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Morphology of the noun in the New Language.

From:Christophe Grandsire <grandsir@...>
Date:Monday, August 16, 1999, 13:45
As promised this morning, here is what I thought about the morphology
of the noun in my New Language (still this temporary name). Yes, there
are nouns. I decided not to be original about the nature of words. I'll
have nouns, adjectives, verbs and even maybe adverbs, plus a set of
particles. This is yet original compared to what I'm used to doing (see
Notya for example).


        So I decided to have nouns. Those nouns split into two grammatical
genders: animate vs. inanimate. Animate words are words describing
living things (including plants and microbes) and things directly coming
from living things, without transformation (like flesh, organs, wood,
eggs, etc...). Inanimate words are all the rest (including things coming
from living things, but after transformation, like food, objects made of
wood or plastic, fossiles, etc...). For abstract things, emotions are
generally animate, whereas sensations are mostly inanimate. As this kind
of gender is more grammatical than simply semantic (like in French or
Dutch), there maybe exceptions, and one cannot change the gender at
will. It must be learned with nouns.


        Nouns are countable (entity nouns) or uncountable (mass nouns).
Uncountable nouns don't include the notion of number, whereas countable
nouns may be singular or plural. The grammatical plural is not used when
the countable noun is completed with an adjective that carries a plural
meaning (like numbers or quantities like "many").


        Nouns can be definite or indefinite. Definition is more used than in
English, particularly with uncountable nouns. Definition and
indefinition is rendered by ways of an affixed article that can be
prefixed or suffixed (or both!). This article reflects also the gender
and the number and doesn't attract the stress even when in suffixed
position. It is made of one vowel:
e for inanimate nouns,
o for animate nouns.

        it is used as follows (i: inanimate, a: animate):

Uncountable nouns: example: tarol /taR'Ol/ (i) = sugar
        noun used alone: equivalent of "some":
                tarol: some sugar, sugar (indefinite)
        noun+suffixed article: gives the feeling of generality:
                taro"le /taR'ol@/: sugar (in "Do you like sugar?")

NOTE: the " after a vowel corresponds to the umlaut on this vowel and
marks the stress when it doesn't fall on the last syllable.
NOTE 2: note the change of pronunciation of the "o", which isn't in a
closed syllable anymore.

Countable nouns: example: smar /sm'aR/ (i) = book
        noun used alone: equivalent of "some", plural indefinite:
                smar: books, some books
        noun+prefixed article: equivalent of "a, an"
                esmar /Esm'aR/: a book
        noun+suffixed article: equivalent of "the", singular definite (can give
the feeling of generality like for the uncountable nouns):
                sma"re /sm'aR@/: the book, books (in general)
        noun+BOTH prefixed AND suffixed articles: plural definite:
                esma"re /Esm'ar@/: the books

        When near to a vowel, the article "melts" with it and provokes some
changes (or sometimes simply disappears). Those changes are reflected in
the orthography (with all its inconsistencies, it is still phonemic).
The presence of the article is then marked in the writing by an
apostrophe at its place (beginning or end of the word). This is the
second use of the apostrophe (different from its use as cutter of
digraphs). The possible modifications are as follows:

article e:
prefixed: e disappears in all cases except:
        e+i->'ei /Ej/
        e+o->'iu /Ew/
        e+uu->'iu /Ew/

suffixed: e disappears in all cases except:
        i+e->ye' /ye/ (the stress still falls on the same syllable)
        u+e->e' /e/ (ibid.)
        eu+e->ui' /9j/ (ibid.)
        o+e->oe' /Oj/ (ibid.)
        a+e->ae' /aj/ (ibid.)
        uu+e->ue' /uj/ (ibid.)

article o:
prefixed: o disappears before the w-glide diphtongs and replaces the
principal vowel of the j-glide diphtongs (ex: o+ei /Ej/->'oe /Oj/). o
replaces a simple vowel (ex:o+a->o).
suffixed: modifications are more complex:
        i+o|->yo' /jo/

        u+o |
        o+o |
        ue+o|->o' /o/

        ei+o|->iu' /Ew/

        a+o |
        ae+o|->ao' /aw/

NOTE: don't forget the article doesn't change the place of the stress,
even if it melts with the last vowel.
NOTE 2: changes in the writing of the vowel to reflect the pronunciation
can lead to changes in the writing of the previous consonnant (when a
non-u-letter becomes a u-letter, or the other way round). The few
irregularities I'll put there will come from this I think.


        Don't flee! There is nothing complex in it. I don't want this language
to be complex, just to be strange and disturbing. So there are only two
cases. In fact, they are more exactly states, because I have a construct
state! The construct state is used to show that the noun is completed by
another noun (or in idiomatic cases). This other noun appears always
after the completed noun (this language is head-first) and in no special
form. The construct state is always definite, and thus doesn't require a
suffixed article. For uncountable nouns, the construct state is made
simply with the root noun as a basis. For countable nouns, it is
stranger. The singular construct state (singular definite so) is made
with the root noun as a basis (which has a plural meaning!), whereas the
plural construct case
is made with the prefixed article form of the noun as a basis (which has
a singular meaning!). But think of the formation of the singular and
plural definite and you'll understand why it is so.

        About its formation itself, the construct state is full of
irregularities (I want it to be so), but the regular way to make it (the
most often used I mean) is by lowering the stressed vowels (both the
vowel under primary stress and the vowel under secondary stress if it
exist). This lowering is reflected in the writing of course, and it
functions like this (follow the arrows :) ):




NOTE: beware of orthograpic changes needed.

example: tarol: sugar -> taral /taR'al/: the sugar of.

        When the stressed vowels are already as low as possible (a, ae and ao),
the regular way to make the construct state is to suffix a e. This e
attracts the stress.

example: smar: books -> smare /smaR'e/: the book of.
         esmar: a book -> esmare /Esm@R'e/: the books of.

NOTE: a change in the stress position often leads to changes in the
pronunciation of the word. That was the effect wanted :) .

NOTE 2: as the construct state in plural is made with the prefixed
article noun as a basis, the prefixed article can undergo sound changes
if it is under secondary stress (something natural, the article doesn't
attract stress at the end of a noun, but at the beginning, it can carry
the secondary stress if placed in the ante-penultimate syllable).

example: pecar /pek'aR/ (a): dog
         pecar: (some) dogs -> pecare /pekR'e/: the dog of.
         opecar /opk'aR/: a dog -> apecar /apk'aR/: the dogs of.

NOTE 3: note that the rule of pronunciation of e, eu and o depending on
open or closed syllables is only consistent with _written_ syllables.
Because of the rule of centralisation, some syllables can appear closed
in speech and yet have e, eu or o pronounced mid-high.

        The stressed e of construct state doesn't behave with vowels like the
suffix article e. But it melts also with them (in another fashion) and
is shown by the apostrophe (as there can never be at the same time the e
of construct state and the suffixed article, it doesn't cause any
problem, except those that I want to arise :) ) in this way:
e replaces the simple vowels and the w-glide diphtongs.
With the j-glide diphtongs, it functions like this:
        ue+e->uuye' /@wj'e/
        ei+e->eye' /@j'e/
        ui+e->euye' /@j'e/
        oe+e->oye' /@j'e/
        ae+e->aye' /@j'e/

NOTE: in careful speech, the differences between the unstressed vowels
would appear.

        Wow! So much for the morphology of the noun. Next I'll have to make up
the morphology of the adjective and the morphology of the verb. And then
I will be able to show you my first text in this language. If you want
to know about the morphologies of the adjective and of the verb, please
tell me. Hope I didn't filled up your mailboxes (nor your bother-boxes
:) ).

        Just tell me if you find things that seem like errors. In such a long
post, I may have made mistakes I didn't see (I mean contradictions).

        Christophe Grandsire

        Philips Research Laboratories --  Building WB 145
        Prof. Holstlaan 4
        5656 AA Eindhoven
        The Netherlands

        Phone:  +31-40-27-45006