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Self-segregating morphology again - in simpler terms, with list of methods

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Monday, April 17, 2006, 16:58
On 4/15/06, Taka Tunu <takatunu@...> wrote:
> Yohemiwi kana kero hipi we kame time hipi wi yapehewa "tara roko hate matu mihi"
> (Translation: There are several thread on this list about "self-segregating > morphology" that I cannot understand because these threads use plenty of words > pertaining to maths or computer sciences that I don't understand. And yet.)
If I recall correctly from the last time I looked at Tunu, it has a more or less self-segregating morphology. Self-segregating morphology simply means that the rules about what shapes a word, or a morpheme, can have, and how they're put together into compounds (if the language isn't purely isolating), are such that you can always tell where one morpheme, or word, leaves off and the next one begins. Some of the methods for doing so are complex and require some maths (e.g., Plan B, and Jörg and Ray's redesigns of it); others are very simple. Maybe it would make sense to collect a list of methods for self-segregation. I'm thinking about this a lot lately because I want my next conlang to have such a feature. Tceqli has perhaps the simplest such rule: one set of phonemes (the fricatives, plosives and affricates) are the beginning set, and another set (the vowels, nasals, liquids and semivowels) are the following set. A morpheme consists of one or more phonemes from the beginning set, followed by one or more phonemes from the following set. I'm thinking of stealing this for my next conlang, but modifying the sets of phonemes in each set. In Ilomi a word always begins and ends with a vowel, and two vowels in a row never occur within a word; a morpheme boundary in a compound word has an /n/ between two vowels, and /n/ by itself never occurs in root morphemes). Plan B and the redesigns of it the consonants grouped into sets which indicate the number of syllables in the word. So a word starting with one of a certain set of consonants will be one syllable, a word starting with one from another set will be two sylllables, and so forth. (This is a major simplification.) Yahya recently posted (probably tongue in cheek) a more verbose self-segregation scheme with the same basic principle. Lojban has a complex set of self-segregation rules that I don't remember well (if indeed I ever studied them well enough to know them). gzb started out having a self-segregating morphology, but in one of the early revisions I decided this wasn't an important feature for my purposes and in the course of revising the phonotactics to allow more monosyllabic words, I made it so there are a few theoretically ambiguous morpheme boundaries. There, I had certain vowels that can only occur in the initial or medial syllable of a polysyllabic root, and others that can occur only in the final syllable of polysyllabic root or in a monosyllabic root. This is still the case. But now that a word can begin with almost any consonant followed by a liquid or semivowel, and can end in a semivowel followed by a nasal -- a few boundaries are ambiguous, like "tĭwmwĭl" ("bed") - which could be tĭwm-wĭl (?-sack) or tĭw-mwĭl (furniture-sleep) (but in practice the first parsing is impossible because there is no root "tĭwm"). For this reason I still use hyphens between morphemes in the online version of the language, though I've dispensed with them for a couple of years in my journal writing. -- Jim Henry


And Rosta <and.rosta@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>