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Re: CHAT: (no subject)

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Friday, January 20, 2006, 15:54
Pete wrote:
I had a thought the other day. Let us suppose that we have an
oligosynthetic language, i.e. few roots, but lots and lots of
derivational affixes. Over time, it seems likely that sound changes
might cause the derivational affixes to fuse with the roots in
unpredictable ways, thus effectively turning lots of root+affix
combinations into new roots, while simultaneously causing the
derivational affixes to lose their productivity. Ultimately, an
oligosynthetic language would be highly likely to evolve into a non-
oligosynthetic one. Could this be the reason why there are no
undisputed cases of oligosynthesis in the wild?

While there probably isn't a language where this is the *only* thing
that happened, this has happened before.  And, in fact, this is what I
did with one of my languages, from a non-historical point of view.
The language likes two basic word shapes:

-monosyllabic, heavy syllable = word

-trisyllabic, at most one heavy syllable = word

Words it doesn't like are CVCV.  So I have this list of -CV suffixes
that I use to build these words up to make trisyllabic words.  Some
are only used a couple times; some many times.  None of them are
in any way productive, and sometimes they get swallowed up by

Anyway, to see an entire language designed on this principle would
really be fascinating.  You up to it, Pete?  ~:D

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>Diachronic instability of oligosynthesis