Archive for May, 2016

Detail #284: A ‘Count’ Case

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Imagine a case that is associated in some way with counting. So, in its normal form, it appears on nouns after non-singular quantifiers. However, it can also turn other things into quantifiers?
how X-count did you see?how many X did you see?
I saw five-acc men-count.
This is not per se particularly interesting. So let's try and add some stuff to it!

Some nouns lack this form, and force the number to carry the count-case, whereas the main case appears on the noun itself:
five-count father-gen
Maybe, just maybe, the count case replaces both nominative and accusative on both noun and number: five-count men-count, but five-dative men-count.

Without a quantifier, the count case indicates that some implicit or previously stated quantifier is relevant in some way - e.g. coordinated nouns over a numeral;
we have five-acc wrenches-count, dollars-count and three-acc hours-count to solve this problemwe have five wrenches, five dollars and three hours to solve this problem


The count marker also appears on the number when it's an ordinal, and on infinitive verbs when they express the number of times something has occurred.

Other uses include subjects of predicates that express quantities ('we were only five at work today'); if the numeral expresses some other fact about the subject, other cases may be used, and the number may take the count case ('he-gen is ninety three now').

I had some more ideas for this while bicycling home, but it seems they are entirely lost now :(

ANADEWS: Yukaghir: The Core Case System

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
It turns out that Yukaghir has a rather unusual split-intransitive core case system: Yukaghir combines pragmatic roles with syntactic roles in this cool little system:


topicfocus
OO-topicO-focus
SS-topicS-focus
AA-topicA-focus
So, unlike most languages - which get by with two cases for this (and I mean two cases even for isolating languages - many languages, including English, do have syntactical features that distinguish subjects from objects in a very case-like manner) - Yukaghir has four here. Further, the O-Topic (green) is marked as S/A-topic if the A-topic outranks the O-topic in a person hierarchy (speaker > non-speaker).

A-focus is the least marked form, and apparently for most nominals mostly identical to S/A-topic - third person pronouns being the exception where they're always distinct.

This interacts in weird ways with the verbal system, to which I will return in a follow-up post. For now, grasping this should be a good start.

Sources:
Elena Maslova, Tundra Yukaghir, Languages of the World/Materials 372, 2003, Lincom Europa.

Link: The Index Diachronica

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
This is some pretty good stuff. Sound changes, and lots of them.

#458

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Have a series of consonants that occurs mostly in words about the human body and in slang from a period about 50 years before.

These are, of course, the retro-flex consonants.

Detail #283: An Unusual Origin for Person Morphology on Verbs

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
Imagine a language with a long-lasting split-ergative system, split by person rather than by TAM. (This, for the record, is common in Australia.) Unusually, for such a language, it has unique forms for all of nominative, accusative, ergative and absolutive. Now, the following system obtains in the language:

subjobjcase alignment
Ireflexiveergative

IIergative

IIIergative
IIInominative

reflexiveergative

IIIergative
IIIInominative

IInominative

reflexiveabsolutive

IIIotherergative
The earlier system of congruence was eroded by a sound change that just so happened to lop off the verbal morphemes entirely (but the nominal morphemes survived by virtue of not having any sounds subject to that change). The new verbal congruence appears from present active participles, that have case congruence with their subject. Thus, the first person morpheme is identical to the ergative case suffix; the second person verb is unmarked, as is the third person verb. 

The reflexive forms are somewhat special - the verb itself has no weirdness in the first person, just a first person object, with maybe a reflexive pronominal morpheme added, much like 'myself'. In the second person, the verb agrees with the subject, but in the third person, the reflexive participle agrees with the absolutive of the object.

Detail #282: Case and Number Marking and Pronouns

Saturday, May 21st, 2016
Many languages have suppletive number on their pronouns, and some languages have a similar situation going for their case markers.

Now, what we could do with pronouns that already mark number, thus making the marking on the case markers superfluous, is shake things up! Take some forms from the singular case markers, some from the plural ones. In the first person, maybe use plural case markers for inclusive? In the third person, maybe use plural case markers for proximate-like and singular ones for obviative-like reference.

In the 2nd person, just go wild.

More Sargaĺk Vocabulary

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
A further bunch of Sargaĺk vocabulary with, what I hope, can be Proto-SBD vocabulary. Some trial runs of some sound changes will be needed before I can be sure of that, however.

tari
magic, ritual *tahri incantation

knuk
hand *knəkw reach
sken elbow *xkein bend
veŋ knee *weiŋgə
impik fingernail *ep:ig
k'uris finger *k'ur
ip'i eye *ujp'i
niks cheek *mnik: jaw
lep ear, certain mushrooms, funnel *lebt ear
nose *tń nose, protrusion, tip, acute angle
ŕmatń branch, *wŕməh- tree, *nose
sum mouth *sıwmb
k'uip lip *k'ıwipt


sadŕ stomach, belly, also torso
vitkas chest, ribcage, bust, torso, *vit lung, *kas heart
kinve female breast *kin breastfeed, -v- instrument marker
izgər breathe, *jizgır inhale (c.f. *tamgır, exhale) (c.f. niz 'full', tam 'empty')

tobĺ penis *tops penis
tobmat testicles (formally singular) *tops, *-mat- ~"-ery"
tidixu vulva *tidi
git'nu uterus *git'əj, intercourse
mobe buttocks (formally singular)

fĺga funeral pyre *fl:ka
fĺgam
cremate, -m- causative or applicative derivative marker

doŋur signal pyre *dweŋı warn
doŋum warn by signal pyre (direct object: the thing you warn due to, recipient: whoever is expected to see it (often implicit), subject: whoever lights it)


git'e intercourse *gıt'əj intercourse
targit'e simulated ritual intercourse *tahri, 'magic, ritual' and *git'e
git' -
fuck (object is in any locative case, and can only be human)
targis - perform simulated ritual intercourse (object is in any locative case, and can only be human, subject is invariably pegative)

mĺni  hair *ml:nəj
gurs beard *gur:ıš

merun
turn *mrw:i
t'amup fall *t'nwk
k'osoj rise up from a seated position k'wır- stand, -s- a derivative dynamic aspect morpheme.

tuŋ piece, part *tŋ́ a share
(t)ŋop share, divide, *tŋ́, *hob give


rul cloud *rudĺ
insa sun *jinsəh
obń full moon *wubn full moon
ŕma tree *wŕməh

library is lirjuste

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
lirjuste = library (noun) (Some things Google found for "lirjuste": a very rare term; bad OCR of old text documents; similar "lire juste" means just read in French; similar "tir juste" means fair shot in French)

Word derivation for "library" :
Basque = liburutegi (book + place of)
Finnish = kirjasto (book + suffix -sto (forms collective nouns)
Miresua = lirjuste

This is a new word. Both the Basque word and the Finnish word begin with their word for book, and so the Miresua word does too. The Miresua conlang word for book is lirju.

The word library doesn't occur in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-glass.

library is lirjuste

Thursday, May 19th, 2016
lirjuste = library (noun) (Some things Google found for "lirjuste": a very rare term; bad OCR of old text documents; similar "lire juste" means just read in French; similar "tir juste" means fair shot in French)

Word derivation for "library" :
Basque = liburutegi (book + place of)
Finnish = kirjasto (book + suffix -sto (forms collective nouns)
Miresua = lirjuste

This is a new word. Both the Basque word and the Finnish word begin with their word for book, and so the Miresua word does too. The Miresua conlang word for book is lirju.

The word library doesn't occur in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-glass.

#457

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Consider a language that doesn’t assign core case roles except to finite (countable) nouns, but mixes it in with definiteness and finiteness.

So, your cases are glossed:
FERGA- for “finite ergative” for agents that are countable
DEFA- for “definite” for all definite nouns (think of the use of English “the”) except when FERGA is appropriate
INDEF- for “indefinite” things (think English “a/an”)

For example:
muri - water (non-finite)
lešis - rock (finite)

For muri, we see two forms, neither of which can take case

INDEF-muri - water (I saw some water, not any specific in mind)
DEFA-muri - the water (I saw the specific body of water referred to, etc.)

But for finite nouns, you get one more distinction

INDEF-lešis - “a rock,” as object of the sentence.
FERGA-lešis - “a/the rock,” as the subject of the sentence
DEFA-lešis -  “the rock,” as object of the sentence

It’ll make the boys go loco.