Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

ANNOUNCE: My new conlang S11

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 1, 2005, 22:10

I waited for quite some time to announce this and it is still not much
to present, but I'll give you some info about my new project S11 (no
better name yet) now.

   The main problem I was having with all conlangs so far
   was the question of assignment of arguments to predicates:

      - Which roles are direct arguments to verbs?
        I.e., how to handle verbs that naturally have
        three arguments like the prototype 'to give'?
        Do we want two or more core cases (a core dative

      - Which adjunct cases (or adpositions or whatever) do
        we need?
        How do be handle adjuncts/predicate modification
        in general?

   I found the questions very hard an unsatisfactory to solve each
   time and was searching for some grammar structure that ultimately
   solved these questions without arbitrary borderlines e.g. between
   arguments and adjuncts.

   My current project S11 is my current attempt to get closer to a


   - two open word classes: nouns and verbs

   - verbs have exactly (thus maximally(!)) *one* argument.
     E.g. there are no transitive verbs.

   - there are no adjuncts either, the whole structure is controlled
     by using a sequence of noun-verb pairs.

   This means that verbs act like role markers themselves.  Thus you
   could also say that there is an open class of adpositions/case
   markers/role markers, but no verbs.  But I think 'verb' is more
   appropriate, since the category is open.

   For sentences that involve transitive concepts in other langs,
   there are simply two (or more) verbs for each role.  I think they
   will all be suppletives, and not derivationally related (or maybe
   related by some irregular, chaotic, non-productive process in some

   The word order is

       noun verb noun verb ... noun verb.

   After the first noun in a pharse, there must be an evidence marker,

       noun evidence verb noun verb ... noun verb.

   There is no phonology yet, so the words are variables:

       'LU'   verb: to ask something
       'NI'   verb: for something to be asked
       'MAT'  verb: for someone to be addressed
       'JIT'  evidence: hearsay
       'KHAN' noun: question

   'John asks Mary a question.' =

       John JIT LU   Mary MAT  KHAN NI.
       noun ev. verb noun verb noun verb

There is no need for voices, since all the verbs can be used on their

   'John asks something.'     = John JIT LU.
   'Mary is addressed.'       = Mary JIT MAT.
   'A question is posed.'     = KHAN JIT NI.

The ordering of the noun-verb pairs in the sentence is:
   - topic first
     (The noun-verb phrase whose noun is the topic comes first.)
   - The other noun-verbs are sorted by decreasing focus.

Modification: relative clause:
   Use a normal sentence and suffix the relative particle
   (let it be called 'GUP') to get a complex noun.  The
   referent is in topic position in the sub-phrase:

     'John, who asks a question, is addressed.' =
     John JIT     LU   KHAN     NI    GUP  JIT     MAT.
     noun ev.     verb noun     verb  rel. ev.     verb
     John hearsay ask  question posed who  hearsay addressed

     'John asks a question.' =
     John JIT     LU   KHAN     NI
     noun ev.     verb noun     verb
     John hearsay ask  question posed

   Note that every clause needs an evidence marker, so
   there are two 'JIT's in the first sentence.

The whole thing will be polysynthetic again, I think, but that's more
of an accident: I started with an isolating lang, like above, then
made all the particles clitics that attach to the previous word.  This
would yield the following words:

     [John-JIT] [LU] [KAHN] [NI-GUP-JIT] [MAT].

And then I decided to let the verbs also cliticise with the previous
word.  I made some particles (e.g. the relative particle) free words
again, to prevent multiple verbs per word.  So in the above sentence,
you'd get the following words:

     [John-JIT-LU] [question-NI] [GUP-JIT-MAT].

Further, I'll probably have some vowel-consonant harmony, clicks and
some uvulars and, for additional spiciness, labials and rounded vowels
(s2 and s7 had none).  Fun! :-) I'm currently working at the
phonotactics, which takes its time, so this may change.

So these are the basic ideas.  I'll post more later.

What do you think?  Comments?



H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Damian Yerrick <tepples@...>
Damian Yerrick <tepples@...>
Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>Isolating or synthetic (was: ANNOUNCE: My new conlang S11)