Archive for November, 2015

Some Blackletter-ish Doodling

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

I have been looking quite a bit at blackletter writing1 recently and I just randomly doodled around using Ayeri’s script, Tahano Hikamu, as a basis, today:

A blackletter-inspired adaptation of Tahano Hikamu
A blackletter-inspired adaptation of Tahano Hikamu

The letter 〈ba〉 is slightly difficult because it’s looking left whereas most of the other consonant characters are looking right. The difference between the placeholder consonant and 〈ra〉 is also very minimal, but that it is in the regular form (first rows) as well, plus similarity with 〈ta〉. I’m not perfectly happy with that 〈ha〉 either.

  1. Things aren’t perfectly angular yet in this period, i.e. the first quarter of the 13th century.

Sargaĺk Alignment Syntax

Saturday, November 21st, 2015
The pegative case system has some implications for the syntax and morphosyntax in situations that are not just ditransitive finite verb clauses.

Pegatives can be transitive or intransitive subjects in coordinated structures; nominatives cannot be pegative subjects in coordinated structures. This is one of the most prominent uses of the anti-passive. (However, first person and second person nominatives can overcome such gaps without the anti-passive in at least one of the dialects.)

Thus we get situations like the following:

"A father surely teaches (his) son, and thus ensures him (of an) inheritance".

If the verb had been sirvac-ju instead, it would have been the son who had ensured [something], and since sirvac- is mandatorily at least transitive, the verb phrase would have been malformed.

Further, relativization shows a restriction: the pegative argument is not relativizable. Thus
*miv kŕderiman pangĺk-an-di-st gukla - village tax-exemption grant-past.active_participle-masc.REL king,
miv kŕderimazvi pangeĺk-ne-st gukla - village tax-exemption-with grant-past.antipassive_participle-masc.REL king
'the king who granted the village tax exemption'
Given that Sargaĺk primarily uses participle-like constructions for relativization, this might as well be described as a property of the participles. Sargaĺk does not really permit relativization of anything 'lower' on the relativization hierarchy, although it's hierarchy is slightly twisted, with the top tiers being intransitive subject > recipient > direct object.

Details regarding how the alignment interacts with control will be given later.

A Naming Practice in Sargaĺk and Northernmost Ćwarmin

Friday, November 20th, 2015
In Sargaĺk culture, and therefore also in northernmost Ćwarmin, which essentially are communities that have changed language to Ćwarmin over time, a slightly exceptional naming practice exists. A person only gets his proper name at some age, which differs from village to village. Before that age, the name the person carries is simply determined by the ordinal number of his birth in the village. The sequence in a few of the Sargaĺk villages is this, with two additional names of some use:
Mek'na, Sitro, Duta, K'anti, Pergo, Virka, Yege
Tikt'e is a special name for children from non-Sargaĺk areas
Kemratsa, a word meaning 'from elsewhere' can be used with Sargaĺk children whose name does not align with the village's name sequence
Unlike adult names, these are gender-neutral, and a child is referred to by the masculine pronoun until the adult name has been established. In most of the northernmost Ćwarmin villages, these still retain Sargaĺk morphology. An important thing to note is that in villages where the age for getting one's proper name is relatively low, the child names may lack a pegative form, because children are not assumed to be able to contribute in any way. In the unusual situation where a child does contribute - as in the stories about certain miracular figures in Dairwueh religions - the anti-passive is used. 

In other villages, however, kids may go with adult names until their teenage years. In such villages, pegative forms are more common.

The larger a village is, the longer the sequence tends to be. There may also be family exceptions: a clan that has had several kids of the same name that have died as children may ask that the child's first name be taken one step ahead in the series - which affects the entire village's "position" in the sequence. Not all villages permit this, though, and for those who hold this superstition, such a name might be a source of great anguish.

The longest sequence is about twenty names long. A closely related thing is the generalized incest taboo whereby children of the same name are considered, in some sense, siblings. Thus in some villages, two children of the same child-name cannot marry later in life. 

Some villages and clans have some other name-related superstitions: some name might be considered very lucky, and a child by that name from a parent of the same child-name may be considered especially suitable to be clan or village leader.

cloth is ongal (revisited)

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
ongal = cloth (noun) (Some things Google found for "ongal": an unusual to uncommon term; The Battle of Ongal took place in 680 in around the Danube delta in present-day Romania between Bulgars and the Byzantine Empire; historical Ongal area; Ongal Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica; Ongal Museum in Balgarevo, Bulgaria; a rare last name; similar Ongala is the name of a place in Namibia)

Word derivation for "cloth" :
Basque = oihal, Finnish = kangas
Miresua = ongal

My previous Miresua conlang word for cloth was kosal. I'm changing this word to start with O, which is much more uncommon than starting with K.

The word cloth doesn't appear in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Although it appears twice, as table-cloth, in Through the Looking-Glass.
"I can't stand this any longer!" she cried as she jumped up and seized the table-cloth with both hands: one good pull, and plates, dishes, guests, and candles came crashing down together in a heap on the floor.


Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

A language where it is obligatory for the speaker to omit as many verbs as they the listener won’t notice.

Detail #235: An Allophony Detail

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Have a system with a great deal of allophony. However, have syllables that happen to be similar at certain positions with regards to prosody that also happen to have the same phoneme in them to disregard local allophony in favour of some kind of rhyming allophony.

Detail #234: Suppletion, Comparatives and Superlatives

Monday, November 16th, 2015
Based on an universal due to Bobajlik (page 3), a simple yet neat "anti-universal" thing to do in a conlang:
Have a system with comparatives and superlatives like English. Have some adjectives form comparatives along a pattern like good - more bett - most bett. (Phrase directly from page 3 of that paper).

Detail #233: Possession, Anaphora and C-Commands

Monday, November 16th, 2015
Examples taken from here.
The following restriction applies in many languages:
*Shei said that Maryi gave a great talk.
Yet, embedding the pronoun 
[Heri colleague] said that Maryi gave a great talk.
Embedding on the other side doesn't have a similar effect:
*Shei said that [Maryi's student] gave a great talk.
This is a peculiar restriction. However, we could imagine a language that does the opposite, not permitting [Heri colleague] said that Maryi gave a great talk yet permitting *Shei said that [Maryi's student] gave a great talk.

This would be an even peculiarer restriction, since it would not be terribly easy to explain by recourse to X-bar or the like, which is easier to do with the English situation.


Alignments vs. Possession

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
As you may have noticed, grammatical alignments have really held my attention for a while now. In part because they really lend themselves to easy creativity, another reason is that there's a fair share of stuff that looks almost realistic yet might not be attested anywhere.

One thing I'd like to draw attention to - a thing I bet already has been considered by linguists somewhere - is the possibility of drawing analogies between adnominal possession and alignment and also between predicative possession and alignment.

Comparing nom-acc vs. erg-abs with head marking and dependant marking adnominal possession gets a bit unclear. If we assume the possessum is the head, the following comparisons obtain:
nominative: independent noun, possessed noun
accusative: marked possessor

ergative: marked possessum
absolutive: independent noun, possessor
However, we could argue for the other way around as well.

I have presented an inverse alignment for possession as well, but let's consider some other options:

Tripartite: each of the possible noun phrases - non-possessed, possessor, and possessum all have unique markings. To some extent, double-marked possession is exactly this.

We go on to consider some kind of split-possession system: maybe nouns in the "basic" cases require possessors in the genitive, whereas in adpositional phrases, the possessor OR the independent noun takes the case the adposition calls for, whereas a possessum takes some specific marking. Alternatively, nouns in the "basic" cases can also be marked as possessums instead of their usual case marking (c.f. how Finnish conflates possessed nominatives and accusatives), whereas oblique cases must be marked. The other option with split possession is to have it lexically determined: some nouns trigger head-marking, some trigger dependent-marking.

Once that is done, we get to the point of omitted arguments: what if we want to mark that a thing is possessed, but not explicitly state the possessor? What if we want to state the possessor, but not the possessum?

These too could permit for patterns analogous to anti-ergative, "normal accusative" and so forth. Some languages - including to some extent English - have a special case for this, viz. mine, yours, hers, ours, etc. Some languages have a special form for the opposite situation, i.e. basically [someone's] hand, for nouns that are cannot stand without possessors.

All of these could basically be taken over directly to the predicative possession situation: different case uses, different constructions (possessum is by possessor, possessor is with possessum, the possessum possibly being more or less syntactically subject- or object-like in either of the constructions, etc) ...

Let's, however, not stop here, let's ... go where no man has gone before:
What could a possessive analogue of ditransitives be?

How likely is it for a language to evolve some kind of regular, grammaticalized ditransitive type of possession? What use would it have? How could it, morphologically and syntactically, be formed?

rope is köso (revisited)

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
köso = rope (noun) (Some things Google found for "köso" or koso": a common term; KOSO manufactures motorcycle gauges and accessories; Köso or Koso is an unusual last name; a rare first name; KOSO is a FM radio station in the Modesto, California area; Koso India manufactures industrial equipment; Koso or California earthquake gas shut-off valves; similar kősó means rock salt in Hungarian; koso means for sure (emphasis) in Japanese (transliterated); name of places in Nigeria, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, the Republic of the Congo, and the Philippines)

Word derivation for "rope":
Basque = soka, Finnish = köysi
Miresua = köso

My previous Miresua conlang word for rope was kösa. This is a minor change to make it so that the word doesn't end in -A.

I found one occurrence of the word rope in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
-- Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope -- Will the roof bear? -- Mind that loose slate -- Oh, it's coming down! Heads below!' (a loud crash) --