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Re: Additonal features for CALS

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 2:52
JR wrote:
> First ... congratulations and thank you Kaleissin, this site is really > great! Some thoughts/comments/suggestions:
> Would it be totally ridiculous to map langs based on the location of the > creator? I doubt we'd find any areal tendencies beyond the presence or > absence of (participating) conlangers themselves in different areas, but you > never know. Well, it's just a thought ... I guess I really just miss the > maps, and even if those conlangs that are supposed to inhabit the Real World > are mapped, most will still be excluded.
It's an interesting idea, but I think it makes more sense to do this page as if it's a collection of data on actual languages, with the place on the map based on where it is supposed to be spoken. A star map could be included, but languages like Ebisédian still would be hard to place (maybe the middles of oceans and the gaps between stars could be claimed by those with languages not spoken in our universe).
> As for additional features, besides a priori/a posteriori, non-human > phonemes, based on, and length of active development (or rather, year begun, > or to be more general, decade begun), some other possibilities are: > > 1) approximate lexicon size: not sure what values would be most useful, but > something like 1-500/501-1000/1001-2500/2501-5000/over 5000, for example
For most conlangs this is really an attribute of the quality of documentation, not a property of the language. On the other hand, some conlangs have deliberately limited vocabulary, so this could be a binary feature (limited / unlimited).
> 2) vowel harmony type: absent, backness, height, roundedness, ATR, multiple, > other) > 3) vowel harmony pervasiveness: getting the values right would be tricky, > but something like absent/weak/moderate/strong/absolute, taking into account > presence in both affixes (inflectional and derivational) and roots, and > whether loanwords undergo adaptation. > 4) allophone to phoneme ratio: not at all sure what values would be most > useful
This is probably one of the least constant features in my recent languages; I've gone through too many phonology revisions.
> 5) absence of common parts of speech: > nouns/verbs/adjectives/adverbs/multiple absent/all present (I suspect that > such a value set might obscure more tendencies than it would reveal, by > lumping too many langs into 'multiple', but I'm not sure which combinations > would be best to single out. On second though, perhaps this could be split > into two features, one for nouns and verbs, and one for adjs and advs.)
Adjectives distinct from adverbs? yes/no Adjectives distinct from nouns? Adjectives distinct from verbs? Nouns distinct from verbs? Pre-/postpositions distinct from nouns/verbs?
> 6) person distinctions (made anywhere in the language; mere syncretism in > certain instances is irrelevant): none/1,other/1,2,3/1,2,3,4/more than 4 > persons distinguished/other. I'm not sure how relevant this is for most of > us, but I have one lang each to put into the second and penultimate > categories. Also, 4th person should not be taken to mean here some kind of > indefinite subject, as it sometimes is, but a category beyond 3rd that any > NP can belong to.
Could be interesting; Minza has 4th person pronouns.
> 7) unusual number distinctions (made anywhere in the lang, but in a fairly > productive way): dual/trial/paucal/other/various combinations/none > > What say ye? I regret I probably wouldn't be able to do much actual > write-up, as my computer has just kicked the bucket and I don't expect to be > able to replace it in the foreseeable future ... of course I'm on someone > else's at the moment.
There are all sorts of unusual features in conlangs, but some (e.g. a stack-based grammar, lack of voiced sounds) are confined to one or two examples. Self-segregating morphology? That could be a relevant feature for engelangs.


JR <fuscian@...>