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Very culture-specific noun classes...

From:taliesin the storyteller <taliesin-conlang@...>
Date:Saturday, October 15, 2005, 20:49
My main language for over a decade, Taruven, has a sister-language,
Charan (which I might have barely mentioned before). Just today I
realized that Charan must be a language with noun classes, that in fact,
the correct use of noun classes would be a matter of life and death.

As in all languages related to Taruven, the world is divided into
animates (living and/or sentient) and inanimate (non-living or
non-sentient) objects. Furthermore, Charan marks animates according to
their status, which are from highest to lowest:

Animate nouns:
    Member of a House
    Unknown whether a member of a House or not
    Not a member of a House
    Incapable of being a member of a House

The Houses are powerful subcultures/clans/species with their own
laws/customs/lands/professions/esthetics etc. House-less people can form
their own Houses and you can leave a House for another but not go back
to a previous House. You belong primarily to your House and only
secondarily to your family.

The last class can further be divided into:
    Foreigners, children
    Animals (can move by its own volition)
    Plants (cannot move by its own volition)

While an animal or plant are stuck in their class, people can change

Inanimates also fall into partly overlapping classes, also ordered by
highest status to lowest:
    Forces of nature (weather, earthquakes...)
    Things to do with communication (letters, books, email, pencils...)
    Named groups of people, and places (Houses, nations, cities, families...)
    Containers (bottles, clothing, bags, skin/leather...)
    Tools (including slaves, domesticated animals, machines, electricity...)
    Edible things (including former animate things)
    Landscape features (hills, trees, rivers, directions etc.)
    Misc. not covered by any of the above (abstracts, emotions...)

Only a few nouns are assigned to only one class. A tree for instance,
can be considered as for instance
    a plant
    something edible
    a landscape feature

Every noun has an implicit class, generally the class of the highest
status possible except for the "misc." nouns.

While the classes for inanimates have changed a lot during history, the
classes for animates have always been very stable.

I'll detail the system of pronouns later.

t. (incidentally this also shows how I conlang... structure first,
native morphemes later)


Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
mike poxon <mike@...>