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An Unknown Conlang

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 5, 2000, 11:13
Hi everyone,

I want to share a strange event that happened to me just a few days ago
(yes, it's very much conlang-related :) ).

I was looking through all the papers that I accumulated in my apartment for
three years now (and if you saw my way of arranging things, you would
understand that it's quite an adventure :) ) when I found a bunch of
papers, pencil-written notes with my writing. It was a sketch of a conlang!
Yet I have absolutely no memory of writing that! And absolutely no idea of
when I did it! I was so stunned that I decided to look at it more closely,
and despite my telegraphic style, I could understand what the language
looked like. I found it really interesting, but I really had the impression
I discovered it! I really have no memory whatsoever of it! The language
looked so nice that I decided to copy the notes again, in a style that will
make it easier to read. And as I couldn't find the name of it in the notes,
I decided to call it O, reflecting thus the state of my memory concerning it.

The language itself has really nice features. It's an ergative language
with cases and two genders: animate and inanimate. The only difference
between the two genders (other than the fact that some pronouns are
specific to one gender) is that 5 cases out of the 19 cases are not
available for inanimates. For example, ergative is a purely animate case.
The inanimate subject of transitive verbs must be in the instrumental or
causative. Adjectives behave a little like Japanese: some are really nouns,
others are really verbs. All subclauses are infinitive (i.e. the verb of
subclauses is in nominal form. When I think that one month ago I said that
it was a really nice feature and that I would like to have it in my
conlangs. Now it's the second language of mine that I discover having this
feature! :) ).

But the most interesting feature concerns tense in sentences. There are
five tenses: aorist, current, accomplished, prospective and hypothetical,
as well as a mediaphoric mark. They are marked on the verb only if there is
no noun in the absolutive case in the sentence. If there is one, the mark
of tense (and the one of mediaphoric if needed) is put on this noun, not on
the verb! It is the mandatory construction for subclauses. Also, conjugated
verbs take marks for the core participants only when those ones are not
present as nouns in the sentence.

O oscillates between agglutinating and inflecting. It's mostly an
agglutinative language (for instance marks of case and number -
indefinite/singular definite/plural definite - are added together in front
of the noun) with some inflecting features (for instance, wherever they are
- on the verb or on the noun - the marks of absolutive and tense are fused
in one affix).

There is also a nice feature of particles (particles are small
non-inflected words. They are mostly conjunctions - and, or, etc... -,
marks of negation, onomatopeia, marks of quantity - more, much, less,
etc... -). Particles tend to concatenate into one word (a little like Latin
neque from ne: not and -que: and, but more systematic).

If you want, I can give you a sketch of this language. Its phonology is
interesting too, containing the phonemes /y/ and /H/ (the French 'u' - or
German 'ü' - and its semivowel conterpart, the semivowel in French 'lui').

What do you think if this? Strange event isn't it?

                                                Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"Reality is just another point of view."

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