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Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs

From:Christophe Grandsire <grandsir@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 1999, 6:49
Thomas R. Wier wrote:
> > > Anyway. My two questions. What do you guys think > > of this? And do you do this in your conlangs? > > AFAIK, in most languages the copula verb is > > irregular, but most conlangs seem to be very regular. > > Well, not all natural languages have a copula (Chinese > doesn't). In those that do, there's nothing inherent in the > system making it more likely to be irregular in the way > I've described. Japanese, for instance, has two (2) > irregular verbs (although whether one was a copula, and > whether Japanese even has a copula, escapes me). >
The two true irregular verbs of Japanese are 'suru': to do and 'kuru': to come. There are also some other verbs that have few other irregularities, but most of them are completely regular. Japanese indeed has a copula: 'da', but it is not considered as a verb (dixit my Japanese teacher) and it indeed behaves differently than verbs. But that's a part of the Japanese grammar that is not easy to explain (especially for a beginner like me).
> And, speaking of regularities in general, Quechua regularly > applies the plural suffix -kuna to derive plural pronouns: > they have none of this mincing about with grammaticalized > "I" but "we", "he" but "they": > > qoqa 'I' > qam 'you (singular)' > pay 'he/she' > qoqayku 'we (excl.)' > qoqanchik 'we (incl.)' > qamkuna 'you (plural)' > paykuna 'they' > > (Thanks to Mark Rosenfelder, wherever he is, for his page > on Quechua grammar.) >
Just like Japanese which makes its plural pronouns regularly by suffixing '-tachi' to some singular pronouns (this suffix means "... and others" and can be used on names to mean "X and others"). For example: watashi: me -> watashitachi: us anata (familiar): you -> anatatachi (familiar): you (plural) kanojo: her -> kanojotachi: them (feminine) but kare: him -> karera: them (masculine and mixte) But Japanese don't use them very often (seeing their length, that's not a surprise :) ).
> > Am I right or wrong? I know many of you (as I once) > > want an extremely logical language, one that you > > have to invent because there aren't any logical > > natlangs. But those of you who persue a natlangy > > touch of your conlang, how far do you go in your > > irregularities? > > The best way to make your language look really naturalistic is > to layer regular systems over one another. This can be just like > I described for English above, just within one category of words > like verbs, or it could be for pit the semantic makeup of words > against, say, their phonetic form. So, for example, my language > Phaleran used to be completely regular with its morphology, > until equally regular phonetic changes came along causing > blurring of the original patterns: >
That's exactly what I wanted to achieve with Moten. That's why I used infixes for that language. -- Christophe Grandsire Philips Research Laboratories -- Building WB 145 Prof. Holstlaan 4 5656 AA Eindhoven The Netherlands Phone: +31-40-27-45006 E-mail: