Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

Conlangery SHORTS 24: Personal Conlanging Progress

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017
George talks a bit about his personal progress with Middle Pahran.   Draft Grammar of Middle Pahran

Detail #334: Number Congruence and Discongruence with Numerals

Monday, April 3rd, 2017
A fair share of languages use singular nouns after numerals - in e.g. Turkish, you say 'two man', not 'two men'. In part this is a reduction of redundancy, but on the other hand, redundancy can be a feature rather than a bug.

Now, let's consider a language that operates like Turkish on this count, but has an extra quirk: many determiners' stems also encode number, so e.g. the singular 'this' and the plural 'these' do not share a stem. However, both also use a full set of case congruence markers that encode both number and case.

For 'these.acc four.acc dog.acc', "these" would thus have a plural stem with a singular accusative suffix on it. 

An obvious suggestion for a situation where the opposite could happen - singular stems with plural morphology - could be when the speaker wants to imply some kind of collective. Thus, collectives would be morphologically plural, and only marked whenever there are determiners involved.

Using Language Invention to Teach Typology and Cross-Linguistic Universals

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Matt Pearson received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from UCLA, and currently serves as Professor of Linguistics at Reed College (Portland, Oregon), where he teaches syntax, typology, morphology, semantics, and field methods. His research on word order and clause structure in Malagasy has appeared in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and other publications. In 1996-97 Matt created the alien language for the NBC science fiction series Dark Skies. Matt’s naturalistic artlang Okuna, developed over more than 20 years, earned a Smiley Award from David Peterson along with a mention in his book The Art of Language Invention.


Matt Pearson discusses a project where students learn about language typology by creating a naturalistic constructed language. Students review cross-linguistic variation in natural languages (in areas such as phoneme inventory, word order, case alignment, etc.), and then determine which properties their invented language will have. Decisions are made at random by spinning a wheel. Attached to the wheel is a pie chart, where the size of each slice represents the percentage of the world’s languages possessing a given setting for some structural parameter or set of parameters. Crucially, each decision constrains subsequent decisions in accordance with known implicational universals: e.g., in determining whether the language has prepositions or postpositions, the pie chart is adjusted based on verb-object order in the language, as decided by a previous spin of the wheel.

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Addendum (#333B): Some Details

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
One thing to note with a rule that duplicated the tense-carrying morpheme for creating habituals is of course that different types of verbs may differ as to whether they carry tense at all. One could easily imagine tense-carrying infinitives (after all, participles are a kind of infinitive) – but it's also conceivable that not even certain types of tenses would be classed as tenses in a language - their distribution and behaviour should really determine whether tenses A and B actually belong to the same class of 'things marked on the verb'.

Detail #333: A Way of Forming Habituals and some Morphological Quirks to that Idea

Sunday, March 26th, 2017
An idea that probably has occurred to many is using reduplication for marking habituals. However, what about reduplicating the tense marker instead? Now, a different option appears: don't just reduplicate it, apply it twice instead.

What is the difference? Reduplication takes phonological matter and copies it, with some possible morphophonological rules applied. Applying it twice applies all morphological rules that are relevant, and then morphophonological rules. Thus, if there's two verb conjugations, and the first person singular past verb in the first conjugation looks like a  second conjugation stem, the first person singular past habitual would consist of a first conjugation suffix followed by a second conjugation suffix.

Different persons may behave differently with regards to that, due to the first inflected form appearance possibly deciding which conjugation the second suffix takes. Of course, one could have more conjugations that interplay in complicated ways as well. Other morphophonology could of course also apply.

One could of course consider similar things for plurals - duplicate case suffixes or gender suffixes, and do so by rules that make them vary a bit at times. However, this creates a fun situation with regards to the nominative, a case that oftentimes is not marked by any explicit morpheme. Maybe the reduplication then defaults to reduplicating the root or some syllable of it - or uses a different case marker, e.g. the accusative, thus conflating the two in the plural (not an unusual thing in the languages of the world).


Friday, March 24th, 2017

A language that features clicks, but they’re only used in a specific class of words pertaining to baked goods, e.g. cookies.

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 Moods

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.