Archive for January, 2018

Detail #367: Neutral Participles

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018
Consider participles that are not marked for voice at all. (Note: the English past vs. present participles are rather passive vs. present, although the way English participles work is a bit more complicated than that.) Now, such participles could behave in different ways depending on how we want to structure the language - animacy hierarchies, for one, could be a very natural approach to how to parse them.

However, let's go for something less obvious, but still pretty obvious: let's have the case role of the NP with regards to a finite VP also double as its role for the participle:
the man sold the castrate-PTCPL horse:
horse is the object of sold, so it's also the object of castrate, thus:
the man sold the castrated horse

the travel-PTCPL man made a bid:
man is the subject of offer, and therefore also of travel, thus:
the travelling man made a bid
What can we do with this? One obvious potential restriction could be one of only permitting this to work for arguments – non-argument adverbials and such seem less likely to have their 'role' passed on to a participle. 

A second thing we could do is make the role that is passed on to the participle be less carefully differentiated - maybe not distinguishing objects from indirect objects or somesuch.

Here, a light ergativity could be introduced: intransitive participles could be accepted as 'active' participles for objects of transitive verbs.

To make the system more flexible, one could use resumptive pronouns in the desired case, which could lead to a neat way of turning case markers into voice markers.

I had an idea on ergativity and participles, that I have since forgotten. I am hopeful that I might be able to reconstruct it fully and post it soon enough.


Monday, January 8th, 2018

A constructed language with no multimorphemic words: all words are one morpheme. But there is also an EXTENSIVE case system, so for every noun, there are multiple unique single morpheme words for each case. Words in word-morpheme groups need not be related phonologically.
For example:
Orgit - ‘book’ Nominative
Thalim- 'book’ Accusative
Dom - 'book’ Dative
Borrif - 'book’ Genitive
Theebo - 'book’ Instrumental
If - 'book’ Vocative
Zan - 'book’ Ablative
Zee - 'book’ Lative
Pingo - 'book’ Casual
Kib - 'book’ Ornative
'Soo’ - 'book’ Instructive
And so on and so on.


Friday, January 5th, 2018

Make a conlang only for the beasts of burden in your conculture. It’s called an “Ox-lang”.


Monday, January 1st, 2018

Make an agglutinating language where the potential morphemes in any slot do not form a natural group of morphemes; maybe the first slot for inflections on the verb can take one out of [1sg, past, imperative, mirative, causative], the second slot can take one out of [2sg, 3pl, present, negative, passive], and so on. Nouns and adjectives are similarly twisted.

Update on the Grammar Writing Process V

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Happy new year, everyone! I suppose it’s time again to provide a brief update on my progress with writing my grammar of Ayeri. The whole last year I’ve been trying to figure out describing its syntax formally. This will continue to preoccupy me for the time being also in the new year because verbs are still not fully described, and complementizer phrases (used for complement clauses, relative clauses and such) are lining up to be next. Then, I will also have to work on correcting some things in the sections on raising and control with regards to syntactic typology (I should have figured out constituent structure first), and also describe pronominal binding. And after this, I will have to go back to the beginning of the chapter and fix things for consistency and do proofreading.

The compiled PDF is now close to 400 pages (in A4 format, but with generous margins because LaTeX) without frontmatter, appendices and backmatter, and 400 pages is what I had wanted the main part to be at most once everything is done. The section on the syntax of verbs alone is already almost 100 pages long currently, though granted, verbs are probably the most complex part of the language (or any language?), and all those diagrams take up an awful lot of space. I will definitely have to shave some pages off after writing will be done hopefully some time later this year, though, and especially the argumentative parts are probably predestined for some literal cutting to the chase in spite of my trying not to ramble unnecessarily. The description of Ayeri’s alphabet might also rather go in the appendix. Years at university have taught me that good writing can’t be produced on the spot, anyway.

Honestly, sometimes I wish I had an editor to look over my writing to guide me with it. With the syntax chapter especially, I wish someone could check the plausibility of my hypotheses and analyses once writing is done, too. And then, there’s still proofreading of the whole grammar to do. My English may be pretty good overall, but I’m always somewhat distrusting my abilities as a non-native speaker. Proofreading one’s own writing is generally hard in my experience, though, even in one’s native language.

The Language of the People of the Plains

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Dashiel N. Stevens received a BA in linguistics from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. With a language-curious background, he stumbled into the world of linguistics through language creation. He has created several languages, favoring a posteriori languages, including Geulish (Geulge), Stranden (Westerlondisc), Briggan (Austerlandisk), Byzerine (Byzedueto), Selenese (Elyird Zeleneziyo), and others. Most of his languages occupy the world of “The Westlands” which is the setting for a tabletop role-playing game and novel that he has been working on for the last few years.


The Jogos Nhai are a warlike people who live east of the Bone Mountains on Essos, in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Their language and culture have been critically underrepresented in associated media, and both are explored (with an obvious focus on the language) in this non-exhaustive reference grammar on Jogos Nhaiang Chahar, the language of the people of the plains, the Jogos Nhai.

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