Archive for November, 2013

Onwards with the Tatediem verb

Saturday, November 30th, 2013
Now, if we look at the verb table given in the previous post, we may notice it is fairly boring:

Subject(Object)(Ind. Obj)(Voice)TAMSTEMsubject agreement or question particle
(Intensity)Direction(Manner)question particle
Infinitive classifier(Intensity)(Argument)

The unusual things include the Owner-Subject thing, and in part the Infinitive markers occupying the same spot as the subject marker. Having the TAM occupy one spot rather continuously is also not particularly interesting, and restricted markings on the infinitive is not unusual.

What else could we do to increase the amount of variation in this verb? Some ideas I may try out:

  • have the subject and object markers possibly also code for indefiniteness of subjects/objects, rather than any specific gender (however, do maintain an animate/inanimate distinction), as well as wh-questions. 

  • certain gender markets in indirect object position basically are parsed like tools, certain are basically parsed like locations. In direct object position, certain gender markers are parsed as ablatives.
  • have certain gender marker complications where some culturally complex possessions can cause gender/possession complication - two specific genders whose markers can be interchanged based on what something is from whose point of view - a separate post on this idea will be posted in a bit.
  • have possessor congruence for subjects (e.g. mine- instead of it-) with a somewhat less detailed gender system in place
Finally, I've been considering moving something that usually is not marked by using verbs onto the verb, as in throwing in dummy verbs for some kind of thing - definiteness mayhaps, or something.

I've been bothered for about one day with two things I thought up for this post having escaped my mind entirely, will probably edit it once (or rather, if) they reappear.

A number of lexical complications in Tatediem

Saturday, November 30th, 2013
Tatediem has a relatively large gender system - obviously due to its vague Bantu influences. There are two genders that otherwise do act a lot like your average genders, and indeed most of the words in them are fully unremarkable as far as this particular thing goes. These two genders have, however, a number of words that have near-synonyms in both.

kucende - gift (from the perspective of the giver)
Å‹wucende - gift (from the perspective of the receiver)
kusunne - obligation (from the perspective of the person who is expected to perform the obligation)
Å‹wusunne -  obligation (from the perspective of the person or group or so on who is expected to benefit from the obligation)
kurutki - assistance (from the perspective of the one giving the assistance)
Å‹wurutki - assistance ( from the perspective of the recipient)
For a few words, the lexemes are not related, yet the same relation is definitely there:
kusatwis -  fatherhood (from the point of view of a father)
Å‹wurehmuc - fatherhood (from the point of view of the offspring)

A number of family terms also come in two versions, although many family terms also have regular masculine or feminine versions, sometimes not lexically related at all.
kutali - uncle
Å‹wutali - nephew
kusami - sister
Å‹wusami - the brother or sister of a sister

These two genders also have unique congruence classes for possessed reference on verbs:
-kulo[se|ke|ne|Å‹e|swi|kwi|nwi|Å‹wi]- (basically 'the thing of this gender of mine|yours|his|her|ours|yours|theirs')
 And here the  complication appears: -kulo- and -Å‹wulo- both can refer to the same noun, if nouns that have 'siblings' of this kind are present in the sentence. In that case, a subtle shift in meaning may appear, e.g. the obligation now shifts from x's obligation to do something to y's privilege of receiving the benefits from that obligation, or the challenges and rewards of being a father to the perception of the father that the offspring has.

The Tatediem verb

Thursday, November 28th, 2013
The Tatediem verb is basically somewhat inspired by Bantu languages. It has several prefix slots, and very little in ways of suffixes.

This is an early draft for the type of verbal morphology, changes may appear:

Subject(Object)(Ind. Obj)(Voice)TAMSTEMsubject agreement*
Infinitive classifier(Intensity)(Argument**)

*the subject agreement is a doubling of the subject marking that occurs with a few gender/number/etc combinations, and only in imperfective, transitive present tense verbs in the active voice.
** the type the argument correlates to is partially determined by which infinitive marker is used, the infinitive markers also partially correspond to voice markers.

Complements have no agreement on the verb (but some things that in English would be complements are indeed direct or indirect objects in Tatediem).

The Subject-(Intensity)-Direction-(Manner)-TAM-STEM form is for verbs of motion, where manner is a fixed set of specific morphemes, and direction is a set that partially overlaps with gender congruence markers, partially is related to adpositions. Owner-Subject-Direction is a form where the owner of the subject has been incorporated into the verbal marking. The infinitives are a complex issue, where the above table does not fully give an honest picture of what is going on.

I am not entirely happy with this table and want more complications.

Le:ian monab auzoi ba gobthii!

Thursday, November 28th, 2013
Not much to submit today.  I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

In Sandic, Thanksgiving is usually rendered as ba mon aan kaja (The day for thanking).  Something funny happened to me yesterday, though, so this year I am instead wishing you something different!

A customer with whom I always speak Spanish at work came in yesterday, and on her leaving, I wanted to wish her a happy holiday.  I couldn't remember- and didn't know- the word in Spanish for Thanksgiving, so she completed my sentence for me!

"Feliz dia...."
"...del pavo!"

"Happy... turkey day!"

I thought that was hilarious, so now I'm passing on the joy to you.

Le:ian monab auzoi ba gobthii, le:ee ta ivin!
Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Sandic Dreidel

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
I'd never actually looked at or understood what dreidels were for, but tonight someone posted a challenge elsewhere and I figured I'd give it my best shot at translating into Sandic! You can see the results below.

...Sorry the image got chopped off. You can still read all the words, though, since the first row that got cut appears further up. :)

Okamale:im — Clean up

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
I was starting to clean the house when this little ditty popped into my head.  Needless to say, it was quickly Sandicified.

I sang it, too.  Boop.

Record audio or upload mp3 >>

Order of texts: English -- Sandic -- Smooth English of Sandic

Clean up, clean up,
everybody everywhere
clean up, clean up
Everybody do your share


Okamale:im, kamale:im
ivi pal tenan ivin
okamale:im kamale:im,
ivi ialthab ka okama!


Let him clean, "him clean",
every person in every place
let him clean, "him clean",
every person do his piece/part!

pepper (spice) is piperi

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
piperi = pepper (noun) (some things Google found for "piperi": an uncommon term; Piperi Mediterranean Grill in Boston, MA; an unusual last name; Anemone piperi (Piper’s Anemone) and Campanula piperi (Olympic bellflower) are wildflowers of the US Northwest and British Columbia; in Latin datative singular of piper which means pepper (spice); name of a Greek island in the National Marine Park of Alonnisos Northern Sporades; name of places in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro)

Word derivation for "pepper (spice)"
Basque = piper, Finnish = pippuri
Miresua = piperi

This is the word for pepper, the spice, peppercorn or Piperaceae. Not the fruit of Capsicum plants, such as green or red bell peppers.

In Chapter 6 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice said to herself, "as well as she could for sneezing", "There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!"

Prayer of St. Francis

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
The Prayer of St. Francis is not something I had ever encountered before.  On reading the card for Sasha, though, I became curious as to what it was- and when I found it, I knew it was something I'd like to have in Sandic.

Order of texts: English -- Sandic -- Smooth English of Sandic


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Le:ee ba deyai, iab ole:eema iaddab ba he le:ee,
pal fida, iama otepuutuu seb,
pal pur, feerab otepuutu,
pal wiwi, deevab otepuutuu,
pal jirra, haeb.
Pal gleen, yeeab,
pal jila, masab.

Le:ee ba deyai ba daeyuui, ole:eefeer aan fele: oteneot wiis aan ahl ukrei siad aan ma kre,
aan al ufei siad aan fe,
aan ahl usei aan se.

skra katorain awwtade,
wii kafeerin ufeerin awwteahl,
wii katemale:lin pa ba jjewab gre kala awwteahl u(te)mesin.


O holy lord, make me a tool of your peace,
at hate, let me leave a seed of love,
at pain, may I place mercy,
At hesitation, may I put confidence,
At sorrow, hope.
At darkness, light,
At sadness, enjoyment.

O lord who is holy, allow me to not want to be carried more than I carry (others),
to be understood more than I understand (others),
to be loved more than I love.

Because it is as givers that we receive,
and forgiving that we are forgiven,
and as those who will die that we are the ones who will be born into eternal life.

card is karti

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
karti = card (noun) (some things Google found for "karti": a common term; an unusual last name; Ali Ahmed Karti is a Sudanese Foreign Minister; an unusual to rare first name; Karti P Chidambaram is the son of an Indian politician; in Latvian accusative singular form of karte which means map, chart; may mean does in Urdu (transliterated); name of a place in Iran)

Word derivation for "card"
Basque = karta, Finnish = kortti or pelikortti (game + card)
Miresua = karti

In the last scene in Wonderland, Alice said to the Queen of Hearts and the court, "You're nothing but a pack of cards!"

What about dying languages?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

There are various ways a person can respond the the discovery that I create languages for fun. The most common is noncommittal and polite puzzlement. A few people will be enthusiastic about the idea, especially if they're fans of the recent big films and TV shows involving invented languages in some way. Every once in a while, especially online, someone will object on the grounds that people involved with invented languages should, instead, be Doing Something about dying languages. This objection is so badly thought out that I'm genuinely surprised at its popularity.

First and foremost, anyone complaining about people messing around with invented languages has failed, in a fairly comprehensive way, to understand the concept of a hobby. Time I spend working with an invented language is not taken from documenting dying languages or some other improving activity, it is taken from time I spend with my banjo, reading a novel or watching TV.

Second, while it is true I, along with most language creators, know more about linguistics than the average Man on the Street, documenting undocumented languages is a special skill taking training I certainly don't have. In fact, most people with Ph.D.'s in linguistics won't even have such training. Do people going on about dying languages really imagine anyone can go out and do this sort of work? If someone has a nice garden near their house, we don't harass them about how they should be growing crops to feed the hungry, nor do we demand every weekend golfer go pro. What is it about invented languages that brings out this pious impulse to scold people for not doing something productive with their time when so many other hobbies get no comment at all?

If we step back to more modest goals than documenting a dying language, we're in much the same boat. There is little point to me going out and learning, say, Kavalan (24 speakers left as of 2000) unless I go to Taiwan and spend most of my time among the people who speak it. Sitting at home in Wisconsin learning Kavalan does nothing to preserve it in any meaningful way. You just can't really learn a language from a book. You have to spend time with native speakers.

Using other people's cultures — or fantasies about their culture — as a rhetorical foil has a long history. When Europeans were less approving of sex, they complained that Muslims were libertines, while others used this an example of a more sensible cultural trait. This is all part of the usual Noble Savage industry. The death of so many languages is a real issue, representing the permanent loss of a wealth of cultural and environmental knowledge. It deserves to be treated with more respect than to be used merely as a rhetorical club to browbeat people who have a hobby you don't like.