Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Detail #278: A System of Noun Affixes

The rich systems of verbal morphology in the world's languages is very impressive - and oftentimes, it seems nouns just cannot compete at all with some of the insanity that goes on with verbs.

Here's a first attempt at even slightly getting there:
  • two levels of definiteness (not necessarily morphologically marked!)
  • some kind of case-system, probably, but not necessarily
  • a set of affixes with the following meanings, some of which are changed by definiteness. These are in complementary distribution:
    • topic
    • different demonstratives (can also be topic)
    • possessum
    • 'another' ('the next' in the definite) (can be topic)
    • no one ('the wrong one' in the definite)
    • old ('the previous one'  in the indefinite)
    • big (in the definite, it can also mark the object of comparison, which can also have case?)
    • small
    • sexual gender for animates
    • this noun is only associated with the intended referent in some way (e.g. the noun is a possessor, or relative or 'a thing of this quality' etc)
    • a marker that intensifies the adjective that is closest to the noun
  • a set of affixes in complementary distribution that express
    • number
    • mass noun
    • collectiveness
    • singulativeness
    • distributedness
      • in combination with "small", this signifies lots of independent, unaffiliated things of the same type; in combination with "big", this signifies lots of things that do act in some form of concord.
  •  whether to parse case suffixes as proper case suffixes or as general statements of type of motion without actual reference to the noun. Thus 'man-IMPROPER_CASE-in went' means 'the man went in' - in just has to settle on whatever noun it can if no other noun can carry it.
This is very much half-baked. But the idea of a language with really baroque nouns and rather simple verbs appeal to me.

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