Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ŋʒädär: The absolutive and the unabsolutive cases

The absolutive case in Ŋʒädär has a slight complication: for some nouns, it is in fact marked with an explicit absolutive morpheme in the singular, which is omitted before other case suffixes. For these nouns, the roles usually covered by the absolutive are also somewhat redistributed. However, the naked stem - the unabsolutive - also is a case of sorts, with a few interesting quirks:
  • It is used whenever the noun is an attribute of another noun, regardless of whether this is possession or some other type of attributeness.
  • It is used when the noun is a complement of copulas and the like.
  • It is used when forming compounds, regardless what case the compound normally would take the noun in.
This case only appears as a plural case with two nouns, warga-n (pl. warg-umu), mountain, and märsi-n (pl. märs-ümü) autumn. For most other nouns, the plural forms restore the regular case system.
A handful other nouns with this case include:
ük'cö-n house
pulko-n loot
gosto-n leather
xamla-n honey (lacks plural altogether)
seŋe-n peace
sop'a-n salt
mükcä-n a herb not unlike parsely
vusro-n rot, pus
They all end in -n, but not all nouns ending in -n end in an -n absolutive marker.
In some dialects, this case is also used with intransitive subjects, and as object of imperatives. In eastern dialects, it has generally been completely lost.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Detail #296: A Restriction on Possession

In Proto-Uralic (and even possibly Proto-Finnic), possessive suffixes could not be applied to subjects. This leaves an interesting morphological consequence in modern Finnish - subjects with possessive suffixes on them are morphologically indistinguishable from objects with possessive suffixes on them, even when there's significant differences in the subject and object forms:
nominative: kausi
accusative: kauden
possessed nom-acc:
1sg: kauteni
2sg: kautesi
3sg/pl: kaudensa, kauteaan
1pl: kaudemme
2pl: kaudenne
We could of course imagine a similar thing with any type of possession - note that Uralic probably permitted using nouns and pronouns in the genitive as possessors of subjects. Semantically, though, it's obvious that subjects can be possessed - they might just maybe be slightly less likely to be so than objects and such, or there might not even be any statistical difference there.

Now, we still need a method for that, and a few options appear:
  • some kind of oblique argument of the verb
  • some 'other type' of attribute (analogous, say, to the English 'of'-genitive or somesuch)
  • not actually permitting possessed subjects, instead demoting possessed subjects to some kind of oblique position, or comparable position to the causee of a causative (the whole possessive construction with subjects could very well be perfectly analogous to causatives)
Now, we can start imagining interesting other differences: in English, for instance, "-'s" covers the same syntactical spot as "the" and other determiners. We could imagine that subjects generally either have a much more restricted set of permitted things in that position, or even none at all; maybe subjects in this language only can be subjects if they're definite, and other agents that are closely related to the verb must be in some kind of oblique position, or maybe there must be some kind of pseudo-definite dummy noun with the actual agent as an attribute of some kind.

Further, one could of course have determiners for subjects behave oddly - maybe they migrate to a position similar to that of an auxiliary, so:
dogs all_(verbal morpho) bark
dogs some_(verbal morpho) like playing fetch
I saw some cats

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Detail #295: Agreement with the Subject in Case Marking

This post uses the distinction between argument and adjunct without really ever providing any specific defition. I Should probably sometime actually 

Imagine a language where the case markers of direct arguments of the verb show some kind of agreement with the gender and number of the subject. We come up with a set of object markers that - maybe with some syncretism - thus marks mostly the agreement features of the subject, but to some extent also marks some agreement features of the object.

For the other cases, for arguments of the verb the congruence marker only codes the gender-number of the subject, and there's a separate morpheme marking the number of the argument. This number marker marks the gender of the noun itself, not that of the subject.

For adjuncts of the finite verb and for both the arguments and adjuncts of infinitives, the noun takes its own gender's case marker.

To illustrate such a system, I guess a three-gender system is suitable. Let's assume a very IE one, i.e. with three genders, one masculine, one feminine and one neuter.

In the system I came up with , the masculine and feminine objects take their own gender's accusative marker as object marker when the subject is neuter. When the subject is of the same gender as the object, they take their own gender's default morpheme - the one used for adjuncts and infinitive objects.
However, when a masculine subject and feminine object or vice versa occur, a special set of morphemes are used. Slightly more complicated in the singular than the plural, however, with more syncretism in the plural.

Finally, for the other cases as arguments, a masculine singular subject triggers masculine singular case markers, a feminine plural subject triggers feminine plural case markers, etc. If the argument and the subject are of the same gender-number marking, the argument's own number-morphology is lost.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sargaĺk Words: Family Terminology

xane - mother
ərges - father
simi - oldest son
simižar -
oldest living son, if the oldest one has passed away
tame - any other son
siminša - the full set of sons (masc)
tamu - daughter
tamunša - the full set of daughters (masc)
lisna - baby, infant
žəgon - kid (from around three up to about thirteen years)

kəsimos - older brother, uncle
kətamos - any other brother
kətamsu - any sister or aunt

boxan - grandmother
borges - grandfather
olinu - ancestors (m, sg.)

When speaking of grandparents, whether they're maternal or paternal such can be specified, oddly enough, by just inserting 'mother' or 'father' in the pegative-genitive:
xantat borgen : mother's father (not 'mother's grandfather')
ərgesta boxan : father's mother (not 'father's grandmother')

minu - wife
aŋul - husband

ŋolmi - manners, with regards to family.

ecdə - relatively close family (but wider than nuclear family)
miv - village, but also relatives
ecdo -
house and privileges (m)
ecdak - inheritance

Friday, June 24, 2016

Adjectival Congruence in Sargaĺk

In Sargaĺk, there is a very limited case congruence: an NP-initial adjective or determiner takes a case-specific congruence marker. However, the congruence is not entirely trivial:
  • The familiar comitative does not have congruence morphology of its own, but uses regular comitative morphology on adjectives.
  • Both masculine and feminine singular nominatives have a zero congruence marker on adjectives. Demonstratives distinguish the two, however, as do a few other quantifiers and determiners.
  • The ablative's adjectival congruence marker is identical to the regular oblique marker in the singular.
  • For non-nominative NPs, any intervening adjective takes an oblique, gender-specific morpheme.
The cause for this system seems to be providing cues as early as possible for parsing. 

Now it's time for some example phrases:
p'ĺxo : pig, swine (m)
kor p'ĺxo : big swine
žaŋ-a p'ĺxo :
that swine

kor-ta p'əlx-ta : big swine (pegative)
žaŋ-ta (kor-ə) p'əlxta : that big swine
goŋ-ta (kor-ə) p'əlxta : dumb (big) swine (pegative)
kor-sa p'ĺx-a : dumb swines
goŋ-sa kor-eg p'ĺx-a : dumb swines (pegative)
goŋ-eg p'əlx-tsa : from the dumb swine
kor-eg goŋ-eg p'əlx-tsa: from the big dumb swine
goŋ-əssa p'ĺx-əssa : from the dumb swines

č'onku : bottle
kor č'onku : big bottle
kor-air č'onk-air
: big bottles
kor-sta č'onk-sta : big bottles (peg)
k'ilp č'onku : full bottle
k'il-tat č'on-tat : full bottle (pegative)
žaŋ-u k'ilp č'onku : this full bottle
žaŋ-tat k'ilp-i č'on-tat : this full bottle (pegative)
žaŋ-rut k'ilp-i č'onk-rut : in this full bottle
ža-rne k'ilp-i č'onk-ərne : into this full bottle
žaŋ-el k'ilp-el č'on-əssa : from these full bottles
As can be seen, the oblique masculine marker is -ə, the oblique feminine is -i. In the plural, they are -eg (masc) and -el (fem).

For complements of verbs, the oblique markers are used if the state expressed is fairly constant, i.e. 'he is tall' or the like, whereas if it is more temporary, no congruence marker is used.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Case in Answers in my Conlangs

Single-noun answers to questions sometimes in some languages do not necessarily preserve case. If we think of English prepositions as case markers, the two possibilities can be seen below:
Case Preserving:
Q: To where are you going?
A: To Närpes.

Non-case Preserving:
Q: With what are you going to build it?
A: Blood, sweat, tears, nails, wood and a hammer.
My conlangs have slightly differing approaches to responses. Ŋʒädär permits case preservation, but also permits some non-preservation - oblique cases that are not preserved are replaced by the locative, whereas dative, genitive-comitative and complement cases are replaced by the absolutive.
Q: vär xogon t'e-k bürü-ŋö-z
you house what-instr build-fut*-direct
with what do you intend to build a house?

A2: altaŋ-ŋa
A: (with|at) brick

* the meaning of -ŋö- varies with the verb root and with surrounding morphemes.
Ćwarmin requires case preservation, except with direct objects and quirky case subjects: for all of these, an answer in the nominative is permitted.
Q: u kar-ar?
(s)he what-from?where is he from?

A: kirəc-ər
A: from far away

Q: bec kar-ac źarkus-amca
Q: you who-acc meet-recent_past
who did you meet?
: Garan
: Garan-uc
Sargaĺk preserves case except the pegative, which is replaced by the nominative in short answers. 

Dairwueh preserves case except in situations involving quirky case, where the nominative or the accusative can appear instead, depending on whether the noun asked for is subject or object. One minor exception is that nominative interrogative pronouns with transitive verbs can take genitive nouns as answers, if the noun given for the answer is definite.

Finally, Bryatesle does not preserve secondary case ever in short answers. Subjects and objects can preserve case, but may also be marked by nominative (regardless whether it's subject or object, or even quirky case subject or object that is being asked for). The two other cases can be preserved, or be given in the answer in the accusative case.

Detail #294: An Unusual Way of Marking Reflexives

A thing that could be somewhat interesting would be to form reflexive objects by using a preposition and a pronoun. In the example sentences, I'll use eg as that preposition:
I washed eg me
I washed myself
However, this could also provide a way of doing reflexive possession:
he sold eg car
he sold his (own) car

he sold his car
he sold another third person's car
This would qualify as a preposition on syntactical grounds - whatever syntactical differences you find in the language between objects and prepositional phrases, you'd need to have this line up with the prepositional phrases: this might include omitting object marking on the verb, not permitting certain transformations, requiring the noun to be in some specific case.

We could also restrict this from combining with other prepositions, thus making 'by him', 'from him', etc not distinguish reflexive and other third person.

If the language permits reflexives in subject position (which some languages do in positions such as 'he1 doesn't know that he1's won the lottery', this could be made interesting by requiring a verb voice that lacks syntactical subject altogether, and for which the 'eg [Noun]' phrase is the demoted subject.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Detail #293: Indefinite Pronouns and Noun Morphology

Integrating definiteness and the whole indefinite pronoun system with its various functions into noun morphology instead of having things like case could be an interesting approach to noun morphology - it seems to me the order by which conlangers go for noun morphology beyond the derivative morphology is a hierarchy something like
number (maybe fused with gender)
possession marking (head or dependent marking)
other cases (maybe fused with gender)
possessive affixes
definiteness marking
noun class / gender (maybe fused with number)
This is not particularly bad or anything, but we could do something else with nouns than that. Some Native American languages offer us the idea of marking for obviativeness/proximativeness, which interacts with the verb and the more general discourse in interesting ways. Few conlangers make Native American languages, however.

The last in the hierarchy above is gender, which any Bantu-style language would almost necessarily be present.

Now, I've often gone and linked the typological classification of indefinite pronouns that Apollo Hogan wrote way back. To this, we could add some definite pronouns and determiners - demonstratives, maybe articles (if we go so far as to distinguish 'that', 'this' and 'the'; seems 'the' may easily turn superfluous). From this point on, 'the/a/any/some/...' represents whatever system you come up with from that classification.

Incorporating that whole system of 'the/a/any/some/...' into the noun, possibly in combination with possessive affixes (either giving {the, a, any, some, no, every, ...} * {my, your, his/hers, our, ...} or {the, a, any, some, no, every, ...} + {my, your, his/hers, our, ...} could give interesting results. Let's further permit a "light recursion", having the third person possessive suffixes further be marked for a less granular set of distinctions - merge a few of the different 'anies' and 'somes' that you have for that suffix, and maybe forbid certain combinations ('than any X of than any X' seems unlikely to ever be needed, i.e. forbid double indefinite standard of comparison. I find it likely that you'll ever need the possessor to be the indefinite standard of comparison, but you could of course permit having the marking go there nevertheless for whatever reason, or heck, require doubly marking it.)

Since indefinite pronouns often have somewhat overlapping functions (just check the amount of overlap in the example systems section of the link), this gives us a somewhat more overlapping system than the typical case system - which is a nice effect, in my opinion.

Even more interest could maybe be created by having different noun classes divide up this functional space in slightly different ways, maybe even having different numbers of divisions of it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Detail #292: A Grammaticalization Path for Imperatives

Have imperatives form from infinitives with vocative case congruence.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ŋʒädär: Verbal Aspect (pt 1)

Ŋʒädär's verbal system is characterized by a lack of 'thoroughness': few grammatical categories can be found throughout the verbal system, often only being marked on a minority of the verbs. The same marker can take on different functions with different verbs, and one of the verbal aspect markers can be pretty informative.

One of the approaches Ŋʒädär uses for aspect is reduplication. For some verbs, reduplication indicates telicity or perfectivity:
p'an- : hit at
p'amp'an- : kill, to kill by hitting at
duʒ- : to think
duʒduʒ- : to solve, to think through

k'ıv- : to reach for
k'ıvk'ıv- : to be tall enough to reach, to achieve after striving for
 For others, it implies progressive or continuous, even habitual aspect:
ŋʒis- : to bring (by carrying)
ŋʒiŋʒis- : be bringing, carry something somewhere
ʒgur- : to escape
ʒguʒgur- : to be exiled, to be an escapee

rəŋ- : to partition
rəŋrəŋ- : to have a share in something
Thus the meaning of reduplication is specific to each verb. Sometimes, the aspectual difference may - as seen above - amount to significant differences in actual meaning as well. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Challenge: A New Frame

A partial dichotomy that often is presented is that between verb framed and satellite framed languages. Obviously, this is a spectrum, and I doubt anyone even questions that.

Verb-framing languages express the type of motion with regards to a location by using different verbs (enter, exit, approach, ascend, descend, etc); satellite-framing verbs use particles of some type to mark the type of movement, and this often frees up the verb to mark the type of movement (running, walking, rolling, skipping, jumping etc).

For the challenge itself: come up with other things about motion than manner and direction with regards to the location that could be pushed into 'satellites'. Come up with other things that could be more central for what verb to pick.
(Wikipedia has a suggestions already: type of noun involved. So, that one's not going to cut it for now.)

A main reason why I post this is to get a challenge for myself as well - finish some things about framing in at least one of my conlangs before someone else suggests the same idea.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sargaĺk and Ćwarmin vs. Ŋʒädär: What's in a Hand

"In the hand" signifies different things in Ŋʒädär when compared to what it signifies in Sargaĺk and Ćwarmin. This is not all that surprising with Sargaĺk, where 'hand', knuk originates in an earlier word *knəkw, 'reach'. Knuk is a masculine noun, but we find an exception in the locatives: a singular hand takes the feminine locative marker, thus knukrut: in the hand, knukru: under manual control . The masculine locative gives a more general meaning of 'within (close) reach'.

Other non-related languages in the region have a similar 'wide' meaning for their words for hands. It seems early ĆŊ had a similar situation that Ćwarmin also conserves. Thus the word vilke (*xvülk'ö), hand, in the local cases in Ćwarmin too signifies 'reach, holding with a tool' in the singular, actual grasp in the paucal*, and actual grasps in the plural. The ablative lacks a distinction between paucals and plurals, and the semantics-to-morphology interface here gets slightly odd: the other forms' paucal maps to the ablative singular.

The definite and specific also merge in the ablative cases. Thus, we get a matrix along these lines, with G for physical grip, actual hands, W for wider reach and a suffixed s for singular, p for plural in parts where there may be ambiguity as to how the number is parsed.
Notice below that the order of "lat loc abl" is inverted for plural, in order to enable merging pc abl and pl abl.



Plural for wider reach signifies 'many wider reaches', i.e. many people's separate reaches.

In Ŋʒädär, xülk'i is very concrete: a thing in the hands is physically located in the palms, or between the two palms being held together.

Dagurib goes further than Ćwarmin though, and extends 'hand' all the way to even very indirect grasping, such as 'in a vessel I control' or 'in a trap I have set'.

Ćwarmin, Sargaĺk, Bryatesle, Dairwueh, Ŋʒädär: Verbs for Speaking Foreign Languages and Babbling

The main approach to forming words for 'babbling' is using a syllable that sounds inherently nonsensical, often with some measure of reduplication:
English: babble
Georgian ლუღლუღი
‎(luɣluɣi), ბუტბუტი (bubui)
Greek: βάρβαρος (barbaros)
Note that 'barbaros' basically meant 'someone who speaks incoherently' or somesuch. Similar words can be found in Bryatesle and Dairwueh:
klaklan (type II verb)
klaklasi (noun, masculine, 'babbler', 'barbarian')
klaklara (noun, feminine, 'babbler', 'barbarian')
klakyli (noun, masculine, 'babble')
xrəxlə- (verb, 'babble')
xrəxlaŋo (noun, masculine, 'babbler', 'barbarian')
xrəxli (noun, feminine, 'babbler', 'barbarian')
xrəxle (noun, neuter, 'babble')
Being less culturally dominant, Ćwarmin, Ŋʒädär and Sargaĺk do not associate speaking a different language with being a barbarian. Klaklas has been borrowed into Ćwarmin as a word for barbarian. 

The Ćwarmin word for babbling (and also speaking foreign languages) is the verb dindin, and similarly Ŋʒädär has the verb vörvör. Both are formed by reduplication of some slightly 'nonsensical-sounding' syllable. In Ŋʒädär, this verb is especially interesting since it is the usual verb for describing the ability of speaking a foreign language:
saɤ brıətəs-rık vörvör-dü*-s
I-abs bryatesle-instr speak_foreign-POT*-1sg_intr
I (can) speak (in) Bryatesle
* this morpheme isn't, strictly speaking, a potential marker throughout the verbal system; the TAM&c system in Ŋʒädär is fairly complicated, with different markers acquiring different meanings in different combinations and with different verbs.
Vörvör can be made transitive - the object then is whoever one speaks to. In the intransitive with a language as instrumental it is seldom used without the potential mood, although it is possible to just omit the potential marker. If the instrumental argument is missing, it just means 'babble'.

Ćwarmin does not have a similar use for dindin - it merely signifies babble or speak an incomprehensible language. Ćwarmin therefore uses the regular verb for 'to speak' when discussing particular linguistic competences, with the language in the instrumental.

Sargaĺk has unique verbs for each of their close neighbours' languages:
tvemarej - to speak Bryatesle (from Bryatesle tvem, 'you')
becarej - to speak Ćwarmin (from Ćwarmin bec, 'you')
soŋarej - to speak Lamen (from Lamen sõq, a very common particle)
erbarej -
to speak Dairwueh (from Dairwueh erb-, 'to be')
The Sargaĺk have such verbs for three other minor languages of the area. For general babbling, Sargaĺk has sormoj, which is unusual in not having any reduplication in it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Detail #291: Personal Pronouns with Complications

Few conlangs complicate up the third person pronoun a lot. Certainly such conlangs exist, but I still think it's reasonable to make up a short sketch of a language where personal pronouns are significantly more complicated, in order to inspire more such conlanging.

Let's consider a language where grammatical gender does not exist. There's one primary distinction, however – either animate-inanimate or human-nonhuman. I'll go with the latter. So, we now have pronouns for humans (let's use the Finnish pronoun 'hän' as a stand-in for this), and non-humans (let's borrow from Finnish again, 'se'). 

However, the language permits using other pronouns for third persons along a variety of distinctions. There's no necessity for there to be a pair of contrasting pronouns, even. We could imagine a pronoun for 'masculine' existing without a pronoun for 'feminine'; thus 'hän' could refer to either a man or a woman, but 'he' would refer specifically to a male. We could imagine certain age groups having pronouns, people of certain statuses or maybe in certain relative ranks of status, etc. Different pronouns could make different number distinctions as well. 

What could we do to make such words sufficiently unlike nouns to justifiably deem them pronouns? A few strategies exist:
  • they can mark different grammatical categories
    • more or fewer case distinctions (esp. convincing if nouns almost fully lack them)
    • more or less specific number distinctions
    • more suppletion
    • lack of definiteness marking
    • differences in distribution of articles and the like (i.e. they do not take counters or articles at all)
  •  syntactical differences
    • require antecedent or other referent to bind to
      • follow the same binding rules as other pronouns with regards to what nouns they can refer to
    • may not permit having adjectives or even attributes at all; may just restrict what kinds of attributes they accept (e.g. no relative clauses)
    • may be cliticized as 'almost-congruence' markers on verbs in ways that nouns don't; sometimes, appear doubly due to this.
  • tend to keep referring to the same referent after the first use, even if other possible referents surface - other third person pronouns that may fit the bill for the new referent will be used
  • form reflexive pronouns
  • have class-specific indefinite pronouns for each of the kinds of indefinite pronouns that the language distinguishes for indefinite pronouns in general, whereas nouns behave in a less complicated way with regards to indefiniteness of that type

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ŋʒädär: Explicit Absolutive and Adverb Marking, Zero Absolutive and Adverb Marking

In Ŋʒädär, there is a distinction among adjective-like words - those that are primarily adjectival, and those that are primarily adverbial. There are both morphological and minor syntactical differences between them.

Morphologically, the primary adjectives have zero marking in the absolutive, whereas those primary adverbs that can be turned into adjectives have an absolutive morpheme, -Or. Primary adjectives take -OlA if turned into adverbs.

A few examples of primarily adverbial adjectives are
ŋatu, fast (as in having great speed)
ləsnı, fast (as in occupying a short span of time)
änäc, slowly (either occupying a long span of time or having a slow speed)
ɣöv far away
rıdus, carefully
vada, meticulously (regarding religious observations)
ıgrəı, carelessly
, bountifully, plentifully
must'o, in a line, straight, without intermediate pauses, directly
uŋa, alternating, in a waving motion
Thus these have the absolutive form
ŋator, ləsnər, änäcör, ɣövör, rıdusor, vador, ıgrəıər, t'oɣŋor.
Other cases have no special congruence marker, but adhere to the regular congruence markers. The same marker, -Or, can also serve as a nominalizer with verbs. With adpositions, it can create nouns or adjectives - e.g. 'the underside', or 'the lower one'.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Detail #290: Cardinal Directions

Consider cardinal directions in a variety of circumstances. Although four directions at 90° angles does work nicely on a plane or locally on a sphere - or even globally with some distortion - other systems also work on these topologies and even on some others, and some topologies won't play nice with four 90° angles in a plane.

Now the polynesians if I have understood correctly did not rely exceedingly much on stellar navigation. However, a similarly sea-faring people could easily require a set of directions involving height so as to be able to quickly communicate and maintain skills related to stellar navigation.

To make this interesting, let's have 120° degree angles between the basic directions, and the points in the air are at a 60° offset, so combinations of a plane-based direction and a height direction exist in an inclined plane.

Sargaĺk Astronomical Beliefs and Terminology

The Sargaĺk have a few beliefs about the heavens that may seem peculiar to us; in part, these beliefs also have an impact on the vocabulary with which astronomical phenomena are described.

0. The Sky
The sky is a vault, made from the skin of a giant whale. Even though night and day sky are the same sky, they have different nouns:
c'ik'i - day sky, from *c'ı *k'ib, sun fairway
obŋ́k'i - night sky, from *obń, moon and *k'ib, fairway

1. The Sun,
The Sargaĺk believe in a succession of suns - the sun of today, yesterday and tomorrow are not the same suns. Suns are the eggs of a giant sea bird.
Thus, discussing weathers may use indefinite and demonstrative pronouns with regards to the sun of some day.
c'i - (a) sun

2. The Moon, Obń
The moon showcases some continuity in its behaviors - from day to day it waxes and wanes in a clearly predictable fashion, and its surface has several visible features. Therefore, the moon was known to be a single entity with a short cycle. However, it has several designations for its various phases.

Due to the difference in length of this moon's cycles and female menstrual cycles, no association between the moon and women in particular formed. However, it is used for timekeeping.

3. The Lesser Moon, O(b)sni, K'orpe
The second, smaller satellite of the world in which Sargaĺk is spoken also has a name. It is in a 2:1 resonance with the other moon, and its name in languages of the world often have some connection to that: words like 'halfling', 'little brother', 'slow star', 'double month', 'niner' (for the number of cycles wrt light it goes through per year)
Kor'pe is from k'orme (brother) + pe (diminutive)
Obsni is from Obn (moon) + sni (diminutive)

4. Stars, T'onəv
The complicated patterns visible in the stars convinced the Sargaĺk of the stars being the same from one night to the next. The word for a star is t'onəv, which goes back to a root with the same meaning.

5. Comets, Demkan
Peculiarly, the Sargaĺk do ascribe object permanence to comets - they essentially think there is but one of them. It is considered a star, and this is reflected in several of its names - imxas t'onəv - 'the smoky star', 'ot'amat t'onəv', 'wanderer star'. It is associated with duty. In the original pagan religion of the Sargaĺk, it is one of the eyes of the god Mexro, by which he supervises whether people fulfil their duties.

6. The rainbow, Mirmir
The rainbow is a road taken by good spirits and gods between this world and other worlds, and thus its appearance can be a blessing or a curse - a good spirit may be departing, or a good spirit may appear.  The root may be related to colour, mirəv.

7. Thunder, karbo
Thunder is considered an astronomical feature too. The Sargalk tribes consider it the most concrete reminder of the powers of the spirits. Many explanations for it exist - battles, divine blacksmith work, the cracking of failed sun eggs.

8. Auroras, Sanust'a
Auroras are roads taken by evil spirits and gods between this world and other worlds. Unlike the mirmir, however, auroras can be traversed by heroes and gods as well, making their badness less than the goodness of the mirmir.

9. Nebulas
A couple huge nebulas are visible in the sky. These dark spots are known as lokro, c.f lko, dark.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Detail #289: A Grammaticalization Path for Prepositions and Other Stuff

Let us consider a language where nouns are organized along some kind of hierarchical system. This system ultimately is an incomplete inverse system - the hierarchy exists, but no inverse marker serves to enable parsing things the opposite way around. The verb also has very little convergence with the noun classes. However, certain markers do cause measure words to appear. As a solution "Type-casting" a noun from one class to another appears.

Now classifiers become partially detached from their class - in certain contexts, they do appear with their class, but in other contexts, they appear to mark the function of the noun, analogously to the nouns normally of that class. So the more abstract measure words appear for words like 'in the manner of, as, like', the counter for very animate things also becomes a subject marker, the counter for inanimate things becomes an object marker, etc. 

Thus, a system where particles both serve as class markers in certain contexts and function markers in other contexts.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Detail #288: Causatives (and Alignment Stuff)

In a language with a case system, one could imagine a very simple way of forming causatives:
 NOUN1 would be the causer, NOUN2 the causee.

This might seem a bit simplistic, but let's go on to consider similarities between causee and recipient - viz. they are both in the state they are in (modulo mood and aspect and polarity, and the states being either 'being in possession of', or 'doing'), due to the actions of a causee/giver.
person1 person2 thing take
= person1 makes person2 take thing
≈ person1 gives person2 thing
Suddenly, we could have give originate with take, and the indirect object and the subject marked with the same case. A more English-like give, without such odd an etymology, however, doesn't necessarily prevent this: the role distribution around give seems to me to be one that easily could shift. I am not sure 'give' is necessarily a driving force behind syntactical change - I am inclined to believe that 'give' more often has an exceptional pattern for marking the recipient than any other verb, if I were pressed to have an opinion, but also that other verbs are less likely to follow suit and become like give, than they are to force give back into line.

With such a shift, however, we would reach one of the odder alignment types, especially if the nominatives otherwise act similarly - i.e. both are subjects in some way. Maybe plural congruence is always triggered when both a subject and indirect object is present, because clearly there's more than a singular subject.

Maybe congruence is just off in some odd way, or who knows what really.

Ŋʒädär Postpositions

Ŋʒädär has a bunch of postpositions. Phonologically, postpositions attach directly to nouns in some cases, but differ from case suffixes in a few ways:
  • They can be coordinated by simply lining them up.
  • They can go on axı, 'or(?)'.
  • They can form adverbials, and can be turned into verbs as well
  • They can be given intensifying morphology
  • Negation of a PP works differently from negation of a 'casephrase'.
Postpositions do change to account for vowel harmony, but they tend to have a 'favoured' form that is used when they're isolated from a noun. The vowels of that form are going to be included in this list. This is not an exhaustive list of the postpositions.

-bara - around
bararok - surround
baruk - envelop
baruŋrık - to exude
-ok'an - from, out of
ok'arok - to take something out of something
ok'uk - to originate somewhere
ok'uŋrık - to give forth, to provide, to be the source of a substance
ok'uŋrut'ık - to empty out into, to be the source for some recipient (a body of water, for instance)
-nok'an -  out of
nok'arok - to empty
nok'uk - to leave, to exit
-t'as - under
t'asarok - 'cover'. -aro- is a causative marker.
-nas - below in rank, lower in stature, shorter than
nasarok - demoting someone. It seems to be formed by analogy to t'asarok.
-vige - through
-vime -  across
vime and vige share the verbal and adverbial forms vikik(tr.v), viŋik (intr.v.), vike (adv)The verbs signify 'to pass, to cross', as movement (transitive), or 'to pass, to cross (+obl location)' for something that does not move, but whose location passes or crosses something else.
-p'öt - seated on
-p'öme - riding, mounted on
Two verb forms, p'ödök (dynamic), p'ömös (static), signify getting seated or mounting (dynamic) as well as riding (static).The adverb p'ömer signifies 'by horse'.
-kamo - without
kamo as noun: flaw, fault
verb: to be missing (if missing from somebody, the person lacking the thing is in 
kamər adverb, 'weakly, flawedly, with previously mentioned lack'
-gəvı - in front of, on account of, for, as an emissary of
gəvək - represent
gəvərık - block, prevent, stand in front of
gəvımık - precede
gəvıŋrık - lead