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From:Carl Banks <conlang@...>
Date:Sunday, April 27, 2008, 17:06
Bimo, dorahay,

I have a brief description of Bowtudgelean (version 0.1) at

I'm curious how common some of my "innovations" are.  I've read a lot of
conlang archives and never saw much discussion about these particular ideas.

1. Bowtudgelean has ten states of definiteness.  Most languages only
distinguish between definite and indefinite; mine distinguishes
different types of definiteness and inflects nouns, pronouns, and
adjectives accordingly:

First Person: is or includes the speaker
Second Person: is or inlcudes the listener
Nominal: the word is a name
Referred: something recently spoken of
Indicated: a limiting adjective (or phrase) follows
Local: the thing is near the speaker
Remote: the thing is distant from the speaker
Past: the thing happened in the past
Future: the thing happened in the future
Indefinite: indefinite

Adjectives agree with nouns and pronouns in state.  That's why there is
a first person state: the adjective gets a different state ending in
that case.  There are no nouns in first person state of course (except
for appositives; but appositives take adjectival endings).

I got this idea from Arabic, which has three states.  (Though it's not
the same thing, because the construct state in Arabic carries no
semantic value.  Still, construct is somewhat comparable to indicted
state in Bowtudgelean.)

2. Bowtudgelan doesn't have any sort of fixed framework for participants
of actions to fit into.  There are no cases; no agents and patients; no
triggers; not anything like that.  Instead, each verb carries its own
set of proclitic markers that indicate participants.

The set of markers a verb uses (called the signature) has to be learned
as part of the verb, but there are common signatures that can be thought
of as conjugations.  For example, one such conjugation is for verbs of
manipulation (where a person physically manipulates an object) which
usually use the za-epu- signature.  "Za" precedes the manipulator; "epu"
the thing being manipulated.

For a different verb, the "agent" might have a different marker
altoghether.  For example, the verb "azhde" uses the signature
ar-to-mogi- ("ar" preceding the builder, "tor" the material used, and
"mogi" the resulting structure).

I'm pretty sure this never happens in any natlang (it's probably
linguistically unstable).  I wonder if there are any other conlangs that
do anything like this?

I imagine some poeple might wince at this, but I got the idea from
computer languages.  In Python, when calling a function, the arguments
come in a specific order:


But it's also possible to use keyword arguments:


Furthermore, the keyword arguments don't need to appear in the same
order as in the fixed order call:


Translating this idea to human languages I came up with the idea of
participant markers.

Carl Banks


David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>