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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 >one. :-)) > >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). -- languages of Azir------> ---<>--- hmiller (Herman Miller) "If all Printers were determin'd not to print any email password: thing till they were sure it would offend no body, \ "Subject: teamouse" / there would be very little printed." -Ben Franklin


Elliott Lash <erelion12@...>Hinession Dialect Continuums