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

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Friday, June 3, 2005, 20:36
If one is looking for more naturalism, there are a bunch of ways to 
self-segregate one's words/morphemes that won't look too artificial. It's 
true, of course, that most would never actually arise by any natural 
diachronic process, but we can still avoid "unnaturalness" in many ways.

(Incidentally, the Mayan languages have a very strong preference for CVC, 
CVVC, and CVCVC roots, and most suffixes are -VC. But they aren't really 
self-segmenting; the consonants ? and h tend to disappear in many contexts, 
for one.)

All of the following schemes lead to self-segmentation, although by 
different means than the one above. Actually, looking over them, they all 
rely on some variation on prefix-coding. When no word/morpheme can be a 
prefix of any other, segmenting them is a simple process. (This is basically 
how your compression program squishes your data into less than 8-bit chunks. 
It doesn't matter than some chunks are 2-bit and others are 7, etc, because 
so long as none is a prefix of another they can be unambiguously segmented.)

1.) Monosyllablism. Naturalistic *and* self-segmenting.
2.) Given monosyllabic roots, monosyllabic prefixes are kosher so long as no 
prefix is homophonous with a root. (Suffixes would be okay by suffix-coding, 
I figure.)
3.) Each word is stressed on the final syllable. (First works, too.) Pitch, 
vowel length -- anything like that would work. 
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. 
5.) This one's odd, but kinda interesting. Instead of requiring that some 
phonemes are only in roots and others only in affixes, have counter-harmony 
of the sort that Julia & I were discussing regarding Itzaj. For an example, 
require that
-- Roots contain either only front vowels or only back vowels.
-- All derivational suffixes are harmonic with the root. (Front for front 
roots, back for back roots.)
-- Every word has a single-syllable inflectional suffix that is 
*counter-harmonic* with the root. (Back for front roots, front for back 
roots.) This is at the very boundary of naturalism, of course, but harmonic 
suffixes are common and counter-harmonic ones attested.

Anyway, those are just some examples. (4 is my favorite, followed by 5.) 
There are lots more, I'm sure, just waiting for someone to puzzle them out.


On 6/1/05, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> wrote:
> > Hallo! > > On Tue, 31 May 2005 15:32:09 -0400, > Rob Haden <magwich78@...> wrote: > > > Oh, I forgot to add something. Morneau uses some phonemes strictly for > > inflectional elements and others strictly for roots. I'd like to avoid > > that, if at all possible, because I find it unrealistic. :P > > It is indeed "unrealistic" (if you mean by that un-naturalistic or > un-natlangy), but so is self-segregating morphology generally. > So if your language is meant to resemble a natlang, don't make it > self-segregating, or if you want self-segregating morphology, > don't worry about unnaturalness - your language is unnatural > anyway. > > Greetings, > > Jörg. >
-- 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