Another Blossoming tidbit
|From:||Amanda Babcock <langs@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, July 24, 2003, 13:36|
My informant tells me:
"It has been forbidden to "twine two strands of Blossoms" (mix words from
two sentences together, speaking both at once) ever since the king took
a human wife. In practice, this means that all but the dullest speakers
simply "tie the Blossoms" before they've finished speaking, adding enough
conjunctions to make it all into a single sentence. There is as yet no
rule mandating speech "from the Root to the Bud", as is spoken to children
On Wed, Jul 23, 2003 at 11:35:47PM -0400, Amanda Babcock wrote:
> I was struck by the conlang bug, and for once didn't have any homework
> to take precedence over it, so I was finally able to write one of my
> inspirations down. I'd appreciate comments.
> This is a very first draft here, and addresses grammar only; I haven't
> got phonology or vocabulary yet. Also, the terminology is somewhat uneven
> and can't seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be in English or
> in their own translated terms. The grammar is impelled by its two
> characteristic ideas: that of a great number of genders among which every
> word in the language is distributed, and that of reciprocal gender marking
> between every word and its parent and child words.
> Let me know anything that could be expressed more clearly, or where I'm
> using terminology wrong!
> The Blossoming Language
> A Language spoken by Aliens
> In the Blossoming Language, every word is assigned both a part of speech
> and a gender. The genders are non-sex-based, and could equally well be
> called "word classes", although the native speakers call them Houses or
> There are a great number of genders, enough so that there are rarely two
> words in a sentence with the same gender (this is very helpful in
> disambiguating the relations among the words). Distribution of the words
> among the genders does not in any way depend on their part of speech.
> Words cannot belong to multiple parts of speech or to multiple genders.
> Word order in a sentence is essentially free, because each word marks the
> gender of both the word that dominates it (its parent) and the word that
> it dominates (its child). The gender of the child is represented by an
> infix in the center of the word (natives call it the Seed), and that of
> the parent by a circumfix (called the Petals). Every gender grouping has
> its characteristic Seed and Petal morphemes, although a few morphemes have
> collapsed due to sound changes.
> Where petal/seed references are ambiguous thanks to multiple words of
> the referenced gender within the sentence, a petal refers to the nearest
> preceding word of the appropriate gender and a seed to the nearest following
> one. There are no word order restrictions where references are unambiguous;
> if there is no need to disambiguate, a word can precede or follow the word
> to which its petal refers, and likewise the word to which its seed refers.
> References which could otherwise be considered ambiguous can be considered
> unambiguous if all conflicting referents are closely disambiguated by word
> In short sentences, disambiguation can also function by the other half of
> the Petal/Seed pair that makes up the link between two words, unless there
> are multiple Petal/Seed pairs where both the child words of each pair and
> the parent words of each pair share genders.
> The sentence exists on multiple levels. On the surface level, its word
> order is nearly free. On the Blossoming level, a single chain of words
> can be constructed, starting from the Petal-free word in the sentence, and
> following the chain of blossomings through Seed after Seed until the
> sentence ends with a word with no Seed. A few function words can work
> within this chain to set up a more hierarchical underlying structure below
> the Blossoming level (conjunctions, dependent clause clitics, conditionals).
> The complexity of the system is preserved by an active culture of jokes,
> poetry and wordplay that relishes the ability to spin out a sentence that
> is missing one crucial link until the very last word; or to present
> multiple words of the appropriate gender to be parent to an earlier word,
> only to have them repeatedly parent the very next word, until finally the
> true parent is reached. Sometimes the effect is that of a practical joke,
> and other times of poetry.
> Often relatively meaningless words will be thrown in to dominate or be
> dominated by some noun or verb which is in danger of being ambiguous.
> These words may or may not derive a new PoS, but they make no significant
> semantic change; they just bring a more convenient gender into the
> picture. They may be words like "this" or "do".
> There is no inflection or derivation of words apart from the Petal and
> Seed affixes. Qualities commonly represented by inflection or derivation
> in other languages, such as number, tense, voice, and a change in part of
> speech, occur in the Blossoming Language as separate words with their own
> gender and part of speech. Parts of speech, apart from nouns and verbs,
> are typically distinguished by what other parts of speech they can
> dominate or be dominated by, and by which parts of speech they present
> themselves as to their parents (dominators) and children. For example, a
> nominalizing parent word would dominate verbs and be dominated by things
> that dominate nouns; a nominalizing child word would be dominated by verbs
> and dominate things that nouns can dominate.
> A noun dominated by another noun has adjectival meaning; the two nouns
> create, in effect, a compound noun. Another PoS, the noun-noun conjunction,
> takes nouns as both parent and child and relates them, with such meanings
> as "and", "without", or "of".
> A verb dominating a verb is somewhat adverbial in meaning. An utterance
> which mapped out on the Blossoming level (dominators followed by dominated)
> to "John reach throw ball" would mean "John hit something with the ball",
> whereas "John throw reach target" would mean "John threw and hit the target
> with something". This structure allows auxiliary verbs to be used for
> tense, mood, and aspect.
> A noun dominated by a verb is its object. A noun dominating a verb is its
> subject. A consequence of the linear Blossoming-level structure is that
> there can only be one object per clause; "John threw the ball to Mary" is
> not an option, only "John throw reach Mary" or "John reach throw ball".
> Nouns exist which can be used to refer back to the doer of the action
> under discussion, its result, the action itself etc. Verbs exist which
> can be used to refer back to the action under discussion ("do that").
> Whatever the phonology ends up being, it needs to be extensive enough
> to support a large number of single-syllable Seed infixes.