Archive for the ‘grammar’ Category

‘A Grammar of Ayeri’ Available as Print-on-Demand

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

If you’ve visited the Grammar page or the Grammar project’s GitHub page recently, you will have noticed that I finally decided to publish a version 1.0 of A Grammar of Ayeri on October 1st. While this is a big step forward that took me some courage, I didn’t announce it in a big way, because I have reason to make a somewhat bigger announcement still today.

That is, I’m excited to announce that you can now also buy print copies of the grammar! Moreover, this happens to be in time for Ayeri’s 15th birthday in December—something I only noticed the other day. A few people have suggested making print copies available on demand in recent months, so you can now order my Ayeri grammar as a real and full-fledged book from Lulu.com. Since I decided to give the book an ISBN (978-0-359-09583-4), it should also become available to booksellers of your choice sometime in the next 4–6 weeks. Here’s what the beauty looks like:

The digital version of the grammar will remain available free of charge and with fully disclosed sources, that is, I explicitly intended this as Open Access.

A Grammar of Ayeri provides an overview of the language’s phonemic inventory and an analysis of its phonotactics, an in-depth description of its writing system, as well as a detailed description of its morphology and morphosyntax. Interstitial chapters try to shed a light on Ayeri from a typological perspective, both regarding morphology and syntax. I incorporated a number of blog articles from recent years, so if you’ve been following my blog, you know what to expect. All discussions contain fully-glossed examples for illustration, especially to help with the more technical parts.

Even though I worked on this book for a little more than two years, there are some topics I mention in the grammar without elaborating on them. Since there is always more to do, I had to draw a line somewhere. Topics left for future consideration will thus probably result in blog articles again sooner or later, so stay tuned. A list of errata may likewise follow.


Besides having been asked for print copies, I’ve been asked why I chose to self-publish, and the main reason is that I don’t really see straightaway which kind of publisher I might want to offer the manuscript of this book to, elaborate as it may be.

For one, it does not fit established paradigms of either fiction or non-fiction publishing. The book’s subject is essentially a work of fiction, yet it’s not narrative, but a piece of formal documentation of a conceived abstract object: a made-up language. Moreover, as I see it, conlangs are up to the whims of their creators (at least while they’re alive) and are thus entirely arbitrary when it comes to documenting and analyzing the diversity of human language from the perspective of linguistics—unless, for instance, you do a study on conlanging as a social phenomenon, study and compare the way individual conlangs are made and what that says about their creators, or utilize them as a didactic tool to teach linguistics. In my opinion, the immediate value of a grammar of a personal artistic language to linguistic epistemology is debatable. Lastly, due to the book’s presentation as a scholarly text, it will only appeal to a small readership, which is not exactly profitable. But mainly, I think, the difficulty is in being this weird hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, or fiction in the guise of non-fiction.

Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic with this assessment. Maybe the very aspect of being fiction in the guise of non-fiction might be a selling point in the future (but again: to what kind of publisher?), provided I could still keep my work online because “selling out” is the last thing I want to do. So far at least, no comparable effort has been professionally published to my knowledge, and there exist a few works with a similar scope as mine that I’m aware of, for instance, Étienne Poisson’s Siwa grammar, Martin Posthumus’ Novegradian grammar, and Matt Pearson’s Okuna grammar.

#524Roses are red,my house has a doormat,A conlang where everythingmust be put in this format.

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

#524

Roses are red,

my house has a doormat,

A conlang where everything

must be put in this format.

Conlang Sketch Needed for a Fantasy Novel

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Description

Kaitlin Berry is looking for a conlanger to help create a language for a novel. It should be a language from the 8th to 9th century, spoken by Atlanteans and based on or influenced by several pre-existing Germanic, Celtic and Romance languages.

Employer

Kaitlin Berry

Application Period

Open until job filled

Term

No strict deadline, but the novel should be done within a year to a year and a half.

Compensation

Payment will be $150, based on a conlang sketch, or higher if more content is needed.
In addition, the conlanger will be credited for their work.

To Apply

Email Kaitlin Berry at kab3rry “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.

Inraj Sargaĺk: Spatial Deixis

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Inraj Sargaĺk differs from most surrounding languages by its system of spatial deixis; it has two flavours, "very close to both speaker and listener", and "everything else". The "middle deixis" of Sargaĺk, ʒur, has come to signify an inanimate distal deictical determiner.

ʒa - this here, in both of our reaches
ʒu - this here in my xor your reach, or that over there, inanimate
ʒi - this here in my xor your reach, or that over there, animate
As an aside, we find a more complex somewhat similar system in the Lamen language, a mainland isolate in geographical vicinity to the Inraj archipelago (in terms of easily navigable routes).
The Lamen system consists of
ksa - this, in both of our reach
gzət - this, in both of our reach, inanimate

tra - this/that, in the reach of one of us
zrət - this/that, in the reach of one of us, inanimate

eksa - he/she/it, over there, animate
gəksət - it, over there, inanimate
Whether the underlying similarities are due to genetic relation or sprachbund phenomena is not clear. (Obviously, Inraj Sargaĺk is not related to Lamen, but its substrate might be?) 

Inraj Sargaĺk: Spatial Deixis

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Inraj Sargaĺk differs from most surrounding languages by its system of spatial deixis; it has two flavours, "very close to both speaker and listener", and "everything else". The "middle deixis" of Sargaĺk, ʒur, has come to signify an inanimate distal deictical determiner.

ʒa - this here, in both of our reaches
ʒu - this here in my xor your reach, or that over there, inanimate
ʒi - this here in my xor your reach, or that over there, animate
As an aside, we find a more complex somewhat similar system in the Lamen language, a mainland isolate in geographical vicinity to the Inraj archipelago (in terms of easily navigable routes).
The Lamen system consists of
ksa - this, in both of our reach
gzət - this, in both of our reach, inanimate

tra - this/that, in the reach of one of us
zrət - this/that, in the reach of one of us, inanimate

eksa - he/she/it, over there, animate
gəksət - it, over there, inanimate
Whether the underlying similarities are due to genetic relation or sprachbund phenomena is not clear. (Obviously, Inraj Sargaĺk is not related to Lamen, but its substrate might be?) 

seven is zasein (revisited)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018
zasein = seven (number) (adjective) (Some things Google found for "zasein": a rare term; Zasein SL is a company in the Madrid, Spain metro area; name of a rebel in northern Myanmar; user names; bad OCR of several German texts)

Word derivation for "seven"
Basque = zazpi, Finnish = seitsemän
Miresua = zasein

My previous Miresua conlang word for seven was sezpin. I decided to modify this word to start with Z. The previous word also seemed more similar to the English word seven than I liked.

Seven occurs a handful of times in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This is from chapter 8: The Queen's Croquet-Ground.
"YOU'D better not talk!" said Five. "I heard the Queen say only yesterday you deserved to be beheaded!"

"What for?" said the one who had spoken first.

"That's none of YOUR business, Two!" said Seven.

seven is zasein (revisited)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018
zasein = seven (number) (adjective) (Some things Google found for "zasein": a rare term; Zasein SL is a company in the Madrid, Spain metro area; name of a rebel in northern Myanmar; user names; bad OCR of several German texts)

Word derivation for "seven"
Basque = zazpi, Finnish = seitsemän
Miresua = zasein

My previous Miresua conlang word for seven was sezpin. I decided to modify this word to start with Z. The previous word also seemed more similar to the English word seven than I liked.

Seven occurs a handful of times in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This is from chapter 8: The Queen's Croquet-Ground.
"YOU'D better not talk!" said Five. "I heard the Queen say only yesterday you deserved to be beheaded!"

"What for?" said the one who had spoken first.

"That's none of YOUR business, Two!" said Seven.

Alternations: An Introduction (and Some Further Explorations) for Conlangers

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Doug Ball began conlanging in 1994, primarily working on a language he calls Skerre. His conlanging interest led him to discover the field of linguistics and ultimately to a career as an academic linguist. Holding degrees from the University of Rochester (BA) and Stanford University (PhD), he is currently a member of the Department of English and Linguistics faculty at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. There, he teaches classes on general linguistics, theoretical phonology, theoretical morphology, and theoretical syntax as well as Native American and Polynesian languages.

Abstract

This essay explores the nature of alternations: variations in form across different contexts. In addition to providing a basic introduction of the phenomena in both English and in other languages, it considers several frameworks for understanding the behavior of alternations in natural languages. This essay also offers some recommendations for the creation of alternations in constructed languages and gives some examples to illustrate these recommendations. It is a revised and expanded version of a talk given at the 7th Language Creation Conference (July, 2017) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Version History

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

Detail #384: Long-Range Negation Congruence and Probabilistic Grammars

Monday, September 24th, 2018
Let us consider a language like Finnish (or almost English), where negation is done by an auxiliary. In this language also, the main verb takes a special form (in Finnish, the connegative, in English, the 'infinitive' or the 'active participle', to the extent we would call those 'special' :/ ).

Now, the main point here is that in English and Finnish, the form you expect are different for positive and negative statements:
he sits vs. he does not sithän istuu vs. hän ei istu
In English, for present progressive or whatever it's called, this breaks down:
he is singing vs. he is not singing
Let's however assume a language like Finnish, where this distinction is more clear-cut and present almost throughout the language. Now, we can of course imagine certain non-negative adverbials that weaken a statement triggering the negative form, giving us things analogous to
he barely workhe seldom thinkhe scarcely turn up
where barely, seldom and scarcely essentially become lightly negative auxiliaries.

Now, that's just one of the milder ideas of where such pseudo-negation might turn up. Another could be embedded negation bleeding outwards:
she tell him not to buy bitcoin
she know that he wasn't at work
We could also have negation bleeding downwards:
she doesn't know that he work in finance
We could of course make a probabilistic grammar for this, and that's a topic I think could be worthwhile for conlangers to consider - modelling the rules of a grammar in terms of probabilities.

Let's use p(x) for the probability for such 'mistaken' congruence, i.e. a connegative verb form with an actually 'positive' meaning. p(x) is then a function, where x is some way of representing this input. x is then, perhaps, the distance between the 'outer' verb and the 'inner' verb.

We may give some simple function for this, say, x is at most 75%, and is squared for each unit distance added.Thus, f(x) = 0.75^x

We could then start by considering, for instance, different subject as a difference worthy of one unit. Every single constituent between the verb and the subclause (or non-finite verb phrase) could be one unit, two units if the constituent is heavy. Either of the verbs being telic adds a unit of distance, but both being telic only adds 1.5 units. The object of the outer verb being the same as the subject of the embedded verb removes 0.5 units.

Of course, we could add special cases - certain verbs whose congruence has become 'linked' and so if these two verbs appear, the probability for mistaken congruence is unusually high, or somesuch. I am deliberately leaving the idea a bit vague here - I only want conlangers to think of grammatical rules in probabilistic terms while also presenting a certain grammatical idea that also fits as a suitable topic to represent probabilistic grammar a bit vaguely with.

Detail #384: Long-Range Negation Congruence and Probabilistic Grammars

Monday, September 24th, 2018
Let us consider a language like Finnish (or almost English), where negation is done by an auxiliary. In this language also, the main verb takes a special form (in Finnish, the connegative, in English, the 'infinitive' or the 'active participle', to the extent we would call those 'special' :/ ).

Now, the main point here is that in English and Finnish, the form you expect are different for positive and negative statements:
he sits vs. he does not sithän istuu vs. hän ei istu
In English, for present progressive or whatever it's called, this breaks down:
he is singing vs. he is not singing
Let's however assume a language like Finnish, where this distinction is more clear-cut and present almost throughout the language. Now, we can of course imagine certain non-negative adverbials that weaken a statement triggering the negative form, giving us things analogous to
he barely workhe seldom thinkhe scarcely turn up
where barely, seldom and scarcely essentially become lightly negative auxiliaries.

Now, that's just one of the milder ideas of where such pseudo-negation might turn up. Another could be embedded negation bleeding outwards:
she tell him not to buy bitcoin
she know that he wasn't at work
We could also have negation bleeding downwards:
she doesn't know that he work in finance
We could of course make a probabilistic grammar for this, and that's a topic I think could be worthwhile for conlangers to consider - modelling the rules of a grammar in terms of probabilities.

Let's use p(x) for the probability for such 'mistaken' congruence, i.e. a connegative verb form with an actually 'positive' meaning. p(x) is then a function, where x is some way of representing this input. x is then, perhaps, the distance between the 'outer' verb and the 'inner' verb.

We may give some simple function for this, say, x is at most 75%, and is squared for each unit distance added.Thus, f(x) = 0.75^x

We could then start by considering, for instance, different subject as a difference worthy of one unit. Every single constituent between the verb and the subclause (or non-finite verb phrase) could be one unit, two units if the constituent is heavy. Either of the verbs being telic adds a unit of distance, but both being telic only adds 1.5 units. The object of the outer verb being the same as the subject of the embedded verb removes 0.5 units.

Of course, we could add special cases - certain verbs whose congruence has become 'linked' and so if these two verbs appear, the probability for mistaken congruence is unusually high, or somesuch. I am deliberately leaving the idea a bit vague here - I only want conlangers to think of grammatical rules in probabilistic terms while also presenting a certain grammatical idea that also fits as a suitable topic to represent probabilistic grammar a bit vaguely with.