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New Lang: Díp Stul

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Friday, July 7, 2000, 4:01
I started a new conlang the other day, based off of some bizarre ideas I'm
pursuing in my scholarly life.  I don't know how well they work for real
languages, but I think it makes for an interesting conlang.  So instead of
doing my work, I've been playing with Díp Stul.

The phonology is very basic.  These are all the phonemes, the pronunciation
should be easy to figure out.  The difference in the stops is a pretty
voiced~voiceless distinction, as it is in the fricatives

p t k
b d g
f s x
v z G
m n N
w l j
u a i

There is also a distinction between high (marked with an acute accent) and low

All words are monosyllabic, and the syllable template is (C)(C)V(C).  There
only two restrictions on the phoneme distribution.  1) Nasals may never follow
a stop.  2) Adjacent consonents must have the same voicing.  Thus, the nasals
and approximants are allophonically voiceless when adjacent to p,t,k,f,s,x.
The voiceless varieties are not separate phonemes, because they may never
word finally or as the sole onset of the syllable.

Here are some example words with unusual clusters (from an English

psá 'seen'
bzá 'have someone following oneself'
ktam 'boy, child'
nsid 'rain'

Díp Stul is completely isolating.  There is not a single inflectional or
derivational affix.  There are also no rigid parts of speech: any word may
function as either a noun or verb depending on the context.  For example, ktam
'boy' may be a noun in a sentence like _ktam psá_ 'the boy is seen' or a verb
in something like _pat ktam_ 'I am a boy'.  As will become apparent later,
is not a zero copula sentence: _ktam_ is the verb.

Words may function in a given sentence as nominals, verbs, adverbs, or
conjunctions -- I'm still debating the existance of demonstratives and how I
would implement them. There are no adjectives, numerals, or adpositions.
three types of meaning are all expressed by verbs.

_ktam níg_ 'the boy is young'
_ktam stáp_ 'there are two boys' (lit. 'the boys are two (in number)'.)

The interesting part of this lang is that all verbs are intransitive - that
they may only take a single noun.  Further nouns are added to the sentence by
stringing together verb phrases.  There must be an equal number of verbs and
nouns in all sentences, and each noun must occur before the verb it goes
Adverbs and relative clauses may intercede between the two, but nothing else

Here are a couple simple sentences:

_pat kaw ktam psá_
   I     make boy seen
'I see the boy.'

_pat mik ktam psá_
    I   cause boy seen
'I am showing the boy (to other people); I cause the boy to be seen.'

_ktam bil zbúk dzí  miN gwi_
  boy does school toward self walking
'The boy is walking to school.'

Okay, so they aren't so simple.  There are two important requirements on the
verbs.  First of all, the last verb in a sentence must be "stative" that
is, it
must describe the state that its nominal is in.  In the first two sentences,
the boy is in the state of being seen; in the last, the "self" is in the state
of walking.

If there are multiple verbs, the first one must be "agentive".  This
the noun that is causing the action to take place.  There are not many verbs
that may go in this position, but I have not figured them all out yet.  The
only exception to this is possessive sentences, in which case the first (and
only other) verb is _vi_ 'to'.  The three given above provide adequate
though, I hope.

  _kaw_ is used when the "agent" is doing something without affecting a third
entity to make the state hold -- I am doing the action that causes the boy to
be in the state of being seen.

  _mik_ is used when the "agent" is doing something to make the state hold by
the actions of others -- above, I am the cause of why the boy is being seen,
but I may not be doing anything directly to the boy, thus I am showing him.
I wanted to add who I am showing the boy to, then I would use a noun to denote
that entity with the verb _kaw_: _pat mik ktam kaw zbúk psá_ 'I show the
to the boy.'

_bil_ is used when the "agent" is doing something to make himself be in a
certain state.  Whenever it appears as the agentive verb, the noun
the stative verb must be _miN_ 'self'.  The reverse is true as well: _miN_
requires that the agentive verb be _bil_.  So this is some kind of
discontinuous reflexive structure.

Possessive sentences are, IMHO, very interesting.  The stative verb in a
neutral sentence is _xúz_ 'exist'.  The noun for this verb is the possessed
item.  The possessor is associated with the "directional" verb _vi_ 'to'.  So,
"I have a car" is _pat vi sval xúz_ (lit. me to car exist).  Whenever the
possessed item would be modified by a numeral or adjective in English, the
numeral or adjective equivalent appears as the stative verb; so "I have two
cars" would be _pat vi sval stáp_ (lit. me to car two).

In between "agentives" and "statives" come the "directionals" (like the first
verb in a possessive construction).  These are the verbs that indicate spatial
and temporal relationships, much like English prepositions.  For example, take
the sentence given above _ktam bil zbúk dzí  miN gwi_ "The boy is walking to
school".  The directional _dzí_ 'toward' is the middle verb associated with
goal of the movement _zbúk_ 'school'.

The way to create a relative clause (RC) is to place a full sentence directly
between the modified noun and its verb.  Inside the RC, a resumptive pronoun
_ik_ appears with the appropriate verb.

_pat kaw ktam ik kaw zbúk Nib psá_
   I     make boy RP make school at seen
'I see the boy who is at school.'

All adjectives are expressed by relative clauses.

_pat kaw ktam ik stáp psá_
   I     make boy RP two seen
'I see two boys.'

Comments?  Suggestions?

Marcus Smith


"Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up ever
preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatsoever abysses Nature
leads, or you shall learn nothing.
        -- Thomas Huxley.