Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Verbal distinctions

From:vaksje <vaksje@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 11:10
Of course I haven't posted a single message to the list despite it being
holiday (in other words, I'm a master lurker). I *do* seem to have a habit of
doing hobby-related work during school (which has just begun, sadly). I spent
part of the holiday reading through the ~2000 pending message from the list,
which was much fun! ;)

I've haven't made much progress with my main (agglutinative and fairly
synthetic) conlang, except that I have finally settled on a stable phonology and
played around with mapping semantic roles onto grammatical cases (which turned
out unsuccesful, so I've postponed it a little).

My main goal is to determine which verbal distinctions serve my conlang best.
I have already throw out distinctions such as plural number (for nominals) and
past tense, because they seem to convey an unspecified amount of instances or
time which is what I wanted to avoid.

There's potential for a perfective/progressive distinction, though I was
planning to mark that on nouns (similar to Finnish' nominitive/partitive). This
can also be called a complete/incomplete distinction. I could of course settle
with just this distinction, but would it fail to express any other time-crucial
information? I'm not trying to overpopulate the verb with morphemes and
depending on the noun morphology (which is yet to be decided) there will be
affixes for adjusting the valence for a verb to take any noun case as its main
argument and not to forget the pronominal clitics.

Hypothetical or conditional modes seem fairly useful, even a simple irrealis
mode would suffice. These are concepts which I can't imagine having their own
verbal root, unlike obgliations (have to, ought to).

So, what's the most useful verbal tense/aspect/mode distinction? (on a
subjective level that is ;))

Also, during the process of trying to think up niffly features to include I
stumbled upon an interesting infinitive structure: marking the finite form with
a special marker, and marking the rest on the infinitive [1]. This basically
means when going from a finite structure to an infinite structure, the original
morphology isn't changed.

Let me coin a few words:
 uri "I"
 tana- "to want"
 kitu- "to live"
 -0 (finite suffix)
 -k ('special' suffix)

English: _I want to live_ (want:FIN live:INF.)
Random Conlang: _uri kitu tanak_ or _tanak kitu_ "I want to live" (want:?

This way it's very easy to go from _uri kitu_ ("I live") to _uri kitu tanak_ ("I
want to live"), instead of **_uri kitu_ > **_uri tana kituk_ or **_uri kituk
tana_. The advantage to this is... well there isn't any, but I like it! The only
real problem is I have really no idea what to call this 'special' mode.  Calling
it an infinitive is misguiding, since AFAIK it clashes with the way it is
usually used. Any ideas?
(Of course there are probably other conlangs or even natlangs that do it 10x
worse [2]. I'd be glad to hear about them!)

[1] A really neat conlang could of course distribute the verbal morphology among
the finite verb and the infinitive, by say 50%. ;)
[2] Let's just hope I haven't made any grave typos or mistakes with my
IE-furnished mindset, which finds even this confusing.



Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>