Archive for June, 2010


Monday, June 28th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'fi’ea'.


  • (v.) to ignore
  • (v.) to shut out
  • (v.) to forget

Ka fi’ea ei ie kavaka…
“I forgot to write.”

Notes: Oops! Forgot to post. But this is kind of turning into a mini-theme: Derivations of hea. Hooray impromptu theme party! :D

Kind of a sad day, though. As everyone knows by now, the US lost to Ghana. Bleh. So tired of the US not dominating this sport… I think I’m perfectly justified in blaming the ABC family of networks.

And if that weren’t enough, Mexico lost to Argentina due (partly) to a disgraceful call. If Japan and Spain lose on the 29th, that’ll be pretty much every country I have blood ties to. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to root for Cristiano Whine-aldo and my wife’s family’s country of origin Portugal. The prospect leaves me cold…

Recent Ruminations

Monday, June 28th, 2010
I have been doing a little research on ancient and "primitive" languages recently and a couple of interesting things came to mind.

One is that I have been thinking about how some of the more common conceptual bases of languages might have been different if people had made abstract conceptual leaps in a historically different order than they appear to have in the real world. And without regard to whether that order actually makes sense or not. One of the more interesting results came from this particular "what if" - what if people had the need for a mathematical concept of zero before they had any need for writing or large numbers? The result: base 6 numeral system. For how that works, imagine this method of counting: Closed fist means zero. One finger extended means one. Two fingers is two. And so on up to 5. Then, use the *other* hand for a second digit (the "sixes" place, sort of like the "tens" place in our base-10 decimal system). In that way, instead of being only able to use one's fingers to count from one to ten, somebody could use their fingers to count from 00-55 in base 6 (0-35 in decimal)!

Also, an idle thought about the Voynich Manuscript (check here if you don't know what that is: ). Before the rise of the Indo-European Language family around 3000-4000 BCE, western Europe probably had at least one major language family which left no modern-day survivors other than Basque. So assuming that the Voynich Manuscript is written in a real language (which, I know, is an extremely iffy assumption) perhaps it's from a "missing branch of the language tree". And perhaps even a very obscure language which somehow survived to the late 15th century but not to modern times?

‘jisu: to trash, to defeat highly

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Like 4:1. ;)

I was more than a bit pessimistic about this match, even though the Krakenorakel predicted Germany to win. Thus, I explained that this match was “host country vs home country” and thus “like 2 attractive men mud wrestling: Whoever loses, I win”. I would not have expected that the home country would ‘jisu England 4:1*.

As such, I do not yet have to explain elimination in rejistanian. Which is good because the rejistanis have a somewhat feeble expression here. The example sentence however refers to a match in the rejistanian league.

Example: Sikane Sekhika mi’la’jisu Aetaila Seli. (Sikane FC 3S-PST-defeat_highly Aetaila Seli)

* and that karma would retaliate for Wembley ;)

rráp ‘ayá Syntax – Articles and Demonstratives

Monday, June 28th, 2010
As mentioned before in the topic of Pronouns, the rráp 'ayá demonstratives are derivative of the 1st and 2nd person pronouns.  The difference in their usage is that when used as a demonstrative the GEN particle is excluded and the morpheme is lenited prior to suffixion.

Eg. yo - 'this'  --> 'asʼuyo - "this house"
       to - "that" --> 'asʼuso - "that house"

Compare this to their pronominal/agreement usage:

Eg. 'asʼuyop - "my house"
       'asʼutop - "your house"
       rráyo - "I" (lit. "this voice")
       rráto - "you" (lit. "that voice")
       enrráyon mbrryo - "I run"
       enrráton mbrrto - "You run"

A couple things to note:

1. The /y/ does not lenite so the only way to know that it is being used as a demonstrative is that it is attached to a noun (not a verb as in agreement which also does not lenite) and it does not include the GEN morpheme -p.

2. The pronouns "rráyo" and "rráto," although literally translated as "this voice" and "that voice" and therefore technically in demonstrative mode, are ONLY used as personal pronouns and therefore would not receive the lenition associated with demonstratives.

**If you wanted to say something like: "of this house" you would of course add the GEN morpheme suffix creating 'asʼuyop which would also translate as "my house."  The way that you would distinguish this is by the surrounding context.  For example, if you were to say 'ayá 'asʼuyop this would be translated "a child of this house" since "a child my house" is not grammatical.  To say "a child of my house" you would have to add the GEN morpheme a second time to give: 'ayá 'asʼuyopáp.  -yo- is the only pronominal morpheme that causes this kind of ambiguity as it is the only one that does not lenite when used as a demonstrative.

rráp 'ayá does not have an indefinite article (as in English "a" or "an").  The lack of such an article indicates that the noun described is indefinite.  The definite article is netʼ which is suffixed to the end of a noun prior to any case marking.

Eg. 'asʼunetʼ - "the house"
       'asʼunetʼáp - "of the house" (ie belonging to/originating from the house)
       'as'unetʼál - "to the house" (directionally speaking).

Vowel Assimilation 2

Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Although I have already done a post on vowel assimilation (appropriately called 'Vowel Assimilation'), I've given it a second thought, and made
 The Awesome Lurion Vowel Assimilation Chart (or TALVAC)
Yes, I'm making that up while typing. Sometimes my brilliance amazes me.
Oh, and it includes both the Naupilan and the Karvokan accent! How'd you like that?

Well, without further ado, here it is!
Ofcourse you can click on it for a bigger version. How else were you supposed to actually read it?

In case you're wondering how to interpret this fantastic chart (and I know you are):

When a vowel on the left is followed by a vowel on the top, they either assimilate, in which case another vowel(cluster) is shown in the appropriate row and column, or they do not, in which case a hyphen, -, is shown.

The left chart (the big one) is the general Lurion assimilation, the bottom right shows the Karvokan exceptions.
The top right is the Naupilan accented assimilation chart, which is quite compact, as the Naupilans pronounce everything alike and make no distinction between long and short vowels when assimilating.

And to please those who enjoy seeing me make mistakes: no, I did not intentfully forget to add a ~ on the Naupilan α+ο>ῶ and α+ω>ῶ assimilations. But no, I systematically did not add circumfleces on diphthongs (like ε͂ι), so that does not count.

Well, you didn't suspect to see something as shockingly marvelous or overwhelmingly beautiful as TALVAC when you woke up this morning, did you?


Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'he’ea'.


  • (v.) to listen
  • (n.) listening
  • (n.) listener

A he’ea ei i Lata Tuata a.
“I’m listening to Rod Stewart right now.”

Notes: True, I must admit.

Today’s word is inspired by a new tag I’ve added to several of my posts: the audio tag. This tag will be added to any post for which I’ve recorded an audio version of the sample sentence.

I don’t, of course, do that for every post every day (I have enough trouble keeping up with the posts themselves!), but every so often, I’m not doing anything else, so I go back and record a whole bunch of them and put them up. If you want to go back and listen to those I have recorded, just click on the audio tag, and it’ll bring up the lot of them.

By the time you read this, the game between the US and Ghana will have already been decided. I haven’t watched it yet, though (less than two hours away!), so don’t tell me how it ends!

alte: equal

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Jusa ji k~hana mi’la’milhan alte evix’jet. Min’la’milhan kaladek ,jusa mi’la’sono ji mi’la’tes, la. USA and Ghana drew in regular time. They played extra time during which the USA lost. I do not expect to see a Kēlen translation of this because it is just culturally too different, but I would like to see what Kamakawi would say about the match in their reports about the Inotu Inotu. :)

I could introduce ‘milhan here, but instead I decided to use today’s word of the day to explain how rejistanis compare. The system of comparisons is quite sophisticated and probably not all that natural:

Basic sentence: Duixlan mi’milhan veka: Germany plays well.

Equative 1: Duixlan mi’milhan veka alte k~hana: Germany plays as well as Ghana
Equative 2: Sanmarino mi’milhan veka nilte Andorha: San Marino plays as well as Andorra. This imples that neither team actually plays well. The Equative 2 can also be used if the thing which is compared is not good.

Comparative: Seriviha mi’la’milhan veka alna Duixlan. Serbia plays better than Germany
Augmented comparative: Seriviha mi’milhan veka alnany Andorha. Serbia plays far better than Andorra.

Negative Comparative: Koleja nahsua mi’la’milhan veka nilna Ulukvy. South Korea played less good than Uruquay.
Augmented Negative Comparison: Samoa jusa mi’la’milhan veka nilnany Ositaliha. American Samoa played by far less good than Australia

Superlative: Italiha mi’la’milhan veka altena xi ky jo’jet. Italy was best during 2008.
Augmented Superlative: Ositaliha mi’la’milhan veka altenany divisasi’het’ra osejaniha. Australia was by far the best in the Oceanian group.

Negative Superlative: Koleja nahtaj mi’la’milhan veka niltena. North Korea played the least good-
Augmented Negative Superlative: Tasmaniha iverlin mi’la’milhan veka niltenany. Tasmania Berlin played by far the least well.

Relative Comparative: Lixtentyn mi’milhan veka alsina Andorha. Liechtenstein plays better than Andorra even though both teams do not play well.
Relative Augmented Comparative: Lixtentyn mi’milhan veka alsinany Samoa Jusa. Liechtenstein plays by far better than American Samoa, but still not actually good.

Relative Superlative: FC Kelin mi’aru lasane’het veka alsitena Kelin’ra. The FC Cologne is the best team in Cologne though it is not good.
Relative Augmented Superlative: Silanines mi’aru lasane’het veka alsitenany Osejaniha’ra. New Zealand is by far the best team in Oceania, but it is not actually good.

I hope these examples explain comparisons somewhat.

Please don’t flame because I insulted your team! These are just examples!!! PUT THE FLAMETHROWER AWAY!!!

Last but not least and back to the original point: ‘milhan alte means irregularly: to draw, to tie a match.

Oh and completely irrelevant link of the day: The Krakenorakel (‘octopus oracle’) predicted the matches for Germany correctly so far (it does predict a victory against England). And now the Digital Cuttlefish made a poem about him. I, personally am amazed that he managed to find something which rhymes with Germany.

The Birth of Tsrai

Saturday, June 26th, 2010
The World Atlas of Language Structures is just a wonderful way to spend hours. One thing I realized while reading some articles is that in my years of conlanging I have systematically avoided using certain features of language that are very common across the world. I tallied up a list in my mind of things I've avoided, and sure enough, the outlines of a new language started to appear — Tsrai.

I have only rarely used reduplication, a process that is ubiquitous in natural languages. For Tsrai, I decided to use reduplication to indicate number, as a marginal process for nouns but the most common way for verbs.

I strongly favor very simple sound systems for my languages. Even if I have a large inventory of sounds, I keep the syllable structure quite simple and open, at most allowing resonant codas. So for Tsrai I've decided to use a moderately complex system, with a few more complex onset types allowed. This means my decision to use reduplication has resulted in some hefty tables of behavior. Of course, a recent exposure to Squamish may also have something to do with that. The big question was how to reduplicate syllables with complex onsets. I decided that since the second element of any complex onset is either an approximant or a resonant, to impose sound changes similar to Ancient Greek for such reduced syllables. For example tyar reduplicated is tityar (< *tytyar).

Other tendencies of the sound system are inspired by the Nobiin language.

I tend to favor VSO or SOV languages, so Tsrai is solidly SVO. I am also very fond of case marking, but for Tsrai I've gone isolating, using word order for syntax. I've taken inspiration from Yoruba and Vietnames (also SVO languages) and used certain particles to mark focus for fronting behavior, as in —

Lë ba gad dai I see this man.
Gad dai fë lë ba I see this man. ( is the focus particle)

I decided to step away from my aspect obsession. Verbs are marked only for tense — a past vs. non-past distinction only in verb morphology — letting adverbs and verb auxiliaries take up the slack.

I briefly considered using some sort of ablaut change in verbs to make ergativity a lexical category, a la Classical Chinese. But that got too messy for other plans for the language, so I tossed it. The idea may reappear for transitivity matters.

I do want to include verb chaining, but this presents some interesting design questions. At the moment a verb's form may be changed in two ways. First, reduplication for plural subjects, as in këskóis from kóis sleep. Second, it may take the suffix -ta to indicate past tense. The suffix is prone to assimilation, so that the verb varag choose, select may appear as vëvarag (pl.), varakka (past) or vëvarakka (past pl.). The syntax questions right now for verb chaining are (1) do all verbs need to be marked for number and tense and (2) if not, would the first or the last verb set the number and tense for everyone else in the chain.

Diacritics and stress paterns

Saturday, June 26th, 2010
I have worked out the vowel assimilation again, which I will post later today or tomorrow, and I realised I haven't said anything about stress paterns.

Please make sure to have read 'Alphabet and Phonology', which I edited today as well.

First of all, I have added some diacritics, although they are not used in regular writing, only in texts explaining stress, vowel assimilation or linguistics, and sometimes in academic texts when differences in pronounciation are invisible, e.g.: δαυcтε or δᾶυcтε, [dæʊstɘ] (the general imperative of  δαιн) as opposed to δάυcтε [da:.œstɘ] (the conjunctive general imperative).

These diacritics are:
The Acute,  ́, used to lengthen vowels: ά ό ύ, and ί
The Grave,  ̀, used to strengthen vowels: ὲ, ὸ and ὶ
The Circumflex,  ͂, used to indicate the assimilation of an α and an ο: ῶ

There are 21 different vowel types:

α, ά, ο, ό, ὸ, ω, ε, e, ὲ, ι, ί, ὶ, υ, ύ, ο͂ι, ᾶι, ῦι, ε͂ι, ε͂υ, ο͂υ and ᾶυ

We can organise these types on how much they attract the stress (from least to most):

{all others}
ὸ, ὶ

Stressed syllables in roots
The penultimate (the next to last) syllable of the word's root is normally stressed, except when any ε, e, ω or ὲ is present in its root (ὸ and ὶ do not naturally occur in roots); in which case these vowels are stressed (when the same 'stronger' vowel occurs multiple times, the last is stressed).

Examples (the stressed syllable is underlined):
цιδοр ("wing");
ὑм- ("you" (pl)), when there is only one syllable, it is stressed;
πεπαᴧ- ("egg"), the ε is not stressed (except when it is the only syllable);
αнтрωπ- ("human"), the ω is preferably stressed;
ἁнδр ("man"), the ε is not part of the root in words ending on -εр;
ὁικε ("house"), the last syllable is stressed because it is a strong ὲ, thus actually  ̔ο͂ικὲ;
βοцαнтр ("minotaur"), is a combination of βοц- and αнтр;
φυгε- ("to flee");
φυгοр- ("to cause to flee, to chase"), here, the infix -ὸр- is used to indicate causing something.

However, these stresses can be altered by the following affices (from weakest to strongest):

-ὸр-, as above
e-, the past tense prefix
-ὶнт-, the diminutive infix
-ὸнт-, the substantivating infix
-ο͂υ, -ά -ωc, the genitive suffices

Phew, that took some time writing.


Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'pote'.


  • (v.) to fight
  • (n.) fighting, strife

A pote uei i upea te ava…
“We will fight them on the beaches…”

Notes: And with growing strength and confidence in the air, etc.

I was watching a really good episode of Danger Man just now, and I was inspired to do the word for fighting. As I’m typing, my little cat Keli is in the midst of a great battle between her and her little red string: her constant companion and ignominious adversary. I’m stopping after each sentence and making it dance about so she can pounce upon it. I’m not sure if her string has made it into a caturday photo yet. If not, I’ll be sure it does soon.

Couple of knock-out matches tomorrow—including the US vs. Ghana! The US beat England, Slovenia, Algeria and the refs to reach the round of 16: Now it’s up to them. I just hope they don’t play sloppy—or timid. The time is now! Seize the moment! Fight!