Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

new conlang- BÎhuenagwon

From:David Peterson <thatbluecat@...>
Date:Saturday, September 11, 2004, 21:33
Whoa...   Man, how did you even *think* of this?   This is really out
there.   Anyway...

Rodlox wrote:

<<from part of the Babel Text: 'to shape and sunbake clay'  =  stye-ürr'eo
yols-e chak
Word order is Subject-Verb-Etc.>>

When you present thing on the list, rather than giving a wordlist
and a sentence, it's best to give an interlinear gloss.   This came up not
long ago--check the archives.   This doesn't mean that you shouldn't
have posted your wordlist, because it was also interesting.   But when
you actually post a sentence in your language, an interlinear allows
people to understand what your sentence says without having to look
anything up.   What you've got is kind of difficult to parse, but an
interlinear might look something like this:

stye-ürr'eo yols-e chak
/clay-bake-sunbake do-? "and then"/
"To shape and sunbake clay"

[Note: There's a question mark in there because you give no gloss for the
/-e/ suffix attached to /yols/.]

Anyway, even this wouldn't be much help, because, well, languages don't
usually look like this.   It's not like they can't--they just don't usually.  
thing I'm reminded of is a post that Dirk Elzinga made.   He posted a text
about Coyote, and one of the verbs had the word "eye" in the interlinear
gloss.   I was really confused by this, because it's not something you 
see.   He replied that, like many Amerind languages, certain verbs can take
body part affixes, and they're understood to be the part of the body affected
by the action.

Anyway, what this reminds me of is actually, like I was saying before, Eskimo
languages.   In a language like Inuvialuktun (or Siglitun, or something.   
never clear on what the official names are...), you have nouns and verbs, and
they're really very much nouns and very much verbs.   Then, however, you
have a huge list of suffixes.   These suffixes do *everything*.   There are 
that many people are used to, that do things like make something augmentative
or diminutive, etc.   Then there are suffixes that do quite amazing things.   

-Adjectival: /-aluk/ = "old", so /qaya-aluk/ = "an old canoe"

-Adverbial: /-ffaaq/ = "to do again", so if /niuqqaqtuq/ = "he's having tea", 
/niuqqaffaaqtuq/ = "he's having tea again", or "he's having some more tea"

-Stative: /-giit/ = "to have poor x", so if /iri/ = "eye", then /irigiitchuq/ 
= "he has poor eyesight"

-Modal: /-huk/ = "to want to", so /niriruq/ = "he's eating", and /nirihuktuq/ 
= "he wants to eat"

-Nominal: /-kraq/ = "material used to make x", so /tupiq/ = "tent", and 
/tupikraq/ = "tent canvas"

-Inflectional: /-lait/ = "never", so /havaktuq/ = "he's working", and 
/havalaitchuq/ = "he never works"

-Active Verbal: /-li/ = "to build", so /iglu/ = "house", and /igluliruq/ = 
"he's building a house"

-Conjunctive: /-lu/ = "and", so /nanuq/ = "polar bear", and /amaruq/ = 
"wolf", so /nanurlu amarurlu/ =
"the polar bear and the wolf"

So those are some examples.   What's interesting about your language, in
comparison to the language above (I want to call it Uummarmiut...?), is
that the language above has one level of suffixation.   That is, you add a
suffix, and that's the end of it.   What your language seems to suggest is
that there's multiple levels of suffixation.   So let's call "to bake" a 
verb, which
incorporates is direct object as a prefix (or, perhaps, a verbal suffix 
to a noun which then becomes the object of that verb--whatever).   Once
you've got your verb, however, there are further suffixes that attach only
to the verb "to bake x", and which further specify how the baking is 
That's pretty interesting.   It also means that suffixes can be recycled--in 
words, the suffix /-'ea/ (oh: what's the apostrophe for?) can be used with
every single verb, and could mean something different each time.   Or perhaps
it could have a locus of meanings, all interrelated.   If you were going for 
I'd recommend doing it that way.   The way it looks now, it almost looks like 
creating a kind of...engelang?   Is that the right word?   Anyway, everything 
very regular--phonologically.   There's no real need for that.

On the other hand, for this to work, I think there needs to be a clear 
between what's a suffix and what's not.   Either that, or everything's a 
suffix, and
order is what determines meaning.

Anyway, back to your text:

stye-ürr'eo yols-e chak
/clay-bake-sunbake do-? "and then"/
"To shape and sunbake clay"

First of all, I think you made a mistake: /yols/ should be /yals/.
Second, the verb /yals/ seems to have inherited the direct object
of the first verb.   Did /chak/ do that?   If so, is there a conjunction
that can make it so that it inherits the subject and not the direct
object, or maybe both--or neither?   Second, it'd be nice to know
what the /-e/ suffix does.   Infinitive form?   If so, an updated
interlinear might look like this:

stye-ürr'eo yals-e chak
/clay-"to sunbake x" shape-INF. "and then"/
"To shape and sunbake clay."

When I want to put lots of words into something that's monomorphemic,
so to speak, I put it in quotes.   So what I did was I smashed /-ürr/ and 
together (no need to get *that* specific, unless that's the sole point of the
post), to make /-ürr'eo/, the verb which means "to sunbake x", and you
might explain somewhere in the post that when this suffix gets attached to
a noun, the noun becomes the direct object of that verbal suffix, and the
whole thing becomes the verbal unit, "to sunbake clay".   Now all it needs to
do is combine with a subject.   [Man, have you ever taken any formal 
This is starting to remind me of that.]

As for the verb /yals-e/, if that /-e/ suffix really is an infitival suffix, 
I recommend
getting rid of it--no need for infinitives here.   You might also explain how
/chak/ makes it so that the direct object is inherited.

Finally, this statement you made...

<<Word order is Subject-Verb-Etc.>> clearly not true.   The linear order you have is this: (1) clay; (2) 
sunbake; (3) shape;
(4) and.   There is no subject, but there is no place in this sentence that 
you can stick a
subject that would cause it to occur directly before the verb.   (Well, 
unless it was a suffix
to the direct object, giving you OSV order.)   It looks to me like the word 
order will be
SOV (subject-object-verb), unless you don't think of the object as an actual 
argument, but
a suffix, in which case you could make an argument for SV word order--if 
that's where
the subject goes.   But there is no subject in this sentence.   Can you give 
us a sentence with
a subject?   But don't start off with something complex like "to sunbake and 
shape clay".
Start with something simple.   How about:

The man sees the dog.

That should answer a lot of questions.   But when you give us that sentence, 
try doing
an interlinear like in the example I gave.   Leipzig also made some rules for 
this, but they
might be too hard to understand, for now, so just try to emulate the example 

Then, there are other questions, like "Why is 'volcano' a suffix and not 
'clay'?", but those
can be saved for another time.

Oh, and one more thing: Don't use letters like /ü/ and /ë/ and /ä/.   Many 
people can't
read them (i.e., they're changed into strange characters).   Instead, it 
might behoove you
to learn X-SAMPA, the explanation of which can be found here:

Anyway, man, you've got some really wild ideas.   How did you think this 
stuff up?

"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Rodlox <rodlox@...>
Rodlox <rodlox@...>
Rodlox <rodlox@...>(2) new conlang- BÎhuenagwon
Rodlox <rodlox@...>Subject / Object / ?