Archive for June, 2018

Update on the Grammar Writing Process VIII

Monday, June 18th, 2018

I wrote earlier this month that I had been revising the index of my Ayeri grammar. I also noticed that a discussion of verbs with predicative complements like tav- ‘become’, maya- ‘feel’, etc. has been missing so far. I added those things yesterday. This also means that the manuscript is basically finished since it should now include everything I meant to discuss, and it should be rather presentable. However, hold your horses, it still needs another round of proofreading to weed out mistakes that have crept in due to adding and deleting index tags from the source files, as well as mistakes which are due to my not being a native English speaker, or just plain lapses.

A Piece of Music

Sunday, June 17th, 2018
Since it's become a bit of a thing I do, I'll also post my new piece of music here. It's in 11-tones per octave, and so sort of fits in with the conworlding aspect of this blog: essentially, this could be music of a culture where intervals such as 11/8, 14/11, 7/4 and 17/14 are valued, but where equal temperament also became a thing. For the most likely way in which such a culture could develop, I suggest looking into Paul Erlich's paper on the 22-tone scale.
For the record, the paper is not a conworlding paper, it is a paper about the tuning. But, since these properties exist, it is conceivable that some culture would like those properties and therefore start using 22-tet as their tuning.
A culture that develops music based on 22-tone equal temperament would sooner or later possibly try to utilize a variety of arbitrary subsets of that temperament, including the rather obvious idea of using only every other tone, and even from there of using even fewer out of those. (An analogy could be how in the late 19th century, the wholetone scale started finding favour among some composers. 11-tet is obviously almost twice as large as the wholetone scale, so a further search for scales 'inside' it makes sense.)

Anyways, here's the piece.

A Piece of Music

Sunday, June 17th, 2018
Since it's become a bit of a thing I do, I'll also post my new piece of music here. It's in 11-tones per octave, and so sort of fits in with the conworlding aspect of this blog: essentially, this could be music of a culture where intervals such as 11/8, 14/11, 7/4 and 17/14 are valued, but where equal temperament also became a thing. For the most likely way in which such a culture could develop, I suggest looking into Paul Erlich's paper on the 22-tone scale.
For the record, the paper is not a conworlding paper, it is a paper about the tuning. But, since these properties exist, it is conceivable that some culture would like those properties and therefore start using 22-tet as their tuning.
A culture that develops music based on 22-tone equal temperament would sooner or later possibly try to utilize a variety of arbitrary subsets of that temperament, including the rather obvious idea of using only every other tone, and even from there of using even fewer out of those. (An analogy could be how in the late 19th century, the wholetone scale started finding favour among some composers. 11-tet is obviously almost twice as large as the wholetone scale, so a further search for scales 'inside' it makes sense.)

Anyways, here's the piece.

Detail #382: Gender Congruence Marker being Partially Reused as Derivative Morpheme

Sunday, June 10th, 2018
Let us imagine a language with a gender or noun class system of some description. Now, let's imagine that usually, adjectives (maybe verbs too) have gender congruence with the main noun, but sometimes an adjective (or verb) will gain a different meaning in some gender markings, and this gender marking turns into a semantic marker - almost a derivative marker - for these lexemes.

Let us consider a system with a noun class for 'tools'. Let us imagine that due to metal object  being quite hot when red, the adjective 'red' thus starts signifying 'hot' when dealing with tools. "red-tool" then becomes one of the ways of describing any hot object, and so "red-tool drink-comestible" means "hot drink", but "red-comestible drink-comestible" signifies a red drink.

This would be some kind of differential gender congruence. Let's consider onwards what happens when we want to describe an actually 'red' tool:
  • We can make the distiction only be available in every other noun class, so in the tool-class, this distinction cannot be made using congruence as a tool. So, expressing 'red tool' requires something like 'tool whose color is red' or 'tool of redness'.
  • We can even say the speakers don't care for the distinction, since differential object marking only is used in situations where the difference is not important for the particular class of things (i.e. all red tools are also hot when they're red, but for other things, 'hotness' and 'redness' do not necessarily coincide)
  • We can permit the use of a default noun class marking (i.e. 'red.masc knife.tool')
  • We can permit the use of zero marking (red knife.tool) to provide the default meaning
A few examples of potential meaning distinctions:
bad - with animate noun classes: 'evil', with inanimate: 'unfit, useless, no moral judgment implied'.
heavy - with feminine noun class: pregnant (also when used of non-human animals in their noun classes). Here, maybe using male gender for the adjective denoting heavy females could also be justified
talkative - signifies 'loud' when used with an inanimate noun class marker
angry - signifies 'dangerous' when used with an inanimate noun class marker


Detail #382: Gender Congruence Marker being Partially Reused as Derivative Morpheme

Sunday, June 10th, 2018
Let us imagine a language with a gender or noun class system of some description. Now, let's imagine that usually, adjectives (maybe verbs too) have gender congruence with the main noun, but sometimes an adjective (or verb) will gain a different meaning in some gender markings, and this gender marking turns into a semantic marker - almost a derivative marker - for these lexemes.

Let us consider a system with a noun class for 'tools'. Let us imagine that due to metal object  being quite hot when red, the adjective 'red' thus starts signifying 'hot' when dealing with tools. "red-tool" then becomes one of the ways of describing any hot object, and so "red-tool drink-comestible" means "hot drink", but "red-comestible drink-comestible" signifies a red drink.

This would be some kind of differential gender congruence. Let's consider onwards what happens when we want to describe an actually 'red' tool:
  • We can make the distiction only be available in every other noun class, so in the tool-class, this distinction cannot be made using congruence as a tool. So, expressing 'red tool' requires something like 'tool whose color is red' or 'tool of redness'.
  • We can even say the speakers don't care for the distinction, since differential object marking only is used in situations where the difference is not important for the particular class of things (i.e. all red tools are also hot when they're red, but for other things, 'hotness' and 'redness' do not necessarily coincide)
  • We can permit the use of a default noun class marking (i.e. 'red.masc knife.tool')
  • We can permit the use of zero marking (red knife.tool) to provide the default meaning
A few examples of potential meaning distinctions:
bad - with animate noun classes: 'evil', with inanimate: 'unfit, useless, no moral judgment implied'.
heavy - with feminine noun class: pregnant (also when used of non-human animals in their noun classes). Here, maybe using male gender for the adjective denoting heavy females could also be justified
talkative - signifies 'loud' when used with an inanimate noun class marker
angry - signifies 'dangerous' when used with an inanimate noun class marker


#521

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Levels of whininess are used to convey semantic information; the different levels are called “groanemes”.

Detail #381: Underlying Split Alignment * Quirky Case

Monday, June 4th, 2018
Let's imagine a situation wherein a language has quirky case. The language normally is nom-acc, but the situations where quirky case appear are all underlyingly erg-abs.

The language has quirky subjects as well as objects. Let's for the sake of simplicity assume that subjects sometimes are dative, objects sometimes ablative. Here, any substitutions, even to the extent of replacing both with the same oblique case, could work. I am just establishing this in order to have a terminology that makes it clear.
Thus


canonicalquirky
subjectnominativedative
objectaccusativeablative

Now, how does the underlying ergativity look? Well, let's decide on some quirky verbs:
quirky subject:
verb1 : 'to have the time to', 'to do on time', 'to have time for'
verb2: 'to forget (to do something)'
quirky object:
verb3: 'to refuse (a proposal, a guest, a gift or a favour)'
verb4: 'to fear'
Now, let's consider what the underlying ergativity of these implies: the subject of verb1 would be absolutive if there is no direct object, and thus can be coordinated with another intransitive verb:
 I have time to wait and (so) (I) sit here
however, it cannot be coordinated with a transitive verb:
 I have time to wait and __ (am) eating pirogies
 With a direct object, however, we get the following situation:
I have time for the committee and will discuss the issue
 However, an intransitive second verb will take for its subject the object of the previous verb:
I have time for the committee now and will be seated in room 101
 here, it's the committee who will be seated in room 101. Semantically, this seems to be a reasonable thing - whoever has time for a thing may be seen as active in some sense, and the object may be more likely to do intransitive things.

Similar examples could be constructed for the other verbs, obviously.

Detail #381: Underlying Split Alignment * Quirky Case

Monday, June 4th, 2018
Let's imagine a situation wherein a language has quirky case. The language normally is nom-acc, but the situations where quirky case appear are all underlyingly erg-abs.

The language has quirky subjects as well as objects. Let's for the sake of simplicity assume that subjects sometimes are dative, objects sometimes ablative. Here, any substitutions, even to the extent of replacing both with the same oblique case, could work. I am just establishing this in order to have a terminology that makes it clear.
Thus


canonicalquirky
subjectnominativedative
objectaccusativeablative

Now, how does the underlying ergativity look? Well, let's decide on some quirky verbs:
quirky subject:
verb1 : 'to have the time to', 'to do on time', 'to have time for'
verb2: 'to forget (to do something)'
quirky object:
verb3: 'to refuse (a proposal, a guest, a gift or a favour)'
verb4: 'to fear'
Now, let's consider what the underlying ergativity of these implies: the subject of verb1 would be absolutive if there is no direct object, and thus can be coordinated with another intransitive verb:
 I have time to wait and (so) (I) sit here
however, it cannot be coordinated with a transitive verb:
 I have time to wait and __ (am) eating pirogies
 With a direct object, however, we get the following situation:
I have time for the committee and will discuss the issue
 However, an intransitive second verb will take for its subject the object of the previous verb:
I have time for the committee now and will be seated in room 101
 here, it's the committee who will be seated in room 101. Semantically, this seems to be a reasonable thing - whoever has time for a thing may be seen as active in some sense, and the object may be more likely to do intransitive things.

Similar examples could be constructed for the other verbs, obviously.

Update on the Grammar Writing Process VII

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Oh wow, it’s been a full hundred days since I last gave a report here about my progress. The project is still going on, in case anyone wondered.

After littering the LaTeX source files of the grammar with index tags in April, I’ve been working on clearing them up again for the last 3 weeks or so to make the keyword index actually useful. And while I’ve been at it, I’ve been fixing the one or the other issue I’ve come across as well—spelling, formatting, content. I had hoped to be done with this task by June 1st, but just as usual, everything is taking twice as long as expected. Let me tell you, it’s pretty annoying to go through all page references one by one, and to check whether they’re leading to actually relevant information.

I seriously want this off my desk as soon as possible now, even though I’ve learned a lot by writing this book. However, it’s been preoccupying me for long enough—on July 3rd, it’s going to be 2 years. July 1st is the deadline I gave myself, though knowing my perfectionist tendencies, it’s probably rather going to be August: I’ve been considering to ask some native English speakers I know for some additional proofreading.

I also feel a little guilty about spending so much time on writing this grammar instead of working as hard on my Ph.D. project for university: there are about 1,800 commits to the repository (about 1,000 in the last 12 months alone), and if we assume that each one equals about 45 minutes of work on average (reading takes a lot of time, which is balanced by correcting small things), this amounts to 1,350 hours. This, in turn, is about equal to 34 weeks on a full-time job. On the other hand, I suppose I should be fine if I’ll continue working on my thesis with as much zeal as on the grammar, once the grammar book is done for the time being. Blood, sweat, and tears, etc. Anyway, I’ve come so far with this book project, I don’t want to put it on hold indefinitely, especially now that it looks like the end is only weeks away. And then I can hopefully move on.

mklang

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Isoraķatheð /isɔɹɑˈqɑtʰɛð zɔrɛtʰan/ is now the proud owner of at least 20 languages, having created languages since the age of 12. He hails from Hong Kong and has a strong bond to the place, but is currently studying in Nottingham for a physics degree. As such, he has grown up in a trilingual environment, but his command of any of the three languages are somewhat unusual, as is his relationship to and ideas on society and relationships. He has a preference to networks of ideas and nodes that are easily separable, a preference that shows up in the languages he creates.

Abstract

mklang describes a “model” of language that depends on features, a one-liner that may potentially include blanks that could be filled in to create a variety of results that ranges from naturalistic to highly unusual. It is motivated by a lack of a structured alternative to naturalistic conlangs, though creating a language using mklang doesn’t necessarily mean that the language isn’t naturalistic, as it depends on choice of features. Additionally, the author’s creative tools are also explained in brief.

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