Archive for September, 2022

Relative Clauses in Dairwueh

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

 I have previously given a short introduction to relative clauses in Dairwueh. Let's up the ante a bit.

Resumptive pronouns in relative attributes

Since the relativizing verb does not carry (much) information about the syntactical role that the referent has in the subclause, resumptive pronouns are often used. Some dialects and varieties of Dairwueh have a resumptive pronoun stem ner- (from a historical nez, the fricative popping back in some forms). Most use the neuter pronoun stem, but inflected for gender - the capital literary form specifically uses the t-stem version of the nominative and accusative.

A peculiar thing about the resumptive pronoun is that it can even be used for the subject of a subsequent subclause, as if this were how to form two subclauses in English:

the man who plays the guitar and he sings.

Weird restriction

Consider an utterance like 'don't reject applicants for being too boring'. In English this cannot be rephrased as 'don't reject applicants who are too boring', since this alters the meaning significantly. A strict reading has the rephrasing signify that no one that is too boring must be rejected, whereas the first only means that boringness must not influence the decision.

In Dairwueh, use of the irrealis form of the subordinating verb is used, among other things, for this particular structure.

The irrealis form can also be used to communicate a purely irrealis subclause, e.g. 'those who would do so-and-so'. To enforce the "purely irrealis" reading, a resumptive pronoun is used. To enforce the purely 'for being X' reading,the subordinate verb may be irrealis instead of infinitive - or in some varieties, a demonstrative pronoun is placed before the relative verb.

Finally, the irrealis form of the relative verb can also express an indirect question: I wonder the men who will sing -> I wonder whether the men will sing.

Use of the interrogative pronoun before a relative subclause requires irrealis in some dialects, and requires irrealis for present tense in many dialects.

Adjectives have a similar function as well when using the irrealis participle marker e-...-šis on them.

Happy birthday to Koa!

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

This week on September 13th we had the world's first ever Koa Day celebration, including not one but two cakes: one improvised by Callie and me, and the other rather more artfully facilitated by Olga.

Someone also sent flowers! It was quite a lovely feeling for Koa to be seen/acknowledged/appreciated like this after so many years of my sort of being in the closet about it.

ALSO, and perhaps most importantly, there is now a Koa birthday song! It's just a direct translation of the American song, but still. Unsurprisingly we've got an extra syllable at the start of each line which means we have to start with an 8th note triplet, but it still works:

Pai Náute Iolo
Pai náute iolo la se
Pai náute iolo la se
Pai náute iolo, X mila
Pai náute iolo la se

The syntax here is so straightforward I think we can dispense with the interlinear, but I did want to say something about náute. Since nau means "give birth to, bear," the most accurate translation of "birth" from the point of view of the offspring would in fact be panáute: the occasion of being born, not the occasion of giving birth (way more on that here). In terms of actual usage, though, it's a needlessly granular distinction to have to make...and would throw off the meter even more, so clearly aesthetics are going to have win out here.

It does raise the question, though, of whether it's ever actually a helpful or meaningful distinction -- súsote "kisses given" vs pasúsote "kisses received," -- since all the arguments are represented in the instance being described regardless of which way way around you turn it. My instinct is maybe not, at least in a real human language. Not that it should be forbidden where it happens to add meaning, but also not prescribed.

The Secret World of Conlanging – An Overview of Tolkien’s “Secret Vice”

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

Robin Rowan is a senior undergraduate student studying Spanish at Arizona State University online and previously earned a BA in History from Auburn University. As a life-long science fiction fan, she has always been fascinated by the concept of conlangs. When a general requirement course in linguistics called for a final project there was no question as to what the topic would be. After the course ended, she decided to expand the project to give a greater overview of conlangs from the perspective of a non-conlanger. Robin currently resides in Alabama but has lived in Tennessee, Illinois, and California, and has travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. After graduation Robin plans to earn her TOEFL certificate and continue her travels.


This essay provides a brief overview of conlanging from the perspective of a non- conlanger. It clarifies what a conlang is from this same perspective and places conlanging in a historical context, especially as regards what has motivated people to create conlangs and the disdain with which some people have viewed such efforts. The terminology of conlangs is presented with a concise examination of several conlangs and their histories regarding how and why they were created and by whom. These include Esperanto, Klingon, and Láadan. Research included academic sources, internet search, and personal correspondence among others. The usefulness of conlangs as a means to study the nature of language and communication, as well as how conlangs create authenticity and depth in television, movies, and literature, is explored. While there may or may not ever be a true “universal language” constructed language, the value of conlanging and it’s popularity can be expected to continue.

Version History

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License