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Phaleran Update: Ordinal allomorphy; Phaleran dialectology: near/far distinction in Phalitlai

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 11, 2001, 22:23
Okay, so I said some days ago that I'd post some of
the more recent developments in Phaleran on the list.
The way I've been going about construction of the
grammar is (1) read a lot about language universals
and typology, (2) read a lot about areal features of
particular areas of the world, and (3) do translations
so that I have something to work with.  The inevitable
fear of this last method of increasing the grammar is
that the grammar of the language being translated from
will seep into my own Phaleran text.  One way of getting
around this, partially, is to translate from a language
other than English.  So, I've been looking at some Greek
lyric poetry (which I like reading anyways), and have
translated probably the most famous poem by Archilochus,
"A Poet's Shield", which is very brief. I'll post my
translation shortly.  Right now, here're the new features:

I. Ordinals

Phaleran ordinals are nothing to get excited about.  There's
a basic derivational morpheme /-l/ attached to number
particles more or less equally productive as English /-T/
"-th".  The only mildly interesting feature is that ordinals
have a systematic consonantal dissimilation that shifts final
[-l] to [r] (an alveolar tap or trill, depending on dialect).
This produces four allomorphs:

  /l/ ->  [r] if a consonant in the immediately preceding
          syllable is [l];
          [ra] if the syllable to which it is attached already
          has two morae;
          [dra] if the preceding syllable ends in a nasal;
          [l] in any other circumstance.

This also has the interesting effect of shortening long vowels.
These long vowels are not underlying; they are the result of
a prosodic constraint requiring all words to be at least two
morae long.

Number Cardinal    Ordinal
  1      esa        esal
  2      nû         nul
  3      meo        myul
  4      teo        tyul
  5      plenai     plenaira
  6      sorkwa     sorkwal
  7      phwali     phwalir
  8      snâ        snal
  9      snasa      snasal
  10     myumen     myumendra
  11     snamyu     snamyul
  12     snatyu     snatyul
  13     snaplenai  snaplenaira
  14     snâskwa    snâskwal
  15     anta       antal

Look at <10>.  We would expect *<myumenl> if the rule applied
suffixes as expected.  But this would result in a fatal
violation of Phaleran syllable structure, which likes there to
be a peak of sonority at the nucleus (the vowel) and for a gradual
decline on either side. The /l/ is more sonorous than the /n/.
So, to fix this, an epenthetic /a/ is inserted to give *myumenla.
But a nasal plus /l/ also triggers dissimilation here as elsewhere,
so we get *myumenra, which in turn triggers another epenthetic
consonant, a /d/, to provide a licit syllable boundary.

II. Far/Near Tense distinction in Phalitlai Dialect

Old Phaleran often made distinctions between translocative and
cislocative verbs.  So, for example, the morphological
distinction between "I'm coming" and "I'm going" would be the
addition of a cislocative or translocating affix, respectively,
attached to the verb meaning "be in a particular place":

  sela          ki  ren ne   ta
  be-in-a-place CIS AUX PERF 1Sg
  "I have come"

  sela          su    ren ne   ta
  be-in-a-place TRANS AUX PERF 1Sg
  "I have gone"

where "ki" and "su" are directional particles that come
obligatorily after the verb they modify. (Old Phaleran
was also a fairly analytic language, having few
morphologically complex words.) To emphasize the
directionality, though, you could put a copy of the
directional particle at the end of the sentence:

  sela          ki  ren ne   ta   ki
  be-in-a-place CIS AUX PERF 1Sg  CIS
  "I've *come*" (i.e., not gone)

In the course of time, constructions like this tended
to undergo fairly massive grammaticalization, as we see
in Middle Phaleran:

  slaxi             rinta
  be-in-a-place.CIS AUX.PF.1Sg
  "I've come"

  slasu               rinta
  be-in-a-place.TRANS AUX.PF.1Sg
  "I've gone"

In most of the areas that came to form Standard Phaleran,
the directional affixes became unproductive, eventually
showing up only as lexicalized modern cognates:

  swaxirindi           swârindi
  come.INTR.1SgPfRe.S  go.INTR.1SgPfRe.S
  "I've come"          "I've gone"

("swâ-" is used only as a auxiliary verb; the lexical
verb "gwel-" is used otherwise for the Standard.)
However, in the Phalitlai dialect, these directionals never
lost their productivity, as we see in Middle Phalitlai:

  sæliki            hrontæ(ki)
  be-in-a-place.CIS AUX.PF.1Sg.(CIS)

Indeed, when they were used, *both* the first and second
instances of the directional became obligatory. At the same
time, however, there was a tendency to extend the directional
meaning to more metaphorical, temporal uses:

  zalti  pressywantas
  order  carry-out.TRANS.TR.1SgPfRe.TRANS
  "I've carried out the order" (in New Phalitlai)

(the grapheme <yw> represents in Phalitlai dialect the same
glide that you get in French _lui_) And so, as normally
happens during grammaticalization, the emphatic form became
bleached of its emphasis, while the underlying meaning was
at the same time subtly shifting from concrete directionality
to a near/far tense distinction:

  zalti  pressywantas
  order  carry-out.TRANS.TR.1SgPfRe.TRANS
  "I've carried out the order [before today]"

  zalti  preksywantæki
  order  carry-out.CIS.TR.1SgPfRe.CIS
  "I've carried out the order [earlier today]"

Such a construction is considered extremely substandard
according to the Academy of the Phaleran Language, who base
most of their opinions of language correctness on what C'_ali
grammarians said about C'_ali hundreds of years ago.

In Phalitlai, these markers are not tense markers per se;
they represent *relative* tense, because the same markers
can be used for other aspect. The old cislocative always
marks the the time closer to the point of speaking, while
the old translocative marks the more distant time:

  zalti  preksywaltæki
  order  carry-out.CIS.TR.1SgProsRe.CIS
  "I'm about to carry out the order [later today]"

  zalti  pressywaltæs
  order  carry-out.TRANS.TR.1SgProsRe.TRANS
  "I'm going to carry out the order [later this week]"

It's possible that, because the economic power that the
speakers of Phalitlai wield is disproportionate to the
amount of political power they wield, a revolutionary
movement will eject Twolyeo power from their part of
the continent, but I find that unlikely. The Twolyeo
government is a timocracy, which means you have a better
chance of getting elected general-king if have a good
military record.  Losing doesn't help you at the polls,

Thomas Wier <trwier@...> <>

             "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n /
Dept. of Linguistics  mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..."
University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought /
1010 E. 59th Street   and not complete one road that has no turn"
Chicago, IL 60637     Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers


Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>Phaleran Update: Ordinal allomorphy; Phaleran dialectology:near/far distinction in Phalitlai