Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

8th Lexember Word

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

eków [e̞ˈgo̞͡ʊ], transitive verb: “to cross, to pass, to go through“

Originally posted by mustafinesse

I don’t know what she went through, but she definitely did!

Haotyétpi is mostly a verb-framed language. While it does have verbs encoding the manner of motion, most of its verbs encode the path of motion, and they are the verbs that are normally used as the main verb of a sentence describing motion. Also, it’s very usual in Haotyétpi to simply describe motion with pahú: “to go“ or á: “to come“, without even mentioning how the motion went.

In other words, for a Haotyétpi speaker, the motion itself and its path are its most important characteristic. The manner by which the motion was accomplished is secondary at best.

No example for this one either. I’m just not having any inspiration.

Experiencer vs agent in verbs of perception

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
Just a note: I had said in a previous entry that the difference between "I see" and "I look at" is essentially aspectual, i.e. ni nae vs ni ma nae. I've realized since that the core semantics of a statement like "I see" require some reanalysis of the corresponding Koa structures.

A primary thing that makes "I see you" and "I'm looking at you" different is agency, of course, and therefore the semantic role of the subject. Koa doesn't mark agents and experiencers differently, but one could easily reframe this in terms of ability, which Koa does mark. In other words, "I see you" has approximately the same semantic content as "I can see you." The emphasis may be different, but that's the core idea.

I would now therefore list the basic and embellished possibilities for this phrase like this:

ni nae se
1SG see 2SG
"I see you" or "I looked at you" or (weakly) "I can see you"

ni ma nae se
1SG IMPF see 2SG
"I am/was looking at you"

ni te nae se
1SG ABIL see 2SG
"I can see you" or just emphasizing the experiencer interpretation "I see you"

ni voi nae se
1SG can see 2SG
"I can see you," emphasizing the abilitative interpretation

And to clarify, this isn't actually a change: it's just me getting clear on what my Koa words must actually mean.

On a somewhat different topic, I just want to mention that I made an error in that same entry with my glosses involving ipo sahi. I failed to notice that, because the object is incorporated in these VP's, they've just become intransitive and more like states in terms of Aktionsart category. Therefore:

ni na ipo sahi
1SG NEG drink wine
trad "I don't drink wine"
wrong "I didn't drink wine" or "I'm not drinking wine," depending
right "I don't drink wine" or "I am not a wine drinker"

ni na si ipo sahi
1SG NEG ANT drink wine
trad "I didn't drink wine"
wrong "I hadn't drunk wine"
right "I didn't drink wine" or "I wasn't a wine drinker"

To get the incorrect interpretations from above, you would need an article on "wine," thus:

ni na ipo hu sahi
1SG NEG drink EXIST wine
"I didn't drink (any) wine"

ni na si ipo hu sahi
1SG NEG ANT drink EXIST wine
"I hadn't drunk (any) wine"

7th Lexember Word

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

ós [ˈo̞ˑɕ], alienably possessed noun: “sky“


Originally posted by loopedgifs

OK, that is just gorgeous.

So, today’s word refers to the sky, i.e. that location above our heads where most weather phenomena happen. It’s where clouds form and disappear, it’s where rain comes from, it’s where you have to look at to see the sun, moon and stars, etc.

Unlike my conlang Moten, Haotyétpi does not distinguish between the day sky and the night sky. Both are simply ós.

No example today. I need to give a few more words before I can make more meaningful examples.

Detail #321: Vowel Harmony Discontinuity

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
In languages such as Finnish, vowel harmony is pretty solid except in loans and in compounds, where the vowel harmony really only operates on the level of the component words of the compound. We do find some interesting exceptions in the derivative morphology, with stems that only contain neutral vowels:
lentää (to fly)
lento (a flight)

viiltää (to incise)
viilto (an incision)
Examples with other morphemes than -to can be found, but I can't be bothered to introspect for them all that much at the moment. In addition, there's two words that have exceptional singular partitives after a neutral root - usually, roots that only have neutral vowels trigger front harmony. I'll arrange the case forms here according to their morphological relation - i.e. the singular locative cases are indented from the genitive, because their formation can be predicted from the genitive, and the plurals from the plural partitive. A dash separates the case marker in the genitive and plural partitive from the singular and plural oblique stems.
meri (sea, ocean)
meressä, merestä, mereen, merellä, mereltä, merelle
mereksi, merenä, merettä, meret (plural nom/acc!)
merissä, meristä, meriin, merillä, meriltä, merille, meriksi, meri, merittä, merine-(plus poss. suffix), merin,
* I don't even recall the exact formation rule for merten/merien, but iirc it too derives from meri-. I get it right in speech, but don't ask me to tell you how it works. Oh, and both merten and merien are accepted forms - either due to standard Finnish taking both eastern and western forms, or due to both having coexisted widely.

One other word has the same exact behavior, viz. veri, blood. As a not fully native speaker but almost, my opinion on this particular pair of words might not be shared by everyone, but to me mertä sounds less wrong than vertä does - I am not sure whether if someone said vertä in a sentence, I'd even realize immediately what word was being mangled, but I think I would so with mertä.

Now, to the conlanging idea!
Let's have a couple (or more) of 'metaphonemes', " and ¤. " switches harmony to front harmony, ¤ switches to back harmony. Any other type of harmony could of course be useful, but front-back harmony with umlaut signs makes for a visually simple example. One could of course imagine that the best way for this to work would simply be a regular, realized phoneme that deviates from the expected harmony, and forces future suffixes to switch, as in the made up example below, where ko is part of the root:
pöläko, pöläkopa, pöläkora ...
My thoughts here come very close to such a system, but what if, due to vowel reductions, this happens:
pöläko, pöläkopa, pöläkr ?
The question mark serves to indicate my uncertainty here: should the lost /o/ still trigger -ra, or should the loss make the front harmony root trigger -rä? 
This is where the " and ¤ would come in. They would be present in the root, never realized by themselves, but appear whenever a vowel is reduced out of existence. Thus, if the root were pöläk"o, we'd get pöläkrä, if it were pöläk¤o, we'd get pöläkra.

Thus, some form of vowel harmony exists in a language with such a system, but it's governed by some weird rules.

6th Lexember Word

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

remuríp [ɾe̞mʊˈɾiˑp], alienably possessed noun: “lightning, flash of lightning“

Originally posted by lexienalley

Well, it’s either lightning or an alien attack…

Since we had thunder yesterday, it was logical to follow with thunder’s older brother, lightning. Notice, however, that the word remuríp does not refer to the lightning strike itself, but rather to the bright flash of light caused by a lightning strike. To refer to lightning actually striking, we’ll need a few more words, which will come in the next few days.

This time, to make up for the lack of examples in the last 3 Lexember entries, here’s a more complicated example sentence:

Iwté remuríp ricán no tu, ortáse ponop kanná irát sinwa so as: “I can see lightning in the distance, but can’t hear thunder yet.“ (literally: “I see lightning that is far away, and even then the god still isn’t here.”)

Detail #320: Alignment, Essives and Translatives

Monday, December 5th, 2016
I assume everyone knows what essives and translatives as far as the case nomenclature of Finnish goes are. If not, ask and I'll make a post explaining it for you.

Anyways, one could imagine a different alignment with regards to these as well! One could have the quality that is being been, or the quality that is being acquired, or the noun that is being been, or the noun that is being become marked in nominative or accusative depending on whether we're dealing with a situation like
I am a singer (nominative)
I fell ill (nominative)
I made it durable (accusative)
I painted it red (accusative)
and we could mark the subject or object in cases that mark being and becoming, much as the Finnish essive and translative - but marked on the bee-er or becomer, rather than on the quality (or noun) that is being been or become.

This must be one of the few times a passive of be and become ever has been called for in English.

A Peculiar Innovation in the Dagurib Branch: Verbal Body Part Prefixes

Monday, December 5th, 2016
In the Dagurib branch of the ĆŊ family, a set of verbal prefixes have developed, mainly from words for body parts. In Dagurib itself, we have
yül-, yil-, yul- hand, arm
ülül-, ilil-, ulul- hand, arm (alternative form)
si-, su-, sü- face
or-, ir-, ür- upper torso
sal, säl-, sɛl- legs, leg, foot, feet
t'ob-, t'öb-, t'eg- head
lok'-, lök'-, lek'- back
kno-, knö-, kne- belly, lower torso
gim-, wüm-, wum- genitals
gimim-, wümüm-, wumum- genitals (alternative form)
k'ar-, k'är-, k'ɛr- ass, butt
ban-, bän-, bɛn- thighs
sol-, söl-, sel- shoulders, neck
ene-, ono-, önö- mind, cognition
Cognates to some of these may be found in Ćwarmin and Ŋʒädär. These are mandatory in some situations, optional in some situations and not permissible in some situations. The participant of the noun phrase that they belong to is also not entirely trivial, as they can indicate instrument, object, physical direction, and some more unusual things.

Basically, the participant whose body the prefer will be part of most generally is the argument that would have been marked with the absolutive in an ergative language. The exceptions are hand and genitals, whose short form follows a nominative-like distribution, and mind, whose referent depends on the register: when spoken to a superior, it will often be used as a prefix whenever the superior is the object. Otherwise, it will often be used to make a recipient the focus of the clause. In fact, all of these tend to mark focus of the noun to which they relate.

Those which follow the ergative pattern acquire a nominative pattern when the verb is marked with the passive voice, but may block the passive voice from promoting object to subject as well as demoting subject to oblique. 

With indirect objects, whether to parse something as being part of an indirect or direct object is often specific to combinations of prefix and lexeme.

5th Lexember Word

Monday, December 5th, 2016

ortáse hón [o̞ɾˈtäˑʑə̆ ˈvo̞ˑn], noun phrase: “thunder“

Originally posted by hellish-b0y

I know this is lightning rather than thunder, but try finding a GIF for a strictly auditory phenomenon!

In keeping with the weather theme we have had going on since the beginning, today’s word also refers to a weather phenomenon. However, the word itself is rather different from the previous ones, in that it’s not actually a word but an idiom, composed of already known Haotyétpi words whose combination means more than the sum of its parts. Literally, this phrase means “voice of spirits”, although a more accurate translation might be “god’s voice”. It is composed of the inalienably possessed noun honé: “(one’s) voice“, possessed by the inalienably possessed noun ortáse: “(one’s) soul, spirit, god”.

This does not mean, however, that the speakers of Haotyétpi still literally believe that thunder is gods shouting at them or at each other (although it is part of their animistic beliefs). It’s just how they usually refer to it in normal conversation.

Once again, no example this time around, but I’ll try to make it up to you tomorrow.

4th Lexember Word

Monday, December 5th, 2016

wakkumárpi [ʋäkːʊˈmäˑɾpɪ̆], nominalisation: “rainstorm“


Originally posted by poppy-finch

This word refers to a storm that is characterised by heavy rainfall. Thunder, lightning and strong winds may also be involved here, but rain is what the speaker is focussing on.

Morphologically speaking, this word is a transparent nominalisation of the sentence wakkú már: “it’s raining a lot“ (literally “the rain is violent“), and still behaves somewhat verbally in some circumstances.

No example for this one either.

3rd Lexember Word

Monday, December 5th, 2016

markó [mäɾˈko̞ˑ], alienably possessed noun: “storm, windstorm“

Originally posted by cheetahswolf

This is the most basic word for storm. It usually refers to storms without precipitation but with strong gusts of wind, although other types of storms can be referred to that way if one does not want to be precise.

In terms of morphology, this word is actually the nominalisation of yesterday’s már: “to be violent“, with the nominalising suffix -ko. It’s identical in structure to the noun askó: “truth, reality”, a nominalisation of ás: “to exist“.

No example this time. This is not a complicated word, it just means “storm”.