Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

Unnumbered Detail: Oddly Unbalanced Tense Systems

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
The three usual 'basic' tense systems are "past" vs. "non-past", "non-future" vs. "future" and finally "past" vs. "present" vs. "future". Some languages mix these a bit, having different systems in different aspects (e.g. Russian with its present-shaped gap in the perfective aspect - which given the semantics of Russian aspects makes complete sense.)

However, there also exist other tenses beyond these: there are the hodiernal, the hesternal and crastinal tenses, for instance. The names relate to different days: today, yesterday, tomorrow.

Could an unbalanced system exist of, e.g. "hesternal past vs. non-hesternal tenses" or "crastinal future vs. non-crastinal tenses"?

Oh, the weird ideas that pop up while contemplating the tenses of a conlang.

Unnumbered Detail: Oddly Unbalanced Tense Systems

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
The three usual 'basic' tense systems are "past" vs. "non-past", "non-future" vs. "future" and finally "past" vs. "present" vs. "future". Some languages mix these a bit, having different systems in different aspects (e.g. Russian with its present-shaped gap in the perfective aspect - which given the semantics of Russian aspects makes complete sense.)

However, there also exist other tenses beyond these: there are the hodiernal, the hesternal and crastinal tenses, for instance. The names relate to different days: today, yesterday, tomorrow.

Could an unbalanced system exist of, e.g. "hesternal past vs. non-hesternal tenses" or "crastinal future vs. non-crastinal tenses"?

Oh, the weird ideas that pop up while contemplating the tenses of a conlang.

An Overview of Magwābon

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Madeline Barnicle graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013 with a degree in mathematics. She is pursuing a PhD in mathematical logic at UCLA and will have the opportunity to TA linguistics this coming spring. Madeline is a member of the Southern California Conlang Society.

Abstract

This paper gives an overview of some phonological, grammatical, and cultural, inspirations for the constructed language Magwābon. As an example of its narrative usage, a summary is presented of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” together with some usage notes.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Ŋʒädär: Introduction to the Perfective side of the TAM system

Sunday, April 29th, 2018
Beyond the reduplication mentioned here, Ŋʒädär is rich in moods and aspects. Its tense system permits rather complicated things by auxiliaries, but for a clause without an auxiliary, there are two tenses: past and non-past, which are not distinguished in all moods. Auxiliaries are used for specific times such as 'yesterday', and in combination with aspect forms, obtain forms like 'until yesterday', 'since yesterday', 'intermittently a long time ago', etc.

Non-past is generally not marked by any morpheme, although a handful of verbs do get the marker -vul/vıl/vil/vül- in the inverse when the verb is non-past, instead of the usual marker. These are verbs of perception, of opinion, and of mental states in general. The morpheme originates with the noun *vurl that in Proto-ŊƷD signified the 'soul' of animals. The reason for this only appearing in the non-past tense may originate with some kind of belief that animal cognition did not much care about the past - that animals were more present-centered than man, and this fits with ideas about animal psychology in ŊƷD superstitions throughout the ŊƷD tribes.

The past is marked by a suffix after the aspect marker, but before the person marking. This suffix appears in the realis, optative and dubitative, and takes the form -(I)c'l(I)-.


Beyond this, we get the aspect system. The location of the aspect marker is immediately after the verb root, sometimes causing slight morphophonological alterations of the root itself. The perfective marker has somewhat merged with modal markers.

Perfective, realis:

-mOl-
After stops, this mutates into
-wOl-
Before velar sounds and -w-, the -l- is lost, and before -v-, it's lost while turning the -v- into -w-.  The -m-/-w- part can cause a variety of other things as well: -pw- and -tw- tend to become -kw-. -nm- becomes -m(:)- or -n(:)-. Depending on dialect, -wm- becomes -m(:)-.

Note: intrinsically perfect verbs do not take this marker, unless the perfectivity is emphasized.

Infinitives do not form perfectives by agglutination, but rather as phrases consisting of two infinitives, with the second infinitive being 'modan', which never appears in any inflected form (since it has been subsumed into the morphology of the finite verb.)

Perfective, optative:
-mUksA-
After stops, this mutates into
-wUksA-, where if U = u, the w- further vanishes.
The -m(closed vowel)- part of these morphemes comes from a particle, 'mod', which was a reduction of the verb 'took' and came to signify perfectiveness. -ksA- comes from a similar particle, 'okta', which signified 'maybe'. The optative perfect is always intransitive. If the verb usually would be transitive, the perfect optative is understood as a passive.

Perfect, conditional
-OlOb-
If followed by a morpheme beginning in a labial, this turns into -OlwO-.
The historical origin is a noun olob, signifying 'circumstance, case, chance, fate'.

Perfective, imperative:
-rOn (sg)
-rOndA (pl)
From the imperative form of the verb 'go'. The marker that exists in other related languages had been lost, and the auxiliary 'go!' slowly was merged into the verb morphology. Certain verbs have their own exceptional forms.

Perfective, dubitative
The dubitative marks things that are somewhat unsure. The historical origin is a suffix -EŋdzE, whose further origins probably lie in an assimilated auxiliary. The suffix now is -ŋŋE

Ŋʒädär: Introduction to the Perfective side of the TAM system

Sunday, April 29th, 2018
Beyond the reduplication mentioned here, Ŋʒädär is rich in moods and aspects. Its tense system permits rather complicated things by auxiliaries, but for a clause without an auxiliary, there are two tenses: past and non-past, which are not distinguished in all moods. Auxiliaries are used for specific times such as 'yesterday', and in combination with aspect forms, obtain forms like 'until yesterday', 'since yesterday', 'intermittently a long time ago', etc.

Non-past is generally not marked by any morpheme, although a handful of verbs do get the marker -vul/vıl/vil/vül- in the inverse when the verb is non-past, instead of the usual marker. These are verbs of perception, of opinion, and of mental states in general. The morpheme originates with the noun *vurl that in Proto-ŊƷD signified the 'soul' of animals. The reason for this only appearing in the non-past tense may originate with some kind of belief that animal cognition did not much care about the past - that animals were more present-centered than man, and this fits with ideas about animal psychology in ŊƷD superstitions throughout the ŊƷD tribes.

The past is marked by a suffix after the aspect marker, but before the person marking. This suffix appears in the realis, optative and dubitative, and takes the form -(I)c'l(I)-.


Beyond this, we get the aspect system. The location of the aspect marker is immediately after the verb root, sometimes causing slight morphophonological alterations of the root itself. The perfective marker has somewhat merged with modal markers.

Perfective, realis:

-mOl-
After stops, this mutates into
-wOl-
Before velar sounds and -w-, the -l- is lost, and before -v-, it's lost while turning the -v- into -w-.  The -m-/-w- part can cause a variety of other things as well: -pw- and -tw- tend to become -kw-. -nm- becomes -m(:)- or -n(:)-. Depending on dialect, -wm- becomes -m(:)-.

Note: intrinsically perfect verbs do not take this marker, unless the perfectivity is emphasized.

Infinitives do not form perfectives by agglutination, but rather as phrases consisting of two infinitives, with the second infinitive being 'modan', which never appears in any inflected form (since it has been subsumed into the morphology of the finite verb.)

Perfective, optative:
-mUksA-
After stops, this mutates into
-wUksA-, where if U = u, the w- further vanishes.
The -m(closed vowel)- part of these morphemes comes from a particle, 'mod', which was a reduction of the verb 'took' and came to signify perfectiveness. -ksA- comes from a similar particle, 'okta', which signified 'maybe'. The optative perfect is always intransitive. If the verb usually would be transitive, the perfect optative is understood as a passive.

Perfect, conditional
-OlOb-
If followed by a morpheme beginning in a labial, this turns into -OlwO-.
The historical origin is a noun olob, signifying 'circumstance, case, chance, fate'.

Perfective, imperative:
-rOn (sg)
-rOndA (pl)
From the imperative form of the verb 'go'. The marker that exists in other related languages had been lost, and the auxiliary 'go!' slowly was merged into the verb morphology. Certain verbs have their own exceptional forms.

Perfective, dubitative
The dubitative marks things that are somewhat unsure. The historical origin is a suffix -EŋdzE, whose further origins probably lie in an assimilated auxiliary. The suffix now is -ŋŋE

#520

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

If your deictic pronoun is “ò” and interrogative marker is “wò,” perhaps some people don’t have access to accent marks, so write them as O and wO example: O wO “what’s this?”

Detail #380: Stealing a Thing from Georgian but Refactoring it so It Applies to Nouns Instead

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018
Consider a system of nouns with a rich derivational morphology, where a single root can be used for a variety of vaguely related concepts, e.g.
aras: 'a thing or person in some way related to return of an action'
arat: an opponent or an accuser
aras-in: answer
aras-uk: responsibility
aras-tab: resistance
aras-tuk: physical support or counter-force
v-aras-k: payment
at-aras: reaction
er-ras: a replacement
Now, one could imagine that in a variety of positions, these affixes are omitted, and I am going to go by the Georgian verb route and omit them in the least marked instance. For Georgian verbs, it's the present imperfective that omits semantically significant prefixes, but for these nouns, it will be the definite subject that does so.

Thus, an answer, an opponent, a responsibility or a payment all will be 'aras' in the definite nominative, and the rest of the morphemes appear in non-nominative contexts. How does this work out with regards to understandability?

Well, the verb itself will by sheer semantic content help the listener figure out what type of noun the subject can be in the first place. In such a language, it could help if the verb also encoded some information about the speaker's opinion of or relation to the subject.

Here, we could also imagine a situation wherein the personal pronouns also permit for a slightly richer semantic range than just persons, e.g. "I" also encoding for 'me and my family' or even things like 'these concerns of mine', 'my business', 'my past actions', 'my intentions' and such, just by means of what verbs one uses. Thus something like
"I worked out like planned"
would signify
my plans worked out like I planned
but
"I settled the new house"
works out as
me and my family moved into the new house
Different verbs would obviously need to have rather complicated associations.

An alternative way of designing this idea would conflate everything in the accusative instead (or even absolutive or ergative), and let the verb influence how to parse the object instead.

Detail #380: Stealing a Thing from Georgian but Refactoring it so It Applies to Nouns Instead

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018
Consider a system of nouns with a rich derivational morphology, where a single root can be used for a variety of vaguely related concepts, e.g.
aras: 'a thing or person in some way related to return of an action'
arat: an opponent or an accuser
aras-in: answer
aras-uk: responsibility
aras-tab: resistance
aras-tuk: physical support or counter-force
v-aras-k: payment
at-aras: reaction
er-ras: a replacement
Now, one could imagine that in a variety of positions, these affixes are omitted, and I am going to go by the Georgian verb route and omit them in the least marked instance. For Georgian verbs, it's the present imperfective that omits semantically significant prefixes, but for these nouns, it will be the definite subject that does so.

Thus, an answer, an opponent, a responsibility or a payment all will be 'aras' in the definite nominative, and the rest of the morphemes appear in non-nominative contexts. How does this work out with regards to understandability?

Well, the verb itself will by sheer semantic content help the listener figure out what type of noun the subject can be in the first place. In such a language, it could help if the verb also encoded some information about the speaker's opinion of or relation to the subject.

Here, we could also imagine a situation wherein the personal pronouns also permit for a slightly richer semantic range than just persons, e.g. "I" also encoding for 'me and my family' or even things like 'these concerns of mine', 'my business', 'my past actions', 'my intentions' and such, just by means of what verbs one uses. Thus something like
"I worked out like planned"
would signify
my plans worked out like I planned
but
"I settled the new house"
works out as
me and my family moved into the new house
Different verbs would obviously need to have rather complicated associations.

An alternative way of designing this idea would conflate everything in the accusative instead (or even absolutive or ergative), and let the verb influence how to parse the object instead.

Ŋʒädär: The Conditional

Monday, April 23rd, 2018
The conditional verb in Ŋʒädär (marked by -OlOb- directly on the stem) can be used for a variety of uses, even strictly indicative/realis uses. It has three main usages:

1. Irrealis / Conditional
The presence of -OlOb- on a verb is most commonly used to signal a conditional construction. Usually, both the protasis and apodosis are marked with -OlOb-, especially if they are of the same tense. However, if if the protasis is in the past, and the apodosis in the present, you sometimes only get -OlOb- on the protasis. The protasis often comes before the apodosis, but this is not mandatory. In the case of the protasis coming after, however, the postposition -ok'an is mandatorily suffixed to the verb or to a third person dummy obviative pronoun. Here, a slight indication that the irrealis is somewhat 'infinitive-like' appears.

2. Statements about VPs
What in English would be expressed as 'it is unfortunate/good/... that ..." would, in Ŋʒädär be constructed as
unfortunate/good/... VP (with V having -OlOb-)
An interesting difference is that for proper adjectives, use of the absolutive indicates that the statement is realis, whereas use of the complement case indicates that the statement is irrealis. For nouns, it is dative vs. complement, where the dative indicates realis. For "improper adjectives" (or adverbally inclined adjectives, see this), the distinction is maintained by omitting the absolutive marker in the realis, and the use of the complement case in the irrealis.

3. Denoting wishes and desires
If used in a statement with no apparent apodosis, and no apparent adjective or NP (or even other VP) to parse as qualifying the quality of the statement,  -OlOb- cannot be parsed as marking neither a condition nor a result, and will be parsed as expressing a desired circumstance.

Ŋʒädär: The Conditional

Monday, April 23rd, 2018
The conditional verb in Ŋʒädär (marked by -OlOb- directly on the stem) can be used for a variety of uses, even strictly indicative/realis uses. It has three main usages:

1. Irrealis / Conditional
The presence of -OlOb- on a verb is most commonly used to signal a conditional construction. Usually, both the protasis and apodosis are marked with -OlOb-, especially if they are of the same tense. However, if if the protasis is in the past, and the apodosis in the present, you sometimes only get -OlOb- on the protasis. The protasis often comes before the apodosis, but this is not mandatory. In the case of the protasis coming after, however, the postposition -ok'an is mandatorily suffixed to the verb or to a third person dummy obviative pronoun. Here, a slight indication that the irrealis is somewhat 'infinitive-like' appears.

2. Statements about VPs
What in English would be expressed as 'it is unfortunate/good/... that ..." would, in Ŋʒädär be constructed as
unfortunate/good/... VP (with V having -OlOb-)
An interesting difference is that for proper adjectives, use of the absolutive indicates that the statement is realis, whereas use of the complement case indicates that the statement is irrealis. For nouns, it is dative vs. complement, where the dative indicates realis. For "improper adjectives" (or adverbally inclined adjectives, see this), the distinction is maintained by omitting the absolutive marker in the realis, and the use of the complement case in the irrealis.

3. Denoting wishes and desires
If used in a statement with no apparent apodosis, and no apparent adjective or NP (or even other VP) to parse as qualifying the quality of the statement,  -OlOb- cannot be parsed as marking neither a condition nor a result, and will be parsed as expressing a desired circumstance.