective Congruence

Sargaĺk has some congruence on its adjectives.


The above table marks the agreement marker in nominative and accusative noun phrases. The following set of markers appear with the pegative:

Beyond this, the only "normal" congruence markers are -er, which appears for all animate oblique case-number combinations, and -i, which appears for all inanimate oblique case-number combinations.

The case markers used on nouns do appear on adjectives at times as well - including a zero marker for feminine and masculine nominatives. This invariably happens when the adjective is the head of an NP, i.e. constructions analogous to English '(a|the) ADJ one'. This also serves to intensify the adjective, or to mark topicality of the NP or to attract attention to the adjective. This specifically may happen when demonstratives are involved.


There are two copulas: one for clearly binary qualities or memberships of sets, one for qualities with degrees to them. Whether a quality is considered binary or not is very culturally determined - gender is binary, as is being asleep or awake. Being a father is not binary, but being a mother is; being a male is binary, being female is not. This goes with both nouns and adjectives, so this is in a sense another two-way division of the noun/adjective space in addition to gender and animacy.

Colours are generally not binary, except eye colours. Darkness of hair is binary, but light hair colours are considered binary. Hunger vs. satedness is binary, illness is not binary. Deadness and liveness is binary. Etc.

(The order for the verb forms given below is 1 p., 2 p., 3 p. masc, 3p. fem, the upper row being singular, the lower plural)
The two verbs are as follows:
k'iʒ | k'ip | k'ir | k'iva
k'iko | k'iyo | k'ivo | k'ivo

past perfective:
sg: ak'o
pl: ak'yo
sg: ak'ə
pl: ak'e

past imperfective:
k'aʒa | k'apa | k'ara | k'ava
k'avi | k'aya | k'ava | k'ava
əvin | əvi | əvir | əvo
əko | əvyo | əvo | əvo
an | avi | avir | ava
aki | ava | ava | ava
k'əvk (singular)
k'əvka (plural)
The perfective-imperfective distinction in the past binary form is unique to the copula. The future is not fully unique, although its formation for the different verbs that have it is not very regular at all.

(1pl has a thing where -i is an old inflection that appears in some verbs in the past tense.) A peculiar thing with the two copulas is that if the complement is a noun, and thus has intrinsic gender, the congruence marker for adjectives will appear as a suffix on the verb, giving forms such as k'iʒda, əviso, etc. With adjectives, there is no such congruence on the verb, but the adjective does show the gender-number congruence. These two verbs are the only verbs to show gender-number congruence with more than one constituent; we will later, however, find verbs that have congruence not with the subject, but with some other constituent – and for these, the congruence morphemes are the same as for the complement congruence here.

Causatives of the binary version imply a more perfective causation, whereas causatives of the non-binary imply increasing something's quality as something or other. For the causatives, the subject congruence is dropped altogether.