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Part II of a sample of my newborn conlang - the explanation.

From:Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>
Date:Friday, January 25, 2002, 20:01
Prescript: in the last mail on this subject I gave /w4i4.uiGEn.AETAs/
as a pronunciation for <wriruighenaetha>; it should have been
/w4i4.uiGEn.AETA/, without a final /s/.

Part two of my language sample: the explanation.

I tend to repeat a few things, so that people can hopefully read just
the parts that interest them, since it is rather long. Of course,
this has the effect of making it longer, too (but more modular and

I've decided to split this explanation too; here's part one.
Expect part two over the weekend or on Monday - it's written, but I don't
want to inundate people.

"And the Lord came down to see the city and tower that the children of
men builded"

"Ryf elcwe nau shúla ar sthólegh kyn féagh wriruighenaetha ar laudh
hoin ú dhésar, fém ghaun cheivauvij ar nautyadhel ú chjetyl"

Slightly uglier 7-bit ASCII: (used throughout)
"Ryf elcwe nau shuula ar sthoolegh kyn feeagh wriruighenaetha ar laudh
hoin uu dheesar, feem ghaun cheivauvij ar nautyadhel uu chjetyl"

And the pronunciation in X-SAMPA (A period preceeding two vowels means
a diphthong):

"Ryf elcwe nau  shuula ar sthoolegh kyn feeagh wriruighenaetha ar laudh
/4yf ElkwE Su:lA  A4 sTo:lEG   qyn fe:AG  w4i4.uiGEn.AETA A4 l.auD

hoin  uu dheesar, feem ghaun cheivauvij ar nautyadhel uu chjetyl"
h.oin u: De:sAr   fe:m G.Aun xeiv.auviZ A4 n.aucaDEl  u: xZecl/

NOTE: I often refer to "eclipsis" and "aspiration". I usually try
to accompany them by the words I know these effects by in Irish,
namely "urú" (eclipsis) and "seimhiú" (aspriation), since I am forever
confusing the English terms; In case of inconsistency, refer to the
Irish terms (and yes, I have checked this sentence). Also the English
terms suggest the narrow phonetic definition, while the Irish terms
suggest generalised transformations of a lot of phonemes, to all of
which the strictly phonetic process might not apply. E.g. while (taking
examples from Irish) <p> to <ph> (/p/ to /f/) is easily described as
"aspiration", the parallel transformation of "m" is not: <m> to <mh>,
which is (depending on dialect) /m/ to /w/, /v/ or /B/. My lang's urú
and seimhiú do a lot more than strict eclipsis and aspiration.

Here goes:

* <elcwe> can't come first in a phrase. (what's the word for that?).

* In <nau shuula> "(he) came", the <nau> is an atavistic prefix used
  to form the past tense. In origin, it was part of the verb stem, but
  now it occurs in the past tense. For the present tense, one would say
  <suula> (these verbs are given in their aorist aspect). As you can see
  the main verb stem undergoes urú (lenition) after it's atavistic head,
  from /suula/ to /Suula/. Although written as seperate words, I don't
  think anything can come between the atavism and the main stem (but maybe
  I'll change that...)

  A likely etymology from the Primitive Lang (PL), would be as follows:
  PL was a lang that, like the semitic langs, assigned a meaning
  to a triconsonental root, inflecting with vowels and affixes to
  form different classes of word with that meaning. Here we have the
  primitive root for "come" /N-S`-l`/, inflected to /NA'S`ol`/ ('=stress
  in following syllable), which was the form for a "class I verb" -
  an intransitive 'active' verb, in the Mature Lang (ML) taking an
  argument in the absolute case. At some point the unstressed syllable
  of /NA'S`ol`/ broke off, giving the complementary forms /NA S`ol`/ and
  /S`ol`/, the former being retained in what would become the past tense,
  the latter used everywhere else. Finally what happened was that /NA
  S`ol`/ > / Su:l/ "nau shuul" while /S`ol`/ > /su:l/ "suul". Note the
  presence of seimhiú/lention in the past stem.

* <Sthoolegh> - the absolute form. The language uses an
  ergative/absolute system in place of nominative/accusative. The ergative
  form is <sthoolegdh>, AFAIK.

  Also, this word has no connotation of divinity. It's just "lord", not
  "LORD" ;)

* <kyn> /qyn/, directly stolen from Irish <chun> /xun/, introducing a
  clause of purpose

* <feeagh> = <fee> + <agh>. The word is this position is an agglutinating
  particle performing more or less the function of the English words
  "which", "who", "whom", etc; except that it contains elements which
  specify various relationships between the main and sub-clause:
  * <fee>: specifies that the tense in the relative clause is relative to
    that in the main clause. The main clause has "nau shuula", past tense,
    while the subclause has "-riruighenaetha", which is future tense.
    <fee> indicates that the action of seeing (ruighen) takes place after
    the lord came down <ryf ... suul>, rather than after the narrator's
  * <agh>: specifies that the absolute noun phrase of the main clause is
    ergative in the subclause (compare the nominative->accusative convertor
    "whom" in English)

And the big one:

* <wriruighenaetha>: future continuous subjunctive of "ruighen" to build:
  * primitive root /l-4_0-q/ "see" > ML <[lle] roogh>, as a class I
    (intranitive verb). The class II (transitive) verb, taking a "subject"
    in the ergative and a "direct object" in the absolute case, is formed by
    suffixing "-en" and subjecting the preceeding vowel to a transformation,
    which for the nonce I'll call "grading". Grading is roughly speaking
    rotating anticlockwise about the vowel trapezoid and subjecting the
    result to i-affection. Anyhow, <oo> > <ui> (actually it becomes the
    long form of the diphthong, <uí> but that's an allophonic distinction).
    The result is that class I <roogh> "build." becomes class II <ruighen>
    "build (something)". In speech the <e> of the ending <en> is elided,
    except for in the perfect aspect, where it undergoes i-affection (to

  * We want the aorist aspect as opposed to the habitual, continuous or
    perfect aspect. This is the easiest: just add -a: <ruighena> /rui:Gna/.

  * Future tense: reduplication of initial consonant, filled with a
    'simplified' version of the stem's first vowel: from <ruighena> to

  * Subjunctive mood: suffix, <thV>, V a copy of the vowel before the <th>,
    the original undergoing i-affection: <riruighena> becomes <riruighenaetha>

  * Finally, the prefixed <w> is because words in the position after the
    joining form, <feeagh> are susceptable to urú/eclipsis, which
    does more than just eclipsis, for example sending /4/ > /w4/ [might
    alternate with just /w/ in speech, I think]

Phew! The length of this form (admittedly a complex one, but it could
also have pronounal endings on it - <riruighenaethafdasna> "that we-two
will see him/her/it" !) - and it's dependance on vowel quality -
strongly suggest that the lang in it's mature form should not have a
stong stress accent like English & German; rather a pitch accent or
something nondestructive.

The language is SOV in simple sentences, but this might change in certain
constructions ...

Final bit coming soon!