Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

Lesson Two

Friday, October 31st, 2014

What are they called?

‘Opa haviwme.
‘opa havi ‘öme

hello grandfather GEN/1
Hello, my grandfather.

‘Opa tujöme.
‘opa tujö ‘öme.

hello grandson GEN/1
Hello, my grandson.

Zaj hwa’umuwme. Pawlmiwma.
zajö hö’a ‘umu ‘öme. pa’ö hömi ‘öma.

PROG learn Umu GEN/1. run for 1
I’m learning Umu. You help me

Da. Zaj pawlmiwtiwme.
töta, zajö pa’ö hömi ‘öti ‘ome.

alright, PROG run for 2 GEN/1
Alright, I (will) help you.

image image image image image image image image image
Jonazuk nnihaza? ‘Ul ijá nnihaza?
jona zukö nöni haza? ‘urö jöja nöni haza?

how as.such small.thing here? name what small.thing here?
How about this? What is this called?

image imageimage image
Hini ‘ul nnihaza.
hini ‘urö nöni haza.

car name small.thing here.
This is called a car.

image image image image image
Jonazuk irömvna?
jona zukö jörö ‘ömö vöna?

how as.such body PL there?
What about those?

image image image image
‘Aj’ul irövna.
‘ajö ‘urö jörö vöna

horse name body there.
Those are called horses.

image image image image image
Jonazuk irömhaza?
jona zukö jörö ‘ömö haza?

how as.such body PL here?
What about these?

‘a’a jörö haza.

cat body here.
These are cats.

‘Ul ijá munövna?
‘urö jöja munö vöna?

name what person there?
What is that man called

‘Ul Kij munövna.
‘urö Kijö munö vöna

name Kij person there.
That man is called Kij.

Kij, ‘ul ijá mariwti?
Kijö, ‘urö jöja mari ‘öti?

Kij, name what mother GEN/2?
Kij, what is your mother’s name?

‘Ul Pal mariwme.
‘urö Parö mari ‘öme.

name Pal mother GEN/1.
My mother is called Bal.

Tagged: conlang, lesson, pseudoghlyphs, umu

Translation Challenge: The Beginning of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Text in English:

The text to be translated in this Translation Challenge is the initial passage of Tolstoy’s 1878 novel Anna Karenina.1 The Ayeri translation here follows the English one by Constance Garnett (1901), which can be found on Project Gutenberg.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family and household, were painfully conscious of it. Every person in the house felt that there was no sense in their living together, and that the stray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one another than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had not been at home for three days. The children ran wild all over the house; the English governess quarreled with the housekeeper, and wrote to a friend asking her to look out for a new situation for her; the man-cook had walked off the day before just at dinner time; the kitchen-maid, and the coachman had given warning. (Tolstoy 2013)

Ayeri translation:

Translation Challenge: The Beginning of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"

Kamayon pandahajang-hen mino; minarya miraneri sitang-ton pandahāng-hen minarya.

Enyareng atauya kāryo nangaya pandahana Oblonski. Silvisaye sarisa envanang, ang manga miraya ayon yena cān-cānas layeri Kahani, seri ganvayās pandahaya ton, nay ang narisaye ayonyam yena, ang ming saylingoyye mitanyam nangaya kamo kayvo yāy. Eng manga yomāran eda-mineye luga bahisya kay, nay tong vakas ten pulengeri, sitang-tong-namoy ayonang nay envanang, nārya nasimayajang-hen pandahana nay nangānena ton naynay. Ang mayayo nyān-hen nangaya, ming tenubisoyrey, mitantong kadanya. Ang engyon vihyam miromānjas keynam si sa lancon kadanya apineri kondangaya, nasimayajas pandahana nay nangānena Oblonski. Ang saroyye envan sangalas yena, ang manga yomoyya ayon rangya ton luga bahisya kay. Sa senyon ganye nangaya-hen; ang ranye ganvaya Angli kayvo lomāyaya visam nay ang tahanye ledoyam, yam mya balangyeng pinyan yanoley gumo hiro ye; ang saraya ersaya bahisya sarisa pidimya tarika sirutayyānena; ang narisaton lomāya risang nay lantaya vapatanas ton.

More information

See this PDF file for the whole thing, including interlinear glosses and some commentary: Translation Challenge: The Beginning of “Anna Karenina”.

  • Plank, Frans, Thomas Mayer, Tatsiana Mayorava and Elena Filimonova, eds. The Universals Archive. 1998–2009. U Konstanz, 2009. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. ‹›.
  • Schachter, Paul. “The Subject in Philippine Languages: Topic, Actor, Actor-Topic, or None of the Above?” Subject and Topic. Ed. Charles N. Li. New York: Academic P, 1976. 493–518. Print.
  • Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. Eds. David Brannan, David Widger and Andrew Sly. Trans. by Constance Garnett. Project Gutenberg. 11 Oct. 2014. Project Gutenberg, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. ‹›.
  1. Hat tip to Steven Lytle for suggesting it.


Thursday, October 30th, 2014

If you see two potential ways to express the same concept, why not make sure your language can do both of them, and call the alternation “stylistic choice.” You need not stop at just two constructions per concept if you know of more!


Thursday, October 30th, 2014

A language where all sentences must be semantically vacuous, e.g. “I hate people except when I don’t”, and it is incredibly gauche to assert anything non-vacuous, all work done by presuppositions, implicature, and/or slightly different implied senses of meaning of words. Contradictory sentences also valid “I gave him what he was wanting but I didn’t give him what he wanted” contrastive with “gave him what he wanted but not what he was wanting”


Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

A conlang that’s based entirely on your pets’ names.


Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

All grammatically correct sentences must either be phonetic palindromes (including ingressive sounds) or, when played backwards, contain some salute to The Dark Lord Satan (all hail).

Moten Words for the Day

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

jemagi /je̞maɡi/, verb: “to sail, to travel”

ibnamagi /ibnamaɡi/, verb: “to walk, to travel on foot”

jugejugej /juɡe̞juɡe̞j/, verb: “to walk; to step”

Not me though. I usually fall asleep before the plane even takes off! :D

So, three verbs this time, all somewhat in the same semantic range, but with specific meanings that do not neatly fit with English counterparts.

Let’s start with jemagi. Its original meaning is “to sail”, i.e. “to travel by boat” (indeed, it’s a compound of jem: “river, brook” and jagi: “to go, to leave”). But its meaning was actually broadened with time, to refer to travelling with any kind of vehicle (including animals like horses). So its most common translation is simply “to travel”.

Yet jemagi doesn’t exactly correspond to “to travel”, because it doesn’t cover travelling on foot. There’s a specific verb for that: ibnamagi (from jagi and bnam: “foot, leg”). So you can’t simply say in Moten that someone travelled somewhere: you have to indicate at least whether they did it mostly on foot (in which case ibnamagi is used) or mostly using vehicles (in which case jemagi is used). My own theory about this semantic split is that long ago, the Moten speakers were a riverside community, and the main means of travel were either riverboats or just travelling on foot (maybe they didn’t have any animals capable of sustaining their weights or pull carriages). This led to two verbs being used for these two forms of travel. When other forms of travel appeared (maybe draft animals were introduced into their community), the verb already used to indicate travel in a vehicle was extended to cover other vehicles, while travelling on foot, i.e. using one’s own strength, kept its own verb.

Since ibnamagi refers to travelling on foot only, it can be translated as “to walk” (as in “he walked the whole way from Paris to Amsterdam”, something I will never do! ;) ). But that’s only true when “to walk” refers to travelling. If you want to refer to the physical activity of walking, i.e. to the act of making one step after the other, there’s another, specific verb for that: jugejugej, from uge: “step, footstep”. So once again here is a place where Moten and English divide the semantic space differently: “to walk” must be translated differently depending on whether one refers to the physical activity of walking, or the act of travelling on foot.

And to complicate matters, jugejugej can also be translated as “to step”, i.e. “to go through a list of actions”. Confused already? ;)


from Tumblr

Detail #114: Aspect Shenanigans

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Imagine a language that distinguishes punctual from non-punctual, but which exact type of punctuality is being discussed is not normally specified - so perfect and inchoative are marked the same in most circumstances - although there may be optional periphrastic ways of specifying further aspectual distinctions.

Of course, this might seem somewhat unrealistic, so how about restricting having only this particular distinction to only, say, irrealis moods?


Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Your gender system should classify dead people based on how they died, and living people based on how you think they will die or how you want them to die. One of the grammatical genders is used only for wombat attacks.

Detail 113: Imperative as a Case

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Imagine a case that marks out a specific noun as an answer to a question or as a suggestion or order.

Which one should I take? That.CASE.
 Would you pay your debts.CASE.
Should I bring the red or the white wine? White.CASE.
Now, this could easily develop into a situation where nominal verbs marked with such a case serve as imperatives.