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External History of Watakassí

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 10, 2000, 4:47
Well, turns out I missed the second anniversary of Watakassí's
creation.  It was created on April 30, 1998, as I found out by searching
the archives, I'd thought it was later in May.  Oh, well.

Anyhoo, looking back at that first post, I was surprised at how much
it's changed.  The whole idea had been provoked by a book I read on
gender, that made me abandon the language I'd been working on to start a
new one!  And that one's lasted two years so far.  :-)

Initially the phonology was, for consonants:

p  t  k
m  n  N
f  s
w   y

But quickly pared down to:

p  t  k
w   y

Originally with an extremely complex vowel system, but quite
symmetrical.  There were rounded and unrounded versions of closed,
closed-mid, and open-mid vowels, both front and back, plus front and
back low vowels.  Thus, 14 vowels all together, with phonemic length;
plus 10 of them could be nasalized (all the closed and closed-mid
vowels, plus /E/ and /O/) - 38 vowels in all!

I soon got rid of the open-mid vowels and the phonemic length [altho I
later restored phonemic length, only to abandon it again and finally
restore it!], but still there were 20 vowels.  Already, on May 4, I said
in a post that I was "a little iffy on the vowels.  It doesn't seem
realistic to have a grand total of 20 vowels, but only 7 consonants."

I also had a "double-gender" system, where every noun fell into a gender
in two different systems, one had three different genders (first was
"spritual/religious", second was "important things", and third was
"other"), and the other system had eight genders [the ancestor of my
current gender-system], it differed from my current system in that 4 and
5 were "higher animal" and "lower animal"; later they became "feminine
animal" and "masculine animal" - where feminine and masculine were a
sort of spiritual division, not by actual gender - and now they're
"domestic animal" vs. "wild animal".  Also, there was a gender 6 -
"tools", later I banished that, and renumbered 7 and 8.

Pluralization was pretty complex back then, and was only marked on
"system 1" [the one with three genders]; the "system 2" genders [the one
with 8 genders] marked case, and was a postposed clitic [it's now as a
prefix].  System one caused agreement in adjectives and pronouns, while
system two caused agreement in predicate adjectives, verbs, and

Also, I had the following cases: intransitive, agent, patient, genitive,
dative, instrumental, allative, locative, ablative.

Verbs were inflected as voice-abs-erg-verb-tense - today, verbs are not
inflected for ergative, absolutive is a suffix, and tense is a prefix,
and there are more categories!

In fact, beyond the fact that (most) of the "system 2" genders have kept
the same singular form, and some words (like saní, home, and naní,
mother - only with the gender prefixes added) have been preserved with
little or no change, the entire language has changed.  But, I estimate
that the general form of the language has been stable for about a year.

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men
believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of
the city of God!" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
ICQ: 18656696
AIM Screen-Name: NikTailor