Detail #396: Antideranking

June 24th, 2020
In many languages, subclauses and main clauses have somewhat different properties. The differences may appear in any number of subsystems - word order, morphosyntactical alignment, verb conjugation, pro-drop rules.

Sometimes, complexions exist - different types of subclauses may behave differently (relative subclauses being one reasonable exceptional subtype), and sometimes, subclause behaviors may also pop up in main clauses: morphosyntactical alignment, for instance, sometimes is ergative in all subclauses and in some main clauses with some TAMs. Verbal modes that typically appear in subclauses may also signal something if they pop up in main clauses.

If I have properly understood the terminology, deranking seems to be a term used to describe systems whereby a subordinate thing has distinctive features, such as the ones listed above.

My proposition is to have a similar distinction, such that main clauses with subordinate clauses (of some types) are distinct from subclauses and from all other main clauses. Maybe some specific 'superordinate' verb forms, maybe some specific word order (I would not be surprised if a superordinate clause has stricted word order!).

Subordinate clauses with further subordinate clauses would be considered superordinate as well, but could potentially showcase non-conflicting features from both, e.g. strict SVO[SUBCLAUSE] word order due to being superordinate, but ergative alignment due to being subordinate.

Setvayajan: An Abandoned Conlang

June 1st, 2020

Barry J. Garcia is a 40-year-old staff and alumnus of California State University, Monterey Bay. He didn’t major in linguistics, but his interest in constructed languages initially began back in 1999 when he found the CONLANG mail list online after wondering what it would take to make a language. He is not a prolific conlanger and put the hobby aside for a number of years. He returned to conlanging in 2014 with his initial attempt at Setvayajan, now retired. He is currently working on a new version of Setvayajan which may or may not retain the name, but definitely will retain the spirit of the original Setvayajan language. Aside from Setvayajan, past projects have included his first conlang which was an unfinished Philippines-styled language and an experiment in sound changes to remove grammatical gender and reduce verb conjugations in Spanish called “Azhin” (from “Angelino”, the name for the residents of Los Angeles, California). He has also created numerous constructed writing systems.


This document is an as-is preservation of the grammar and sound changes that went into what was created for Setvayajan from November 2015 through March 2020, with an introduction explaining why the project was abandoned.

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Detail #395: A Way of Forming Genitive Constructions

May 17th, 2020
So, I came across a quote from some text today that stated that "the genitive case seems to have survived linguistic evolution moreso than other cases in Europe because of the desire to communicate association and possession between nouns". I already have discarded the tab where it was quoted ages ago, so I am not sure about the exact wording and looking for it would be tedious and it was in Swedish so it's not like it'd be of much use to anyone, and it was old - it was in 18th century Swedish. Whatever may be the case, it made me think a bit about genitive-like constructions, and I came up with one I have not seen elsewhere.

So, in English and Swedish, the genitive marker occupies the same syntactic slot as articles. You can't say "Enid's the car" and by that mean 'the car of Enid's', as contrasted to 'Enid's a car' for 'a car of Enid's'.

Now, in some languages - Finnish among them - genitives behave more like adjectives. You can, in fact, place some attributes of a noun on the other side of the genitive in Finnish. Thus, the genitive in Finnish is "more clearly" inside the NP than they are in Swedish and English (where they arguably rather are parts of a DP that surround the NP).

Now, what if genitives were not marked, but were located inside the NP, and the language had explicit articles. Let's imagine the articles have a similar allomorphy as they do in English:
an a man cave: a cave of a man
the a man cave: the cave of a man
the the man cave: the cave of the man
a the man cave: a cave of the man
In a language with gender markers on the articles, this might be more likely to occur, as the relationships between the nouns and the articles would be easier to unpack.


May 9th, 2020

A conlang written in the form of Super Mario Maker 2 levels. Enemy placement, music choice, course elements, etc. correspond to words, parts of speech, and so forth.

The Constitution of the Itlani Commonality

May 1st, 2020

James E. Hopkins received a BA in French from Hofstra University in 1974 and an MS in Metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology in 1998. He is a published poet, Eden’s Day (2008), and has a novel which features five of his conlangs, Circle of the Lantern, with the publisher as of this writing. He has been involved in language construction since 1995 with the birth of his first conlang, Itlani (then known as Druni). Although Itlani is his first and foremost love, since that time he has been developing Semerian (Pomolito), Djiran (Ijira), Djanari (Nordsh) and Lastulani (Lastig Klendum), the other languages spoken on the planet Itlán. One further language project, Kreshem (Losi e Kreshem), is also under development. His primary interest in language construction is from an aesthetic and artistic perspective.


A little more than 5,000 years into the Itlani Imperium the people of the united planet Itlán started to push for a more decentralized form of self-governance. As a result, the Itlani Commonality was founded. The original Itlani language version of the new Basic Law (Constitution) and its English translation is presented here.

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April 26th, 2020

A future English where fə- is the obligatory accusative prefix. It originates as a phonological reduction of “the fuck out of” as in “I put down the fuck out of this glass.”


April 9th, 2020

<i> represents two different vowels if the tittle is a dot, like normal, or a heart.

Detail #394: A Detail in a Language with Subject and Object Verb Marking

April 2nd, 2020
Let us consider a language that has both of those; let us further consider the language to have two reflexive markers, one for singular subjects, the other for plural subjects.

A further detail: the number congruence for the subject marker follows morphological number (at least almost all of the time), whereas the object marker follows semantic number (so, e.g. 'family', when speaking of the family as a bunch of individuals, will have plural congruence, but when speaking of it as an entity, will have singular congruence).

And the final piece of setup before we get to the thing I want to describe: there are two reflexive markers that can fill the object slot. One for singulars, the other for plurals.

(N.B. the language could conceivably also have duals, but they will not affect the detail I am about to describe, and so I will not mention them any further.)

Now, we can imagine that in some language, a group X having Y as a member  can be expressed as 'X having Y'. For some contexts, this even works in English, so it shouldn't be particularly weird.

However, one could imagine that the particular construction mentioned there gets weird here:
X have-3pl-refl.1sg Y
and, one could even imagine, that this ignores the actual number of Y, that the (1/2/3)pl-refl.1sg affix on certain verbs simply signify 'have/acquire/... as a member or part'.

I considered working this idea into some Dagurib language, since those will, I think, have object congruence, ... however, with the pace at which my current conlangs are being developed, Dagurib might start getting done when I turn 120.

How to Not Verb

April 1st, 2020

Logan Kearsley lived in multilingual Belgium for three years as a child, but didn’t realise other languages were cool before moving back to the anglophone United States, where he started conlanging at a still-young age and eventually studied Russian in high school. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Masters in Linguistics, and has had the opportunity to study a wide variety of languages while working to develop software for teaching and learning foreign languages at the university level and researching language pedagogy.


“Can a language exist without verbs? What would such a language look like?” These are perennial questions in many conlanging communities. They do not, however, have a single unique answer. Whether a language can exist without verbs, or what that question even means, fundamentally depends on how one chooses to define “a verb”–something which is not universal between language or between linguistic theories. Under any given definition of “a verb”, however, a number of different strategies have been investigated by different conlangers over the years for eliminating the category from their languages. In this article, Logan Kearsley surveys some of the strategies that have been tried, with an analysis of which definitions of verblessness they do or do not meet, and provides reference materials and recommendations for other conlangers who may wish to tackle this kind of project themselves.

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March 29th, 2020

A conculture that can understand ideas inexpressible in its native conlang, because the conlang has no word for “Sapir-Whorf.”