Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Ćwarmin: Participles - an outline

The Ćwarmin verb morphology contains a system of participles, and these contribute a significant amount of mileage in the morphosyntax of the verb phrase.


A primary division among the participles is that of transitivity: intransitive participles are merely infinitives with case suffixes. There is no reason to distinguish active from passive for an intransitive participle. However, some exceptional verbs exist - both intransitive verbs marked as transitive ones, and vice versa. [See this for more.]

The nominative is explicitly marked with -ij/-uw, but the other cases behave like any other noun case. Tense is not distinguished for intransitive participles. The perfect aspect can be marked by the suffix -em/-am, but is not mandatory. No explicit imperfect aspect marker exists.

Transitive verbs' participles, however, are formed with the marker -nem(e)-/-nam(a)- for active participles, and -yezi-/-wozu- for passive ones.

TAM is somewhat distinguished, with the active transitive verb having {perfect, imperfect} x {present, past} and the passive transitive verb having {perfect, imperfect}. 

The transitive active participle defaults to imperfect present. The reduplicated suffixes -nenem/-nanam convey perfect past. The past imperfect adds an -et/-at, but reducing the first syllable: -nmet, -nmat. Past perfect is a further reduplication- -memet/-mamat.

The passive morpheme -yezi/-wozu implies perfect aspect, but an extra morpheme -te/-ta gives the imperfect. In some eastern dialects, single -yezi/-wozu gives imperfect, -jejesd/-wowosd gives perfect. (In turn, we find dissimilated forms like -yedzest/-wolost, -źejest/-lowost, -rejest/-lowost, -jerest/-wolost, and even weird combos of them, as well as -ejdź/-owdz).


Participles in general

Participles function as adjectives and adverbs, expressing what someone is/was doing or what they were experiencing. More complex relations to the verb than subject, object or recipient generally requires rewriting as a clearly delineated subclause. However, the main verb in a subclause is often also inflected as a participle. Thus, participles could, at least partially, be considered subordinate finite verbs. (Non-relative subclauses tend to have normal finite verbs a bit more often, but this is not mandatory.)

  • With verbs of perception to express subordinate actions ('see someone eating' etc)
  • With some verbs of causation and other transitivity changing operations
  • Heads of the verb phrase in relative subclauses


 The active participle

The active participles (i.e. the transitive active one, or the intransitive one) are used for these roles besides the prototypical subordinate verbal use:

  • copositive present tense verbs (there is a post upcoming about what they are)
    • This is restricted to the imperfect aspect form, but this does not convey an actual imperfect aspect, but rather copies the aspect of a different verb in the copositive construction)
  • head of the verb phrase in relative subclauses, and sometimes other subclauses as well
  • (were used as gerunds for a while in late middle Cwarmin)
  • with some auxiliaries to express certain moods
  • with some causative constructions and some embedded constructions (perceive someone doing something, etc)
  • expressing general, impersonal things like 'it's raining', 'it's sunsetting', 'it's night', etc.
  • Expressing 'while X:ing' or 'after X:ing' when used as an adverb, depending on the aspect used. The passive requires a periphrastic expression for this. 
  • In place of a finite verb in expressions of surprise or adoration or appreciation.
  • (transitive active only) used to express the additional verbal specifications as to how a direct object is affected by the subject's action
  • (transitive active only) combined with the dative to express that the dative argument desires to do something

 The passive participle

  • copositive present tense verbs (restricted to perfect aspect form, but the actual aspect is implicit)
  • head of the verb phrase in relative subclauses, but never in other types of subclauses
  • with some auxiliaries to express some voices
  • can form temporal adverbs for 'before/after/while being X:ed' with adpositions.

The imperfect participle

  • exhortation to continue
  • in combination with the verb 'hold', signifying 'having the energy to go on doing x'

The perfect participle

This lists features that unify the passive and active perfect participles, but differ from the passive and active present participles.

  • with some verbs, as an imperative of cessation. This especially in combination with the conjunction 'and'. This is mostly used with active perfect participles, but some passive participles are also used - usually ones whose argument structure is a bit unusual.
  • with some verbs, as an imperative of immediate action.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Ćwarmin: To Have

Predicative possession is an important expression in languages. Naturally, Ćwarmin has expressions for it as well. As it turns out, there are two different expressions, mainly depending on the definiteness of the object, but other factors also may force the 'definite' form to be used.

For indefinite possessums, you simply juxtapose the owner in the nominative with a noun in the accusative complement case. Use of a copula is optional, and governed by the same rules as the copula in general.

For a definite possessum, the possessum is in the definite accusative, and there is a dummy pronoun in the accusative complement case. The dummy pronoun is either nitce (for singulars) or (g)initce (for plurals). Copula use is optional, but might be slightly more frequent than with indefinites.

More detailed quantification (indefinite quantifiers, numbers, etc) require the definite construction even if the possessum is not definite.

Negated possession always takes nitce, but puts the object in the negative object form.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Minor Dairwueh and Bryatesle Religious Communities

The Dairwueh-Bryatesle religious landscape is clearly dominated by ten religious communities which together form a sort of "religious federation". The interactions between these ten communities is fairly well formalized and managed by this federal model of religion. However, there are some smaller communities that fall between the cracks, as it were. They are tolerated, but with some restrictions.

The communities - their beliefs, praxis and social standing

There are about four dozen small communities, spread across the entire Dairwueh-Bryatesle world, which could be considered "second class" religions. There is also a third class of religions - heresies, more recent arrivals, and old traditional religions that did not comply with the power of the religious federation while the window for such an agreement was open.

Generally, all of D-B religion derives in some form from proto-DBS religion. However, different regions have had different amounts of influence from pre-DB inhabitants, Cwarmin, Tatediem and other cultures. The federated religion emerged with monotheism gaining traction in the area, and unified many rather different types of monotheism.

Many of the small religions are increasingly monotheist, but many have very obvious traits of their polytheist roots. The federated religion reinterprets these religions as being servants of the angels, rather than servants of God, and it seems this is a description they would be willing to apply to themselves. Non-compliant groups tend to be more explicitly polytheist, although exceptions can be found.

 The main objective of the restrictions would seem to be limiting the likelihood that these communities ever become a threat to the stability of the religious federation. There are several perceived threat vectors:

  • Heresy or heteropraxy
  • Failure to observe ethical norms, including sexual norms
  • Loss of members (and thus popular support and revenue)
  • Loss of divine favour
  • Lack of loyalty to the secular imperial administration

    Some common restrictions

        Community size

It is common for the size of the community to be determined by law. 4 900 is a common number - fifty hundreds less one. A few communities are restricted to only 1000 members.

For several of the minor religious communities, life in a proscribed geographical area is a prerequisite. This prerequisite sometimes originates with the community itself, which may consider a certain region to be the mandatory, sole place for its worship practice. Other times, it's the majority culture that restricts the members to stay within the area. Occasional forays elsewhere - business trips, etc - are permitted, but permanent residence elsewhere is often banned.

Clergymen of the minor religions are forbidden from negotiating with each other if not supervised by representatives of two major religions. These major religions may have the right of 'quasiveto' (where the other representative may block the veto).


Although conversion to or from these religions is not entirely forbidden, there are some usual types of restrictions:

  • One or the other gender may be forbidden from converting to some religion - and oftentimes, this is selected by the authorities to be the only gender the religion actually considers proper members. Thus, for the Ramils, the empire only permits males to convert, but the Ramils only accept female converts.
  •  Converts from the small communities may have to become slaves upon joining some other religion.
  • Converts may be forbidden from having their offspring join the religion, or may be forced to promise a certain number of offspring for generations to be held by the religion.
  • Converts from the major religions may have to become slaves of a non-member of the minority religion if converting to certain minor religions.


Unlike the major religions, codifications of the teachings is forbidden. A technicality is that the ban does not cover non-members who want to document them, and so a rather unique twist on religious scripture results from this: the three holy books of the Labim-community are written by outsiders, as is the single holy book of the Tonoks.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Conreligions Checklist Part I: Questions, Answers, Membership, Functionaries

I previously compiled a list of topics for consideration for anyone trying to come up with a grammar. This attempts to be a similar list for religions. However, I think there's a point in having some elucidating texts for many of these points, so it will be wordier than the corresponding linguistics list. This is the first part, and I have no idea how many parts it will swell out to become.

Many of the examples will be taken from real-world religions.

  • Primary concern of a religion
In western culture, it's easy to live under the impression that the primary concern of religion is some set of specific beliefs, which the member is expected to hold true. This is not necessarily true for all religions, and even Christianity and Islam - the main examples of this trope in the real world - hold certain other aspects as important as well. Among these other important things we find:
  • Social Order and Cohesion
    • How is social life regulated and why?
  • Behaviors and rituals
    • What are their intended effects?
      • Appease god(s) or spirits?
      • Maintain natural order?
      • Maintain social order?
      • Inspire practitioners?
      • Remind practitioners or something?
    • What are their unintended effects?
      • Social effects
      • Economic effects
A ritual that requires some particular objects might lead to price gouging.
    • What concepts govern them?
  • Community
    • What role does the community have in the religion?
    • How is the community structured?  
    • How is the community's boundary to other communities delineated?
  • Natural order 
    • What things are even considered natural orders?
  • Questions
It's easy to conceive of religions as a set of claims; however, this is not always the best way of conceiving of what a religion is. Sometimes, the questions may be more interesting than the answers. A religion may very well have few clear answers, but a set of questions that unite the members. And of course, the questions need not be defining aspect either.

One sort of famous example of a question-centered religion is Judaism, which almost seems like a question-generator at times. One could probably make a typology of questions in Judaism, and all manner of analyses of their function in the community. Some people who have read the Zohar mean that at its heart lies the question "why does God want the Jews to adhere to the commandments in the Torah".

Conversely, Buddhism and Shinto concern themselves with very different questions from one another, and this, in part, is the reason they have gotten along fairly well in Japan - basically, their concerns are different enough that it's fairly possible to integrate both of them into both personal and communal life.

The order in which questions emerge in the community might affect how the answers develop.
  • Answers 
The existence of questions hints at the existence of answers. Naturally, some answers may become entrenched and 'mandatory' in a religion. These answers need not be of the type 'this is what you should believe', but may well be of the type 'this is what you should do', or 'this question is nonsensical' (even though it might well be a sensible question), or even 'we don't know (and can't know)' or 'we won't know until so-and-so occurs'.
  •  Membership
In the usual modern western view of what religions are, a "member" is generally seen to be a believer and vice versa - a believer is a member. This does get a bit complex, though, even in the case of Christianity: some Christians would not consider a non-baptized Christian a proper believer, and some Christians would consider a non-believing, baptized Christian a Christian. However, in e.g. USA, a significant portion of Christians are not baptized - which to me, a former believer in Lutheranism, seems very weird.

Clearly, belief and membership are, for at least some religions, distinct categories. This goes even deeper once you start looking at religions outside of Islam and Christianity.

Oftentimes, membership of a religion is the same thing as membership of a community; this membership might also be further complicated by confounding factors like inheritance of membership going by paternal, maternal or mandatorily both or optionally either line. Conversion may take more than just a declaration or simple ritual - in Judaism it's a process of at least a year, with classes and participation in the community.
    • 'Ranks'
      • Castes?
      • Dynasties?
      • Outsiders?

Some religions do not perceive themselves as being in opposition with non-members, but rather may consider non-members to be outsiders. Other have a more antagonistic view of outsiders, others have a view whereby outsiders need to be made politically subordinate.

There are some interesting examples from history where religions have cooperated in ways that seem weird today: when the Chinese emperor wanted to impose a very harsh tax on the Jews of Kaifeng, the local muslim population rioted in favour of the Jews and in opposition to the emperor.

Religions form networks of relations that can be fairly complicated and not necessarily antagonistic. There may well be antagonistic relationships within a religion, and these need not necessarily be the result of politics (but will necessarily result in politics).

      • Quasi-members?
Strictly speaking, a sikh is a person who has taken the sikh vows. Not all believers in sikhism do take those vows, but do align with and identify with sikhism. These could be considered two types of members of sikhism, where there clearly is some kind of a difference in "how" the membership is expressed. (Not trying to be offensive here, but "quasi-member" seems to fit the unvowed members?)

In the Druze religion, the 'uqqal are initiated members who know the holy books, juhhal are ignorant members who have not been initiated - and most will not be initiated.

      • Gender?
    • Conversion?
      • Is it relevant?
Some very praxis-oriented (and some very belief-oriented) religions might not even really put a lot of stock in the notion of a community. If there is no community - just people who do (or believe) the rituals (or doctrines), conversion might be an entirely irrelevant idea.
It would seem that for shintoism, conversion is not generally "relevant". One just ... practices it.
      • Is it possible?
Not all religions permit conversion.
The Druze believe themselves to be a community that is continuously reincarnated within their community, and letting anyone else in would just not work out. The Zoroastrians in India do not accept converts - but this seems to be the result of an agreement the community signed when moving to India.
Syrian Jews do not accept converts, and this seems to be strict - they do not consider converts to other Jewish communities real Jews.

Karaite Judaism has not accepted converts for centuries - but has recently started accepting them. It seems the lack of "proper infrastructure" for dealing with converts was the cause (and also, potentially, the risk of repercussions from Christian and Muslim rulers).
The Yazidi and the Mandaeans do not accept converts.
      • Is it an objective of the religion?
Some religions that do accept converts, do not strive to acquire them particularly eagerly; Judaism and Sikhism both accept converts, but they won't go out of their way to gain them.
Orthodox Judaism teaches that the rest of mankind have fewer commandments to obey, and that it's better to be a righteous gentile obeying all those commandments (about 100), than to be a Jew who obeys 95% of the more than 600 commandments of Judaism. I.e. every single violation done by a Jew is by their view something to avoid, and thus accepting an insincere convert would be causing problems.
For those Zoroastrians that do accept converts, and in part for Jews, external historical pressure from other religions is also one cause for the reluctance. This may also explain e.g. the Mandaean, Yazidi, etc bans on conversion. 
  • What is the "unit" of conversion?
Some religions accept anyone as a convert - conversion thus being individual. Others will not convert e.g. half a married couple, but require both to convert. I imagine a religion could even permit only for married couples to convert, and thus never accept singles. 
Sometimes, Christianity has accepted for conversion a whole tribe or 'nation' (the concept of 'nation' is probably more recent than any such conversion, so 'tribe' might be a better term.) Islam probably also has accepted such conversions at times?

For some religions, it would make sense for 'the village' to be the unit of conversion.

As protestantism gained steam, it seems the agreement between Catholicism and Lutheranism was basically that 'principalities' determined which to side with, i.e. conversion to Lutheranism was not individual, but "statelet"-level.
      • What's the status of a convert?

Converts in orthodox Judaism may not marry levites and cohanites, thus giving them some restrictions that other Jews do not have. This restriction is no longer enforced in conservative and more liberal forms of Judaism.

In medieval Christianity, Jewish converts to Christianity were likewise often prohibited from marrying "real" Christians and had severe restrictions put on them (and were required to preach christianity to their former co-religionists regularly, but were otherwise forbidden to interact with the Jewish community; this ban was mutual, b.t.w., i.e. enforced both by Christian and Jewish communities.). This continued into early protestantism, but it seems some Lutheran priests of the time did give their own children in marriage to Jewish converts in order to facilitate assimilation into the Christian community. Yes, those were weird times. 

Up to fairly recently, the Lutheran churches in Scandinavia have had two separate liturgies for the adult baptism of a non-Christian: one for the Jew, one for gentiles. The version for the Jewish convert contained some "beef" with Judaism.

Some Anglican movements permit converts that are in polygamous relationships to continue in those polygamous relationships. Other movements of Christianity require divorcing all but one of the wives.

How a wife with a 'shared husband' who converts is dealt with is unclear.

    • Privileges of membership?

In Judaism, a Jew can do certain jobs that non-Jews can't, e.g. the works of being a kosher butcher, a scribe, and a variety of other Jewish communal works. The Bible also forbids Jews from lending at interest to other Jews. However, N.B.: this doesn't mean that the lender is at an advantage w.r.t. non-Jews, but rather that the lender has a weakened profitability in his own community. It's only when Islam and Christianity banned interest that the Jewish lender suddenly was given an advantage in European and Muslim countries. Students at Jewish religious schools - yeshivas - are generally funded by charity from other Jews, and charity among Jews is a fairly common phenomenon. However, charity from among Jews to outsiders is not unknown either.

In Islam, muslims have certain advantages both in the eyes of the muslim state and in the eyes of the sharia courts. However, e.g. a halal butcher can be a Christian or a Jew as well.

Only observant Jews can be witnesses in orthodox beit din courts.

 In Christian Europe, e.g. Sweden only accepted non-Christians to work as officials of state as late as the 1950s!

    • Responsibilities of membership?
      • Ways of dealing with failure to observe the responsibilities?
  • Religious functionaries
    • Clergy
The function of clergy can vary; in some religions, clergy mainly perform ritual duties, in other religions, they are responsible for ritual duties as well as teaching the laity. Let's compare the function of the rabbi and the Lutheran priest:

The rabbi has very few specific ritual functions (although local Jewish tradition may have some small ritual observances like 'the rabbi should never turn his back on the congregation'). Any adult, bar mitzvah Jew can perform (nearly) any of the rituals that are part of modern Judaism. The rabbi, however, is of course expected to know the ins and outs and thus, by default might often end up performing these rituals.

In the form of lutheranism I grew up in, only the priest is permitted to perform several rituals; a communion must be presided over by a priest. Weddings must be presided over by a priest. If communion is to be had in a room, this room must at some point have been 'dedicated' by a bishop (and bishops are basically a rank of priest). Baptism can be performed by any member if there is reason to believe an unbaptized person is about to die, but if a regular member of the laity baptized someone without good reason, it would be frowned upon. I am not sure it would even be accepted.

Judaism has remnants of the old Levite/Cohanite priesthood, however. This was a hereditary priesthood that served in the temple, and to this day they have a few specific ritual privileges in orthodox Judaism, e.g. certain turns for Torah-readings are reserved for a levite in case one is present. Back when the Jewish temple in Jerusalem still stood, levites and cohanites carried out ritual functions there, including the various sacrifices.

In Zoroastrianism, clergy primarily performs a ritual function - regular members do not participate in rituals frequently. The clergy, however, need to be very meticulous about ritual hygiene. These ritual rules involve how to dispose of bodily waste, and makes it impossible for a Zoroastrian priest to travel any considerable distances by train or by air.

    • Monks and nuns
    • Scholars
    • Other possible religious functions
      • Examples:
        • Scribes

A scribe might well write other things than just the holy books. In Judaism, several ritual objects have small slips of biblical verses in them, and the Jewish marriage contract (ketubah) is usually written by a scribe.

Before the printing press was invented, monks did a lot of scribal work, and probably still do.

        • Butchers
In islam and judaism, halal and kosher meat are important concepts; this has lead to the emergence of specialized butchers who know the religious rules of slaughter.
        • Cantors
In catholic and some protestant traditions, cantors are musicians who accompany the service, i.e. playing organs or some other suitable instrument, and often also leading the hymns. However, in other traditions, the musicians of a service may not even have an actual title, and may be much less formalized.
Cantors also often lead choirs and other music workshops and such in the religious context.

In traditional Judaism, the cantor is the leader of the service - basically leading the reading of prayers and singing of songs. This is a separate title from rabbi.
        • Criers
To what extent publicly crying at funerals in exchange for pay ever has been a full-time job I have no idea, but at least some people have been tasked with crying at funerals.
        • Sextons
In Scandinavia, the sexton was not only a supervisor of church property, but also a supervisor of village morals.
        • "Shadchan" 
In Judaism, the schadchan - the matchmaker - can be seen as a type of religious functionary. Of course, this is also a bit complicated, as they're also well basically just communal or social functionaries ... but this would be a failure to appreciate just how communal a concept of religion Judaism has.
        • Producers and custodians of ritual objects
        • Prophets

In  popular media franchises and media, and even in some ~sorta okay sources, the concept of a prophet is simplified to 'someone who predicts the future'. In serious religious studies, however, a prophet is "merely" someone who conveys a message from God (or similar). This need not pertain to the future (although e.g. future punishments for transgressions aren't exactly very uncommon in parts of the Bible).

Some religions seem to think prophecy is finished, e.g. Judaism generally teaches that prophecy is currently not available; Islam considers Muhammad the seal of the prophets; some movements of Christianity hold that no prophecy currently is given (and at the very least no prophecy of global interest). Other forms of Christianity have prophecy as an active phenomenon.

Active prophets are problematic in one sense, since it can be kind of hard to determine whether a prophet really is the real deal. (Personally, I hold that no such thing exists; however, given a religious tradition, a prophet may either be compatible with the tradition, disruptive, revolutionary, innovative, etc. Thus, having active prophecy can cause instability.)

'Holy fools' in Russian Orthodoxy fulfill a similar role.

        • 'Surgical' functionaries
Besides e.g. circumcision, there are religious traditions that involve tattoos, tooth chiseling, scarring, and arguably finger amputation in some movements could be seen as a near-religious action. Functionaries that carry out these body modifications may well be seen as religious functionaries.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Subject adpositions in Dairwueh and Bryatesle

This is a draft for some work that 'ties' together one detail in Dairwueh, Bryatesle and Sargaĺk. Details may still change.

Proto-Bryatosargaĺk had a subject postposition, probably something like dant. It's most clear descendant is the pegative marker -ta in Sargaĺk, the two -at-suffixes in the Dairwueh case system are probably descendants as well but less obvious examples. Some masculine and feminine nouns in Bryatesle have also incorporated it into their lexical forms.

However, subject adpositions seem to have been a sufficiently important trait in the syntax of PBS that new ones took its place in branches that lost 'dant'.

From the evidence, we can gather that it is unlikely the subject postposition was mandatory in every subject NP - rather, subjects with certain particular semantic or syntactic properties called for it. In all descendant languages, the subject postposition leaves some traces, but the traces are somewhat spread out.

1. Sargalk

In Sargalk, the postposition became the pegative case. This case marks the subject of a ditransitive verb, but also appears in some other contexts:

  • with some particular verbs
  • before some postpositions
  • to mark intensity of actions
  • for subjects of generic statements about a class (generally in singular)
A different subject preposition 'ved' also emerged, which was used thus:

  •  agent-like, or agent-associated comitatives
  • an optional marker for transitive subjects that had been displaced from their expected place in the clause
  • entire subclauses and gerunds standing as subjects of a verb
  • after a demonstrative that is a subject, when its referent is the previous sentence
  • contrasted subjects
  • whenever an explicit subject is present with an imperative
  • the agent of passives

2. Dairwueh

In Dairwueh, dant has no direct descendant outside of morphology, but the preposition 'bur' has taken up a similar role. It appears in the following contexts:

  • as a marker of resumptiveness in subclauses
  • emphasized 'continued same subject'-pronouns
  • sometimes to mark definite intransitive subjects
  • with loan words that cannot be inflected for case, and with NPs that have no case-bearing marker (e.g. a subclause or similar)
  • subjects in subclauses, and as an introducer of subject-oriented subclauses
  • in comparisons of subject to subject, the subordinate subject has this marker
  • in clauses with a vocative, to distinguish which NP is subject and which is vocative.
  • in some dialects, atypical subjects such as mass nouns take it
  • enables subjects to take a preprepositional, which usually used to convey in what capacity someone does something.

3. Bryatelse

Modern Standard Bryatesle lost 'dant', but gained a postposition 'uid', in some dialects 'uib'. There are also dialectal traces of 'dant'.

The 'uid' postposition:

  • relative clauses that relativize the subject mandatorily have this marker on the subject - even if it strictly speaking is outside of the subclause.
  • comparisons of subjects
  • subjects in subclauses mandatorily take 'uid'.
  • generic statements about a class of things (generally singular)
  • a handful of verbs require 'uid' for the subject.
  • similar vocative distinction as in Dairwueh
  • a few dialects have adapted 'uid' to be a copula.

Traces of 'dant':

  • in northeastern dialects, the definite form is a result of *dant → end.
  • in southeastern dialects, *dant → ''tẽum" functions as an existential verb.
  • In some dialects, *dant → -tɨnt is the secondary subject marker. The majority of dialects have -nisr, which probably derives from a different postposition that also operated as some kind of subject-postposition-like thing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Detail #435: Reflexive markers

This is a companion post to Detail #422: Variations on Reflexives. Detail #422 mostly elaborated on the syntax of reflexive reference. This post will elaborate on ways of encoding reflexiveness.

This was inspired by this quote in a paper I recently read:

"There are three types of reflexives in the world’s languages (Lichtenberk, 1994, p. 3504): 

  1. nominal (nouns or pronouns),
  2. verbal (the reflexive marker is a part of the verb morphology),

  3. possessive (e.g. the possessive adjectives)."

This naturally made me wonder if we can imagine some additional ways. Naturally, a few ideas emerged.

1. Adverbial reflexive markers

 Adverbs like 'back', 'in return', 'alone', etc.

2. Adpositional reflexive markers

One could imagine some types of adposition to be more strongly associated with reflexivity, but maybe have a lower semantic granularity than other prepositions in the language. Consider, e.g. a situation where 'on him' develops to be reflexive but 'at him' to be non-reflexive.

3. Auxiliaries

One could easily imagine verbs like 'get' developing into more of a reflexive meaning than a passive meaning. I.e. 'get fucked' could just as well develop to mean 'fuck yourself'.

4. Omission / Default reflexivity

To some extent, this is sort of something already; 'wash' in some languages defaults to a reflexive meaning. However, ... this is of course only reflexive in the sense of 'reflexive in some target language'. However, if you were to ask 'who are you washing' in those languages, an explicit reflexive would probably be given.

5. That weird Finnish thing

A related thing is the Finnish reflexive -nsa/-an possessive suffix, which is reflexive when no genitive pronoun precedes it, but just a regular third person possessive when the noun is preceded by a genitive.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Detail #434: Number, Clusivity, Personal Pronouns

I imagine this might actually be something that exists in a language. Consider first and second person pronouns and number. Normally, the number marked is the number of the group discussed. I.e. when I say 'we', I might very well be the single person present who belongs to this 'we'. Of course, there's clusivity which can clarify this, but let's consider plural 'you'. This may very well be uttered towards a single person who represents a group that mostly is absent.

Is there any language that encodes both the number of the group it refers to, as well as the number of persons currently present out of that group?

In part, however, this might even be a bit redundant, and we could introduce a further complication beyond the redundancy.

The obvious uses are:

1-singular-plural: I who am the only person present, and some people
2-singular-plural: you who are the only person present, and some people

Is the second slot meant to signify number of non-present, or is it meant to include 'the full number of referents'? These two give different interpretations:

interpretation 1: 1-plural-plural: I, and some people
interpretation 2: 1-plural-plural: I, and some people who are present, and some other people

Thus, we here have two options: conflate the distinction whenever several members of the group are present, or distinguish them thus:

1-plural: I and some people who are present
1-plural-plural: I, and some people who are present and some people who aren't

Naturally, this should be easy to extend to duals and trials.

An interesting simple approach for a conlang could be this though: just have singular and plural, and distinguish by number of addressees.Also, 'I' can mean 'we' if only I, out of the whole group, am present.