Archive for December, 2015

Dairwueh Conjunctions

Sunday, December 20th, 2015
Dairwueh is a typological oddity in the region for having a relatively large number of conjunctions. They serve a variety of functions.

Ke, -k corresponds to 'and'. Can be suffixed as -k, but also put between NPs or VPs in the full form.

Related forms:
keta: also, including, as well as

Sim, basically corresponds to 'if', but is also used to list options: do you want if this, if that, if these, if those... It pre

Simta is used for indirect questions.

'Bale' has been mentioned already in the context of reciprocals in Dairwueh.

Ule signifies 'or', and basically presents two options that might be true (if VPs, both verbs may be irrealis, if NPs, the verb they are arguments of is likely to be irrealis).

Iske signifies 'and then', and is commonly used to list realis statements.

isketa signifies that there is some surprise to the following clause.

Siuke is as iske, but with irrealis VPs.

Uleke signifies 'even though, although, though, albeit', and thus implies that the main phrase is somewhat contradictory to what would be expected.


In comparison, Bryatelse has words for and, or, if, and a general 'subordinate conjunction'.

Detail #245: Verbs as Pragmatic Markers

Saturday, December 19th, 2015
Consider the pragmatic use of the English word 'certain' – i.e. 'A certain woman came to the shop yesterday and asked for ...'. In this case, 'a certain' signals that the man will reappear in the discourse, and that he's probably rather significant for the whole speech act – he's a sort of discourse topic. From this point on, references to this 'certain woman' will be definite (or even pronominal).

Like English, Finnish does the same with an adjective (or borderline determiner), eräs. In Swedish, it's not unusual for a noun with similar properties with regards to the context to be introduced by an existential construction with det as a sort of extra empty formal subject:
det kom en kvinna till affären igår och frågade efter ...
it came a woman to store-DEF yesterday and asked for ...
This is not the only time det can be used as a formal subject, especially not with existential verbs - and this is not the only time existential verbs are used. However, this is one circumstance in which it's used. Of course, existential verbs are exclusively intransitive in Swedish, (and in most languages), so this restricts some stuff. However, let's come up with a twist!

Let's entirely extract the thing that identifies that we're introducing a discourse topic from the noun phrase and make a verb whose sole function is to signal 'hey, the subject is significant'. Let's use certain as a verb in the glosses.
a woman certains. she came to the store yesterday and asked for ...
This seems a bit clunky. So, let's turn certain into an auxiliary!
a woman certained come to the store yesterday and ask for ...
After this first sentence, there's no need to use that verb until we establish a new discourse topic. However, if the discussion has gotten a bit lost, the verb can be used with the right congruence and with a dropped subject to recall that the discourse topic indeed is this referent.

What if he is not the subject? Well, voice stuff could help there, but I am also partial to resumptive pronouns. 
a man certained police catch him yesterday. 
Of course, this pronoun might seem rather useless in the first or second person, generally speaking, so maybe first and second person markers in the subject spot of it would signify something along the lines of the topic being the object (or oblique argument) with first or second person subjects? Maybe passives have a special meaning with that verb, whereby first or second person passives on it signify that the topic acted on the first or second person.
a man was-1sg certained beat at chess yesterday
man certain-1sg-pass beat.inf at chess yesterday
a certain man beat me at chess yesterday

This would create an interesting way of referring to the discourse topic by "pronoun-like verbs" at times, whereas other nouns would be referred to by "noun-like pronouns" as well as "pronoun-like suffixes". What makes 'certain' be verbal in this, of course, is the suffixes it can take and its syntactical distribution as compared to other verbs and particularly auxiliary verbs in the language.

dream is unes (revisited)

Saturday, December 19th, 2015
unes = dream (noun) (Some things Google found for "unes": a very common term; UNES is an acronym for Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad (Experimental Security University) of Venezuela; Unes supermarkets of Italy; UNES is an acronym for University of Nairobi Enterprises and Services; UNES stands for L'Union des Etudiant-e-s de Suisse (Union of Students in Switzerland); UNES FC Barcelona is a Catalan wheelchair basketball team; Unes software of Finland; an unusual last name; a rare first name; can mean some, ones in French; in Portuguese and Spanish conjugation of the verb unir meaning to unite, to join)

Word derivation for "dream":
Basque = amets, Finnish = uni
Miresua = unes

My previous Miresua conlang word for dream was inas, which was an alphabetic scramble. I'd rather start the word with U, which is more unusual.

The word dream appears seven times in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about...

dream is unes (revisited)

Saturday, December 19th, 2015
unes = dream (noun) (Some things Google found for "unes": a very common term; UNES is an acronym for Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad (Experimental Security University) of Venezuela; Unes supermarkets of Italy; UNES is an acronym for University of Nairobi Enterprises and Services; UNES stands for L'Union des Etudiant-e-s de Suisse (Union of Students in Switzerland); UNES FC Barcelona is a Catalan wheelchair basketball team; Unes software of Finland; an unusual last name; a rare first name; can mean some, ones in French; in Portuguese and Spanish conjugation of the verb unir meaning to unite, to join)

Word derivation for "dream":
Basque = amets, Finnish = uni
Miresua = unes

My previous Miresua conlang word for dream was inas, which was an alphabetic scramble. I'd rather start the word with U, which is more unusual.

The word dream appears seven times in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about...

A Few Observations about Grammatical Voice

Thursday, December 17th, 2015
I've noticed that some conlangers seem to think that grammatical voices basically only serve one purpose: omitting the subject. This somehow reduces the passive to serving as a convoluted way of saying 'someone did something to X'. 

Now, it would be lying to say that that is not part of what passives enable us to do, but a variety of languages use passives to a number of effects, and presenting a construction with an indefinite pronoun (i.e. 'someone') as the subject as a substitute seems to me to underestimate the amount of things that go on with the passive. Sure, it's a possible solution, and your language might well even parse the 'someone verbed X' construction as a legit passive with all the things that go along with a passive - the Germanic 'man' pronoun and the Finnish -taan passive are pretty close to that in some senses.

However, there are other uses for the passive beyond omitting the agent. In languages that are subject-prominent (as opposed to topic-prominent), the subject often has a very special pragmatic role. The subject, as it were, often correlates with some kind of 'topic of discourse'. So, a passive enables maintaining (and emphasizing) that particular relation: a patient that is felt to be important enough to be stated as the subject rather than object of its verb seems to convey the 'topic of discourse' thing pretty well - and study of how the passive is used would show that oftentimes, the subject of a passive verb indeed is topic not only of its clause, but of some part of the discourse.

Beyond this, we have languages with restrictions in their availability-hierarchies: comparing objects as objects (i.e. "I like sorbet more than (I like) parfait") might be unclear due to fixed case marking on the standard of comparison, and passivization might help making it clear that the compared things are patients, rather than agents (in the case of more equal-status nouns, e.g. 'I like Edith Piaf more than Brigitte Bardot'). More obviously, we have relativization-hierarchies: there are languages that permit relativization of subjects, but not of objects. Having a passive form helps with that, and other voices can help for things deeper in that hierarchy. 

A number of languages have verb forms that encode whether the subject is the same as that of the previous verb - so-called switch reference languages. Using the passive (or other voices) can permit for having same subjects for a longer stretch, since if some noun is the topic of discourse, it is likely to appear in most clauses - and probably in most of them as agent or other similar theta-role, but sometimes it might appear as a patient as well (and probably, in falling order of likelihood, various more oblique roles), and then voices can enable avoiding to have 'different subject' markers appear all that often.


En liten språklektion i huttiska inför Star Wars-premiären

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Inför premiären av Star Wars: the force awakens är många fans uppskruvade till max av förväntan. Nu ska den tredje och avslutande trilogidelen inledas som många, till exempel jag, sett framemot sedan slutet av 1970-talet. Det kommer blir strålande! Även om en och annan kommer att bli besviken och att det säkert dyker upp en karaktär som en del av fansen bara kommer att hata. Men det kommer bli strålande. Tro mig.

I mångt och mycket vet vi redan vad som kommer att hända i de nya filmerna eftersom de (sannolikt) bygger på samma koncept som de tidigare filmerna som Fredrik Kylberg så förtjänstfullt reder ut i den här texten. Han lyfter fram att George Lucas tidigt läste Joseph Campbells bok ”Hjälten med tusen ansikten” (1949), som visar hur samma karaktärer och berättelser återkommer i myter och sagor i hela världen och i alla epoker. Filmerna inspirerades av detta, och innehåller därför uråldriga arketyper och teman som känns igen från de gamla sagorna.

I de förhandsglimtar vi har fått se kan vi lätt föreställa oss att temat mer eller mindre kommer att upprepas – en till synes obetydligt och fattig person i öknen lärs upp av en äldre, vis läromästare. Anakin mötte Qui-Gon, Luke mötte Obi-Wan och vår nya hjälte Rey möter sannolikt Luke Skywalker. Sedan tar hjälte i vardande sig att an det stora hotet, som Rey sannolikt får spränga i slutscenen.

Detta är alltså ingen spoiler, utan handlar helt enkelt om hur George Lucas byggt upp de tidigare Star Wars-trilogierna och vi kan vänta oss att den nya trilogin är en variant av samma tema och arketyper. Vad som möjligen är en spoiler är att enligt Lation Review så kommer det att finnas hutter i den nya filmen. Vi vet inte om det är Jabba the Hutt själv eller om det är andra av den stora utomjordiska snigelarten som dyker upp, men Latino Review säger sig veta att det byggs flera hutt-dockor för filmen.

Det är spännande, för sannolikt innebär det att också vi kommer att få höra mer av språket huttiska! Språket dök upp redan i den första filmen på 1970-talet när Greedo konfronterar Han Solo på den skumma baren i Mos Eisley med de bevingade orden: Koona t’chuta, Solo? – Är du på väg någonstans, Solo?

När ljudteknikerna Ben Burtt skulle skapa huttiskan var han på jakt efter ett verkligt språk som kunde passera för utomjordiskt. Han insåg att om han bara skulle sätta sig ner och hitta på ett eget rymdspråk skulle det bli allt för färgat av engelska och amerikanskt uttal. Fördelen med att utgå från ett befintligt språk är att det har en inbyggd trovärdighet som bara ett språk som utvecklats över tiden har.

Burtt hade hört en inspelning av det sydamerikanska språket quechua som han tyckte lät främmande och lite komiskt. Det hade såväl ”konstiga” ljud som en tendens till att rimma på ett för Burtt underhållande sätt. Burtt samlade på sig inspelningar av quechua och letade efter någon som kunde tala språket. Visserligen hittade han ingen som talade quechua, men väl en student i lingvistik, Larry Ward, som hade han förmågan att härma språk utan att kunna tala dem. Han kunde lyssna på quechua och sedan börja prata som om han kunde språket flytande.

Sedan har ju huttiskan utvecklats under åren när det förekommit i de följande filmerna och även byggts ut i en liten ordbok Star Wars – Galactic phrase book & travel guide (2001.) Fansen har såklart också vridit och vänt på språket för att lista ut grammatiken bakom. För även om språket ursprungligen bara var en ljudeffekt som skulle låta som ett språk – är det ett äkta språk för fansen. Och undan för undan har man genom analyser av huttiskan börjat förstå lite mer av hur språket är uppbyggt och fungerar.

The complete Wermo’s guide to huttese (wermo – idiot) är förmodligen den främsta källan till huttiska som går att finna. På denna sajt har man inte bara samlat och utforskat alla hänvisningar till huttiska, utan man varsamt börjat utvidga ordförrådet i huttiskan genom att nybilda ord. Men man har även gått till quechuan för att hitta helt nya rotord. Så lakilla i quechuan som betyder ”ledsen” har blivit lakeela med samma innebörd i huttiskan.

Så sakta har ljudeffekten börjat närma sig något som mer liknar ett riktigt språk. Och det är det som gör den nya filmen så spännande! Hur kommer huttiskan vi får höra i filmen att vara? Har filmteamet tittat på vad fansen har gjort? Kommer man försöka hålla huttiskan ”konsekvent” eller köra man bara på i ljudeffektspåret?

Här är i varje fall ett par nyttiga fraser på huttiska att öva på inför premiären:

  • No bata no tutu – Vad det än gäller så var det inte jag som gjorde det.
  • Mee tassa cho-passa – Jag höll på att rengöra fläktknapparna
  • Yoka to bantha poodoo! – Du är bantha-avföring!
  • Je am tuta planeeto Jorden – Jag kommer från planeten Jorden
  • Uba niboba che blastoh – Du behöver license för det där vapnet
  • Jee panwa waffmula chone patogga che lickmoomoo – Jag tycker om kakor och paj till efterrätt.

Och här en mycket underhållande fortsättningskurs, How to Speak Huttese!, för dem vill veta mer:

En liten språklektion i huttiska inför Star Wars-premiären

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
Inför premiären av Star Wars: the force awakens är många fans uppskruvade till max av…

needle is nelatz (revisited)

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
nelatz = needle (noun) (Some things Google found for "nelatz": a rare term; user names; Nelatz S.L. is a construction company in the Gipuzkoa province of Spain; a very rare last name; bad OCR of old text)

Word derivation for "needle":
Basque = orratz, Finnish = neula
Miresua = nelatz

My previous Miresua conlang word for needle was arult, which was an alphabetic scramble. I try to make words look like a mix of Basque and Finnish nowadays.

The word needle doesn't appear in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but needles, as in knitting-needles, can be found eight times in Through the Looking-Glass.
"Can you row?" the Sheep asked, handing her a pair of knitting-needles as she spoke.

"Yes, a little - but not on land - and not with needles -" Alice was beginning to say, when suddenly the needles turned into oars in her hands....

Detail #244: Verbs of Movement, Pseudoreflexives and Shenanigans therewith

Sunday, December 13th, 2015
Many languages have reflexives originating with body-parts, such as 'head', 'body', or even 'bone' or the somewhat  "not quite there" 'soul'. 

Now, consider how many languages have many intransitive verbs of movement formed by the same pattern as reflexive verbs, c.f. Swedish röra sig, flytta sig.

Now, let's imagine that verbs of movement  take particular body-parts instead of the 'generic reflexive' body part: walk legs, jump hands (in the case of jumping forward, when the hands are flung back), rise head. Dance ass.

However, the meaning of some might have evolved over time so the connection between the body part and the verb isn't all that obvious any longer: turn belly, creep hands, lie face (from a verb meaning 'to direct upwards', and refers, of course, to lying on one's back).


Detail #244: Verbs of Movement, Pseudoreflexives and Shenanigans therewith

Sunday, December 13th, 2015
Many languages have reflexives originating with body-parts, such as 'head', 'body', or even 'bone' or the somewhat  "not quite there" 'soul'. 

Now, consider how many languages have many intransitive verbs of movement formed by the same pattern as reflexive verbs, c.f. Swedish röra sig, flytta sig.

Now, let's imagine that verbs of movement  take particular body-parts instead of the 'generic reflexive' body part: walk legs, jump hands (in the case of jumping forward, when the hands are flung back), rise head. Dance ass.

However, the meaning of some might have evolved over time so the connection between the body part and the verb isn't all that obvious any longer: turn belly, creep hands, lie face (from a verb meaning 'to direct upwards', and refers, of course, to lying on one's back).