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Introducing Dmēnna

From:Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Date:Saturday, September 15, 2007, 5:24
     Hi, everyone!  I’d like to introduce you to Dmēnna, a language I’ve
been working on for a little while now.  It’s sort of a side project, so
it’s not as fleshed out as some of my other conlangs, but it has a
pretty good vocabulary at this point.

     Dmēnna is kind of an eclectic language, borrowing from many
different languages, including some Semitic ones.  I’ve been rather
interested in Amharic for a few years, and you might see some of that in
this language.  The consonant clusters can be a bit tricky for English
speakers, almost Caucasian at times, but I’ve actually managed to teach
a few people some of the basics (in an earlier version, as this one’s a
bit harder to work with).

     Dmēnna has a fairly rich system of 10 vowels (18 including length
distinctions) and 22 consonants.  For those of you familiar with
Sanskrit, you’ll probably notice the similarities between this sound
system and that of Sanskrit, which is what led me to use the orthography
I did.

     Most vowels can change for length, so we’ll show the long vowel
first, then the short vowel.  Length is shown with a macron, except in
the case of long ä, where a macron would generally be impractical, so
here I’m using â for long ä.
     ī /i:/     i /I/
     ē /e:/     e /E/
     â /aE/     ä /{/
     ū /u:/     u /U/
     ō /o:/     o /O/
     ā /a:/     a /@/
     yā /ja/     ya /j@/
     ļ /l=/
     ŗ /r=/
     ņ /n=/

     Most of the consonants have their IPA values.  The ones that are
pronounced otherwise are |ť| /T/, |š| /S/, |ď| /D/, |ž| /Z/, and |y| /j/.
     p t k
     b d g
     f ť s š h
     v ď z ž
     w r l y
     m n ŋ

     Very often, voiceless fricatives (and sometimes stops) will become
voiced depending on their environment or grammatical function.  For
example, the verbal prefix |s-| often assimilates to |z-|, or |fīg|
“sadness” changes to |vīg| “be sad”.

     Dmēnna morphology makes most of its changes with prefixes and
suffixes, though there is some very sporadic use of circumflexes,
infixes, and even stem alteration.

     Nouns are reasonably straightforward to work with.  The most
important inflections are for possession and “intensity”.  Most noun
inflections are suffixes.

     Let’s look at the various forms of the word |mōha| “house”:
     mōhyām - 1st person singular possession (“my house”)
     mōhrōy - 2nd sg.
     mōhzih - 3rd sg. masc.
     mōhŗh - 3rd sg. fem.
     mōhrā - 1st pl.
     mōhzyāgŗy - 2nd pl.
     mōhreď - 3rd pl.
     mōha - generic unpossessed
     mōhaď - specific unpossessed

     There is an indirect possession form, where |nyāmva mōha| also
means “my house”, but it deemphasizes the relationship between the
possessor and the object possessed.

     I’m not entirely sure what to call this prefix, as it generally
“intensifies” or “upgrades” the meaning of a word.  In a possessive
phrase, the possessor is intensified to indicate their role in the
phrase.  Verbs can take this prefix as well, used when a non-participant
in the conversation is the agent.  When a defined non-participant is the
possessor of something, the object possessed drops any possession
suffixes.  Nouns that don’t use a counting word can use the prefix to
become plural, dropping any generic unpossessed suffix, which otherwise
would keep them “demoted”.  The intensifying prefix is |s|, though it
assimilates to |z| before voiced phonemes.

Counting Words
     Many nouns take counting words to refer to specific quantities of
them, and there are many more that can optionally take a counting word.
Some of the most common counting words are as follows:
     nērga - for tiny, roundish things
     pāržda - for small amounts of liquids
     deha - for counting livestock
     lūksa - for fish
     a keda - for flat things
     a tesa / a dāla / a stāl - generic counting words
     a syalsa / vadrāp - for sections of things

     So if you’re going to refer to tree branches, for example, you
could talk about |īršta vadrāp|, or for an amount of grain, |īlrāba
nērga|, or for fish, |nimâsa lūksa|.

     The verb system is rather complex (I usually like to focus my
efforts on verbs), and I haven’t worked it all out yet, but here’s some
of the important stuff.

     In Dmēnna, discourse focuses on the relationships between the two
participants in the speech act, the speaker and the listener.  It is
assumed that one of the two participants, or some larger group (which
may of course include one of the two), is always the agent of any verb.
To make a non-participant the agent, the verb takes the “intensity”

     There are a number of different verbal inflections, only some of
which I’ve worked out far enough to post here.  For these examples,
we’ll use |tēgivänut| “find one’s way” and |kīs| “look for
(something)”.  The inflections are shown in the order: 1sg, 2sg, 1pl,
2pl, 3pl, and 3sg (which requires promotion of the agent noun).

distant or unavoidable future

near or intentional future

intended action

expected action

For some example sentences:
     Tīwa rīne tīanag spīšyām.
     “My sheep will (near future) eat some wheat.”

     Īnamaď a fâhyām kīsanagmā.
     “I’ll be looking for my portion of the gold.”

     Mōhrōy ni fâhrōy pīkatsōpsŗy.
     “You should keep your portion at your house.”

That’s all I have for now.  I’d be very interested to hear what you think!

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Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <conlang@...>
Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>