Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

Verbs of Perception in Sargaĺk

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
In Sargaĺk, there is a waysof forming new verbs of perception that are fairly interesting. All of the suffixes mentioned here create citation form verbs when applied to roots.

The derivative suffix -at'on goes on either the noun stem for an organ of perception (which either is the body part that felt a touch, or the eyes, or the face in the face in case of olfactory and gustatory perception), or the ears, or on an onomatopoeic string representing a sound. This leads to some lexemes which are basically forbidden by Sargaĺk phonotactics appearing anyway: s:::::::at'on ('to hear a light wind'), k'rktat'on (which in the causative means 'to eat nuts'), pŕtpŕtpat'on (which in the causative means 'to fart'), y::::::::at'on (to hear a wind howling in something), auwo:::::at'on (to hear wolves howling), pst'at'on: to hear water sloshing

An NP or an adjective you've visually perceived can also have -at'on on it, or even a number - normally indicating that you've counted them by eye. The way of perception can also be mentioned even if the verb has incorporated some adjective or noun or onomatopoeia, then as an absolutive (dative) argument. A thing that has been perceived as being something will be indicated as an absolutive (accusative) object, however, the thing can also be incorporated with the adjective left as an absolutive object complement.

-at'p'a indicates the sound one makes when perceiving a thing, quality or sensation, or a quality one senses, or even a noun one becomes.

Detail #332: Articles for Names Intertwining with Modes

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
In some languages, even names take articles. Fairly un-exotic examples of these include some dialects of German and Scandinavian. However, we can go on and do some fairly interesting things here.

We can obviously distinguish a variety of social status and age by such articles, but another thing we could include in them would be mood! We can of course also consider case, if we go for a German-style system with case distinguished in articles. However, subtypes of the vocative could have different markings - maybe also distinguishing a different number of subtypes in different social statuses, and maybe also distinguishing both the status of speaker and recipient. Consider, imperatives. A particle could easily change to indicate that the verb is to be parsed as a command, or indeed as a confirmation of a command. An article could also indicate that the verb is meant as a question to the listener. One could also imagine various optatives and jussives and the like having special markings with names (but no special markings on other NPs, where auxiliaries, independent particles and verb forms serve the whole heavy lifting duties.)

However, one could also have the question-articles appear on non-vocatives whenever the addressee also is a participant in the verb phrase, so some non-vocative cases also may need to have question-address-forms. A system where some cases are conflated may appear with those forms.

 The historical origin of these forms may be rich in different types of lexemes: verbs ('hear', 'do', '(I) obey', etc...), nouns ('boss', 'word (to)'), adjectives ('kind', 'right', 'worthy', etc), adverbs ('immediately'), etc. The dividing line between these and cognates in the language is that stress patterns for these have been different, leading to significantly different sound changes over time.

Create words in your language that revolve around a basic word/concept, but have different meanings for the word based on the state that the word is in. For example: A word that means "rushing water" and a word that means "cold water," which are both completely different from the word for "water." Bonus points if there is no word for water (ie, the base concept)

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

from Tumblr

Hi! Could I get the invite link to conville discord server? Thank you!

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I can do that if you come off anon, but I can’t do that on anon.

Ćwarmin: The Polar Question and Its Other Uses

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The polar question in Ćwarmin is formed partially by syntactical means, partially by morphological ones. In addition, intonation also plays a role, with rising intonation towards the end of the phrase.

The main morphological indication is a suffix, for human nouns -k[ə|o]r, for inanimates -t[ə|o]r. This is an exceptional morpheme in that it agrees with the animacy of the relevant noun – when marking a verb, it may distinguish whether the question pertains (more) to an animate or an inanimate argument of that verb. It usually is located on the verb, but can also be moved to a fronted NP. 

Here are different questions regarding whether Kier steals apples:
Kier-kər lend-itiś mesl-i
does Kier steal apples?

Kier lend-ijiś mesl-i-kər
does Kier steal apples?

lend-ijiś Kier mesl-i-tər
Kier lend-ijiś mesl-i-tər
Apples is what Kier steals, aren't they?

lend-(ijiś)-tər Kier mesl-i
does Kier steal apples?

-tər and -kər both sometimes surpress accusative marking, with inanimates even plural marking is sometimes omitted in the core cases before -tər. This is a place where some differential object marking actually occurs in Ćwarmin, with indefinites generally omitting the accusative or plural marking before the interrogative marker.

However, the same structure with -kər/-tər appears in 'regardless of'-style meanings, and in 'whether'-style meanings. In 'regardless of', the tone is falling throughout, whereas in 'whether' the tone has a light premature rise before falling.
bec a Alas staŋn-u-tor kinl-əc
you (c) Alas answer_yes-Q ask-2sg ?
you ask whether Alas answers yes?
'a' is an optional complementizer that introduces subordinate clauses. 
Parsing -tor/-tər in this way is only permitted with verbs of knowledge and perception.

The 'regardless of'-meaning usually goes after the verb, but can go elsewhere - clause-initial position or even just before the verb.
wərs-ic sewk-ər kurćap(-utćo) au-tor.
walrus-meat eat-1sg salty(-obj.compl.) is-Q
I eat walrus-meat regardless if it's salty
Autor sometimes is rendered as 'ator', aukor as 'akor'.

Call for Papers

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

ΤΕΚΤΩΝ (Tekton) is a new journal written by and for language constructors, containing articles and other material in constructed languages, about constructed languages, and all other subjects of interest to language constructors. Tekton is affiliated with the Constructed Languages Facebook group and the Linguifex wiki.

Tekton is a successor in spirit to Æquinox, a journal featuring prose, poetry, and drama written in or translated into constructed languages, published from 2011 and 2014. Tekton is a home for any material that could or would have been submitted to Æquinox.

Tekton also welcomes submissions covering all other aspects of language construction, including but not limited to:

  • Information about natural languages that can be used as inspiration
  • Tips on how to start and build a constructed language
  • Tools you can use to build your language
  • Quizzes and games to test your language construction skills
  • Reviews of books, films, shows, and games related to constructed languages
  • News about events in the world of language construction
  • How, when, and where you can get together with other language constructors
  • How to get your constructed language noticed
  • Who is looking for someone to help building a language
  • Language construction in practice: text and articles written in constructed languages
  • Letters to the editor

Submissions are to be sent to

All text submitted to Tekton will be copy edited and may be abridged or emended by the editors.

Images for non-news articles may be submitted only as a complement to the text and in order to illustrate the use of a constructed language. Tekton reserves the right to include or exclude them from the final edition.

Guidelines for Text Written in Constructed Languages

  • Text written in a constructed language must be accompanied by an accurate translation into English. Please note that technical limitations may require the editors to align text and translation in ways other than as submitted. The assistance of the author may be requested to resolve any points of doubt regarding the relationship between text and translation.
  • Authors are encouraged to provide sufficient explanatory material to allow the dedicated reader to verify the accuracy of the translation.
  • The text should be accompanied by a brief description of the language in which it is written, with an emphasis on its linguistic characteristics.
  • Images of text written in a constructed languages-specific script are welcome, but they must be provided as an accompaniment to a Romanized text, not as a substitute.

By submitting an article to Tekton, the author if the article is deemed to have granted Tekton a non-exclusive license to publish said article, without restriction as to place of publication, medium of publication, or language of publication, during the entire term of copyright of the article, including renewals and extensions. The author is also deemed to have agreed to Tekton publishing the article under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License permitting all users the unlimited right of unpaid access to the full text of the article and the unlimited right to copy, paste, download or otherwise use the article, as long as these uses are restricted to non-commercial use only and provided that due acknowledgement is made to the original author and the original publication in Tekton. The author retains the right to post or deposit the article in a subject or institutional repository, as long as the posting or depositing of the article serves no commercial goal and the author ensures that Tekton is properly credited. The author retains the right to publish the article in a volume of his own work.
The author guarantees that the article submitted to Tekton either has not been previously published elsewhere or, if it has been published in whole or part, any permission necessary to publish it in Tekton has been obtained and provided to Tekton together with the original copyright notice.
By submitting an article to Tekton, the author of the article will further be deemed to have represented and warranted that that the article does not infringe upon any copyright; that the author is the sole and exclusive owner of the rights conveyed to Tekton; that permission has been obtained for use in electronic and print media of any copyrighted material reproduced in the author’s submission; and that the article does not contain infringing, libelous, obscene or other unlawful matter. If any third party sues Tekton for copyright infringement or issues any claim arising from a breach of the aforesaid warranties, the author will indemnify Tekton for, and hold Tekton harmless from any loss, expense or damage occasioned by such a suit or claim.

Conlangery #128: Lingua Philosophica

Monday, March 6th, 2017
David Salo comes on to talk about his historical research into George Dalgarno’s Lingua Philosophica, a 17th century philosophical language. We discuss the features of Dalgarno’s work, a little of how it compares to other work of the time and also its influence on the history of conlanging. Top of Show Greeting: Lingua Philosophica (translated... Read more »

A Bit on the Ethics and Aesthethics of Prescriptivist Thought

Saturday, March 4th, 2017
This is a response to a thing written maybe two years ago in a facebook group; I hope whoever wrote it has forgotten about it and does not feel harassed or pointed out. This post has been a very long time in the works, and while I could come up with better examples, more in-depth explanations etc, I think I will just call it a day for this one by now. Indented text are quotes, all the rest is my own writing.Finally, I did ask for permission to repost this and comment to it, but I don't even remember who wrote the original text. No malice intended.
I think I've finally managed to put my finger on what exactly bothers me about language evolution, particularly of my native language. It's not the fact that languages change, period, that gets on my nerves; I accept without grievance the fact that the present is ephemeral and all things must change - and I would be proud of contributing to a shared achievement of our species that continued to grow in complexity, nuance, or efficiency.
This is a nice onset. Of course, the context in which it was posted puts some limitations on it: facebook comments and statuses and 'posts' don't really provide a venue for any depth. So, I'll point out a few things I find missing this far: metrics for complexity, nuance and efficiency.

Complexity itself is not an obvious concept here: complexity for complexity's sake is often among the most wasteful things imaginable, and therefore at odds with another desideratum: efficiency. What is complexity supposed to mean? Let us imagine a rule that says that words that begin in clusters cannot be preceded by the preposition 'for', but need to be preceded by the preposition 'otaque'. This would increase complexity without making the language any more expressive. Complexity is anything that increases the amount of data needed to describe the language's workings.

Further, we can come up with quite different metrics for the other thing I mentioned, viz. efficiency: the most important are probably precision in expression, data compression, noise tolerance, effort for the brain etc

Turns out these are somewhat incompatible too: more compression / shorter exponents for information leads to less noise tolerance. Greater precision leads to greater effort for the brain.
It's the fact that it doesn't do that, at all. The principle of least effort predicts that almost invariably, the people who will end up being vindicated by evolution are the majority, the people who put the least pride into how they speak and typically carry the least amount of linguistic knowledge. It's demagoguery, but made inevitable not through governmental decree but by the core tenets of human social behavior.
Given the quality of governmental decrees throughout history, I think we should be happy it's not for the government to decide on what your language is supposed to be like. Let us give an example of an inconsistent ruling given by a language academy, viz. the Swedish Academy. Much like some flavours of prescriptivist English, the Swedish Academy frowned on 'better than me'-style constructions. The justification was that 'it is a shortened form of 'better than I am', and thus calls for the nominative rather than the accusative form. However, the Swedish Academy permitted the use of reflexive possessive pronouns in that position, e.g. 'better than her own sister'. Here's the kicker: you can't under any circumstance have a noun phrase with her own as its possessor be a subject in Swedish, so clearly the Academy were either unaware of their own failure to be consistent or they didn't care that their explanation was mistaken.

Yet that particular alleged grammatical error was often used by teachers to harass kids in school, or by people who felt they spoke "better" than others to illustrate that they indeed were better. In many things, pride often precludes clear thinking. And language is one of the fields in which pride both precludes clear thinking and becomes a whip with which to punish those you don't approve of. (And often, those are of social classes who just don't have the time to invest to learn this things, nor would get any actual tangible benefits from investing it.)

The linguistic systems that have been formalized as Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Finnish, Russian, etc, are in part of course inventions of a few scholars - but the bulk of them are the results of undirected linguistic evolution! Not a bad day's work done by random drift in a speaker community. Most of what those scholars did was just analyze what random drift had come up with.

These people whose linguistic knowledge is being put down by the poster to whom I am responding, are also among those who need language as a tool in their daily life, and they are representatives of the kind of hardware that needs to be able to interact with it - their brains contain the heuristics that sample the string of phonemes and do crazy good reconstructions of the underlying sentence that only sometimes get it wrong – and they adjust to whether they're often misunderstood or they often are met with the reaction 'oh you misheard' by adding redundant information that helps in recovering the message; and thanks to the magic of evolutionary design methods, this takes their brains' limitations with regards to memory and speed, their own limitations with regards to time they have at their disposal to invest in learning additional vocabulary and additional grammatical quirks to satisfy upper middle class wankers' linguistic aesthethics, et.c. into account. Luckily, most won't even desire to suck up to upper middle class wankers, thus prioritizing the other desiderata higher than the satisfaction of those upper middle class wankers.
I guess that's why I've always been, to my own occasional chagrin, more into engineered languages than ones designed to resemble natlangs, which - while I continue to have a lot of fun with - I ultimately only enjoy to the extent that they let us break human convention, not imitate it.
Anyway, rant over, I understand I'm being a pretentious ass, yada yada yada, we all get to have one thing we're like that over, mine's language. Just thought I'd share.

Yes, you are being a pretentious ass, but I also think you're being an ignorant ass, which in my view of things is worse.

Secret Languages Needed for Webcomic

Friday, March 3rd, 2017


Taylor Hunt is looking for a language and script expert to create two related written languages (one Archaic form, and one Modern form derived from the former) for a webcomic. Neither language will appear in dialogue, so the written versions are paramount. However, these should still be fully-fledged conlangs. One important detail the applicant needs to take into account when applying is that the writing system for the Archaic language is non-linear (and in universe the language itself was designed artificially, as a secret language and obfuscation system). The Modern language, however, is written linearly. The employer has done some work on the languages already, and will share it with the chosen applicant.
The job itself consists of:

  • Two full conlangs, one derived from the other, with a complete grammatical description and about 500 words of vocabulary;
  • A non-linear writing system for the Archaic language, and a linear version for the Modern one. No font is required, the employer will draw everything by hand.

The applicant should negotiate with the employer on how best to share the created materials.


Taylor Hunt

Application Period

Open until job filled


The deadline of the initial project is six months or more after agreement, to be negotiated with the employer.


€1000 for the full project as described above (payment in three instalments at start, midpoint and conclusion of the project), to be negotiated with the employer.
Besides compensation, the language creator will be fully credited for their work.

To Apply

Email Taylor Hunt at taylorcharleshunt “at” gmail “dot” com to express your interest in the project. Please include qualifications and samples of previous work.

Note: Please assume that comments left on this post will not be read by the employer.


Friday, March 3rd, 2017

A conlang in which there are genders corresponding to each of the Pokemon types. Transitive verbs are conjugated based on how effective the subject’s type is against the object’s type.


“The sprinkler(water) watered(not very effective) the lawn(grass)”

“The boxer(fighting) punched(super effective) the statue(rock)”