Saturday, March 28, 2015

Detail #148: A Derivation / An Adjective Construction

Let's consider a way of deriving an adjective, something along the lines of a suffix that you put on a noun and you obtain 'like a [noun]', '[noun]-ly' but also 'reputed to be [noun]', and with adjectives '[adjective]-ish' or 'reputed to be [adjective]'.  This is not all that odd, really, but let's go on and come up with some constructions using these.


  • With the copula 'to be', expresses to be x-like or x-ish.
  • With the verb 'to have' and no object case marking on the adjective, it marks 'to be reputed to be' (alternatively, no articles - in case that is the way adjectives normally are marked when they are heads of NPs, i.e. in phrases comparable to 'the little one')
  • with the verb 'to have' and object case marking (or articles, or whichever method the language uses), the phrase would simply mean 'to have a so-and-so-ish one/one reputed to be so-and-so'
Thus, when used as attributes of a noun there's less of a distinction between 'reputed to be so-and-so' and 'to be so-and-so-like' or 'to be so-and-so-ish', but when the adjective is a predicate complement, the distinction is made clear.

A Paper on Ergativity

William McGregor's Typology of Ergativity. Well worth reading. (Thanks to Vardelm for linking it in a thread on the ZBB.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Detail #147: Finnic Differential Object Marking taken to 11

I was discussing Finnic object case thingies with badconlangingideas' curator, when I made a mistaken claim and caught myself doing so and corrected myself. The claim came from too quickly reconstructing a memory about what Livonian does. Livonian does an odd thing - viz. it permits accusative with negated verbs, which is exceptional in the Baltic-Finnic languages. However, we were discussing a different thing altogether (viz. the anti-ergative alignment here). Let's imagine a Finnic language that extends the use of accusative along the lines that Livonian did - so that the more concrete the verb, the more definite the object, etc, the more likely the object is to be accusative. Let's further have the language reinterpret the accusative as the distinct accusative case. Suddenly we may have a three-way distinction for those verbs that lack a syntactical subject:

nominative object -> telic, indefinite
explicit accusative object -> telic, definite
partitive object -> atelic, *
This does not seem like an all too impossible way for a three-way differential object marking to appear.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Detail #146: An Idea for Objects

Try having a language where objects are 'the person or entity that loses the most or benefits the least from the action'. A person who derives clear benefits from an action cannot be marked as an object, but must be an indirect object. A thing that is altered in a positive way by an action is also some kind of indirect object.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ćwarmin: Personal Pronouns - an obsolete draft

I figure I might as well share this - Ćwarmin pronouns, in an already obsolete version. In this, you may see some clear traces from Ćwarmin nominal morphology. I am somewhat unhappy with how little connection there is between the pronouns and the verb forms (although some does exist), although such is not necessary for realism or anything.

Having pronouns distinguish between 'specific' and 'definite' referents is a slightly misleading terminology here - third person pronouns in Ćwarmin are basically demonstratives, and the difference between i/u and ək/ak is more one of this/that, than the difference between a specific or a definite noun is. Historically, however, they originate in a system where they basically corresponded to the same difference as the noun system exhibits - thus this particular distinction will be carried over into the non-obsolete version.

One further thing I want to add that is still missing in the table below is using indefinite morphology with pronouns as the default forms, while specific and definite morphology serve to emphasize the pronoun. With second person plural and dual, however, specific is exclusive and definite inclusive, while the indefinite morphology is indistinct with regards to that.

I also might want to add some more almost-case or such to it, a case distinction only present in pronouns - and not even on all pronouns.

I am not all that happy with the table of forms below, and will need to work a bit on getting them prettier. The rest of this post is essentially the draft as it was until I basically decided to remake it all from the ground up - something like half of the forms might remain in the next version.

Ćwarmin personal pronouns have a morphophonological behavior that is slightly unusual. Whenever they do not take primary stress, their vowel changes to agree with the word to the left (except over clause boundaries). To the right of a clause boundary, or at the onset of an utterance, they agree with the word to the right.

Pronouns have primary forms with regards to vowel harmony, i.e. in isolation or when having primary stress they will tend to be in one of the forms rather than the other. I have bolded the primary form. The distribution of the primary forms seems to have been slightly randomized so as to increase difference between the forms.

IsgIIsgIIIdefIIIspecIpcIIpcIIIdefpcIIIspecpcIplIIplIIIpl
nomsan | śənbec | baci | uək | akdal|delran|rəntawok|tejəkmewok|mejəkIplIIplrammal|rimməl
accataś | ətəśbacaś | becəś | uśtəś | taśdaljaś| dəljeśranaś reneśwaś | djeśwoś|jəśIplIIplIIIpl
dist.poss. subjatak / ətəkbacak | becək inin |unun teś | tośdalun | dəlinranun renintawun | tejintawun | tejinIplIIplIIIpl
genanak / ənekbahak | behəkite | utateś | tośdaltu | dəltiranu | renitawun | tejintawun | tejinIplIIplIIIpl
dativearanś / ərənśbacanś | bəcənśtən | tantən | tandonś | dənśrənś | ronśwokś | jikśwokś | jikśIplIIplIIIpl
gen.ablxaraś / źerəśbraś | brəś tər | tartər | tardoroś (no front form!)ronoś no front form!) woś | weśwoś | weśIplIIplIIIpl
instrumentalźerep / xarapbarap | berəptrap | trəptrap | trəpdaŕap |dəŕepranap | rənəptawap | tejəptawap | tejəpIplIIplIIIpl
com-toxarkuś / źerkiśbackuś | beckiśtətiś | totuśtətiś | totuśdalmaku dəlməkirammaku  remməkitawaku | tejəkitawaku | tejəki
com-withsantuc / senticbatuc | becictətic | totuctətic | totucdalmac | dəlmecrammac | rəmməctawac | tejəctawac | tejəc
negativeźiris / zurusbicis | bucustistə |  tustotistə |  tustodaltus | dəltisronuś | rəniśteniś | tonuśteniś | tonuś

With exception of IIIspec, we notice how the personal pronouns lack a reciprocally possessed form; such a form can appear in some fossilized sayings, however. The dist.poss. subj, however, is the opposite of such a case - a subject that acts upon something it possesses.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quarch: A Short Introduction to the Phonology and Transliteration

Although Quarch is not the Krruqr language spoken by the largest number of native speakers among the population of Krruqr, it is widely spoken as a second language throughout most of the planet. It is used by five major political entities. It is also the most spoken language outside of the Krruqr atmosphere, being spoken by a large majority on each of the six inhabited moons.

The native speakers number around 120 million, and the total number of speakers is around a billion.

Two writing systems are in use - a logographic system and a more phonemic system. The phonemic system uses symbols encoding a variety of modulations.

The Quarch phonology mainly consists of modulations; there is a pulse-like string of really quick 'stops'. The timbre of the stop mainly conveys information along the lines of what intonation conveys in English.

These are the modulations of tone for the pulse:

  • / drastic rise during one or two stops, after which a slight fall or steady high pitch is held for about 3-5 stops
  • slight rise for 3 stops, followed by a short while (1-3 stops) of steady risen pitch
  • = stable pitch, about 7-12 stops 
  • : stable pitch, about 3-5 stops
  • \ drastic fall one or two stops, followed by (3-5 stops),
  • ̌ slight fall, followed by 1-3 of steady fallen pitch
  • + return to 'home pitch' (an area otherwise avoided in modulations roughly in the centre of the pitch space), followed by 3-5 stops there
  • * quick skips - 7-12 wide, almost random jumps around pitch-space
  • % - slow rise over about 7 stops
  • slow fall over about 7 stops
  • 4-5 stops rise, followed by 4-5 stops fall, ending slightly lower than starting
In addition, there are rhythmic figures. 
  • P = start pulse
  • L = prolong a pulse at the end of the previous pitch contour
  • E = early onset of a pulse
  • s = silence for a basic pulse-unit
  • W = prolonged followed by early onset (so basically a swing eight kind of thing)
  • M = backwards swing eight
  • S = silence
  • 2 = break silence with two regular-spaced beats
  • ½ = break silence with two tightly-spaced beats
  • 3 = break silence with three regular spaced beats
  • 4, 8, 10 = break silence with [4...7], [7...10], [9+]  beats
  • Numbers are usually followed by a . to indicate that the silence is resumed after the number. 
Finally, we have the tempo markings:
  • @ increase tempo immediately by about one eighth (so 112% or so of the previous tempo)
  • (( increase tempo over about 10 beats in a 'slide-like' fashion by about 1/5. Generally followed fairly soon by )), which reduces tempo by about 1/7 or by 
  • which reduces the tempo to about 95%
  • < which reduces the tempo over about 15 beats, overshoots the end-point (thus reaches a slightly 'slowish' tempo, then slightly increases it to reach a 'natural' tempo. As you can notice, many of the other increases are greater than the reductions. Many common particles contain this tempo change, which basically serves to reset the tempo to something manageable. This is the only change that is more defined by the absolute tempo outcome than by a relative change.
In addition to these, Quarch has an 'upper melody'; the pulse and the melody do not need to occur simultaneously - there are even literary works that avoid using one or the other entirely - but many words and grammatical constructions use both. The tempo and beat need not be perfectly matched.
  • ~ alternately move up and down until next symbol
  • | stop
  • ¤ jittery movement downwards
  • ! jittery movement upwards
  • ’ quick movement upwards
  • § random movement over the pitch-space
  • steady pitch
  • approach pitch-space centre quickly
Finally we have the ¯ which marks rhythmic unit of no change
Thus, an utterance in quarch may come out 
+P=¯@&§S! |))P*¯
Research into the phonotactics of Quarch is still in its infancy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thoughts: Contributions

I have been debating whether to start accepting contributions now, for a while. In part, coming up with material for this blog does take some mental effort. However, even though at times I write sloppily and in unclear manners - a thing a close friend keeps reminding me every now and then - I am a bit suspicious about the quality of ideas I would get.

Obviously, I would not post conlang parody material, unless it was on par with Moundsbar and the like. Such material I would ask people to submit to badconlangingideas instead. And finally, I feel like I should probably retain quite some editorial freedom over contributions - adding ideas to them, making my own decision as to what interpretation of slightly ambiguous descriptions I'd go for, etc.

Maybe I should post the whole thing and add my own comments. I am not sure I will proceed with this idea, but putting it out there seems the thing to do. Comments are welcome.

EDIT: Yeah, what the heck. For now, a contribution-address will only be present in this post, later I might add one to the main layout. For now, mailing miekko at gmail com with the subject line 'contribution: [insert snappy topic]' will suffice.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Question of Attestation

Does anyone know of a language that is

  • written with an alphabet that normally uses the arabic numerals and
  • has a non-decimal base and
  • and permits writing numbers using that non-decimal base using arabic numerals?
The other base might be marked by some symbol (or might be implicit from context). Maybe something like
yada yada yada (1234) yada yada yada => yada yada yada 668 yada yada yada
In this case, octal is marked by parentheses. This might be a bit curios, but parentheses are used as punctuation in ways that differs significantly from their English use in some languages. However, I admit they might be even more confusing due to their use in maths, so maybe something like
yada yada yada  81234 yada yada yada.
If this isn't attested, I claim it for Tatediem (but with Bryatesle numbers instead).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ćwarmin: A Remnant of A Proximate-Obviative System

Historically, the three levels of definiteness go back to a proximate-obviative system that was rearranged quite a bit. Third person verbs were assumed to refer to proximate arguments unless a prefix - əc- or ok- - was affixed to the verb. However, the system was reanalyzed, and these were lost as a productive obviative marker.

However, some verbs had been reanalyzed. Normally, the obviative argument was a non-subject of the previous sentence (although not always), and this was generalized for a handful of verbs where the most common usage pattern would have the obviative object/indirect object of the previous verb be the subject of this verb. Most of these are verbs that express a reaction in response to the previous verb, on the part of an object or recipient, thus making sense for these verbs to be reinterpreted as having as subject the object/indirect object of the previous verb. Examples include:
okkaulan - resist
əctəriln - answer, respond
ecnitren - obey
ecsidten - refuse
okratun - to answer 'yes'
əcgettin - to answer 'no'
okruncan - fall over from being pushed or otherwise kinetically affected
əcritən - to deny an accusation or allegation
(əc)lədilən - to politely refuse an offer
(ok)samawan - to succumb to something, or to lose
With first or second person arguments, these have no exceptional syntactical behavior. A proximate subject can be obtained by having an explicit, non-dropped subject pronoun in front of them. Thus, the obviative behavior only really applies when pronouns have been dropped (which, granted, is very common in Ćwarmin).

So, a couple examples:

baustuno okkaulunuv - we fought (them) and they resisted

kartapur fird  -erəś     fird-iŋ-itəś          nəmirəmcə              e      ecsidt-əmcə
tax-man debt -def.abl debt-or-acc.spec demand-past.recent and refuse-past.recent 
The tax man just tried collecting taxes from a person and the person refused. As lexical remarks go it is notable that taxes are considered a type of debt, so kart-apur (taxation-(mandate-agent) collects, in essence a 'debt', fird. However, the debtor has not done anything particular to become in debt, but is so without any agency of his own, and thus the non-volitional agentive noun form -irŋi is used, instead of the volitional agentive form.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ćwarmin: Numbers and their interaction with Case

Since I'm apparently doing number systems now, I might as well go on to Ćwarmin. Ćwarmin, like Dairwueh and Bryatesle, has a decimal system.

er(si) - one
mer - two
siker - three
nurma - four
miŋvə - five
siŋvə - six
əntel - seven
amba - eight
əneri - nine
dustun - ten
pəktən - hundred
maktan = five hundred
kurcul = thousand

Higher numbers are formed by the following kind of construction:

siŋvə dustar əneri - six * ten + nine
əntel kurcar nurma pəkter  siker dustar er = 7431 
Ćwarmin offers some excitement, however, in the use of case forms in combination with numbers. Numbers are one of the few parts of the language where any case congruence appears. Normally only the 'smallest' numbers (i.e. any of the number-morphemes smaller than dustun) are inflected to mark for case congruence with the noun or for what role the number plays in the utterance. Dustun, pəktən, maktan and kurcul only inflect for the general ablative whenever the number of hundreds, thousands, etc is higher than one, and for singular when there is one hundred or one thousand. There is one exception - the final number before the noun can be marked by an exceptional case to affect meanings much like how adjectives too can be inflected.

The noun's number marking depends on the number (also specifically final digits on larger numbers) and is as follows: {1, sometimes 1 after bigger numbers} - singular, {1 after bigger numbers, 2 and 3} - paucal, {4-9, tens, hundreds and thousands} - plurals. However, some cases obviously conflate plurals and paucals - but generally, the number system goes the other way with those - two and three take singular for those, as do bigger numbers ending in one, two or three.

Usually, the indefinite, singular case form is used on each number from one to nine in the whole number phrase, i.e.
mene dustar sikene haruhno|haruhnoś|haruhnaś for (*|the|a certain twenty three gentlemen)

With the instrumental, singular marking goes on the noun with all numbers. The locative cases only get partial congruence on the number - the dative, accusative or general ablative, depending on the type of locative case.

However, with nominative and accusative nouns, the 'small numbers part' of the number marks for nominative (or accusative), whereas the noun itself is in the general ablative if indefinite, and genitive if definite or specific. When the noun is genitive (regardless if it's genitive because the NP is nominative, accusative or genitive), the noun is paucal for two and three, and any larger number ending on one to three.

We further get a few odd usages:

The nominative and accusative complements can stand independently as a sort of numerical existential statement:
baust-un-ou dust-utćo
baust- un-oudust-utćo
fight-past1pauc  ten-plur.acc.complement

~ they were ten that we fought, it was ten that we fought
A nominative complement -əcə/-aca or -əmcə/-amca would mark how many the subject were. Thus, saying that 'we were five that went there' - źəginið sam miŋvəcə.

The general ablative marks approximation - this can replace the nominative/accusative complements entirely for the construction marked above, i.e.
baust-un-ou dust-ar
baust-un-oudust-ar
fight-past1pl.pauc  ten-gen.abl
we fought about ten people
However, when the number is part of the noun phrase, there are a few other constructions - only the last number in the whole phrase gets the case marking attached after its regular case marking. The same approximative function applies with regards to ablative in this use. The complement cases are not used for that type of construction. The comitative-with can be used to mark that an increase by that number has occurred. Genitive marks that, yeah, that's a big number right or a kind of 'reverse exaggeration' - at least so-and-so many. Finally, the dative can mark evidentiality - 'five, yes I counted, five ...'. Doubled case suffixes can appear due to this, but are apparently avoided by some speakers. This often also leads to the number's congruence case being marked for singular indefinite, and the second case - the one which serves this role - agrees for definiteness and number with the noun, giving results like
siŋv-en-ihneś ćan-uhnaś (siŋv-dat.sg.indef-dat.pl.def tables-dat.pl.def) "six-dat-yes, I counted them- tables-dat"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Barxaw noun classes and numbers

Higher numbers in Barxaw are a slightly complex affair. For superstitious reasons, some kinds of things are associated with certain numbers - i.e. extended family is for some reason associated with the number 16. Basically, for most noun classes, the number that the most primary, prototypical members of each noun class are associated with influence how other nouns of the same class are counted. Nouns can be members of several noun classes.

However, at this point, postponing a short introduction to the noun classes makes no sense, so those first. A table of particles that show congruence with these might appear sometime soon:

Class 1 includes humans, and some animals (talking animals in fables, for instance, and the bear), and many natural phenomena (the sun and moon, rainbows, fire) (number: 5)

Class 2 includes most animals that are tamed, and a few wild animals that are economically important - deer, some wild ruminants, wild birds whose eggs are harvested. The larger types of fish that are commonly caught are also included by some speakers, especially those that live in maritime environments. Also includes buildings that have with animal-keeping to do, as well as implements related to animal-keeping. (number: 12)

Class 3 includes buildings and places, as well as religiously significant plants and items. Some large items, such as wagons, chariots and some groups of people - military units, groups working in coordination, ethnicities, slaves taken as a group. Water, and some natural phenomena also are in this group (rain, storms, wind, seasons, festivals) (number: 4)

Class 4 includes fish, small birds, culturally important plants (both wild and cultivated) and their produce, edible leaves, eggs, foodstuff in general, roundish stones (some of which also are religiously significant items). (number: 24)

Class 5 includes fingers and hands, tools, large useful leaves, clothing, animal and plant products that are not food, non-roundish stones. Furniture, wheels, fabrics, strings, books, etc. Things that have been made by humans but are not reasonably classed as 'locations'. (number: 10)

Class 6 includes human external bodyparts, human qualities and things associated with being human - souls, thoughts, hair, voices, demeanors, etc. (number: 8)

Class 7 includes animal external bodyparts, human internal organs, animal internal organs, things that are intrinsic content of things in general, materials. If souls, thoughts, demeanors are attributed to animals, they shift to class 7. (number: 20)

Class 8: most other things. (number: 15)

Now, we have the following basic numbers, which normally are followed by a counter word:
1: bán
2: wík
3: tàx
4: ŋùx, class III: tagùl
5: fát, class I: xìpùr
6: tabí
7: nèm
8: síð, class VI: síðbé
9: dúl
10: pàli, class V: fawì
11: kták
12: sást ,class II: kubàŋ
13: sástán
14: sáswík
15: sáttàx, class VIII: dómn
16: sáŋŋùx family terminology: sxùm lun
17: sáffát
18: sátabí
19: sattèm
20: sástìð, class VII: muxìp
21: sástúl
22: sáspàli
23: sátták
24:  wìksást IV: tagùl
Notice that 4, class III and 24, class IV indeed are identical. Higher numbers are formed per class by multiplying the class' special number with some integer and adding a lesser integer after it, i.e.
dúl síðbe ŋùx = 9*8 + 4
wík dómn sáswík = 2*15+14 = 44 
The multiples that one uses with this system do come from the regular duodecimal system though. This system only is used up to values about 150 or thereabouts, and for higher numbers a more regular duodecimal system is in use.
Beyond wìksást we get forms such as 3*12 = tàssást, 4*12 = ŋùssást, 5*12 = fáttást, 6*12 = tabisást, etc, and once 144 is reached, similar numbers are formed using the word etíð. Beyond etìð, a base-six system keeps going with dì im bal, dì aŋ bal, and dì wuk bal as the next steps. Scholars have systems that vary from school to school for expressing larger numbers.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bryatesle Case Usage V: The Ergative Case

This post is part of a series on the case system of Bryatesle
I. The nominative and some subcases
II. Gaps
III. The Dative
IV. The Ablative
V. The Ergative
Bryatesle's neuter nouns have an ergative system going for them. There is a verb form that goes by the name 3sg neut. This form does not signal a third person neuter subject, but rather that the verb has only third person subjects (and objects), and that either the subject or the object is neuter. Thus
en-bumal pristusbrɨt-ër
he-watercleanlinessobtain-3sg.neut
water obtains cleanliness ≃ water gives cleanliness
'En', in fact the pronoun 'he', serves to typecast a neuter noun - temporarily, it is of the masculine gender and thus by pretend has a separate nominative. It is more reduced than it would be if they were different constituents - in fact, /ɘ̆ⁿ'bʊmɑl pristu sbrɨ'ter/ would be a fair rendering of the phrase here, whereas /e:n bʊmɑl/ would be the usual form if the words occurred in sequence. There is never any elements between the pronoun and the noun in this construction - adjectives and other attributes precede it, unlike what would happen normally.

However, secondary cases alter the situation a bit - definite neuter nouns do not require to be preceded by 'en', although if they are subjects of a transitive sentence with a non-neuter object, they are slightly likely to have it. Partitive neuter nouns are very unusual as transitive subjects. Possessed nouns tend to be objects. Secondary subjects tend to take 'en', whereas reciprocal objects almost never do.

Some object markings in fact seem to be perceived as demoting the object to oblique status, and thus reducing the verb to intransitivity, thus letting the neuter ~transitive subject stand in the unmarked case. However, the animacy of the object also affects whether the transitivity is understood to have been affected - generally speaking, the more animate the object, the less detransitivized the verb. Thus, an inanimate masculine or feminine object in the partitive might permit for the neuter subject to stand in the absolutive/nominative case, a neuter object in the partitive almost certainly permits this to happen. The reciprocal object marking on an object does this as well, as does the negative congruence - which in most dialects is partitive marking on non-subjects that are not marked for anything else.

Finally, in a number of fossilized expressions, the listener is assumed to know which participant is considered the subject, which the object, i.e. the tongue twister
skarmu darnu skɨrna, marnu sgarmu kɨrnir, 'storm shook roof, heat curdles milk' 

Many of the possible transpositions of consonants in this phrase lead to rather explicitly sexual readings.

As always in the description of Bryatesle, we end up with a lot of vaguely probabilistic usage patterns, rather than hard and fast rules.

A Phonology Sample

Here's a sample of Quarch phonology:
Play Music - Listen Audio - Conlang: Quarch
The quarch are one ethnicity of the bat-like inhabitants of a certain gas giant. Tone and modulation of tempo and rhythm is the main way of distinguishing lexical information in Quarch, whereas timbre (i.e. the thing that differentiates our vowels from each other, and also, to some extent, serves to distinguish consonants as well) is more used to encode emotion and such.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lexical Gaps

Is it possible for a thing or an action or somesuch to be so ubiquitous in a culture that there is no need to talk about it whatsoever even though people are aware of its existence - in fact to the extent that people never refer to it as such?  That whenever it in a way is under discussion, the discussion is phrased in a way where no actual direct reference is needed - not because the thing is taboo or anything, just because it is so goddamn ubiquitous that you never really need to state that it's somehow involved.

I imagine an alien observer could spot that kind of thing in Anglo-Saxon culture, but I also bet some sociolinguists might recognize that such phenomena might exist in cultures - there may be things we do not have words for that Australian Aborigines do, even if the phenomenon exists in both cultures - only, it'd be so much prevalent and ubiquitous here that we don't need to be able to refer to it.

[Edited for slight improvement / 10.3.2015]

Friday, March 6, 2015

Music Theory for Conworlders: More Advertizing!

My Music Theory for Conworlders is developing, with some attempts at figuring out some of the intricacies of music in general, and how these can be applied to make weird music. Most recent post: some ways of testing microtonal stuff. Before that: overtones and their relations to some simple scales. Upcoming stuff: Pythagorean tuning, then a slight detour to Just Intonation,  then Meantone, and once we're there, equal temperament will hit us pretty soon.

After that - other temperaments! (Extended meantone, non-meantone, etc). That, my fellows, is where the real 'xen' lies, a world of things that will lend your concultures a certain 'out there'-ness, that alien quality that tells the listener he is not in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Small Promise

I promise hereby to convert all the glosses throughout this blog to conform with the Leipzig glossing rules. I've recently been trying to be somewhat more consistent, but I still let myself get away with way too much ad hoc stuff. Anyways, if you're not familiar with the Leipzig glossing rules, do get acquainted with them. They're good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bryatesle: Case Usage IV: The Ablative

This post is part of a series on the case system of Bryatesle
I. The nominative and some subcases
II. Gaps
III. The Dative
IV. The Ablative
V. The Ergative
The ablative is a general oblique case; with locative postpositions, it tends to signify 'away from', but with other kinds of postpositions it quite widely occurs without any particular meaning attached to it. It also appears sometimes as a quirky case object, and with a very small number of verbs as a quirky case subject.

Many verbs of emotion take the ablative as their objects. So do some verbs of perception:
en enam vibai
he her.abl like.3sg
he likes her 
nëm bubeta vret
I pulse-abl hear-1sg.atelic
I hear a pulse
The object use, and the locative use, are the main contexts where the definite and partitive forms appear. (The partitive is of course conflated with the dative, but does still appear there.)

 Also actively perceiving something as something other than it is:
xnivi nïty-nïsr kugdak bevrine
you-pl me(abl)-me(2ndsubj) fool-acc consider-2pl
you take me for a fool (but I assert I am not)
Some verbs of perception can take the perceiver in dative and the perceived thing in either the nominative or accusative, depending on the volitionality of the stimulus. Some verbs of perception, on the other hand, take the nominative as perceiver and the ablative or accusative as object, depending on the implied accuracy of the perception. Many of the more 'abstract' verbs of perception permit both - however, most speakers would find a dative perceiver with an ablative stimulus somewhat odd.

Regarding the construction given above, making the two arguments go the other way around as far as case marking goes would essentially mean the same thing, but often the thing considered will go first, and the quality or thing it is perceived as second:
xnivity na-nïsr kudgaty bevrine
Secondary subject marking is not mandatory for this kind of construction, but is not unusual. Something turning into something will also generally be marked with the ablative; however, if the thing that is transformed is the subject, the secondary subject marking is usually affixed; if the thing transformed is the object, the reciprocal object marking often is affixed:
Kerba Dinimak pardïtysus kirstai
Kerba Dinim-acc poor(noun).abl.recpr.obj play.3sg.telic
Kerba played Dinim into a poor man (Kerba won over Dinim in gambling, making him poor)
 The partitive ablative|dative sometimes marks transition from a state:
Dinim pardër urgui.
Dinim poor(noun).abl|dat.part rise.3sg.telic
Dinim rose from being a poor man
 This can also mark ability to transform on the noun itself:
Kerber dynak(dynareze) (ake) dïsdei
Kerba.A|D.part rich.acc.(part/neg) (not) succeed.telic
Kerba does (not) have it in him to succeed

I think one more post will be necessary to this initial description of the case usage of Bryatesle.

Tatediem: Fractions

Previously we saw the somewhat octal system of Tatediem, but now that we look into the fractional system, we find there are two distinct systems - a quarters-based exponential system, and an ordinals-based analytical system.

We will first look at the fourths-based system. It is basically a 1/4-base system, that has four numbers:
-xùŋge  1/4
-kìdge   2/4
-pàŋge  3/4
-taúm-, -taúŋ-, give sixteenths:

taúŋùŋge    1/16
taúŋìdge     2/16
taúmpàŋge 3/16
pártu- gives 64ths. dértu- gives 128ths and karú gives 256ths. The last two only occur in administrative contexts, and are not known to have been part of colloquial speech ever.

These can combine, in which case only the first part gets the gender congruence marker:
(ga)kìdge taúnùŋge = 2/4 + 1/16 = 5/16
(ye)pàŋge taùmpànge pàrtukìdge karúpàŋge = 3/4 + 3/16 + 2/64 + 3/256 = 192/256 + 48/256 + 8/256 + 3/256 = 251/256 (or somesuch)
The gender congruence always uses nominal prefixes for these for most dialects. A handful of far-south dialects have a twelve-based system instead, with sub-bases 1/3 and 1/4. The letìrti dialect has base 1/4 for the first 'decimal', followed exclusively by base three. In all of these, the fraction can follow on an integer number.

The analytical system takes a ratio, either of the form N raxi (P/Q) or R/Q. N, if present, is treated just like an ordinary numeral (and thus takes the nominal gender prefix). P (or R), however, is marked with the adjectival marker of the gender, and Q is marked with the grammatical gender's nominal dual or plural marker, thus:
wankint raxi wansélx suxuns raxpelì suxuns - two and twelve fifteenths
Raxi is the conjunction 'and', inflected for the plural of the grammatical gender. (It's stem is -əl/-əj, which is reduced in the presence of rax- to raxi.)