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Yes, another sketch for a new conlang! [very very long!]

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 12, 2000, 11:39
        Okay, now that I've answered all the mail I had to answer to, I have now
time to show you a sketch for the last conlang I'm working on, which will
obtain a name certainly later this week, after you gave me some feed-back
from what I'm going to write. So here is a sketch for the conlang I'm
currently working on:


        The sounds of the language are not divided into two groups (vowels and
consonnants), but in three groups that I will call V ("vowels"), L
("liquids") and C ("consonants") for easiness of explanation. Those
phonemes are:

V: a /a/, e /e/, o /o/
L: n /n/, l /l/, r /r/, i /j/, u /w/ all voiced
C: p /p/, t /t/, c /k/, ' /?/ stops (t is alveolar) all unvoiced
   f /P/, s /s/, x /x/, h /h/ corresponding fricatives all unvoiced

The following morphophonemic syllables are possible:
CL= (C followed by syllabic L)
CVV (V's not necessarily identical)
CLL= (C followed by consonnantic L followed by syllabic L, may be different)

NOTE: syllabic i and j are obviously pronounced [i] and [u].

        Phonetically, this language is characterized by a complex set of liaisons,
elisions and assimilations. I'll try to explain them in a systematic way.
If someone can order them more systematically than I did, just show me, it
would certainly help to know exactly how to pronounce words :) . Those
phenomena are (# is the word frontier):

VV -> V: geminated vowels are pronounced long. Non-geminated double vowels
are pronounced as diphtongs.

L(=)(#)C -> L(=)(#)C_v L(=) voices the following consonnant when present,
even if there is a word frontier between them. It doesn't voice ' or h

CL= -> C_vL= L= voices the preceding consonnant, except if it is ' or h.

CL is more complicated:
'L -> L the glottal stop disappears.
hL -> L_O h disappears and L is unvoiced.
Cn -> C_n Cn becomes a consonnant with nasal release.
Cl -> C_l Cl becomes a consonnant with lateral release.
Cj -> C_j Cj becomes a palatalised consonnant, except tj -> [t_S], sj -> [S]
             kj -> [kC] xj -> [C]
Cw -> C_w Cw bcomes a labialised consonnant.

NOTE: all those new consonnants can be voiced by the presence of another L(=).

n(=) takes the PoA of the nearest consonnant or vowel. When there is a
conflict, the hierarchy is: following consonnant > preceding consonnant >
following vowel > preceding vowel.

NOTE: a vowel preceding a n is generally nasalised.

QUESTION: What are the PoA of the vowels a, e and o? I need them to know
how to pronounce the n. Can I say for instance that o is labial, e alvolar
and a velar, or something else?

CV# -> C# (V disappears) except if CV#C (next word begins by a consonnant).

#'V -> #V (initial glottal stop is not pronounced) except after a pause
(generally the beginning of a clause).

so CV1#'V2 -> CV2 (the word frontier nearly disappears).

C#L(=) -> CL(=) (the word frontier disappears).

C#L_O -> CL (idem, and L is voiced again).

CV1V2#V3 -> CV1V3 (the final vowel of a diphtong or geminate disappears as
well as the word barrier when followed by a vowel).

CV1V2#V3V4 -> CV1V4 (idem, as well as the first vowel of the diphtong or
geminate following the word barrier).

NOTE: All those changes are very complex, as when a new syllable is
phonetically created when a word barrier disappears, this new syllable
endures also all the possible changes that were already explained. It means
simply that in this language, actual segments are generally very dependent
on the environment, and that word frontiers don't limit the influence of
segments over others. Also, it means that the writing does not represent in
an easy way the actual pronunciation, as for example something like "ta
'ilce " is pronounced [t_Sl=k]. Tell me what you think of that.
Personnally, I like this feature, as it looks a little like the way people
hear a language they don't know: they cannot seperate the sounds which seem
mangled together as a single string.


        The grammatical sketch is what it is: a sketch! I have only a few ideas of
the features you will find in this language. Here is some ideas I want to
put in this language:

- For the verbs, a trigger system, with word order giving the degree of
perfectness of the action: TV(otherC): imperfect VT(otherC): perfect (V:
verb, T: trigger, otherC: other complements).

- no copula, prepositions used in non verbal clauses for ideas like motion
(example: "I go to the theatre" rendered by 'I (am) to the theatre'), verb
"not to be" used like a preposition. In non-verbal clauses, the word order
gives the meaning of the clause: definition or existence. So SC: definition
(to be) and CS: existence (there is) (S: subject, C: complement).

- negative clauses using verbs use the negative "preposition" and a nominal
form of the verb. They have the same construction as non-verbal clauses.

- subclauses are formed by nominalisation of the verb.

- no adjectives, but nouns and maybe verbs for that use.

- noun classes. The mark of class is a prefix. This prefix is detached and
suffixed to the preposition when a preposition is used with the noun. I
wanted an original system of classes which would allow a complex system of
derivations by changing class of a word (like in Swahili). Currently, here
the system I've designed:

Class 1: beings with strong will: individual humans, souls, high spirits
(derivation: personnification of words of other classes, sometimes an added
meaning of nobility).
Class 2: beings with less middle will: small groups of humans (typically:
the family), slaves, big individual animals (derivation: paucal of class 1).
Class 3: beings with weak will: big groups of humans (typically: nations,
ethnic groups, tribes), herds (derivation: plural of classes 1 and 2).
Class 4: beings without will: species, plants, objects moving by themselves
(planets, machines, etc...) (derivation: collective of the first three
Class 5: small objects, units of an uncountable thing (like salt)
(derivation: diminutives).
Class 6: small groups of objects, small quantities of uncountable things or
liquids (drops of water for instance), big motionless objects (like
buildings) (derivation: paucal of class 5, augmentatives).
Class 7: big groups of objects, big quantities of uncountable things or
liquids (derivation: plural of class 5 and 6).
Class 8: generalities of objects, smokes, things that we cannot touch but
can see (like coloured gases) (derivation: collective of classes 5, 6 and 7).
Class 9: gases, invisible objects (whether they are too small to be seen or
effectively invisible), abstractions (derivation: abstractive of other

This system is not bad, but I'm a little deceived because the system of
derivation is still too straightforward (class 4 is the collective of the
preceeding 3 classes, idem for class 8) and the division animate - the
first 4 classes -, inanimate - the following four classes - and abstract -
class 9 - is too parallel. I'd like a system more complex, maybe with less
balance between the animate and inanimate classes (with fewer classes for
inanimate for instance, or classes that don't use the straightforward
derivation I gave you) and with a more complex system of derivation. Also,
I would like to handle laudative and depreciative by this system of
derivation, and I don't know which classes to use. So all comments you can
give me about it are welcome.


        The script I designed is really neat, in my opinion. It uses different
letters for the V's and L's (those letters are connected, and I will have
also special ligatures for some VV, VL, LV and/or LL) and diacritic marks
for the C's. I still have to work on it to know how it works precisely.

        OK, that's all for now (and that's enough I think :) ). Of course,
comments and (constructive) critics are more than welcome. I will think of
a name depending on the result of your comments on the classes, because I
have to choose in which class languages will go, and I still don't know
where :( . If you have ideas about it, please tell me!

                                                        Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"Reality is just another point of view."

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