Archive for June, 2018

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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