Archive for August, 2016

A Musical Notation

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
Consider a culture of polyphonic improvization where the conductor has a sign language, using the position of the left and right arm to communicate what two of the voices do (probably the middle ones), and the left and right hands to communicate what the top and bottom voices do. Reading the middle lines' meanings requires being able first to read the top and bottom line symbols, because the arm position basically communicated how the middle voices' movements relate to the top and bottom ones.

This system is later on turned into a notation system, whereby each symbol consists of partial symbols for arm position, arm movement, hand signs and so on, so you basically get a series of very stylized 'conductors', with each conductor representing a pulse of the rhythm. Omissions of partial symbols may either mean 'silence' or 'continue previous pitch', depending on stylistic conventions. Sometimes it is unclear which is meant.

Notation for dynamics are done by simply bolding or weakening the lines - this does not, though, communicate which particular voice(s) is (/ are) strengthened or weakened.

As in most conducted musics, the facial expressions and other aspects of body language are interpreted by singers as well, and may sometimes be expressed by stylized faces inserted before a symbol. There is a convention as to what direction the eyes of the stylized faces are directed to direct an instruction at some particular voice.

Link: Ayeri Grammar GitHub Repo

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

This place has been going rather quiet for the past 2 months, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on Ayeri—quite the opposite, in fact. While there hasn’t been much activity here on this blog, a lot more is currently going on at the Ayeri Grammar repository on the code-sharing site, GitHub.

I’ve been trying to add a few pages every day for the past 7 weeks so that I am currently at about 110 pages (examples and tables take up so much space!). Since the whole thing is quite a bit in flux, I don’t want to give a straight download link to the fully compiled document yet, but you can nonetheless take a look at everything I’ve written so far.

#305: Telling Time

Sunday, August 21st, 2016
In non-earth conworlds, telling time could use non-number-based lexemes. Consider giving hours or their analogies their own names, and giving names to various intervals of time as well.

Beyond this, special times on special days may have their own designations, so e.g. the midnight hour on midsummer has its own specific designation, and would not be referred to in the singular by the same name as other 'hours' at the same time.

In the plural for each "general" hour, the specific exceptions are included, though. Here's some space for fun things: if the language has mandatory definiteness marking, maybe definite 'hours' (which yet are indefinite based on the discourse) exclude the special-name hours, while indefinite hours include special-name hours; finally, discourse-definite definite hours of course only refer to particular hours that have been specified previously.

Sargaĺk: A Common Saying and some Grammar

Sunday, August 21st, 2016
mist od kaməŕtat od (tućś): all our oars (are still here)
"All", od is a bit peculiar, in appearing both to the left and right of the core NP it represents. In the nominative, it takes its head noun in the pegative, whereas in all other cases, it takes its head noun in the relevant case. With the other cases, the first od- also is marked for congruence. In the plural, for the nominative and pegative the head noun is plural for animates, but singular for all other nouns. With other cases, it is singular throughout, even if the semantics of the situation is plural.

Od is also closely related to the word odka- which signifies 'the whole, all of the (sg), a full, etc'.

tućś signifies 'still, yet, continuously, at least up to now, now'.


Sunday, August 21st, 2016

While many languages have a class of pronouns, why not try a class of slightly more amateur nouns?

Sargaĺk Personal Pronouns

Thursday, August 18th, 2016
I suddenly noticed I have not posted a table of personal pronouns in Sargaĺk, so I guess I might just as wellpost such a thing:

1sg2sg3sg masc3sg
accnəna, nətna, -natetna, tet (fem)isavatmisatfiʒatnistnisar

A Sargaĺk Discourse Particle Suffix

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
In Sargaĺk there is a discourse suffix that goes on the focus of an utterance, whenever the statement also is in agreement with a previous speakers utterance. 

The morpheme -sal thus marks any explicit agreement:

It is, however, bimorphemic. In the negative, the final -l is dropped, giving -sa. The -l, taking the form -(ə)l is suffixed to the negation particle. Some dubitive particles (astap, 'is that so?', igar, 'apparently (dubitive)', zoba '(denial of allegation by other part') can also take -(ə)l although sometimes the focused noun takes the full -sal instead. Some dialects of Bryatesle retain traces of a secondary case that might be related: -s as a marker on personal pronouns and demonstratives in focus positions.

A similar distribution can be found for the word 'dəg' in Ćwarmin. It, however, is reduplicated after the negation particle (and not at all attracted by dubitive particles). It goes before postpositions, but after the head of an NP.

Conlangery SPECIAL #2: Too Like the Lightning

Monday, August 15th, 2016
William invites Ada Palmer on to talk about her new book Too Like the Lightning, which, while not so conlangy, uses language in interesting ways for world-building, including neologisms, unusual punctuation, and gratuitous Latin revivals. Links and Resources: Ada’s book on Amazon Or Barnes and Noble Ada’s Blog Ex Urbe

Detail #304: Quirky Case (in)direct Objects

Saturday, August 13th, 2016
The study of quirky case mainly seems to have focused on subjects and direct objects. However, one could imagine some quirks of quirky case extending onto indirect objects as well.

Quirky case is a phenomenon in morphosyntax whereby the expected case marking for a subject or object is systematically deviated from with certain verbs. Examples include the genitive subjects of Finnish täytyy, on pakko, and a bunch of other auxiliaries and some constructions. Another example is the German verb hilfen, whose direct object is in the dative. Icelandic vanta takes an accusative subject (as well as object). Non-morphological subjecthood tests can demonstrate in some languages that these are true subjects (or objects), while in other languages they are less so. (IIRC, for instance, Russian quirky subjects are not true subjects.)

Some languages draw the line between direct object and indirect object differently from what we might consider the "standard alignment" - some languages conflate "monotransitive object" with "ditransitive indirect object", and mark "ditransitive direct object" differently - so called dechticaetiative or secundative languages.
Let's call the monotransitive/indirect object-case the accusative, and the ditransitive direct object the dechticaetiative case. Here, we get two spots to put quirkiness, and both options are somewhat compelling:
If the same verb permits both monotransitive and ditransitive use, we find an interesting alteration as to which referent is marked quirkily if the accusative is marked - somehow this feels as though it should be against some universal. The other option is the dechticaetiative, which sounds like a more reasonable NP to be quirky, even though the alteration we now get is whether the DO is quirkily marked or not.

Unlike direct objects and subjects, I've never encountered a list of cross-linguistic syntactical and semantic properties of indirect objects, or maybe cross-linguistic typologies of them, thus I really have no idea what one would expect from a quirky case i.o. (or a quirky case argument in a dectichaetiative system), that would distinguish them from some more oblique argument.

Detail #303: Number Congruence Quirks

Friday, August 12th, 2016
Consider languages that have adjectives that mark congruence for grammatical number. So, e.g.
red house
red-s house-s
Now, also consider for such a language that it, like many languages, does not mark number after numerals:
three house
We can insert a quirk here. Let's say the language has some form of suppletive congruence with some adjectives (and maybe verbs):
little house
small-s house-s
(that's actually pretty much the suppletion that the cognates of "little" and "small", "liten"/"små" showcase in Swedish.) Unlike the Swedish case, this imaginary language doesn't just do suppletion in order to mark the plural, though, it also has an actual plural morpheme on top of the adjective - in essence having these adjectives mark plurality twice.

So, we go further: numerals do not interact with the suppletive part, but do interact with the suffix:
red little house
red-s small-s house-s
three red small house
Here we thus see a limited amount of plural marking in the NP in addition to the numeral.