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Re: Auto-Segmenting Engelang (was REQUEST: Engelang?)

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Monday, June 6, 2005, 19:59
On 6/6/05, Rob Haden <magwich78@...> wrote:

> > What is suffix-coding?
A suffix code would be a code such that none of the sequences is a suffix of another. It would be ugly to parse compared to a prefix code, though. Accenting the first syllable, for example, is segmentable because it has the suffix-code property, although it's the most trivial example I can think of. (Next to monosyllablism.) >3.) Each word is stressed on the final syllable. (First works, too.)
> >Pitch, vowel length -- anything like that would work. > > I like this one and had thought of it before. It seems that I prefer word- > initial stress to word-final.
I like antepenultimate stress, myself, but I also like languages with short words, so I'm stuck. >4.) There is an inventory of tone patterns a word/morpheme may take, a la
> >Yoruba, but no tone pattern is a prefix of any other. (Number 3 is really > >just the simplest case of this.) Say the patterns were L, ML, MH, HM, HH, > >MML, MMM, MMH, HLL, HLM, and HLH. This is self-segmenting, but doesn't > >really violate any naturalness constraints. > > Interesting. That would be hard for me personally to speak, though - I > can't really tell between more than two tones ("high" and "low"). :P
This would work with just two tones, or with stress, or with vowel quantity... or with vowel *quality*. Here's an example with a binary tone or stress system. Have the possible tone patterns H, LL, LHL, and LHH. All is well, although there's not the variety one finds in the three-tone system. Vowel quality would work, too. Say we have a system of consonantal roots, in which vowel change indicates inflection. Particles have 1 consonant, verbs have 2, nouns have 3. Here follows the inflectional paradigm: All particles get the vowel /a/. Verbs: Perfect Indicative: CiCa Imperfect Indicative: CuCa Subjunctive: CuCu Nouns: Masculine nominative: CuCiCu Masculine accusative: CuCiCa Masculine genitive: CuCiCi Feminine nominative: CiCiCu Feminine accusative: CiCiCa Feminine genitive: CiCiCi Plural nominative: CiCuCu Plural accusative: CiCuCa Plural genitive: CiCuCi This is just a play system -- one with more than 3 vowels would be more interesting -- but the important point is that it's entirely and unambiguously segmentable. If you lose track of the sentence, then it gets tricky, but humans don't have much trouble segmenting and computers ideally don't lose track.
> > Where are counter-harmonic suffixes attested?
There are at least two processes in Itzaj that are regularly antiharmonic. Itzaj is (was) the language of the descendents of the people who built Chichen Itza, iirc, although they long since moved down to Guatemala. Something I want to do with this engelang thing is have no independent
> pronouns. Instead there will be affixes that indicate the pronouns and can > attach to any word. However, I'm sure that certain words that are > inflected that way will be used for emphasis (such as "yourself" etc).
You might find the Mayan languages in general an interesting study. They have these optional pronouns, but they're pretty much the person markers stuck to roots like "self" or "head". (The ergative person markers and the possessive prefixes are the same.) Hmm, you might find Matthew Dryer's article on pronomial subjects for the language atlas interesting. You can find it at At least for subjects, it looks like most of the world's languages don't make much use of pronouns at all. Good luck! -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00


Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>Typological Database