Thursday, June 28, 2018

Detail #383: A Tiny Idea about Mixed Alignments

All the low-hanging fruit regarding mixed alignments and alignment in general probably already has been picked (and even cooked into marmalade) by now, but this one has eluded that grasp.

So, consider a system of split alignment whereby the split is conditioned on something like TAM; the usual is of course that present, imperfect, realis, ... are nom-acc, and perfective, past, etc... are absolutive-ergative.

Now, there's an obvious twist to add here: lexical exceptions. A few verbs may have nom-acc in all TAMs, alternatively a few may have erg-abs in all TAMs; possibly, you may have both these in parallel.

Of course, there could also be a separate set of systems that enforce splits anyway: e.g. subclauses might still always have erg-abs, or maybe first person always enforces nom-acc, despite the lexical exceptions.

And finally, of course, over the life-span of a language or the territory over which it is spoken, verbs may migrate from type to type, giving dialectal and historical variation!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sargaĺk: Reciprocality and Reflexives

The Sargaĺk reflexive marker -fuš- is cognate to the reciprocal object markers 'sy(v)-' and '-sus' of Bryatesle, all three going back on a PDBS lexeme 'izguš', signifying 'spirit, soul'. The reflexive marker is a bit more complicated in behaviour than English, and can even be the subject of an embedded verb, e.g. in constructions like
nen manda-tsa tamup-ser-i mar k'an-sepem*-fuš
I thought-from fall-past*-1sg something do-inferential active past-reflexive
I fell from the thought of something self did
I forgot what I did
* marks morphemes that really are participal forms that encode tense as well as evidentiality.

Here we also see how Sargaĺk forms its usual past tense in main clauses: participles (e.g. -ser-) followed by 2nd conjugation morphemes. The subordinated verb is not finite, and so does not have a finite verb morpheme. However, not all constructions use participles, but rather require finite verbs and may have the reflexive marker followed by a person marker.

The reflexive marker also appears when the reflexive action is not done as unto an object, but rather as unto an oblique. In these cases, either an oblique dummy pronoun will appear as well, usually the pronoun corresponding to the person of the subject combined with the suffix -fuš, or the morpheme -fuš will be affixed to an adposition.
nen nəru-fuš lonk-ser-i
I me-at.refl told-past*-1sg
I told of myself

nen iknur oxi-fuš yər(a)-ser-i
I seal skin onto-refl put-past*-1sg
I wrapped myself in the seal skin

Sargaĺk has two main reciprocality markers, '-ant' and '-jivi'.
These are are cognate to the Bryatesle words  'jyg', 'centre, in the middle of' and 'amet', 'guild, private pact'. The PDBS words were something like 'amate' - 'a temporary, loose grouping of people', and 'ʒiɰ̊gu' - 'a pair'.

There are certain differences in their use:
-jivi is mainly used with subjects that actually form a pair, although the pair may also be two groups acting on each other. It can also be used for groups of pairs acting reciprocally within their pairs.

-ant can be used for larger groups with more random interactions, but is also permissible with dual subjects if the interaction is not entirely symmetric.
Like the reflexive, these can also be subjects of embedded verbs.

These do not only go on verbs, but also on a particle that can go after adjectives and nouns. The circumstances under which these markers follow nouns and adjectives will be described below.

When a complement of a verb is a noun, the -jivi may mark that the relation is mutual, e.g.
nista  uvas-jivi k'ivo
they are members of the same seal-hunting team

nista k'omo-jivi k'ivo
they are friends
Adjectives behave similarly:

nista k'omosi-jivi əvo
they are friendly (to each other)

miv-air tobas-air-jivi əvo
the villages are far-recp(apart)
However, if villages A and B are far from village C, it will say
villages A and B village-from C-from far are
miv-air A B miv-rut C-rut tobas-air əvo
('villages A (and) B are far-plur.fem in village C')
If the relation is mutual among a bigger set than two, -jivi is still used, -ant only appearing in this use in some dialects.

The -jivi and -ant morphemes are also entirely missing from Imraj Sargaĺk, which uses a unique system of adpositions for reciprocal constructions.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Piece of Music

Since it's become a bit of a thing I do, I'll also post my new piece of music here. It's in 11-tones per octave, and so sort of fits in with the conworlding aspect of this blog: essentially, this could be music of a culture where intervals such as 11/8, 14/11, 7/4 and 17/14 are valued, but where equal temperament also became a thing. For the most likely way in which such a culture could develop, I suggest looking into Paul Erlich's paper on the 22-tone scale.
For the record, the paper is not a conworlding paper, it is a paper about the tuning. But, since these properties exist, it is conceivable that some culture would like those properties and therefore start using 22-tet as their tuning.
A culture that develops music based on 22-tone equal temperament would sooner or later possibly try to utilize a variety of arbitrary subsets of that temperament, including the rather obvious idea of using only every other tone, and even from there of using even fewer out of those. (An analogy could be how in the late 19th century, the wholetone scale started finding favour among some composers. 11-tet is obviously almost twice as large as the wholetone scale, so a further search for scales 'inside' it makes sense.)

Anyways, here's the piece.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Detail #382: Gender Congruence Marker being Partially Reused as Derivative Morpheme

Let us imagine a language with a gender or noun class system of some description. Now, let's imagine that usually, adjectives (maybe verbs too) have gender congruence with the main noun, but sometimes an adjective (or verb) will gain a different meaning in some gender markings, and this gender marking turns into a semantic marker - almost a derivative marker - for these lexemes.

Let us consider a system with a noun class for 'tools'. Let us imagine that due to metal object  being quite hot when red, the adjective 'red' thus starts signifying 'hot' when dealing with tools. "red-tool" then becomes one of the ways of describing any hot object, and so "red-tool drink-comestible" means "hot drink", but "red-comestible drink-comestible" signifies a red drink.

This would be some kind of differential gender congruence. Let's consider onwards what happens when we want to describe an actually 'red' tool:
  • We can make the distiction only be available in every other noun class, so in the tool-class, this distinction cannot be made using congruence as a tool. So, expressing 'red tool' requires something like 'tool whose color is red' or 'tool of redness'.
  • We can even say the speakers don't care for the distinction, since differential object marking only is used in situations where the difference is not important for the particular class of things (i.e. all red tools are also hot when they're red, but for other things, 'hotness' and 'redness' do not necessarily coincide)
  • We can permit the use of a default noun class marking (i.e. 'red.masc knife.tool')
  • We can permit the use of zero marking (red knife.tool) to provide the default meaning
A few examples of potential meaning distinctions:
bad - with animate noun classes: 'evil', with inanimate: 'unfit, useless, no moral judgment implied'.
heavy - with feminine noun class: pregnant (also when used of non-human animals in their noun classes). Here, maybe using male gender for the adjective denoting heavy females could also be justified
talkative - signifies 'loud' when used with an inanimate noun class marker
angry - signifies 'dangerous' when used with an inanimate noun class marker

Monday, June 4, 2018

Detail #381: Underlying Split Alignment * Quirky Case

Let's imagine a situation wherein a language has quirky case. The language normally is nom-acc, but the situations where quirky case appear are all underlyingly erg-abs.

The language has quirky subjects as well as objects. Let's for the sake of simplicity assume that subjects sometimes are dative, objects sometimes ablative. Here, any substitutions, even to the extent of replacing both with the same oblique case, could work. I am just establishing this in order to have a terminology that makes it clear.


Now, how does the underlying ergativity look? Well, let's decide on some quirky verbs:
quirky subject:
verb1 : 'to have the time to', 'to do on time', 'to have time for'
verb2: 'to forget (to do something)'
quirky object:
verb3: 'to refuse (a proposal, a guest, a gift or a favour)'
verb4: 'to fear'
Now, let's consider what the underlying ergativity of these implies: the subject of verb1 would be absolutive if there is no direct object, and thus can be coordinated with another intransitive verb:
 I have time to wait and (so) (I) sit here
however, it cannot be coordinated with a transitive verb:
 I have time to wait and __ (am) eating pirogies
 With a direct object, however, we get the following situation:
I have time for the committee and will discuss the issue
 However, an intransitive second verb will take for its subject the object of the previous verb:
I have time for the committee now and will be seated in room 101
 here, it's the committee who will be seated in room 101. Semantically, this seems to be a reasonable thing - whoever has time for a thing may be seen as active in some sense, and the object may be more likely to do intransitive things.

Similar examples could be constructed for the other verbs, obviously.