Archive for December, 2013

Ba batelale: — The one that crawls

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Ever had something come to your mind that needed to be recorded RIGHT THEN AND THERE, no questions asked, no matter how awkward the locale?  I ended up recording this on a piece of toilet paper with a mechanical pencil.  It was barely legible, but still got the job done!  I've never had something quite so urgent to be written.

And all this said, I'm not even sure I'll translate it.  Some parts don't work in English- and the subject matter is rather personal.  Suffice to say it's about a bird on land.

Order of texts: Sandic


ba batelale:

fian bamee-eso,
baxmii ba thiiaa nabei,
o grawwi baxahl uxnui,
le:agan ba oxneot ahl iat
paelain aan le:anee,
meer aan ta arasabin katelin otiab
fian bamee-eso aan pal mead
pal ba ototel ta arasan yahl.

wii aan fele: mee-e wii fele: otetel.

wii baxpe aan el,
wii nuale: baxel,
wii ba le:aneeb baxsore,
wii le:agan ba oxahl fon,
wii siad wii iat jeed ba thiiaa
jjiave aan thiiaa batara


A paper worth reading

Monday, December 30th, 2013
There is a fascinating paper by David Tuggy on a verb in Orizaba Nawatl, detailing a verb that has no stem - it consists, entirely, of grammatical affixes. Well worth reading.

In addition, having it linked here I will not displace it by cleaning out my bookmarks when they're getting too many, or by reinstalling the OS and not keeping the bookmarks backed up. Which I suspect may be appreciated by the friend who brought this to my attention, as I have already asked him to link it a full four or five times over the last several years.

paw is känpa

Monday, December 30th, 2013
känpa = paw (noun) (some things Google found for "kanpa": an uncommon term; Kanpa International Sales is a Pakistani seafood company; a rare last name; kanpa can mean fund raising in Japanese when transliterated; name of a place in Maharashtra, India; name of a small community in Western Australia; similar Kanp'a is a place in South Korea)

Word derivation for "paw"
Basque = hanka, Finnish = käpälä
Miresua = känpa

Another word in Finnish for paw is tassu.

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice said of her cat Dinah, "she sits purring so nicely by the fire, licking her paws and washing her face..."

Detail #72: A diachronic origin for present participles

Sunday, December 29th, 2013
In some language with a moderate case system, whatever case can be used for complements goes on the infinite to form an adverbial/complemental participle. Over time, the participle is reanalyzed and can be used as a full adjectival participle, both in attributal, complemental and adverbial ways.

An overview of this process, with a Slavic influence, would posit that instrumentals are used on some complements. This is especially useful, as it lends itself to two developments:
1) "by [infinitive]", i.e. marking the infinitive to show the manner in which something was carried out.
2) "as (implicitly: doing) [infinitive]", i.e. marking the infinitive to show that the infinitive is a complement telling us something about the subject (or possibly object).

The second option easily could include elliptical uses of subclauses (X who is verb-instr. -> X verb-instr) and soon, the participles may be very much like classical participles for those.

I am thinking of doing something similar for that case system with regard to how participles came about. In that, the case markers that form present participles will be closely related to the complements and the instrumental-comitative.

One, two, three, four, can I have a little more?

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Numbers! Numerals! Ah, whatever you want to call them.

Mychai is a base-ten number system much like English. I won’t go to much into that, because it confuses me more than anything.

More on Mychai numbers can be found in the grammar, here I’ll expand a bit on the usage of them, specifically on whether they refer to people or non-people.

The numbers listed below are used for counting, items, abstractions, animals etc:
yl – [ɪl] – one
dhuim – [ðʷim] – two; couple; pair
athma – ['a.θma:] – three
ëren - ['ø.ʁen] – four
emeth - ['e.meθ] – five

Mychai has a second set of numbers that are used when referring to people:
ilh - [iɬ] – one
dim - [dim] – two; couple; pair
thém - [θeɪm] – three
rien - ['ʁi.en] – four
math - [maθ] – five

Now a few examples of them in use.

Oido de athma Mugov.
oido              de                 athma                         Mug-ov
[          de:                a.θma:                         mu.gof]
have.PRS     1s.NOM       three.nonhuman        stone-ACC
I have three stones.

Hal thém Ksro delh.
hal             thém                   Ksro                de-lh
EXIST       three.human      son.NOM       1s-LOC
I have three sons. (lit. There are three sons at me.)

Of course, the second example shows another difference in that possession of human-human relationships (and a few other English possessive expressions) are expressed through existential locatives. More on that later, though.

In addition, it’s important to note that composed forms are based always on the nonhuman numbers, regardless of whether they modify humans or nonhumans.

And, the ordinal number first (ghel) does not differ between human and nonhuman referents.  (Ordinals are otherwise identical in form to the cardinal numbers…more on this later too!)

Detail #71: A weirdo place to put auxiliary-like things

Friday, December 27th, 2013
Make some auxiliaries be genitive attributes of the subject, and add a copula between the subject and a somewhat less inflected (possibly infinitive) form of the verb:
[word indicating obligation]'s men are eat → men have to eat
sometimes [word indicating occasional occurence or possibility]'s me am doubt the wisdom of this plan → sometimes I might doubt the wisdom of this plan
These nouns can also appear as dummy subjects for verbs that usually do not take subjects, or for modal passive-like constructions (passive in that the subject is omitted, but an object is retained).

Detail #70: A participle-like form

Friday, December 27th, 2013
In the participle-rich language I described way back, one of the participles could perchance work a bit like this:

Applies to a verb related to

  • having a social status (to rule, to serve, to minister, to teach, to lead an army, to be an outcast, to be exiled, to be ostracized, to be a man of religious significance, to be a woman of religious significance, to be a monk, to be a soldier)
  • obtaining a social status (generally the previous verbs in transitional forms, to marry, to be baptized (or analogous religious verbs), to be granted membership in certain kinds of fraternities and organizations, to join things, to enlist in the army, to be entrusted with a responsibility, to be granted some privilege or title, to be granted a higher rank, to ascend a throne, to be found innocent, to be found guilty, to be imprisoned, to be released)
  • loosing a social status (to abdicate, to be discharged, etc)
The resulting form is used with people associated with the person to whom the verb refers:

abdicate-prtcpl mother: the mother of the abdicated (king)
defrocked-prtcpl sister  : the sister of the defrocked (priest)
army-lead-prtcpl friends : the friends of the general

Often, due to the social importance of the parent-child relationship, sons, daughters and parents are the most often used nouns when these participles are attributes, but they may appear with any kind of social relationship. At times, the participle is used as a head of a noun phrase itself, and then may refer to some relevant relation to the person that has the referred to status.

At times, it is used as a complement, and may have different connotations:
he was being-man-of-religious-significance.prtcpl : he made (his contextually relevant relation) turn into a man of religious significance (generally this indicates something comparable to bishop)
she wanted heal.prtcpl = she wanted her son/daughter to be a doctor
he resented being-granted-priviliges.prtcpl = he resented that his brother(?) was granted privileges (which by implication he wanted for himself)

tail is häztan

Friday, December 27th, 2013
häztan = tail (noun) (some things Google found for "haztan": a rare term; user names; Haztan Automotive Limited and Haztan Group Limited are or were companies in New Zealand; a rare last name; similar Hazlan is an unusual masculine name that can be Malaysian; similar Hazlan is a domain in the Ravenloft gaming world)

Word derivation for "tail"
Basque = häntä, Finnish = buztan
Miresua = häztan

Another word in Finnish for tail is pyrstö.

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat "vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin..."

2013: The Year in Conlanging

Friday, December 27th, 2013

This past year had some great conlanging activity. Here’s a round-up of some of the highlights:

Have I missed one? (Undoubtedly.) Feel free to add a comment to this post!

Happy conlanging in 2014!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Peter Jackson

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

(Yes, I know it’s been a year since I posted anything here. Tempus fugit!)

desolation: devasation; ruin.

I had the experience of finally getting around to going to the theater recently and seeing (HFR 3D again) Peter Jackson’s most recent installment of The Hobbit epic, The Desolation of Smaug. I posted a review of the first film back on December 16, 2012. First, as stated in that year-old review:


You have been warned…

In re-reading that same review, I’m reconsidering a few statements made in 2012:

  • I’m planning on seeing the next two without question. I may be re-considering this, although I will (in the end) most likely see There and Back Again next year.
  • There were some parts that dragged on too long (more on that below) and some superfluous material,… My word, this year this goes double.
  • but, overall, it kept my attention, …snooore…Oh, I’m sorry, nodded off there…uh, yeah, not so much this year.

Okay, so that being said, what did I like in The Desolation of Smaug. This won’t be a long list:

  • Legolas: His presence in the movie was fine. After all, the Elvenking is his father; Legolas is a prince of the Woodland Realm. I’ll get into misgivings about Legolas below.
  • Tauriel: Believe it or not I was okay with Jackson’s made-up character. She conveyed the difference between the ruling Sindarin family and the Silvan Elf population quite nicely.
  • The Spiders: The evil insects and Bilbo’s initial encounter were spot on. I found it interesting that Bilbo could only understand the spider’s language after he put on the Ring.
  • Laketown: The town itself was an Alan Lee/John Howe art-piece come to life.
  • Bilbo’s initial encounter with Smaug: The first few minutes were great.
  • Languages: As usual, I enjoyed hearing faux Tolkien languages (or maybe neo-Tolkien languages) used on screen. For some misgivings, see below.
  • Bard: The Lake-man actually comes off alright, but once again a little too much Jackson-inspired backstory.

And that’s about it. It will say that it was nice to see Beorn represented (What was up with the eyebrows??), but he was introduced so suddenly and then exited so suddenly, he seemed far too superfluous. Undoubtedly, he is just being set up for an appearance at the Battle of Five Armies. By that time, many will simply say, “Where did this bear-guy come from?”

Unfortunately, and I say this as one who was hoping for the best, the movie was somewhat forgettable. I just saw it a few days ago, and even now it just collapses into a senseless, 2-hour-40-minute action sequence. I’ve read some reviews that tout this as a ripping, adventure-packed follow-up, and, yes, it is “adventure-packed” but the film rarely stops to take a breath. The characters are running and running and running some more. Quick scene, then back to the running.

Let me address some of those misgivings mentioned above. The barrel-riding sequence seemed interminable! Having the dwarves ride in open barrels was the first faux pas in my opinion. Rhett Allain over at Wired has written a great piece about the issues with standing up in floating barrels. I realize they had to be open to do the whole fighting sequence, but they really shouldn’t have. The dwarves, orcs, and elves action-sequence here went from bad to worse. And Bombur with his spinning arms-poking-out-of-the-barrel move was where I really started to just shake my head and sink further down in my seat.

When the orcs fell through the ceiling of Bard’s house in Laketown, I just started laughing. That was my true WTF moment! It was all just too farcical. The subsequent fight through Laketown by the orcs, then Bard being chased by the Master’s men, then… it was just all too much.

And then we come to the dwarves escapade on the Lonely Mountain. I was with them up for awhile. Even the suspenseful bit with the moon being the “last light” of Durin’s Day worked for me. Thorin’s big old boot saving the key. Nice cinematic touch. Bilbo going down the tunnel, meeting Smaug, the brief interchange between them…. then again… WTF? During the loooooong encounter with Smaug and the dwarves racing around, I kept expecting the score to break into the Benny Hill theme. (aka Yakety Sax). Oh, my, and the whole thing with the forges (I’ll admit it was cool to see the Forges of Erebor lighted up but what came next… shudder). And then trying to drown Smaug in gold??? I realize this was a little homage to Smaug’s epithet as “the Golden” but… really?! That’s how Jackson fits it in? Wired‘s Allain does a great piece about the melting gold, too.

The conlangs? Always nice to hear a well-developed conlang in a film but consider this? Why do Legolas and Tauriel seem to constantly switch back and forth between Sindarin and English (presumably meant to equate to Common Speech/Westron)? If they’re just talking between themselves, why not just speak in their first language? Same way with the orcs. Sometimes they use Black Speech/Orkish, sometimes the Common Speech? Pick one and stick with it! For additional info on the conlangs, check out David Salo’s blog that covers Black Speech, Elvish, Khuzdul, and Orkish.

This movie was such a disappointment. I was ready for Jackson fan-fiction. Even the dwarf-elf “love story” but even taken from a cinematic perspective, there were so many lost opportunities as well as long sequences that did nothing to advance the plot (like Beorn’s segment). Others have pointed out the movie’s shortcomings, including The Top 5 Most Preposterous Scenes in The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit 2 is Bad Fan Fiction, and The 6 Most Pointless Scenes in The Desolation of Smaug so there’s no need to belabor the point. Suffice to say, I’d really like to see the Smaug get stuck by Bard and the Battle of Five Armies (and Gandalf stopping it)… but seeing those scenes through Peter Jackson’s distorted lens may just be too much. I guess we’ll see when Hobbit 3 comes to theaters next year. (Fingers crossed)