Friday, September 30, 2016

The Face and its Parts in Ćwarmin

A thing Ćwarmin has with regards to body parts is separate words for left and right instance of them; this even extends to things that are not "bodyparts" per se, but rather features of bodyparts - such as the corners of the mouth.

togol face, *t'ougo head
sala the right eye, *salak, pupil of the eye, from **slehk, "spot"
ciŋi the left eye, *kjenxi eye

sala in its plural form can either signify 'eyes' or 'right eyes' depending on context; ciŋi is almost never used in the plural.

mogo nose, *muogɔl

rolca nostril, *rɔr hole (exceptionally lacks left and right words)

tərvi right corner of the mouth, *tɛzbü, corner of the mouth
londu left corner of the mouth, *lɔlduk, fold
tuka right cheek, *tuwkas cheek
kolna left cheek, *k'ɔlma chin

senti forehead
envə chin, *önüɛ jaw

ruxan right ear, *ruskan
cəvəl left ear, *kɛvl

ćimbi any tooth of the upper row of teeth, from *ksümbü, fang
lom any tooth of the lower row of teeth, from *lmɔ, tooth

ruanas hair, *ruhɔnaz
bald spot, *gotom leather

samǧa beard, *sawgas beard
Another pair of words with a similar pairing are the words for hands:
vilke right hand *xvülk'ö, hand
left hand *t'artwa, branch
The left-right symmetry of the human body is a very central concept in early Ćwarmin liturgies, rituals, myths and gestures.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Detail 309: Directions, Writing, Religion and Convention

In many religious traditions, houses of worship tend to be oriented the same way; many churches point to the east, synagogues and mosques have their directions of prayer, etc. In many cultures, religion is the reason why literacy in the first place began spreading to the larger population - religious reformers or movements wanted the population to be able to participate in prayer, in the doctrinal system, etc, to a greater extent than previously.

If these main texts are almost always read while oriented in the same way, it is conceivable that in some culture, the main relative directions when encountered in a text could be given an absolute reading using the religious ritual orientation.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Conreligion Idea: Ahenotheism

Consider a region where henotheism is widely adopted - i.e. tribes, families and individuals basically pick some God to worship, and stick with that, but believe in multiple gods. Greater life changes - conquests, natural disasters, interactions with new people - may mkae a tribe, a village, a family or a person decide to change gods. There is no formalized pantheon, but fuzzily overlapping zones with varying sets of gods recognized as even existing or relevant.

In this, a small tribe develops a religious view whereby they acknowledge the existence of Gods and various beings, but decide not to worship any of them; there is, however, a ritual life present.

The rituals include 'banishing' gods from former worship halls, in essence telling any God who attends a place that he is not going to receive any worship there for a while. This is renewed at intervals somewhat shorter than the religious festive cycles of neighbouring tribes.

When entertaining guests, an admonition not to thank nor praise any gods for the foods that are served is uttered. This admonition varies historically from not mandated, to mandated but freely worded, to a short 'anti-benediction'.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Terms of the Sargaĺk Tribute to the Bryatesle Empire

During the Ćwarmin expansion, the tribal warlords (sarku-tal, order-chieftain) often made agreements with conquered tribes with regards to the tribute they were expected to pay. As soon as literacy became a thing, most sarkutluwu (pl.indef) saw fit to have scribes record these agreements.

The Sargaĺk 'treaty' was originally agreed to by the village Marərki, one of the previously mainland Sargaĺk settlements. Instead of renegotiating the terms for each village, most other village's elders' councils agreed to having all of the Sargaĺk area enter into a similar deal, but simply changing the numbers.

The treaty was originally given in both Sargaĺk and Ćwarmin and preserved in oral form, with a large image carved into a rock, with three large images, separated by empty areas: the largest image depicting horse-carried soldiers, and villagers handing them sheep, fish and slaves, and a large depiction of Sarkutal Molčur, who led the expedition. The second 'image' consists of stylized pictures of different types of arctic livestock, boats, skin pelts, tents, all with very basic numbers underneath (unary notation, basically), and finally, a third similar image with a smaller number of fish types, a boat, a few types of livestock, a woman, a soldier, and a slave; each of these have numbers by them, but by the woman, the soldier and by the slave is also a second number crossed by a line, like so: II IIIII. Some numbers are circled - this signifies a number multiplied by 20. One circle contains the string IIII, signifying seventy, i.e. 3.5 * 20. (For those with screen-readers, the fourth I in the string is half as tall as the rest.)

These are basically pictures meant to help the communities remember what their obligations are. The first picture thus describes their submission to the Ćwarmin leader Molčur. The second picture describes the tribute Molčur exacted as an initial payment. The third picture depicts later, regular tributes. Most of the ones are paid yearly - the ones with only one number, that is. However, numbers like IIIII signifies every n:th year. This notation carried over to the written forms of the treaty. Only the yearly payments are part of the written treaty. 

Here are some samples of the text:
sargəsa mil cəwarta pehite Molčur u simiar u simižar  t'ošni-k-sud
sarg-plur we cəwar-peg chieftain Molčur and oldest sons and oldest living sons confirm-1pl-reflexive
'we, the sarg, confirm our allegiance to the chieftain Molčur and his oldest living male descendants'

mil-ta cəwar kŕder ops-ək-rus-olar
we-peg ćwar tax give-1pl-fut-hab

kŕder k'iva
tax is-3sg.fem ≃ (tax is (as follows):)

IIIII karaŋ
(5 boat)

(III) IIIII iknur
(65 seal skin jacket)

(IIIII) ĺpa
100 musk ox

(IIII) jajra garəc
70 measure whale_oil

II III mirluk asi IIIII III kosdo
two three soldier or five three slave
(two soldiers every third year or five slaves every third year)

I IIIIII miv-tat pehite-ta tame k'ilp tamu minu-m-əl-u-an
1 / 6 village-plur.peg.fem chieftain-peg(gen) son full daughter
the villages give a son of the chieftain an (adult) woman for a wife once in six years
Neither the Sargaĺk nor the Ćwarmin care particularly much about virginity. As the same arrangement was passed on to the Bryatesle empire, the recipient of the deal was the Bryatesle governor. Bryatesle culture, however, is very concerned with the virginity of brides. Since the deal was granted a rather solemn status, however, the Bryatesle governor cannot do anything to add a condition regarding the virginity of the brides. Some Sarg women see the bride-tribute as an opportunity to climb socially and get away from a relatively poor and harsh environment, other Sarg see it as an opportunity to cause considerable embarassment to the son of a governor. Some governors, or their sons, have in fact refused to abide by that term of the contract for this particular reason, which is something that does not particularly bother the Sarg. The Sarg sometimes point to such violations on the part of the Bryatesle as a justification for not paying some other part of the tribute. Thus, sometimes, only people found to be criminals in the eyes of the Sargaĺk are sent as soldiers or slaves, depending on their crime.

A Ćwarmin and a Bryatesle version of these text snippets will appear later.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Awareness of Vowel Harmony in the Ćwarmin-Ŋʒädär World

Although, much like in our world, vowel harmony comes in many different forms in the Bryatesle-Dairwueh-Sargaĺk-Ćwarmin-Ŋʒädär world, speakers of vowel harmony languages seem to be aware of it as a typological trait that is missing from some languages but present in some. In fact, all the tribes that speak vowel-harmony languages share a certain addendum to the just-so stories of why there are many languages.

The usual narratives throughout the continent do not per se attribute any subjective qualities to the languages themselves – the attributes generally refer to each language's suitability for being spoken in its environment, often using pretty bad reasoning about it. 

Often in these stories, the gods find that the world is less than it could be – mankind is organized, but badly. They find that the language that all mankind speaks is not good enough for the different needs the tribes have. Sometimes, a trickster god enters into the picture here, making the different languages be unintelligible - when this bit is present in the narrative, the gods usually planned for everyone to understand every language, but also for everyone to speak only the one relevant to their environment.

Now, speakers of languages with vowel harmony often add a little side plot to these narratives: the theme then being that some tribes were granted an aesthetical advantage over others: vowel harmony. Usually, the other groups are described as incapable of controlling some of their urges, and they thereby fail to live up to agreements they've done with the gods (or God) in exchange for getting their linguistic situation improved. 

As a punishment, "the beautiful sound of words", vowel harmony, was taken from them.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Detail #308: Another Middle-Ground between Fixed Case and Derived Case Comparison

Consider a particle-based comparison system, i.e. one much like the basic European 'than', but where the 'than'-particle requires some fixed oblique case.

However, the particle is preceded by a dummy pronoun marked for derived case, maybe with, say, nominative being realized by the omission entirely of that dummy pronoun.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ćwarmin Vocabulary: Monetary Terminology

Ćwarmin monetary terminology is largerly borrowed from Bryatesle, but a fair share of native terms also serve in this part of the lexicon.
caska - coins (uncountable, value by weight)
koxrov - scales (for comparing monetary value)
roson - a weight (of suitable size and precision for measuring monetary value)
kampuca - a 'seam' in a large coin for breaking it into pieces of smaller value (from bryatesle kampı-, 'break')
malas - silver (Bryatesle malas, (f), silver coin)
murmalas - silver coin (silver + diminutive)
wormalas - silver vessel (silver + augmentative)
ŋiləs - gold
dʒiŋiləs - gold ring (gold + diminutive)
liŋiləs - a gold coin (gold + diminutive)
kosas - a bag for keeping valuables in
solor - a gem (any kind; colour adjectives and quality adjectives combine to form names for their types)
marug - debt, from maran, carry
 For monetary transactions, there's a few verbs and phrases:
marugdan +dat - to be in debt to someone
marugdan +dat +acc - to be in debt acc amount to dat person
marulsan (+acc) (+dat) - to become indebted

faxson +acc +obj compl - to pay obj compl price for an object
ŋitir +acc +obj compl- to demand obj compl price for an object
koŋtal +acc +obj compl - to offer object for obj compl price

sintir - to sell
sinə - ware, merchandize

One verb that often is used when agreeing to buy something can be seen in the following example:
iś koxro-kt-a-ŋl-ou
it-acc weigh-perfective-imperative**-1p_pauc
"let's weigh it out"
Since payment generally is performed using some form of scales, 'weighing it out' is essentially a phrase for paying. This can also mean 'I take it'.

** this particular morpheme, -ŋl- only appears with non-third person non-singulars as an imperative, hortative, jussive, etc mood.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fun With Numerals in Ćwarmin

Unlike the western languages Sargaĺk, Bryatesle and Dairwueh, the Ćwarmin-Ŋʒädär languages have generally had rather complicated morphology for their numerals. Ćwarmin, for instance, forms
  1. cardinals
  2. ordinals
  3. denominators
  4. every n:th
  5. number of repetitions (twice, thrice)
  6. quantified comparison (twice, thrice)
  7. quantified comparison denominators (half as, a third as)
  8. n-by-n, 'by n:s', 'alone, pairwise, triplet-wise, etc'
  9. groups of people (duo, trio, quartet, ...)
  10. a compound form for non-cardinals
  11. existential quantifier predicate
The cardinals basically are the unmarked, basic numerals. One, two and three have special roots for other forms, with 'one' having three different roots in total.
one: er(si) (1, 10, (5, alternative form)), nir (2, 3, 4, 5), nus (6,  7, 8, 9, 11)
two: mer (1, 10, (5, alternative form)), kom- (all the others)
three: siker (1, 10, (5, alternative form)), umu- (all the others)

Ordinals are formed using the morpheme -itkə-/-utko-, which is closely related to the definite marker. Denominators ('a fifth of') are expressed by the morpheme -ertə-/-orto-, which originates with the ablative marker. Expressing ratios like 'two fifths' use the compound form of two in combination with the denominator form of five:
foŋ-ur miŋv-ertə
two-COMP five-DENOM
The 'every n:th' form seems to be a merger of the ordinal and the rational: -ertitk(ə)-/-ortutk(o)-.
every seventh
Number of repetitions are marked in two different ways: either by having a marker derived from the instrumental marker -ep- (the reduced form is -iv- or -uv- (on the ordinal root, or by having the morpheme used to form habitual verbs, -alra-/-elrə- on the cardinal root. For most numerals, these are identical.

Quantified comparison is also formed in two different ways: -itiv-/-utuv- (from the definiteness marker and the instrumental marker), or -aŋźav-/-əŋźəv-, where -aŋ-/-əŋ- is related to the verbal marker -aŋźu-, signifying out-doing someone. 

Quantifying denominators are formed using -riv- or -ruv-, partially from the ablative, partially from the instrumental markers.

The n-by-n / 'social number' / etc is formed using the suffix -adaŋ/-ədəŋ. This is related to an adverbial marker -daŋ/-dəŋ. The use of this form is slightly more wide than 'n by n'. It is mainly used for expressing that some group of people do or did something in such and such number, e.g. 'they built the house, three guys, in a week'. Can also express social situations, 'we were there, just the two of us'. 'Alone' is also formed using this construction.
It can also express distributions and arrangements - things that are arranged in pairs, in triplets, etc. It is used as an adverbial, complement or sometimes attributally as an adjective.

nusadaŋ: alone, singly
komadaŋ: pairwise, 'together (re: two people)'
umadaŋ: triplet-wise, 'together (re three people)'
Duos, trios, etc - in any context - are formed using the suffix -arn/-ern. This suffix can also be used with adjectives to signify '[adj] ones'. This differs from the previous form in not being used adverbially or adjectivally.
nusarn: a person, a unit of personhood
sometimes, a joking form 'ersiərn' is used; this denotes someone who by themselves does the work of several people; he or she by themself is sufficient to be counted as some kind of 'group'
komarn: duo
umarn: trio

The compound form is used to express things like 'five thirds' or 'three halves' or whenever else one needs to count the number of some type of numeral (usually with the rational numbers; with 'every n:th' it signifies 'pick x, once every y', with the social number, it gives number of n-sized groups), number of duos, trios, etc. It is marked by -ur/-ir.
amb-ur əner-ədəŋ
eight-COMP nine-tuplet
(arranged as) eight sets of nine
The existential quantifier is basically used as a predicate expressing 'there were N of subj'. It is formed using -kece/-kaca, which might be somewhat related to the -amca complement case. The use of the existential quantifier is somewhat wider than 'there is/was/were N of subj' would imply: you also get it in constructions like 'five people know how to do that' - with 'know' in a participal form:
iś kəl-ejn miŋ-kece
it-acc know-theirs five-PRED
there are five people who know this

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Numbers in Sargaĺk

In the initial sprachbund of which Sargaĺk (and proto-Sargaĺk, and the whole proto-Sargaĺk-Bryatesle-Dairwueh) was part, a few tendencies with regards to numerals held.
  1. Numerals were morphologically invariant. (Except for morphemes that only served to 'structure' compound numbers)
  2. Base twenty with a subbase of ten.
  3. Numerals could be adverbials of repetition with intransitive verbs without any adpositions or other marker.
  4. Ordinal-like meanings could be obtained either by combining cardinals with adpositions (Bryatesle 'dedak', after, giving Bryatesle its off-by-one ordinal system; Dairwueh 'yil', about, like, made from, consisting of, during; Sargaĺk 'jaxru' in a sequence (or path)) or by combining the number with a variety of verbs ('stand at', 'reach', etc)
  5. Cardinals were not commonly used as attributes, but almost invariably as predicates.
  6. Ratios were not really used much; half, third, fourth and fifth had dedicated roots; larger denominators probably never appeared until the Bryatesle expansion.
  7. Ordinals for members of small sets (set sizes somewhat below 10) often were formed analogously to finger names; more general ordinals were formed by cardinal + adposition.
  8. 'all' is a numeral, and has ordinal as well as other numeral-like uses; There are two 'alls' - 'all in a relatively manageable set' and 'all (in some set of unknown size)'
  9. "none", "no", etc are not numeral-like in distribution
This has not survived entirely unchanged into Sargaĺk. Numerals, with the exception of 'one', are still morphologically invariant. The base still is twenty, and a subbase of ten still is clearly visible. Sargaĺk retains both adpositional/adnominal and verbal ways of expressing ordinals. Five is somewhat abandoned, in that numerals now freely appear as attributes. Recently ways of forming ratios of greater complexity than N/5 have developed. Ordinals by finger names can be used for orders in sets smaller than five, starting with the thumb. 'All' no longer distributes like a numeral, but one can form ordinals from it: from the greater all, 'od', the ordinal construction simply signifies the final, finally, the last one, from the set-specific all, 'odar', it signifies the most recent, the latest, the last one (of a queue or line or set).

In Bryatelse and Dairwueh, these properties have developed slightly differently: Bryatesle has given numerals case (and gender), both as independent heads of NPs and as attributes and determiners. There are but a few traces of base 20 left (the words for 200 and 400 among them). Much like in Sargaĺk, ordinals are formed by a postposition (but it has its 'off by one'-quirk). Cardinals are used as determiners and attributes, and ratios are commonplace. Names of fingers for ordinals have largely been abandoned. 'All' operates more like an indefinite determiner or pronoun.

The numbers of Sargaĺk are these (with some gaps where the forms should be predictable):
1: dər
2: yor
3: xrik
4: knər, bilon*
5: mil, salp*
6: mur
7: ćəx
8: ksen
9: lini10: təŋbar ('half-twenty')
11: dərdər
12: yoryor
13: xrikəxrik
14: knərəknər
15: xriksalp ('three hands')
16: murmur
17: ćəxćəx
18: ksenəksen
19: linilin
20: baran
21: baran dər
22: baran yor
30: xriktəŋbar ('three half twenty', 30)
31: xriktəŋbar dər
40: yorbar
50: yorbartəŋbar
51: yorbartəŋbardər
60: xrikbar
200: təŋkuton: half of 400
340: ćəxćəxbar
400: kuton
Numbers much larger than 400 are seldom used, and formed somewhat haphazardly.

As mentioned, ordinals are formed by the dummy noun jaxru. The number of repetitions something has been performed is marked by the bare numeral for intransitive verbs, but with the dummy noun k'abar (derived from the verb 'sidan', take) for transitive verbs.

The noun following the numeral is in the singular for any case but the pegative, for which the number is plural after numbers greater than one.

* bilon and salp are words denoting the four non-thumb fingers or the full palm; sometimes, they are used as numbers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Ćwarmin "Gender"/Number-Discongruence Thing

Although Ćwarmin does not have grammatical gender, some nouns and adjectives essentially have some form of "natural" gender. These include words such as "husband", "wife", "father", "son", "sister", "boy", "friend (male)", "friend (female)" etc, and among adjectives we have "handsome", "beautiful", "strong-willed (man)", "strong-willed (female)", "tall (man)", "tall (female)", "friendly (male)", "friendly (female)", "push-over (male)", "push-over (female)", ...

Sometimes, there is a gender/number discongruence thing going on, when one out of a pair of persons is described as being in relation to the other, or when two persons' relation is described in terms of such a noun, i.e.

I am brothers with her|him
śen itiś* kesr-il-cə
I 3sg_com brother_pl_compl

I am friends with him|her
śan utuś* ator-ul-co
I ... friend_pl_compl

(s)he is friends with him|her**
u totuś ator-ul-co
* or tetiś/totuś
** if both pronouns refer to females, aksan, female friend, is expected.
Funnily enough, "I" lacks this type of grammatical gender altogether, and the selection of noun can therefore get somewhat weird:
I am wives with 3sg
san utuś uvan-ul-co
As far as the speakers of the language go, they actually tend to parse the meaning of these kinds of constructions as whichever out of
I (and she), I am (such that) she is wife. (male speaker's utterance)
I (and he), we are (such that) I am wife (female speaker's utterance)
makes sense of the biological gender of the person given cultural assumptions. The plural of the complement agrees accidentally with the two implicitly plural subjects.

Essentially,  'with her' is parsed as the NP that is being predicated, and the subject is rather topic-like. This is basically only permissible with first and third person nouns, however - second person only permits readings where the subject is predicated:
you are husbands with her
bac utuś nogd-ul-co

you are wives with him
bac utuś uvan-ul-co
With coordinated subjects, whichever comes first usually "wins", whereas if there's a pronoun that refers to a mixed pair (or group), the male noun/adjective usually wins, but exceptions exist - "wife", "friendly (female)" and "beautiful", for instance. The example with "wife" probably has to do with the wife being considered the 'central' part of marriage – undoubtedly due to the wife being the person giving birth to children.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Detail #308: Classifier-system Vaguely Overlapping with Core Cases

Consider a language with a classifier system, something like

free humannon-free humananimallong thinground thingimmotile thingother
Let's go on to consider a system where there are several, overlapping systems along this line but where one system operates on subjects, one on objects and one on obliques and indirect objects and the like. 
free humans..
tame animals..
wild pack
other animals,
big thingsbig things.
flat thingsflat things.
round thingsround things.
.adult humans.
.big mammals.
(no other
(no other

Friday, September 2, 2016

Detail #307: Verbs having Comparative Function

Consider having verb forms for comparing NPs. In essence:
John builds good things, but Eric builds better things
gives us
John builds good things, but Eric build-COMPARATIVE-s things
However, this gets a tad unwieldy: we may want some slightly more succinct way of formulating this.
John well-builds things but Eric build-COMP-s
Let us go on to consider
John builds good houses, but he builds better boats
reusing the same pattern as we first saw:
John builds good houses, but he build-COMP-s boats
we go on reducing it a bit, using a voice change to reduce the size of the comparative subclause:
John well-builds houses but boats build-COMP-passive-s
Once we've introduced the idea of using voices, we could of course also use some kind of antipassive for the first example:
John well-builds things but Eric builds-COMP-antipassive-s
Oftentimes, the objects will be similar (and we can just omit the object from the comparative verb), so we'll let transitive verbs with the comparative marker default to antipassive voice. We could here, of course, consider some more complicated comparisons we may need:
There's more water in the Atlantic than in lake Winnipeg

Water is in lake Winnipeg but (it) be-COMP-?-s in the Atlantic
We may benefit from some general applicative/circumstantial voice here as well.  I will, for now, leave that as an exercise for the diligent reader. (Hint: I think I can get two posts out of this idea.)