Archive for February, 2015

Shalts Language Institute

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Check out the Germanic Conlang, Shalts

Shalts Language Institute

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Check out the Germanic Conlang, Shalts


Monday, February 23rd, 2015

A conlang with four noun classes ranked in an animacy hierarchy.

From lowest to highest:

  1. Mob
  2. King
  3. God
  4. Non-believer

few is hatxi

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
few = hatxi (adjective) (some things Google found for "hatxi": a rare term; user names; a rare first name; name of a dog that was adopted from a shelter group in Alicante, Spain; HATXI is an aviation waypoint in California; name of gaming characters; bad OCR of old text documents; may mean something in Vietnamese (transliterated); similar Haxi is the name of a place in Gansu Sheng, China)

Word derivation for "few":
Basque = gutxi, Finnish = harvat
Miresua = hatxi

The TX consonant combination in Miresua, as in Basque, is pronounced like CH.

I found ten occurrences of the word few in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Six of them refer to few minutes, and two of them refer to few things.
For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

Bryatesle: Case Usage III: the Dative

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
Besides the nominative and accusative (which later will be described), Bryatelse uses dative and ablative quite prominently. For some combined forms, the dative and ablative are conflated into a single 'oblique'.

The dative is comparable in some sense to a classical dative - it marks the recipient of an action. Examples:
emi mersi nalei
she him.dat sing-3sg - she sings for him
nek es urek siber
me.dat it strange appear.3sgN - it appears strange to me
xnërsi xus lrama xus fall-3sgN - something bad happened to you
However, beyond this, it also serves as quirky case subject with a handful of verbs:
tënk bulyr nïsr kevyk du inrahat
who.dat believe.3sg I.2ndsubj that like behave.1sg? - Who(DAT!) believes that I behave like that?
 The dative further can serve as a genitive:
Erkube tebuxu vybara
Erkub.dat cake.neut.nom suffice.telic3sgN (the verb is vyberet in the atelic form); Erkub's cake sufficed. 
The dative is the case used when the possessor is not marked as subject, secondary subject or object of the clause. Topical secondary subjects can own any participant of the clause, subjects can own any participants, objects can own oblique arguments, and oblique arguments can own other oblique arguments. A dative or ablative that is directly in front of a possessed noun, however, can own that noun. Datives are preferred with human possessors, ablatives with inanimates and non-human animates.

Directions with nouns are not given by the dative, most of the time - generally, those are formed by postpositions with the accusative.

In combination with the secondary cases, the dative further has some interesting deals - with the partitive it and the ablative merge and form a single oblique case. With the definite the implied telicity, pastness, 'realisness', absolutely-likely-to-happen futureness, etc, of the statement is slightly strengthened.

With the partitive, the opposite implication is generally acquired, and there's a very weakened definiteness. (However, as noted, it then merges with the ablative.) The possessive should be fairly well understood by now. The reciprocal object will have its own post sooner or later. The secondary subject appears on the dative for two quite opposite reasons:
Promoted Dative Secondary Subjects
Subordinate Dative Secondary Subjects 
The previous kind basically are causers, parties involved indirectly but who cause things to come about. The subordinate dative secondary subjects are embedded in VPs that are objects of the main verb; they either are quirky case subjects or they are datives that serve a topic-like function in the embedded subclause.

Erkub taidënisr rulmunti ake sigi
Erkub wife-dat-2ndsubj tobacco.obliq-part not drink.atelic-3sg - Erkub doesn't smoke tobacco (because his wife doesn't like it)
Garkeb kendynnyx bumal sega
Garkeb desire.dat-pl.neut.2ndsubj water drink.atelic-3sg.neut
Garkeb felt like drinking water, so he did
The subordinate kind would be exemplified by
Firgyk naskannyx barlei ydrer
Firgyk field.fem-dat-plur.2ndsubj-plur dry_up.atelic-3sg fear-3sg.neut
Firgyk fears the field will dry up
The embedded verb usually comes before the main verb, but if the semantic difference of the kinds of verbs involved is big enough, the order can be reversed, and the change can signal differences along these lines:
Firgyk naskannyx ydrei barlei: Firgyk, on the account of the field is worried - it might dry up.
Firgyk ydrei naskannyx barlei: Firgyk worries, the field may dry up
naskannyx barlei Firgyk ydrei: the field drying up has Firgyk worried.
The remaining forms - both main objects and secondary objects - will be covered in the next post.

Notes on a Vaporware Conlang III

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

A thing that’s always bothered me a little regarding Ayeri is that, so far, I haven’t come up with a proto-language which to draw irregularities and other neat and natural idiosyncracies from. For this conlang idea, I want to right those wrongs from the start, and by experimenting with a “fresh” language I can also learn how I could maybe retrofit Ayeri a little while avoiding noob mistakes … Since any sound can change to any other at least in principle, I thought I should just

  1. assume some phoneme inventory for the proto-language, maybe with some underspecification à la PIE’s laryngeals;1
  2. make up some phonotactics of course;
  3. make up some words in either system accordingly;
  4. morph the proto words to their recent shape and thus gain a bunch of sound changes to draw on and extend.

Furthermore, of course, I can also go backwards from the current shape and make assumptions on what may have happened to generate the current surface form. For example, given words like boď and šaňt, there may very plausibly have been a high front vowel following the palatalized sounds which was elided by apocope or syncope, so e.g. *bodiboď and *šanitšaňt.

For a proto-language inventory, how about this, for a start:2


labial dental velar guttural
nasals *μ [m~n~ŋ]
plosives *t *k *q [q~ʔ]
*tʰ *kʰ
fricatives *s *x [x~h]
liquids *w *λ [r~l]


Front Mid Back
high *i *u
low *a

Some possible words

Given the above phonemes and the phonotactic rules I sketched out here,3 here is a list of some possible words:

*aλ, *aλs, *i, *iμs.tʰus, *kak.tʰixt, *kaλs.kʰaμk, *kisk.twa, *ku, *kuλ, *kʰa, *kʰask.λaμ, *kʰax.sta, *kʰaλt, *kʰaμ.sλa, *kʰuλs.txu, *sa.taλk, *si.λuxs, *ska.λi, *skʰa, *skʰu, *stʰaq, *su.λə, *sλa, *sλi.μaλμ, *sλu.λəλk, *ta.quμ, *taqs.qusq, *tsa.stʰu, *tu.λətq, *tuλ.tʰa, *txa, *tʰas.qsə, *tʰask, *tʰaxs.taλμ, *tʰaμ, *tʰis.λax, *tλa, *tλa.kaμ, *tλu, *xask.xwu, *xkʰa, *xə, *xλi.saλt, *xλuq.stʰa, *xμa, *λa, *λak.xa, *λəλk.λaλ, *μaλq.tʰak, *μisk.sλak.

Obviously, in order to reach the phoneme inventory posited in my previous blog article in this little series, there has to be some splitting of phonemes, and the underspecification of some of them will be useful there, I suppose, in that allophony (e.g. *λ → *r / #(C)_ but *λ → *l / _#, so *λəλk.λaλ*rəlkral) provides different contexts for sound change to operate on as complementary distributions get undermined. Also, there will have to be some playing around with vowels to generate /e/ and /o/ and to get rid of /ə/, and also to generate a length distinction.

  1. If you like some not totally serious but still good conlanging, look at Pthag’s Shapshiruckish with its series of voiceless fricatives *Ⅰ, *Ⅱ and *Ⅲ, with their sound value “reconstructed” as *​h~ʔ, *f, *θ, respectively.
  2. That is, this may be subject to changes, depending on whether I can make it work or not …
  3. This is a rule file for a little word generator I wrote some time ago, called Wharrgarbl. You can check that out, too, if you like.


Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

A conlang whose phonotactics are defined as the opposite of your native language’s.

For example, /ŋ/ and /ʒ/ can only occur word-initially, and /h/, /j/, and /w/ syllable-finally. Consonant clusters can’t have two adjacent consonants with the same voicing. Syllabic consonants and /ə/ only occur in stressed syllables.

Dairwueh: Phrasal Irrealis Verbs

Saturday, February 21st, 2015
Actions such as look for, hunt, propose (marriage), ask for permission, and even plan have no roots directly corresponding to them. These, all of which have a clear corresponding 'perfective' verb root in Dairwueh - bargət find, sgaran kill game, riksəl marry, srusnam be given permission, sŋalək carry out - are generally expressed as an irrealis with one of the adverbs 'kudku' (present), 'kudku hve' (past), 'kudku həy' (future), replacing kudku with 'kudkunš' negates the adverbial complex, but also calls for a negative main verb. The tense marking moves to the main verb in the negative, however:
vnu kudku heve riksiŋ - he proposed to her. He would marry her (if the proposal goes through).
vnu riksiŋ - he married her 
 te kudkunš bargeyš - I did not look for it/I was not going to find it
te bargeyš - I did not find it
Even when there is a clear atelic lexeme, such as 'ratmək' ('build'), it is not uncommon to use this construction with a more telic verb instead, and sometimes even a somewhat distant one as far as meaning goes - for instance 'hargiyn' ('settle, move in')
bare ratmas
house:acc build-Isg - I build a house
bare kudku hargiyas
house:acc ADVB settle-1sg - I would/will settle a house (the one that incidentally is being built)
tsernu vidko
food.acc cook.3sgFem - she cooks food
tsernu kudku sperit kagino
food.acc ADVB front-FEM.PL.DAT cook.3sgFem - she would/will place forth (~serve) food
Thus, kudku reduces the irrealisness significantly, and rather creates an aspectual/temporal distinction, where the fulfillment of the verb is in the future of the time referred to.


Friday, February 20th, 2015

A discourse particle that pops up a lot when haggling that is pronounced /numbəwæŋ/

New review of The Valley of Thorns (v.3, The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head)

Friday, February 20th, 2015
Current cover
Alternate cover, not used
Adam Walker, one of my best supporters, favored me with another great 5-star review, this time of The Valley of Thorns.  Here it is!

This third installment in the Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge Head series continues with the Herculean epic motif, but like the previous volume, which added in elements of the Beowulf, this volume adds elements of the Medieval French poem, the Song of Roland. Ms. Taylor, once again pulls off a wonderfully entertaining tale, blending elements of two Human stories which have endured for centuries while transposing and transmuting them into a form completely suited to her extraterrestrial termite heroes. Though much shorter than some of the other volumes in this series, this one manages to pack in all the elements I have loved in previous volumes--humorous asides, the snarky interplay between the narrator and his scribe, the machinations of the little worker Za'dut, and the interplay of the various friendships among the Companions--but this volume manages to add a few more elements--an epic list naming the warriors and their deeds before the great battle, betrayal, madness and vengeance, and regret and loss. Ms. Taylor managed to make me cry over a fictional termite, a termite for heaven's sake! I have enjoyed all the volumes of the Labors thus far, but I believe this is the best one yet!

See all the Goodreads reviews for the book here.

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