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Tedious if you're not the Graying Wizard

From:David Peterson <digitalscream@...>
Date:Saturday, May 5, 2001, 22:44
In a message dated 5/5/01 1:15:21 PM, dbell@GRAYWIZARD.NET writes:

<< No, nor do I have any reason to believe that Fermat was lying either.  I 
think you missed the point.>>

    Gee, reading through this one might think you were six, not sixty.  How 
come only I get yelled at when I'm a jerk?  Oh well.  Going through all your 


And now, introducing Tuentimin, a language _sketch_ produced in twenty 
minutes or less.

<<General Info:

Agglutinating, but not completely so.  I won't explain in what ways it is not 
fully agglutinating as that would take me longer than twenty minutes.>>

    Only Noun Phrases and Adjective Phrases are agglutinating.  You can't say 
a whole sentence with one word like in Swahili.  For Noun Phrases:
    (Prep.)(Case Marker)(Art.)(Derivational Affixes)(Noun 
[Head])(Derivational Affixes)
    The Noun is necessary and (if it's not a pronoun or mass noun) an article 
is necessary.  Adjective Phrases occur directly after the Noun Phrase, and 
are subordinate to them, and (you mentioned this somewhere below), yes, 
adjectives agree in number, case and definitiveness with the nouns they 
modify.  Intensifiers and such (no, I don't know their real names; words like 
"really") attach directly to the very front of the adjective phrase.  The 
comparative and superlative markers are suffixes (-an and -il, respectively, 
though it's quite obvious that you don't care what they look like), and so 
attach to the end of each adjective (to get the other end of the spectrume 
you add an opposite prefix).  So:
(Adverbs that modify adjectives)(Case Marker)(Art.)(derivational affixes)

<<The preferred word order is OVS, I haven't figured out what the 
_nonpreferred_ word order might be, nor the effects of pragmatic 
considerations like topic or focus, nor intraphrasal constituent order. What 
about cleft constructions?  Dunno.>>

    I can't stand people who use the word "dunno", in either writing or 
speech.  Anyway, since this is an inflecting language, you can jumble up the 
phrases any way you want, just like in Latin.  However, just like in Latin, 
there's a word order I seem to gravitate towards when making sentences, and 
that's SOV.  It doesn't have to be, though.  And as for clefts, such as "IT" 
clefts and the like, I never have any in my inflecting languages, because 
they're largely unnecessary.  If you want one thing to be emphasized, just 
put it in front.  I don't agree with any Chomskyan idea of "deep structure", 
so no transformation has to be explained, because there's no such thing, 
po-moyemu.  Anyway, but you mention intraphrasal constituent order, so I'll 
lay that down:
NP: NP+AP  (Note: The genitive phrase I described is considered an adjective) 
 And I already described NP's and AP's, so onto VP's:
    (adverb)(derivational suffix)(aspect markers)(inflectional suffix 
[passive if the command is passive and also has an adverb in 
it])(root)(trans/intrans/exp/dit. vowel)(tense)(inflectional affix)
    As for the rest, I'm pretty sure you talk about them later, so I'll 
address them then.

<<So word order is OVS in main clauses, but what about prepositional, 
adjectival, and relative clauses, genitives, comparatives, inflected 
auxiliaries, or questions?  I dunno.>>

    Of course, I already said SOV was my preference.  As for prepositional 
clauses...?  Such as "On the big red house that my mother and father built 
when they were children"?  Is this the type of clause you speak of?  Well, it 
should be pretty obvious: On the-house the-big-red (relative pronoun [I 
certainly did mention this]) it by mother-and-father mine was-built when they 
children were.  And, of course, the last phrase "when they children were" 
could be placed at the back at the front in between the two noun phrases at 
the beginning, whatever.  Adjectiveal clauses...?  Let me think of an 
example...  "The running to the house man tripped"?  That'd be expressed with 
a relative clause.  If it were "the running man", then one would add the 
adjectiveal prefix to the present tense of the verb "to run" and place it 
after the noun.  That seems obvious enough.  And I certainly did explain 
relative clauses!  But later you say my example was too simple, so I'll get 
to that when you get to that.  Genetives, of course, I explained: meheni 
juani=my bunny.  And this could be repeated to infinity: meheni jumepili 
jumebeni juani...  My uncle's man's bunny.  meheni jumebeni meelij juani.  My 
uncle's happy bunny.  Again, I could've sworn you could pick this up just by 
reading what I had written.  Apparently I wasn't explicit enough, though.  
Comparatives I already explained.  There are no auxilliaries, in less you 
can't my aspect prefixes as auxilliaries.  I don't.  If you do, then they're 
not inflected.  For "yes/no" questions, you put the question word "pli" in 
front and go on with the sentence as usual.  With question words (the 
correlatives you dislike so much), the question word comes first and the 
sentence goes on as usual.

<<I haven't specified whether Tuentimin is dominantly head-marking or 
dependent-marking, but that's just detail.  Tuentimin is an ergative 
language.  Whether it is merely morphologically ergative or syntactically 
ergative as well is... well just another detail.>>

    If I'm remembering "head-marking" correctly, then yes, it's head-marking. 
 Again, as for this "syntactically accusative" thing, I just don't buy it.  
But, no, it's morphologically accusative.


Vowels: a e i o u

Diphthongs: maybe?

Stops: b p d t c g

Fricatives: v f dh th s z

Nasals: m n

Approximants: w y r l h>>

    I thought I was using the SAMPA letters.  I guess not.  Okay, here goes:
Vowels: a (rounded, low, back vowel), e (either an open-mid or close-mid 
front, unrounded vowel [and I happen to count both as tense, though I know 
they say E isn't tense], there's no distinction between the two sounds in my 
language), i (high, front, unrounded tense vowel), o (close-mid, rounded, 
tense back vowel), u (high, back, rounded tense vowel), and the one that 
looks like ae or æ, if you can see it on your screen (low, front, unrounded 
Stops: k (voiceless, velar stop, unaspirated), t (voiceless, alveolar stop, 
unaspirated), p (voiceless, bilabial stop, unaspirated), g (voiced, velar 
stop), d (voiced, alveolar stop), b (voiced, bilabial stop)
Fricatives: s (voiceless alveolar fricative), z (voiced alveolar fricative), 
f (voiceless, labio-dental fricative), v (voiced, labio-dental fricative), S 
(voiceless, post-alveolar fricative), Z (voiced, post-alveolar fricative), h 
(voiceless, glottal fricative)
Approximants: l (alveolar, lateral approximant), j (palatal approximant), w 
(labio-velar approximant).

When two vowels occur next to each other in the phonology a glottal stop 
comes between them, so /ae/ is pronounced [a?e], /aeiooouie/ is pronounced 
/a?e?i?o?o?o?u?i?e/.  Diphongs are allowed (any vowel followed by [j] or  
[w]); that should have been obvious.

<<Not quite sure why I called this section _Phonology_ since I just listed a 
bunch of letters with no phonetic details, but details are..., well just 

    Again, I assumed that you would know what the letterst stood for, since 
with all the other e-mails that go through this list, you apparently do.  I 
guess I don't deserve such a luxury, though.

<<Phonotactics: Syllable structure?  Haven't specified, but I have worked out 
all the other phonotactic details of Tuentimin. I haven't presented them here 
cause the margin is too narrow.  Suffice it to say that that 'nt' is a valid 
consonant cluster.>>

    Well, fine, here's the whole list I came up with:
 The following consonant clusters are permitted: [kl]*, [gl]*, [pl]*, [bl]*, 
[nt]', [nd]', [mp]', [mb]', [st], [ks]', [gz]', [ts]', [dz]', [zd]', [ps]', 
[bz]', [sk], [sp], [fl]*, [vl]*, [sn]*, [Sn]*, [tw]*, [dw]*, [pw]*, [bw]*, 
[kw]*, [gw]*, [sw]*, [sl]*, [Sl]*, [mj]*, [nj]*, [ns]', [mz]', [nfl]', [nz]', 
[nZ]', [ms]', [mS]', [mZ]', [pS]', [bZ]', [tS], [dZ], [kS]', [gZ]', [fj]*, 
[vj]*, [fw]*, [vw]*, [ft]', [vd]', [Zd]', [St], [lk]', [lg]', [lf]', [lv]', 
[lp]', [lb]', [ld]', [lt]', [ls]', [lz]', [lS]', [lZ]', [lm]', [ln]', [pt]', 
[bd]', [kt]', [gd]'
*:Onset only,  ':Coda only
All intermediary combinations are allowed, also.  So, [Sn] is allowed, and so 
is [nj], so, logically, [Snj] is allowable.  Only three consonants can occur 
together, though.  So, I guess the largest possible syllable structure is: 
CCCVCCC.  (Dipthongs are treated as vowels.)  This may not be all the 
consonant clusters possible...  I'm now realizing I could have done this a 
lot easier with features.  Oh well.

<<Stress: If this were a tone language, it would have stress, but since it 
isn't, it doesn't.>>

    All languages talk about the proper intonation, even langauges that 
aren't tone languages.  I was trying to do that.  Essentially, the stress 
syllable lengthens, and the syllable after it is pronounced slightly higher.

<<Words: Yes, Tuentimin has words and they are all derived from roots.  
Haven't worked out the derivation rules, but you remember that detail thing, 
don't you?>>

    Yes I have!  And I even listed them!  Oh, forget.  I'll wait until you 
start making fun of my nouns.

<<Articles: 'i' is the definite article and 'e' is the indefinite article.  
There probably ought to be all kinds of spatial and temporal deictic 
determiners and demonstratives as well as genitive, interrogative and 
quantifying determiners, but we won't bother with explaining how this is 
accomplished. Not to mention degrees of distance for spatial or temporal 
deictic.  Hey we got 'the' and 'a' covered, what more could you want?>>

    Of course, the correlatives explain that, and I already explained the 
genitive.  You're both impatient and redundant.  Wow...

<<Nouns: Although I won't specify the distributional properties of nouns in 
Tuentimin, I do have all kinds of suffixes for just about every combination 
of sentient, animate, inanimate, active, passive, verbal, instrumental, 
human, vegetable, mineral,  locative, mass, count, constituent, shoes, ships 
and sealing wax.  A derivative language Thirtimin even has noun classes for 
cabbages and kings.  How all these suffixes interact with the root nouns 
phonologically is anybody's guess.>>

    I did list how the classes interact with root.  Remember?  For each I 
listed a suffix or prefix or circumfix first, then I applied it to a noun.  
So I didn't think it would be a large jump from (-i) to (heni) for you to 
realize that (hen) was the root.  I guess I overestimated your 
intelligence--or underestimated your spite and vindictiveness: Take your 
pick.  :)

 <<Whether these noun classes are strictly morphological or have syntactic 
effects like agreement in Swahili hasn't been determined.>>

    No, no syntactic agreement.

<<And what about gender?  Dunno.>>

    No gender; like Hawaiian.  That's why I only listed a "third person" 

<<And what about compounding (noun-noun, noun-verb)?  Are there productive 
compounding rules and what are they?  How about denominalizations (noun -> 
verb, noun -> adj, noun -> adv)? Dunno.>>

    For noun-noun's, the usual way to do that is just the genetive.  However, 
for words like "mailbox" where "box of mail" isn't exactly the one you want, 
there's a tie-in: just "and", [i].  I guess I could've said that.  As for 
noun-verb, I'm pretty sure I have classes for those.  But maybe I'm confused. 
 Give me an example and I'll tell you what class it comes under.  As for the 
denominalizations, those are all taken care: every single one you mentioned.  
Especially the last two: How on Earth could you possibly be confused about 
that?  And you embarrass yourself further with those two later on, so I'll 
wait! ~:D  But for nouns>verbs, there are a couple different methods.  First 
of all, if you want to take a word that's naturally a noun (for instance, 
animals aren't derived from verbs in the world.  No, I shoudn't say that: In 
this language) and turn it into a verb (let's take my favorite word here: 
heni "bunny"), just drop the noun suffix and add a verb suffix.  So, "hena" 
is "to bunny someone/thing".  What that means is up to...well, me, I guess.  
In these situations, I've allowed for creativity with multiple possible 
definitions.  The first one that comes to mind is "to turn someone into a 
bunny".  And "henu" would be "to become a bunny".  There could be other 
definitions (for instance, having to do with sex or having lots of babies), 
and that's up to disgression.  And, of course, if you find a noun where, if 
you strip the noun suffix off and a verb suffix, you get a different verb 
that doesn't mean what you want it to mean, you can just add a verb suffix to 
the noun directly.

<<And what of predicate nominals expressing proper inclusion, equation, 
attribution, location, existence or possession?  Can't say.  Are tense, 
aspect and mood restricted for these clauses?  Dunno.>>

    There are two verbs for "to be": one for location, one for all other (I 
don't like to make to many distinctions with "to be").  But anyway, since 
word order is free, one can always move the phrase to the back side of the 
verb (like I did) to make the word order SVO to avoid ambiguity.  And, no, 
tense, aspect and mood are not restricted for these clauses.


        Sing    Plu

1st     ni      nil

2nd     yin     ayin

3rd     tie     tid

No demonstrative, impersonal, reflexive, or reciprocal pronouns, I guess you 
can't express these concepts in Tuentimin.>>

    I should have said "personal pronouns".  Demonstrative, again, comes 
later.  Impersonal?  Like "it"?  No, none: Just the third person.  Reflexive 
will be taken care of by an adverb.  Reciprocal...?  Haven't seen that term 
before.  And, of course, it's ridiculous to assume that you can't express 
concepts just because "you can't do that" in a language.  First year language 
teachers have a whole list of things you "just can't do" in the target 
language, and, of course, there's always a way to do it, it's just different 
than English (or whatever the first language is).

<<As you can see, nouns and pronouns form their plurals in -l except when 
they don't.  Nominals ending in a vowel take -l as a pluralizing suffix 
unless the preceding character is also a vowel in which case they take -d to 
form their plural.  If the nominal ends in a consonant that would form a 
ill-formed consonant cluster (I haven't defined what this is yet), then the 
nominal takes a- as a pluralizing prefix.  Tough to remember, but boy is this 
cool.  Is number marking obligatory or optional?  Dunno.>>

    Okay, I did define the unacceptable consonant clusters, I just thought it 
would be too tedious to list them all.  Did you really think I was lying?  
Anyway, so: plurals.
    (1) If the onset of a word is CV, CCV, or CCCV, then that consonant is 
    heni>heheni; pwitsi>pwipwitsi.
    (2) If the onset of a word is V, then that vowel is repeated: o>oo; 
    (3) If the onset of a word is VC, VCC, or VCCC, then the vowel and first 
consonant of the
    cluster are repeated: ani>anani; andi>anandi
    (4) If the vowel is a diphthong (remember, dipthongs are considered 
vowels), then the dipthong
    is reduplicated with or with initial consonants: bawzi>bawbawzi; 
    Side Note: [w] and [j] don't form diphthongs with the previous vowel if 
they're the onset of the
    following syllable: pawani>papawani.

<<Adjectives and adverbs: Adjectives are formed by adding -ig to any word, 
thus from 'mas'=cement we get 'masig'=?>>

    Well, cement would be a substance in my language, so, if that were the 
root, it'd be "masev", and the adjective if you just added "e" would be 
"emasev", which, of course (because this is absolutely beyond obvious) would 
be "cement-like".  I haven't invented a word for "cement", so I don't know 
what the verb would be, or anything.  Maybe "to fix", which has no natural 
adjective, so there would be no word "emas".

<<Well, almost any word.  I haven't specified any required sequencing of 
adjectives, quantifiers or demonstratives in multiple adjective ph


Patrick Dunn <tb0pwd1@...>
The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>