Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

update on class language

From:Matt Pearson <mpearson@...>
Date:Sunday, May 2, 1999, 23:28
A couple weeks ago, I posted a message about a class conlanging project
for a course I'm teaching, where we spin a large wheel to determine the
grammatical features of the language, and then the students make up

Well, the language has been slowly taking shape, and is now advance
enough that we can write simple sentences in it.  Here are some of the
features of the class language, called Nattiki, in case anyone's

(1) Sounds of Nattiki:

Consonants:   Stops:         p, b, t, d, k, g
              Nasals:        m, n
              Fricatives:    f, s, z, sh [S], h
              Lateral fric:  lh
              Affricate:     ch [tS]
              Liquid:        l
              Approximants:  w, y [j]

Vowels:       Short:   a, e, i, o, u
              Long:    aa, ee, ii, oo, uu

(2) Permissible syllables:

    V        CV
    VV       CVV
    VC       CVC

(3) Stress falls on the final syllable if that syllable is heavy (ends
in a long vowel or consonant), and on the penultimate syllable if the
final syllable is light (ends in a short vowel).

(4) Some phonological rules:

-- Alveolar, postalveolar, and velar consonants are palatalised after
/i/ or /ii/.  Thus the /t/ in "Nattiki", for example, is pronounced
as a palatal stop.

-- Voiced stops (/b, d, g/) are pronounced as fricatives between
vowels, as in Spanish.

-- When two consonants occur together, the first one assimilates in
voicing and place of articulation to the second.  E.g. "hosduumu"
= "building" is pronounced /hozduumu/, while "didma" = "dog" is pronounced

(4) Word order:  V O S

(5) Adjectives precede the noun in noun phrases, and there are no
determiners ("a" or "the").

(6) Verb tense/aspect forms marked by prefixes:

     Simple present:     (unmarked)     mef       "kisses"
     Pres progressive:   bob-           bobmef    "is kissing"
     Past:               o-             omef      "kissed"
     Future:             shu-           shumef    "will kiss"

(7) There are two noun cases, nominative and objective.  Case is marked
by a suffix on the noun and any modifying adjectives:

     Nominative:         -tem
     Objective:          -op


     shuu       "blue"
     gaawuk     "house"

     shuutem gaawuktem    "the blue house" (nom)
     shuuop gaawukop      "the blue house" (obj)

That's about all.  It's shaping up to be a rather unusual language.  The
students are being quite creative.  I'll be interested to see what else
they can come up with, based on the random spins of the wheel...

A couple example sentences:

     bobbee    shootem      sheetem
     Prog-play peaceful-Nom cat-Nom
     "the peaceful cat is playing"

     baapa paasefashop      gintem
     know  aromatherapy-Obj woman-Nom
     "the woman knows about aromatherapy"


Matt Pearson
UCLA Linguistics Department
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543