Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Kamakawi Comments

From:David Peterson <digitalscream@...>
Date:Friday, March 15, 2002, 7:24
In a message dated 03/14/02 2:03:28 PM, jaspax@U.WASHINGTON.EDU writes:

<< This is very cool, and admirable.  How much of this sort of thing is

there?  Have you tried to categorize the different metaphoric

processes? >>

    It's rampant.  I've categorized, somewhat, but haven't really come up
with any definitions.  The way it let it work is I just start using these
derived forms and coming up with definitions, and then a store of precedents
and usages forms in my head, and I can kind of draw from this idea, producing
some regular, some irregular results.  I also kind of sit down and decide
which words I want to be derived, which I don't, and what that does.  And, of
course, just because you have one word that means x, doesn't mean you can't
have two or three.  ;)  So sometimes I'll start with one thing, and derive
and see what I come up with, not worrying about whether or not I'm
duplicating.  Usually it'll come out with a different sense--like how
"unhappy" doesn't mean the same thing as "sad", though logically they should
be identical.

<<You have lots of vowels, and you say that there aren't any diphthongs.  If
so, then how are vowels differentiated across syllable boundaries?  Are
there epinthetic glides?  Glottal stops?  I assume not glottal stops,
since that's a phoneme, but you never say what.  (You could probably leave
this out in the learner's grammar, but I wanna know.)  AFAIK, there is
very very few languages that allow lots of consecutive vowels without some
hiatus strategy, either stops or short glides or breathy [h]'s or
whatever.  The same applies to hiatus between words ending in a vowel and
beginning with a vowel.>>

    I'll answer the last part of this first.  After having this pointed out
to me, I thought about it, and decided to adopt the idea that all words that
begin with a vowel in Kamakawi must begin with a glottal stop.  Now, for the
first point.  Let's take the word "aeiu" (to go into).  Looks pretty hairy.
However, if you think of it as a combination of "ae" (to be inside) and "iu"
(to go through), I think it's not that bad.  I also don't have trouble
pronouncing it without glottal stops or  breathiness, and that pretty much
goes for all the words I've drafted up.  Rather than pronouncing it as a
word, you pronounce the parts.  And I'll have more to say after the next

<<Speaking of h, I dislike your orthographic decision for indicating it.>>

    :(...  Now you've hurt poor "h"'s feelings!  She's run off to her room
and has shut the door and is crying.  I hope you realize this is *your* mess,
and I'm not cleaning it up.

<<It works for the learner's grammar, I suppose, but in general I think that
conlang orthographies should strive to be phonemic except where
historically justified.>>

    This isn't an orthography; this is a romanization system (hence the use
of the Roman alphabet).

<<I'd go the other way and use {h}
in all positions, and simply say that {h} is [?] intervocalically.  In the
same vein, I'd prefer an orthography that doesn't spuriously distinguish
[w] from [u] if they're allophonic, although now that I think about it the
orthography would get difficult if you needed to distinguish [awa] from
[a.u.a.], which seems to be possible.>>

    Really?  If I see an "h" in the middle of a word, I pronounce it "h",
unless it's English.  This is not orthography, after all.  As per phonemics,
my original system was phonemic, but I didn't like it (especially since I
wasn't using it for the website, with whose writing system I was building my
Kamakawi spell checker), so I changed it to the one on the website.  I likes
it.  :)  Also, doesn't Japanese have different characters for allophones?  I
know Hindi does.  And one of the driving forces in changing the orthography
was that there can be two words "aeiu" [a.e.'i.u] and "aeyu" [a.'e.yu], and
the old orthography had no way of making this distinction.

<<I'm fascinated by the system to mark subjects, although I'm also a little
confused.  You introduce the markers a/au/ae/e/u as if they're articles,
then explain their use as discourse markers.  However, they still seem
like part of the noun phrase--determiners, mostly--until the sentence "E
tikili mokomoko."  Here you separate the word 'e' from its noun
'mokomoko.'  Something has to give.  Either these aren't articles at all,
or the stative verb is really an adjective.  No one lets you put the main
verb between the noun and its article, not even Ancient Greek (and if they
don't do it, then I feel pretty safe saying that no one does.)>>

    Well, only "e" and "u" are articles.  They share forms with "e" and "u",
which are subject markers, but there are also a ton of others, including "a",
"au", "ka", "ae", "kau", etc.  Subject markers can work the same way as
articles, if you think about it.  Take the idea of the understood subject
marker--a marker which indicates that the subject is different, but is from
the previous phrase.  (I got this idea from Hittite a couple years ago, by
the way, with "nu" and "ma".)  Well, what does the word "the" do in English?
"I saw a movie yesterday.  The movie was very good."  Simplistic, of course,
because we'd say "it", but both indicate that the subject is understood (or
should be).  This is what the subject markers do.  So, you can say "Ka mama
ei i nawa" = "I hugged a fish" ("ka" = past tense + new subject).  Then you
might want to go on to say, "Kae tikili amo" = "It was orange" ("kae" = past
tense + new subject + same subject, which indicates that the subject is both
new and the same--aka, it came from somewhere else in the sentence).  Now,
what I'm debating is being able to drop the pronoun, in cases like this where
it's completely understood (if you were to say "I hugged a fish in a house",
then it wouldn't be--it could be the fish or the house--, but in this case it
is).  I still haven't decided.
    So, the point is, "e" and "u" are articles and subject status markers.
The rest, however, are not articles.  You couldn't say *Hopoko ia kama'a.
Kind of similar thing happens in Hawaiian: He kanaka = "a man"; "He kanaka
au" = "I am a man".  But also "He hele au i ke kule" = "I go to school",
where "he" isn't an indefinite pronoun...  I don't really know what the heck
it is; indicates tense, or something (my book isn't very specific).  It
performs a different function; same form.  But, for instance, there's no
instance in which you'd ever use a definite article in front of a pronoun,
but you could say "E tikili ei", as "I am orange" (provided you were just
talking about yourself).  This example, though, of course, leads back to that
idea about leaving off the subject when the same subject marker is used...  I
have to think about that more.

<<The whining verbs are fabulous.  A bitch to learn, I'm sure, but a great,
creative, natural feature.  You're a tad unclear though--are the
accompanying adverbs absolutely necessary or simply preferred by speakers?
You say "Using these adverbs isn't absolutely necessary, as far as meaning
goes," but aside from this the adverbs look pretty mandatory.>>

    When I say "not absolutely necessary", I'm thinking about how tense isn't
absolutely necessary in English to get meaning across: "I go to the store
yesterday".  You understand what's meant, but it's clearly ungrammatical.
However, if you didn't speak English, and had to get through the day, you
could learn "Where bathroom", or things like that.  That's what I meant by
necessary.  Why I even brought it up in the TY dealie I made?  The answer, my
friend, is blowing in the wind...

<<Kinship terms.  Ugh.  I had to learn these bastards for Thai, and I didn't
like it any better then, either.  Plenty naturalistic, so I can't really
complain there, but it's not to my taste.>>

    HA, HA, HA, HA!!!  Yeah...  I know someone who speaks Thai.  I should ask
him what the system's like.  That is, unless you'd like to outline it for me.
 ;)  You could think of it like a quiz! ~:D
    Anyway, I clearly have some things to think about.  Any ideas?
Specifically about that idea with dropping the subject with same subject


"fawiT, Gug&g, tSagZil-a-Gariz, waj min DidZejsat wazid..."
"Soft, driven, slow and mad, like some new language..."
                    -Jim Morrison


Muke Tever <alrivera@...>
jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...>