Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

A Terminology Thing / (Non)underlying Case

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

I will use an example from Swedish. This example does not hold universally for Swedish, and I doubt anyone who has it even has it in every register (i.e. at least in one commonly known prayer, there is an exception).

For some speakers, in most contexts, far and fader ('father') are exchangeable, as are mor and moder. There is, however, an exception: for some, fader and moder cannot be used as a vocative. (Possibly with the sole exception 'fader vår ...', which is part of the Lord's Prayer.)


Now, consider a language in which such pairs are common. Would 'antivocative' or 'avocative' be a good term for the synonym that is restricted from occurring as a vocative?


Could similar names be used for forms that cannot be used as complements or maybe as subjects or as objects be a reasonable term? "Antinominative", "antiaccusative", "anticomplemental", etc?


This type of thing is probably not entirely uncommon in the languages of the world, but as a phenomenon it's a bit underreported or underdescribed.

A Discovery of Conlangs and Conlangers: A personal history

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Jessie Sams is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Stephen F. Austin State University. She generally teaches courses rooted in linguistic analysis of English, though one of her favorite courses to teach is her Invented Languages course, where students construct their own languages throughout the semester (she was even able to get Invented Languages officially on the books at SFA with its own course number). Her research primarily focuses on syntax and semantics, especially the intersection of the two within written English quotatives; constructed languages; and history of the English language and English etymology. Since 2019, she’s worked as a professional conlanger on the Freeform series Motherland: Fort Salem. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hosting game nights with friends, baking (especially cupcakes), and, of course, conlanging.

Abstract

In this essay, Jessie Sams recounts her personal history with language and conlanging, as well as how she came to join the wider conlang community.

Version History


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

Kílta Lexember 31: lamerun “in due course, in good time”

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

It's the last day of Lexember, so a time expression.

lamerun /læˈme.ɾun/ in good time, in due course, in/at the right time < lamerin round, plump, ripe + -un temporospatial suffix

The adjective lamerin covers a wide range of meaning, but one primary sense is that of culmination after a waiting period. Thus, ripe, plump, right time, etc. The suffix -un derives adverbs of place or time. It's not incredibly common.

Ton në lamerun katihëstat no re.
ton në lamerun katih-ëst-at n-o re
2SG TOP in.due.course understand-INCH-INF be-PFV PTCL
You'll understand in due course.

Here's another example of Kílta using the inchoative where English would be content with a simple verb. I could, I suppose, translate this "you'll start to understand in due course," but a lot of the time it's clunky to capture Kílta's inchoative too fastidiously in the English.

Lorátin Naram mëli rum!
Happy New Year!

Kílta Lexember 30: omulutta “earthquake”

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

I'm not entirely thrilled that today's word comes out looking a bit like breakfast, but these things happen sometimes.

omulutta /o.muˈlut.ta/ earthquake < om earth + lúto move + -ta nominalizer

Kílta has two entirely different stems for English move, one transitive, one intransitive. I've used the transitive one here, focusing on the effect (the earth moves things), rather than the merely describing the event in isolation.

Luikin omulutta vima si tuëmo.
heavy earthquake city ACC pound.PFV
A terrible earthquake struck the city.

This is exactly the sort of example sentence I like best, if I can pull it off — it gives two collocational usage hints. First, a bad earthquake in Kílta is luikin heavy, and second, the verb for earthquake destructive activity is tuëmo pound.

Kílta Lexember 29: tetila “joint, knuckle; inch”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

I already had the word tetila with just the meaning joint. I've decided to extend the meaning to knuckle — a common enough polysemy — and through that to also mean inch (the measurement).

Tetila has no etymology. You can specify knuckle if you have to by using ol hand:

Pácha si chokët, ol vë tetilur kwalo.
table ACC hit.CVB.PFV, hand ATTR joint.PL hurt
After I hit the table my knuckles hurt.

To measure precipitation (the occasion for today's Lexember efforts), a secondary predicate construction is used:

Hëru tetilur mai mechuhítat no re.
hër-u tetil-ur mai me(ch)-uhít-at n-o re
8-PL joint-PL LAT CIS-snow-INF be-PFV PTCL
It will snow eight inches here.

Time and measurements are my hardest time learning natural languages, and not my favorite part of language invention. I'll get to the metric system eventually.

Kílta Lexember 28: oléla “gloves”

Monday, December 28th, 2020

More winter weather vocabulary today.

oléla /oˈleː.la/ gloves

This is an eccentric reduplication starting from ol hand. A few pieces of paired clothing get not entirely predictable forms like this.

Samma vë oléla në vurël no?
fur ATTR gloves TOP where be.pfv
Where are the wool gloves?

Even though I've taken up weaving as a rage-absorbing hobby during The Covidities, and have added weaving vocabulary to Kílta, I hadn't yet committed to a word for wool. The polysemy I picked, from the already existing samma fur, is a common one. Two words settled with one example sentence.

Kílta Lexember 27: káhutiëha “bureaucracy”

Sunday, December 27th, 2020

Nearly all Kílta words are internally generated, either from derivation of existing vocabulary, or generated from scratch using my word shape generator. I do have a few borrowings, though, and those are confined to two main domains: places, especially country names; and very ancient cultivated plants and foods, with a few ancient technologies. Most of the borrowings that aren't contemporary place names come from languages of the ancient Near East, such as Sumerian via Akkadian, and some Egyptian. A few terms from from the Silk Road, for which I usually turn to Sogdian. Monta or something like it for dumplings, for example, shows up all along the silk road.

Today's word starts with káha paper, which is from Sogdian:

káhutiëha /kaː.xu.tiˈə.xa/ bureaucracy < káha paper + tiëha authority, power, rule

Tiëha is a usual compound element for -cracy words.

Iminachin káhutiëha katama si útauno.
RED-big bureaucracy workplace ACC dominate.PFV
A huge bureaucracy dominates work.

A representative of the bureaucracy is of course káhutiëhil a bureaucrat, the original word with the agent noun ending -il tacked on.

Finally there is káhutiëkkis, a piece of bureaucracy, piece of bureaucratic work, which could be paperwork or one of the many procedural rituals that warms the hearts of the process-oriented. A light verb construction with salko put, place generates the meaning assign someone a bureaucratic task:

Hiëmma si tirëtiu, nalaiku káhutiëkkisá si salko.
hiëmma si tir-ëtiu, nalaik-u káhutiëkkis-á si salk-o
revenge ACC give/1-PURP.CVB.PFV, further-PL bureaucratic.task-PL ACC put.PFV
To get revenge, he gave me more bureaucratic tasks.

There are a few arguments in the English translation that aren't explicit in the Kílta. Because the verb tiro give is only used when the recipient is a first person argument, that sets up the reasonable interpretation for the rest of the sentence.

Kílta Lexember 26: aroccha “boots”

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

Another seasonally appropriate word for people living in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

aroccha /aˈɾot.tʃa/ boots, by default the full pair; no etymology

I entertained a few etymologies (relating to: foot, leg, to wrap), but nothing was satisfying, so I ultimately decided on an altogether new word.

Mechuhítirë so! Aroccha si relësti re.
me-uhít-irë so! aroccha si rel-ëst-i re
CIS-snow-IPFV ASSEV! boots ACC carry-INCH-IMP PTCL
It's snowing! Put on your boots.

The particle re is used to make imperatives less face-threatening.

Except for an attributive to maybe define the purpose or other qualities of them, there doesn't seem to be much call for special vocabulary around boots.

Kílta Lexember 25: ësta “gift”

Friday, December 25th, 2020

Kílta has two separate roots for give, one when the recipient is the first person (me, us), one when the recipient is the non-first person (you, him, her, it, them). When terms are derived from a give word, though, the non-first person recipient one, ëcho, is the one used.

ësta /ˈəs.ta/ gift, present; bribe < ëcho give + -ta nominalizer (with some sound changes)

Emanur në rëtu ëstur si niëmo.
child.PL TOP much.PL gift.PL ACC receive.PFV
The children got many presents.

The usual give verbs, ëcho and tiro, can be used for giving a gift, but the light verb expression ësta si salko (lit., "put/place a gift"), is also regularly used, especially if the gift is not a physical object. With dative for recipient, ablative for the gift.

Ha në ël kë vúkur si ësta si salko.
1SG TOP 3SG DAT silver.PL ACC gift ACC put.PFV
I gave her some money (as a gift)

The adjective luikin heavy is used for a big gift that possibly incurs reciprocal social obligation, and lapin empty for a "small token," a minor gift.

Given the appropriate context, ësta also means a bribe.

Válekos në ëstur së si niëmirë hír.
sinecure-holder TOP gift.PL also ACC receive.IPFV PTCL
The sinecure-holder was of course also taking bribes.

The clause-final particle hír indicates that the statement follows naturally from what has come before.

Kílta Lexember 24: sussorë “woolgathering, abstracted, absorbed”

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

A simple but useful adverb today:

sussorë /susˈso.ɾə/ woolgathering, abstracted, absorbed, no etymology

This is almost always used with a posture verb (sit, stand, lie, hang), whether as a predicate or an attribute.

Ton në huchë sussorë sunko tul?
2SG TOP again wollgathering stand.PFV Q
Are you woolgathering again?

Ha në sussorë rinërin mauta si auttët, auníta si chaso.
1SG TOP wollgathering sit.PCPL.PFV cat ACC touch.CVB.PFV, startle ACC do.PFV
I touched the abstracted cat and startled him.

Kílta uses participles for things like relative clauses, "the cat that was woolgathering."