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Polysynthetic? Here's Dii,ntis!

From:Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>
Date:Thursday, June 10, 2004, 13:04
After a spate of polysynthetic-interest mails on the list, I thought I'd
post a bit about Dii,ntis, a language I'm working on.  (That "ii," is
supposed to be a pair of i-ogoneks.)

Two questions come out of all this:
1) Is Dii,ntis a plausible language?
2) How is it like any real languages?

First, let's get the phonology out of the way - that part's pretty easy.

- Vowels
a, i, u - the same in SAMPA

- Vowel Stuff
a' - stress  (acute accent)
aa - long
a, - nasalized  (an ogonek, I think)

- Consonants
p, b, t, d, k, g, m, n, f, v, w, l, h - the same in SAMPA
ch - [tS], j - [dZ]
th - [T], dh - [D]
sh - [S], zh - [Z]
kh - [x], gh - [G]
r - [4]
y - [j]

Nothing too esoteric, let's move on to sentences.

   "There is a bee in your hat!"
   Hi' natva,na' azhii di,naachi'!

Breaking that up by words:

   hi' - An existential particle, cf. "there's" in English, or "hay" in
   natva,na' = na - t - va,na'
      na - Illative, which means "in".
      t - Agreement marker, showing that "bee" is that which is in the hat.
      va,na' - Hat.
   azhii - Bee.
   di,naachi' = di - naa - chi'
      di - Genitive, which means "of", or more strictly, "belonging to".
      naa - Agreement marker, showing that "hat" is what you own.
      chi' - 2nd person pronoun, "you".

That's not too hard, so let's try another example.  (I was skimming through
_Describing Morphosyntax_* at the time, so if these examples seem familiar,
that's where they're adapted from.)

   "Frida put the bee in your hat."
   Frida vikshaazhii natva,na' di,naachi'.

And breaking that up by words:

   Frida - Frida, obviously.  (No, wait - that should read "Frida.
   vikshaazhii = vi - k - shaa - azhii
      vi - Perfect.
      k - Agrees with "Frida".
      shaa - Causative.
      azhii - Bee.
   natva,na' = na - t - va,na'
      na - Illative.
      t - Agrees with "bee".
      va,na' - Hat.
   di,naachi' = di - naa - chi'
      di - Genitive.
      naa - Agrees with "hat".
      chi' - You.

Let's rephrase these sentences in English, with more of a
morpheme-by-morpheme translation.

   There's in-hat bee of-you.
   Frida has-make-bee in-hat of-you.

So where are the verbs?  Looking at "in-hat" particularly, it's not clear
whether "nat" means "in-X" or "to be in X".  And there really isn't any
distinction in Dii,ntis.  Let's try another example.

   "Frida is a teacher."
   Frida wikza'ha.

Skipping the obvious, let's look at the last word:

   wikza'ha = wi - k - za'ha
      wi - Essive.
      k - Agrees with "Frida".
      za'ha - Teacher.

This is, as I understand it, typical object incorporation.  If anybody wants
to see other examples translated into Dii,ntis, let me know.

*A book which I heartily recommend, by the way.  Not that I ever commended
it in the first place, but I recommend it anyway.