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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
and foreigners."

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 > > Overview: > > 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 > Clans. > > 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 > order. > > 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. > > Implications: > > 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. > > Relations: > > 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"). > > Phonology: > > Whatever the phonology ends up being, it needs to be extensive enough > to support a large number of single-syllable Seed infixes.