Thursday, February 14, 2019

Detail #390: Participles Used in Odd Ways

In many Germanic languages, one can form adjectives that describe 'being equipped with' (or something along those lines) by forming the past participle of a noun.This is a peculiar idea, but there's multiple examples:

Now, this thing every now and then inspires me a bit to try and apply participle morphology on other parts of speech with some lightly unpredictable meanings.

For this, we can imagine a language with active and passive participles (to get rid of the weird tense * voice con[flation/fusion] that English has). What if, say, passive participles of cardinals signify fractions? If we by an imaginary verb 'to three' mean 'turning a thing into three things (by splitting it)', a 'threed thing' would be a third of the thing. We could of course here come up with some way of distinguishing between full things split in three parts and some number of thirds. Maybe through, say, case/number congruence or adpositions or numerals or whatever? (So, e.g. 'two threed cakes' is six thirds, whereas 'two threed cake' is two thirds?) Next step: active participles could imply ordinals?

Or maybe active participles could imply coordinated groups of N members?

And of course, all of these could imaginably be applied to indefinite pronouns like 'some', 'any', 'none', 'all'.

We could of course try and go further and include tense - or maybe just have tense-based participles with voice being marked in some other fashion. Now, for numerals, expressing any voice would maybe be superfluous, and so we only keep the tense marking (rather, maybe, numerals are normally intransitive participles?).

A different potential meaning: an active participle of the number x would imply being the leader over a group of size x.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Detail #389: A Set of Affixes on some Adpositions

This gets a bit abstract, and in some way feels familiar. I had envisioned this idea as fitting into one of my conlangs, but I don't really see it as part of any one of them right now.

Since I formulated it with a rather clear idea of whether to use pre- or suffixes as well as pre- or postpositions,, the post will assume prefixes and prepositions. I guess fixing this might make the text significantly easier to read. 

Let us imagine a system whereby prepositions are marked as to what kind of a constituent they pertain to. By this, I mean 'whosoever moves or is moved,  whosoever is located or has been made to be somewhere'. Now, we get maybe three obvious markers, and we could of course let these be similar to, say, the relevant case morphology or something. Hold on.

When a subject moves somewhere, the preposition expressing this movement could be imagined to have a pronoun standing in front of it, something like
he goes he in the house
Now, we can imagine the pronoun becoming reduced, and also that the person congruence is lost, so it always becomes
I go e into the house
he goes e into the house
Next, we can imagine when an object is placed somewhere or seen somewhere or whatever, that an object pronoun goes somewhere:
Tina saw the man him in the park
Tina saw the man min the park
and as the reduction and loss of congruence happens, we also get
Eric put the shoes mon the shelf
We can imagine one more obvious distinction here without going too fine-detailed, that of oblique objects. Let's use i- for this.
He went eto sea iin winter
The distinction between 'he went eto sea iin winter' and 'he went ein winter' is that in the latter, it is just a statement about what he did, in the former, the point is that it is in winter he in fact went to sea.

Now, finally, let's imagine that some kind of indefinite pronoun (any, one, some?) appears when there's an object or tool implicit in the verb itself. Let's use ni- for this (from 'any').
he painted nion the wrong wall.
he fired niat the thief
Now, I imagine such implicit tools or objects (or obliques) may sometimes get quite culturally quirky, and one possible path one could see is having, for instance, verbs of sex omit a lot of nouns, such that, for instance, penetration would be expressed as
pushing ni-in it,
oral sex as
licking ni-on it,
 Here, we can imagine two rather opposite situations:
  1. omission is something that is naughty, used to quickly get to the point, and so the 'non-naughty' way of talking about these use more, uh, referential nouns. In this case, ni- becomes a bit of a "naughty" morpheme in some contexts.
  2. omission is something that is used for euphemism, and in this case, ni- becomes a "polite" morpheme for talking of certain things.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A personal update

Over the two last years, I have found myself planning and writing ever more ambitious things for this blog. Because of the scopes of these posts and series, the pace naturally has been reduced.

Recently, two additional things have occurred that will ensure no acceleration in this pace for a while:
  • I have gotten a puppy! (länk?)
  • I have gotten a new job as a java developer.
Both of these will conspire to keep me somewhat occupied elsewhere, but I do hope to provide quality content at least once or twice monthly. Meanwhile, I do sometimes go and improve old posts, since the occasional error still can be found in them.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Some thoughts on nullar and indefinite numbers

Every now and then, ideas like 'nullar number' or 'indefinite number' make the rounds in the conlanging sphere of the internet. Since I am not about simple solutions, I am not going to leave it at that, though.

Nullar numbers seems to me to be an obvious candidate for defective paradigms. It seems unlikely to me that every form a singular or plural noun can take would also exist for the nullar, in case the language has even a moderately rich morphology.

Nullar is apparently not attested in any language, afaik, and this of course opens up for some speculation: it seems to me that nullar would maybe follow a slightly modified accessibility hierarchy, where objects (or even absolutives) are more likely to have nullar forms than (transitive) subjects, and beyond that, transitive subjects followed by some kind of instrumental or comitative and only then datives and other obliques?

The justification for this would be that an instrumental or comitative nullar basically is not all that far from an abessive, and thus this is likely to be a fairly common use of the nullar - clearly the abessive/privative is sufficiently useful to exist, which kind of indicates something about the way we talk about absences.

On the topic of indefinite numbers, though, first we need to specify a bit more clearly what I mean. Plurals tend to be somewhat indefinite in that we generally do not automatically specify the number of members of a plural referent. What I know mean, though, is a referent where number is entirely unspecified, i.e. it can be any of the available numbers in the language.

This, again, feels like a number that would likely have a defective paradigm, but beyond that, it feels like a number whose marking even would be defective in some sense - maybe lack of plural congruence on adjectives and verbs? Maybe only partial application of plural marking (i.e. suffixes, but not umlaut, in languages where plural is formed by application of both to some nouns), maybe failure to apply gender marking?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Detail #388: Separable nouns

Let's take inspiration from the German separable verbs, but reapply the whole idea to nouns.

Let us however separate out a suffix, not a prefix. Now, what if  the suffix must go to the right of the next word, regardless of word class if the separable noun is subject.

Intransitive: Root verbs suffix
Transitive subject: Root verbs suffix object
Object: Subject verbs object suffix
However, in isolation, a separable noun also requires an intervening morpheme - either a vocative particle or some other type of particle.
Vocative: Root oh suffix
Exclamative: Root indeed suffix
Where this gets weird is coordination. We could go down  simple route of just having the suffix after thd conjunction. But... what if the conjunction is a prefix or even just achieved by putting nouns in apposition?

If a subject is clause-final, some particle also may need inserting or alternatively some other kind of displacement could take place.

Also, been busy, new job. May take a while until the regularly scheduled tempo resumes.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Time in Bryatesle, Dairwueh and Sargaĺk, pt I: Times of Day

None of the languages of these two families have in regular use any numbers-based way of talking about particular times, although lengths of time are provided in numeral form.

We can find the common BDS system in all three of these languages,and when we look at Ćwarmin in a later post series, we will find that it too has adopted it but has some hold-outs from the ĆŊ system.

Words denoting particular times of the day in Bryatesle include the following list. The 'main' time spans, that any time of a day can be referred to as are in bold.
enys - dawn
vinas - morning
kunyb - early day
misk - midday (when the sun is at its highest, part of kunyb)
gemgas - late day
rimp - evening
xudsyn -
tal -
aink -
a time during which both the sun and moon are visible, comes in two forms: ainkela vinasëta and ainkela rimpity, morning and evening sun-moon overlaps.
ehul - any dark time when the moon is not visible
srus - 24 hour period, counting from the usual time to go to sleep during the season
xsin - any aforementioned, bolded division of the day is a xsin. These can be counted, e.g. three or four xsin would be a measure of a span of time. These are obviously rather imprecise, and in more scientific contexts, a xsin is a sixth of a diurnal cycle, thus making the night be about two xsin long in such contexts. Otherwise, night is often counted as a single xsin.
All of these are unanalyzable roots in Bryatesle, but at least a few go back to compounds or derived forms in proto-DBS. We find cognates in Dairwueh:
inis - dawn
uniŋa - morning (u-inis + genitive)
kombod - early day
ameš - midday
- late day
libod - evening
Not all terms are cognates, however:
koswə - night
kešer - a time in the evening during which both sun and moon are visible
muləm - a dark time when the moon is not visible
glest - any aforementioned bolded subdivision of the day; operates like the bryatesle xsin, but lacks plural forms - its case forms are the same in singular and plural.
curn - sunset
Sargaĺk, being spoken in a rather arctic region, has great differences in the spans of light and dark during summer vs. winter. To avoid a very cramped day-time during the shortest time spans, for a while (two months, roughly), the cognates of kunyb/kombod and gemgas/xoŋos moves to the night side, and can be prefixed with the adjective 'dark'. This prefix is mainly used when talking of such a time in other parts of the year, and one can also prefix the adjective 'light' to denote the regular version.
Sargaĺk also has some cognates, several of which form triplets with Dairwueh and Bryatesle:
neš - dawn
wuneštse - morning
geməgə - late day
As for cognates exclusively with Bryatesle, we find
ərip - evening
t'ol - night
 and with Dairwueh, we find
k'isjən - a time during which both sun and moon are visible
nulwu - a dark time with no visible moon
Unique to Sargaĺk are
svərc' - sunset
A twenty-four hour period is formed by compounding neš and svərc, giving either svərc'neš or nešvərc', with no real semantic distinction between the two.

Since I've basically sort of done a really terrible thing and not derived these through any sound changes, but instead just run with it and hope for the best, ... these may change in the future. This also leads to me just posting a few random speculative roots.
enys - inis - neš
the e-/i- prefix in Bry and Dai probably originate with some kind of intensifier. *š > s is widespread in both Bry and Dai, *s > š does not happen unconditionally in Sar.

vinas - uniŋa - wuneštse
*ui → vi in Bry, *ui → u in Dai, and ui → wu in Sar.
-tse and -ŋa are nominalizing suffixes.

kunyb - kombod
o > u is common in Bry; bry y often comes from *ə. Dai often reduces trisyllabic roots to two by reducing the middle one, and here, -od probably is cognate to the word 'bud', time, thus having an intermediate *konəbbud

rimp - libod - ərip
whenever Dai /l/ corresponds to both Sar and Bry /r/ it usually originates with *t'l. The Sar ə- is probably the same intensifier as the e-/i- prefixes we find in Bry and Dai. Bry has probably randomly inserted the nasal. As for -bod, see the previous entry.

misk- ameš
sk → š in many positions in Dai, but at a rather late stage. a- is probably the same as i- in inis, but turns into /a/ before labials word-initially.

kešer - k'isjən
*k'eisier | *k'eisiən
k' → k universally happens in Dai, s → š /_iV happens widely in Sar.

tal- t'ol
*t'ol? *t'lo
t' → t is unconditional in Bry, KlV → kVl happens sometimes in open syllables, accounting for the difference from the outcome of *t'lip
 muləm - nulwu

xudsyn - xoŋod
-dsyn appears in some particular times of some particular days in Bryatesle, viz. vedvedsyn - the time the sun is at its highest on an equinox, tadsyn - the time the sun is at its nadir on the midsummer solstice, mistsyn - the time the sun is at its zenith on the midwinter solstice.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Detail #387: A Separate 'Possessive-Like' Case

Let us consider something that is a special case of the genitive, only distinguished for a limited set of lexemes - maybe pronouns, maybe proper nouns, maybe family terms, etc.

I would call this the "Group-inclusion genitive", and it would be parsed as marking that the possessor is a member of the group (or possibly also vice versa, but the opposite direction of inclusion does not interest me for the topic of this particular post.)

I shall use .GiG as an abbreviation for this case.
my.GiG family → my family / the family I am in
your.GiG village → your village / the village you live in
Now, let's consider a further extension of this: we could maybe combine this with the first person plural pronoun as follows:
my.GiG us → exclusive 1pl
your.GiG us → inclusive 1pl
? our.GiG us → inclusive 1pl
It is my firm bet that blogger's html engine will make the examples above collapse into fewer lines than they should cover despite there being explicit html line breaks in the html source for this post. Here's to hoping against hope that it doesn't.

Of course, such a use of possessive pronouns and personal pronouns could work out even without a particular 'group inclusion genitive' existing, but here, one idea just inspired another.

This could also serve to reduce the need to distinguish, say, colleagues from employees: my.GiG workers = (me and) my colleagues, my workers = my employees.

An interesting thing could be not having the .GiG imply that the group membership extends to the particular statement, e.g. "my.GiG workers are kind" would not necessarily mean that I too am, just that the other members of the group to which I belong are. This could of course maybe be distinguished by means of congruence? If the first person is included, first person congruence is required, if the first person is excluded from the statement, second or third person congruence is required. (And then of course, this distinction will fail whenever in a position where no congruence is available on the verb, so maybe this would just be, say, distinguished for subjects and objects.)