Re: Particles and grammatical affixes
|From:||Herman Miller <hmiller@...>|
|Date:||Friday, March 21, 2003, 5:24|
On Fri, 21 Mar 2003 00:48:29 +0100, Harald Stoiber <hstoiber@...>
>A bright hello to everybody on the list, :-)
>I am asking you the following to get an idea how other people handle
>this issue with their conlangs. Maybe it will help me with my own
>Once decisions have been made about the phonology and about the basic
>layout of grammar, how do you assign the neccessary affixes and/or
>particles? Since these tiny bits of language will be very prominent in
>all kinds of sentences, they should be chosen carefully, shouldn't they?
>I think that they essentially constitute the sound of a language, especially
>when it comes to make rhymes in poetry.
It depends. Natlangs don't have the meanings of particles carefully
designed, yet they manage to be adequate for poetry. Actually, the little
words tend to be hard to assign particular meanings to. Think of all the
different meanings of "to" or "out" in English. When it comes to the use of
derivational and inflectional suffixes, those elements can be pretty
unstable (as they were when developing Tirelat) for a while. Even the
number and order of verb suffixes in Tirelat has changed. I think probably
the best thing to do is try something and change it if it doesn't work out,
or if an alternative comes along that looks like it might be better for the
style of the language.
>Furthermore, if a particular affix has (for example) been assigned to
>an inflectional ending, then it may be of limited use for a regular word
>ending. Umlaut or ablaut can take over the function of a suffix that can
>not be appended - German is quite full of pertinent examples - but the
>decision on grammatical morphology obviously has direct implications
>for regular word-building itself.
Not necessarily; Tirelat has a suffix -da, for instance, which makes nouns
out of verbs (e.g., ziraku "to scare", varzirakuda "scarecrow"), but there
are also numerous words ending in -da that aren't derived from verbs, and
some of them aren't even nouns. It's similar to the -er suffix in English;
there isn't any restriction on words like "gather" or "lever".
>So, how do you select these tiny but important parts of your languages?
>Are there any combinations which especially "mix" well with adjacent
>words? For example, I thought about the Arabic article "al" and found
>out that it goes unobtrusively with most of the words that I tried. Are
>there some universals for basic grammatical affixes such as prefixes,
>suffixes and short particles?
Keep in mind also that these sorts of elements often have alternative forms
(allomorphs) depending either on the phonetic environment around them,
gender or other grammatical categories. Arabic "al" assimilates to the
following consonant if it's one of the "sun" consonants (which I don't
remember off the top of my head, but I think they're basically the alveolar
consonants). Some languages have variant forms of words or affixes
depending on whether they're adjacent to a consonant or a vowel (think of
English "a" / "an", or French "le" / "l'"). Tirelat strings a bunch of
consonant prefixes together and puts epenthetic schwas between them as
necessary. Lindiga has one set of case suffixes for singular nouns, a
slightly different set for plural nouns, and another for adjectives; I'm
planning on introducing still another set for noun roots ending in a vowel.
This can also be a good place to introduce a little irregularity into the
language, if the regularly derived forms don't work out. Jarda has some
irregular forms as a result of dissimilation (kjitraya "bat, ergative"
instead of the expected kjitrara, for instance).
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