Archive for January, 2016

Ŋʒädär: Some Exceptional Nominal Morphological Patterns

Sunday, January 31st, 2016
A few handfuls of Ŋʒädär nouns have exceptional morphological patterns going for them. There are three main classes of such patterns:
  • -st'i-/-stı- added for plural and obviative forms.
  • -rk'e-/-rk'o- added for all oblique cases and all plural and obviative forms.
  • -t'o-/-'te- added for plural oblique forms and obviative oblique forms
These three morphemes are all nominalizers; -st'(i/ı)- most often signifies '-ness, -ity'; thus for instance k'oru (dry) → k'orust'ı (dryness), sar (weak) → sarst'i (weakness), iqe (man) → iqest'i (manliness) but also occasionally other meanings: ibik (sleep) → ibikst'i (bed), rügvä (house) → rügvästi (inhabitant). However, it also appears in the plural and obviative  forms of nouns such as mother (yajo), king (kamma), edible mushrooms (sändö), male offspring (gumu), female offspring (t'äne).

The -rk'(e|o)- suffix is used both for verbal nouns and for 'concrete examples' of an adjective, i.e. 'a red thing', or 'a kindness' (this use of -ness in English is somewhat different from the meaning of -ness in the previous paragraph). Many tools follow this pattern, but so do certain vessels, i.e. reindeer or dog sleds.
The -t'(o|e)- suffix often serves the role of turning a verb into an instance of the verb, i.e. q'olku = die, q'olxt'o = a death. However, this also occurs with some animal names, i.e. leading dog (hark) having the plural/obviative oblique stem harkt'o-, reindeer (iseti) having the plural/obviative oblique stem iset'e-).

More nouns of these type will find their way into the dictionary.

Conlangery SHORTS #21: What to do after #Lexember

Saturday, January 30th, 2016
George gives another short about what you can do with your Lexember words after lexember.

Ŋʒädär: Noun Morphology

Thursday, January 28th, 2016
Ŋʒädär nouns have case, proximative/obviativeness and number. In the obviative forms, number is omitted.

The cases of Ŋʒädär are the absolutive, the dative, the locative, the lative, the ablative, the genitive-comitative, the instrumental and the complement.

The absolutive takes no suffix. The dative singular takes -m/-im/-um/-üm/-ım. The locative takes -ŋa/-ŋä/-ŋe/-ŋo. The lative takes -lis/-lıs/-lus/-lüs. The ablative takes -line/-lınɤ/-lünä/-luno. The genitive-comitative takes -(h)Vs, where V is a reduplication of the last vowel of the stem. The instrumental takes -(r)Vk, with the same vowel reduplication as in the genitive. The complement is formed by the suffix -ɣuv/-jiy/-jüy/-ɣıv.

All cases except the dative (and absolutive) have very simple plurals - they are formed by inserting the morpheme -üv-/-uv-/-iy-/-ıɣ- after the stem. Some assimilation happens with the locative, giving -ümä/-uma/-inye/-uŋo.

The absolutive plural is formed by taking the full nominative, changing any word-final vowel to the most open vowel at the same position: u, o, a > a; i, e > e; ü, ö > ö; ı, ɤ > ɤ and affixing -r. If no word-final vowel exists, whichever of these four: {a, e, ö, ɤ} that fits the bill is inserted before -r.
The dative plural is exceptionally formed by a separate set of suffixes, viz. -ot'/-et'/-ät'/-ɤt'.

The obviative marker -qi(g)-/-qu(g)-/-qü(g)-/-qı(g)- takes the place of the number morpheme. The only case to have distinctive singular and plural forms in the oblique is the absolutive. The absolutive plural obviative turns the vowel into a widening diphthong with an -n for suffix, e.g. -qien, -quon, -qıɤn, -qüön. The dative also behaves exceptionally with the obviative marker: the suffixes are those of the dative plural and not of the dative singular.

The dative serves more roles than just that of a recipient; for several verbs, it marks the subject, and for some the object. It also marks purposes, causes, sources of information, the time at which something is to happen, by whose opinion something is or seems to be, or by whose perception something is known.

If a possessum would be in the absolutive case were it not possessed, the genitive marks both the possessor and the possessum. In other cases, the possessum retains the case it should be having. Who owns whom is determined by the animacy hierarchy. Reflexive possession of objects is also marked by marking the subject and object of the verb with the genitive case. In fact, whenever the possessum is a subject or an object, there is no need for the possessor to be part of the same noun phrase - it can be flung almost anywhere in the clause. The interactions between possessum, possessor, the animacy hierarchy, and verb argument structure is somewhat complicated. Normally, having a lower-ranked noun own a higher-ranked one is not trivial except when they're subject and object of a regular, transitive verb. A number of strategies exist for this, though.

The instrumental also marks manners, entire time-spans, and is generally used to form adverbs. Peculiarly, it also marks the location of verbs like 'live' or 'reside'.

The ablative marks beginnings of time-spans. Origins, and when talking about distances to things – distances are from a place in Ŋʒädär, not to a place. Distances between two places are from both of them.

Besides the obvious direction and destination, the lative marks ends of time-spans, as well as recurring times in plural forms.

The locative marks place as well as most mental states, with perfective transitive verbs it can also mark destination.

pink is pinsa (revisited)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
pinsa = pink (color) (adjective) (some things Google found for "pinsa": an uncommon term; Pinsa Romana is an oval shaped flatbread type of pizza; Grupo Pinsa is a tuna industry company based in Mexico; an unusual last name; in Latin pinsa is inflected forms of pinsus which means pounded; similar pinza (sometimes spelled pinsa) is a traditional Venetian cake made with cornmeal and raisins; similar Pinse means Pentecost in Norwegian)

Word derivation for "pink" :
Basque = arrosa, Finnish = pinkki
Miresua = pinsa

My previous Miresua conlang word for pink was poska. Somehow I just didn't like that word.

I missed my scheduled post for the 22nd last week. Simply got busy doing other things.

Both the Basque word and the Finnish word for pink appear to be borrowed words. There's another word in Finnish for pink, vaaleanpunainen, which translates as light-red, but I didn't care to deal with that 15-letter word for pink.

I found one instance of the word pink in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

Detail #251: A Register, Taboo and Exceptional Noun Class

Monday, January 25th, 2016
In a culture with some rather strict notions of whom it is fit to marry - i.e. probably more strict than 'don't marry close relatives', imagine if the language has a register whereby if you speak to an unmarried, young person whose family relations you are expected to be knowledgeable about, you are forced to use a register whereby anyone forbidden to this young person is in a special noun class.
(I also imagine the culture could have other, non-genetical things that determine permissibleness, for instance, astrological or other similar superstitions.)

After the young person has married, this register is no longer used with him. However, the congruence markers can still be used for a few specific meanings: acts of fornication and general violations of the sexual mores of the culture will always have that noun class's congruence marker on the verb. 

Here, the marker also is unique in being the only such marker to permit reduplication; when doing so, it is intensive and judgmental, essentially conveying something like 'you fucking idiot really had to fucking go and fuck your cousin did you?'

Finally, in some minority communities with other taboos as well - including more formalized food taboos - the same morpheme has come to mark violation of any of the other taboos, regardless of noun class of the object, or even with objectless actions that are forbidden.

Ŋʒädär: A Mood Marked by Word Order

Monday, January 25th, 2016
Much like in English, the imperative is marked in Ŋʒädär by fronting the verb (and omitting any 2nd person subject). However, this imperative-like mood also serves certain other functions. In a subclause, it serves to mark the purpose for which something was done, e.g.
vär ehi luqu-nta-jut törö-ntä-z ehi p'arŋuba
you (s)he trick-fut-inv get-fut-direct (s)he  inheritance
(s)he will trick you so that (s)he will get the inheritance
This fronting is the sole circumstance in which the negation goes after the (main) verb. Auxiliaries need not be fronted, but if they are, they too follow the main verb. Another use of this mood is 'until' with the future form if the main clause has a present form or past form in it. 
ehi gäbü-lö-: mat'a-nta-: k'ugoru
he scream-past-intr leave-fut-intr bear
he screamed until the bear went away

mat'a-nta-: k'ugoru a ehi gäbü-lö-:
leave-fut-intr bear * he scream-past-intr
'a' serves as a subclause delimiter.

The Buried Ship at the End of the World Is about to Be Published!

Monday, January 25th, 2016
Join me on Facebook on Saturday, January 30, 2016, for  an event -- TermiteWriter Launches The Buried Ship !
Expect special prices or giveaways on my earlier books, plus fun and good fellowship!

At last the series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head is coming to an end.  A lot of loose ends were left hanging in v.6: Revenge of the Dead Enemy, and it was only right to compose a sequel volume to bring the Quest for the Golden Fungus to a satisfying conclusion.

Here is the Amazon description of the book:

While many of the participants in the Quest for the Golden Fungus have been lost, the Quest continues under the leadership of Is’a’pai’a Gold-Seeker.  Di’fa’kro’mi’s Scribe Chi’mo’a’tu, with the help of wandering Remembrancers and the Star-Brings, undertakes to compose the tale of the final adventures, with the Seer Da’sask’ni’a as the principal narrator. 

As the remaining Companions set forth on the last leg of their voyage, new additions to the company lead to both jubilation and tragedy.  Then they must dare the dangerous Wandering Rocks and the Closing Gate before sailing to the End of the World to find the Fungus.  After planting the reptile’s teeth and dealing with the results, Is’a’pai’a finally returns home to Hwai’ran’chet, bringing along a surprise addition to the company – a Sorcerer and Seer who may be far more dangerous than she appears.


Monday, January 25th, 2016

And I’m only 24 days late!
But I think (maybe) I’ve maybe up for it by having 142 words this year!

Lexember 2015:

Séko – mouth; rumor; a gossip
séko – to spread rumors; to gossip

Kset – noise; sound
kseté – to make a noise; to make a sound; to be noisy (n-verb)
Ngiks – annoyance from sound (from reduplicated participle of kseténgikseté)

Nete – parent (mother or father); parents; from the verb nete – to bear children

bilhe – to pee; to urinate; to poop; to vomit; to fart; to burp; to sneeze (generally to relieve a bodily function; to specificy an elative object is used, which is never used in polite company; a nondescript ‘passive’ is used:
           tov robilhe – 3.neut-acc must-relieve.prs

nouns used are often derived from a general noun plus the bodily function morpheme –bu:

Vanébu            pee – liquid-body.func
Pochbu            poop – brown-body.func
Cwebu             diarrhea – fall.down-body.func
Minalbu           vomit – up-body.func
Riraibu            sneeze – nose-body.func

in casual senses, these nouns have become reflexive verbs (ksir):

de ksir vanébu; deks vanébu

uma – to be sober; not drunk; clear of mind etc.
umar – sober, not drunk; clear of mind; impartial; objective (this is one of the few adjectives that is not derived from the stative verb by the mechanics that govern the majority of stative verbs when used attributively, that is, it’s not an N-verb or an S-verb, which describe the ending that the stative verb takes when used attributively in an adjective like way)

Ilh – woolen blanket; coat for very cold weather;
Ilhngere – wool; winter coat (of animals)

nurna – forget; (n-verb ) to be forgetful; to be absentminded

dekmo – (s-verb) be hesitant; to be timid; to doubt oneself; to be reserved

ciri – (s-verb) insightful; considerate; compassionate

y – (n-verb) confident (not nikte – to be sure/certain, which applies to a single item, as opposed to y which has more of a holistic meaning)

diamikoso – to procrastinate; (n-verb) to be lazy
Diamikoso – procrastination; laziness
Dimik – lazy person

Tynam – the central room of a modest home where the cooking, eating and lounging happens, the bedrooms are typically directly attached to this room

Padhnak – world; universe; reality; existence
Utal – world; day-to-day; routine; perspective

mlase – to invite someone’s attendance
Mëmlasen – invitee
Mlase – the act of invitation
Mlaseb – a physical token of invitation (such as a card) (mlase+b, deriv. suffix                                   that derives nouns that aid in the accomplishment of the verb)
mëmlase – (s-verb) to be welcoming; to be prone to inviting people over; to be hospitable

Gloska – stomach (the internal organ, not the abdomen in general); digestion; curiosity
mires Gloskav oido – to be curious (lit. to have a big stomach)

Lagor – fitness; exercise; diet; attempts to be healthy;
Lagorv cydo – to work out, to exercise, to be on a diet, to be health-conscious (lit. to hold fitness)

gola – to hunt
Ngagolan – big game that is frequently hunted
ngagola – to be a hunter
Goléir – hunting permission; right to hunt

kendhai – sell goods (translocative prefix+buy)
pvi – sell services
dhai – buy goods (okay, this one existed before Lexember, but the distinction is new)
Nidhais – a good; an item that can be purchased (bread, metal, etc)
vrama – buy services (assistance from waitstaff, farmhands, etc)

alhargili – save money; acquire wealth; become educated (alh-Argil cis-locative prefix+money+vowelforverbalendings)

Chilh – a spice used mainly in meat dishes and an alcoholic tea that is drunk during the winter, similar to cinnamon, but with a bit of a black-pepper quality; the name for the alcoholic tea mentioned above

si – to heal; to restore to health
Sisis – doctor; the field of medicine; hospital
Chyn – medicine; remedy; curative (from an archaic word for herb (replaced by Naba); traces of which is now exclusively present in the word for berry bush Nolchyn (red-bush). The berry, Nol, is used to make wine (also called Nol). This superficial relationship between Nolchyn and Chyn has lead to the wives’ tale that mass consumption of wine at the onset of a cold cures it.

– to believe something based on faith (God, the goodness of a person, etc.)
rize – to believe something based on an empirical evidence (evolution, Global warming)

kete – (s-verb) to be trusting; to be friendly; to be gullible (from kate – to trust)
Ngëket – servant, page, assistance (not slave; lit. trusted one)

dodoi – to give credit to someone; to cite; to reference

brusku – to fly through the air (not metaphorically extended to swiftness)
Arani – bird
Ëknak – flying insects
Ibruska – fascination with flight; someone who is prone to day dreaming

Mras –edge of land water that is not potable (oceans, brackish water, bogs); seashore; shore; coast
Dola –edge of land and water that is potable (rivers, streams, lakes), bank, shore
Girn – bog; acidic standing water, forms peat, mossy, feed by rain so they are low in nutrients
Ulgos – fen; alkaline, fed by ground water often, richer than bogs, also form peat            Kacma – swamp; woody plants
Anéng – marsh; herbaceous plants
Gom – ocean/sea; large salty body of water; can be landlocked or not
Pvas – lake; large fresh body of water; with tributaries; landlocked
Okuoi – pond, puddle (standing body of water without tributaries)
Iciv – stream/brook/creek (linear body of water that can be crossed without swimming or with water going above the waist), smaller than Crasdo
Crasdo – river (linear body of water that must be swum across or where the water is substantially deeper than the waist)
molhi – to ford, to cross a river by wading, to wade
Molhik – a ford, a natural crossing of a river
Immal – bridge (from i+minal (lit. go over) > iminal > im(i)nal > imnal > immal)

Kër – kitchen (an independent room only in large houses); cooking spot, pit, hearth, fireplace (used in the Tynam)
isga  – to mix, to stir
vrasga – whisk, whip, beat (vracos+isga)
gade – to cut, to sever, to chop
gigaide – mince, dice (iterative of gade)
cigaide – to slice, to cut thin pieces (cic+gigaide)
ci – to be thin, skinny; to be simple (irregular attributive form of cic)
py – bake, roast, cook in an oven with dry heat
Py – oven
medo – cook
vole  – to fry
Vole – frying pan, skillet
duolo – boil
Duolo – pot, kettle
zobvemo – burn, overcook
my – to knead dough
Mym – dough
raza – to crack an egg; to begin something that cannot be stopped
ga ga ga ga – ideophone(?) to be running around frantically in the kitchen trying to get a meal together

Korak – root vegetable (onion, garlic, potato, turnip)
Kuana – leafy greens (cabbage, lettuce, arugula)
Nuenad – stalk vegetables (celery, asparagus, cinnamon, bamboo)
Pi – flower vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, dandelion)
Ada – fruit vegetables (non sweet fruits, e.g. tomato, cucumbers)
Oione – fruits (sweet)

Inai – metal
Malga – gold
Lydh – silver
Hoios – copper
Tlaigo – bronze (Salman – tin)
Rydinai – brass (‘yellow metal’) (Gran – zinc)
Fies – iron
– iron ore; metal works in general
Rof – steel
Mamavan – cast iron (‘that which is cast’)
Inainé – lead (‘flexible metal’)
Buola – mercury
ao – to smelt (‘to melt’ in general; not just for metals)
oao – molten
Coa – slag
ikuo – mine
oikuon – ore (‘that which is mined’)
mava – to cast (from va – to pour)
Inaikër – forge (‘metal fireplace’)
Blas – hammer
bla – to hammer; to beat with an object
Kromos – anvil

Nacmat – hangover, grogginess
Nacmatnol – hangover cure (lit. ‘hangover wine’; see above)
Okosiag – headache
            Okosiag ym dalh. – I have a headache (lit. ‘A headache is at me.’)
Okos – head
Iag – pain; ache; illness (often appended to body parts)
puapua – to be queasy (N-verb)

zolzaka – adv. to and fro; hither and thither; back and forth; (S-verb) directionless; unfocused; wandering; meandering


Challenge #1: My Own Solution?

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
In the very early days of this blog, I had this idea of posting challenges that people could come up with solutions for. I didn't get much response to them (although I had way fewer readers back then as well). However, in a moment of inspiration, I think I figured out a potential solution to Challenge #1.

Use some type of ingressive or imperfect aspect on the number; thus three-ingr-ptcpl = one that starts the count to three (where of course every 'counting' that this is the ingressive of is counting from the number one below, thus "the second").

Another way could of course be some causative-ingressive combination, three-caus-ingr-(ptcpl) or even three-ingr-caus-(ptcpl): the thing that starts to cause a count towards three, the thing that causes to start a count towards three.

It doesn't feel all that smooth, but it isn't all too stubbly either.

Asshekhqoyi Vezhvenagain!

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Looks like it’s my birthday again. I’ve had 35 of these things now and they show no signs of stopping. Bleh. So be it!

For those who follow me elsewhere, you’ll know that the last year has brought some major changes and challenge. The short version: new house, new shows, new book, and new child. Erin and I welcomed our first child Meridian Victoria Peterson last month, and the level of effort required to maintain her comparatively spartan lifestyle is as advertised. It’s stretched us to our breaking point and left us little time for anything else.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do us a proper Dothraki haiku competition!

It does mean, though, that I don’t have any haikus of my own to share, or new rules to debut. It’s too much. Per last year, though, there will be a Dothraki competition and a High Valyrian competition, and each competition will have its own winner.

We can certainly still do challenge words, though. Always time for challenge words! The challenge word for Dothraki will be haf (an adjective meaning “quiet” or, with respect to pain, “dull”). For High Valyrian, the challenge word is the noun lāra, which means “crow” (lunar noun, regular Class IA declension). For the full set of rules regarding the haiku, see below.


For the purposes of this contest, a haiku is 17 syllables long, with the syllable counts for each line being 5, 7, and 5, in that order. If you need to fudge, go for it, but I will weight exact syllable counts more highly.

Also (and this is important), since this is Dothraki, we are definitely going by syllable count, not mora count. Regarding syllable-counting, in Dothraki, a syllable is defined as a vowel plus one or more consonants on either side. A syllable cannot contain more than one vowel, which means that a word like kishaan is trisyllabic, not disyllabic.

If it helps, you may or may not contract the various prepositions that contract. So, for example, mr’anha (two syllables) is the usual way of saying “inside me”. For your haiku, if you wish, you can separate the two out, i.e. mra anha (three syllables). You can also drop purely epenthetic e vowels (so the past tense of “crush”, kaffe, can be rendered as kaff’). Feel free to play with word order and drop pronouns, as needed, bearing in mind that such language is figurative, and the reader will still need to be able to figure out who’s doing what to whom.

For Valyrian: Long vowels count as two mora, and a vowel with a coda counts as two mora, but a syllable will not have more than two mora. So a long vowel plus a coda consonant will still be two mora, for the purposes of the poem. If you can’t do the poem using mora, do it with syllables, but I’ll weight those done with mora more highly. This will make it more like a real Japanese haiku. If you need a particular word in a particular number/case combination or a verb in a particular conjugation, please let me know and I’ll give it to you.

Addendum: Falling diphthongs count as two mora (i.e. ae and ao); rising diphthongs count as one (e.g. ia, ua, ue, etc.). Also, word order is certainly freer in poetry than it is in everyday speech, but the rules about adjectives still apply (i.e. you use the short forms if the adjective appears directly before the noun it modifies; otherwise they’d take their full forms). And, finally, word-final consonants are extrametrical. Thus if a word ends in -kor, that counts as one mora, not two.

Shieraki gori ha yerea! Fonas chek!