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New language Muvaomir

From:Terrence Donnelly <pag000@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 20, 2000, 17:26
Dear all;

Well, I've been lurking for a long time, in fact, I thought my
conlanging days were over. I got real interested in Ancient
Egyptian and dropped all my conlang projects, even Klingon! But
I got a copy of "Describing Morphosyntax" for my birthday, and
dang if it didn't inspire me to start a new conlang.

The conlang is Muvaomir (moo-vaw'-meer), one of the languages
spoken by the Saambu people of the alternate Earth called Zyem.
The Saambu are descended from the Neanderthal, and coexist with
Homo sapiens.  The Muvaomir people live in northwestern North
America.  (Their ethnic capital is centered around the vicinity
of Vancouver B.C. in our world)

I'm mostly sketching out the grammar now, and haven't gotten much
into phonology yet, but I think I'm going to base it on the sounds
of Proto-IndoEuropean, just for fun.  Syllable structure will be
unremarkable, mostly CV and CVC.

Muvaomir is highly agglutinating, and might best be described as a
cross between Cherokee and Lojban.  There are relatively few
independent adjectives and adverbs, and no prepositions at all.
All other grammar is based on affixation and word order.

The connection to Lojban is seen in the structure of the verbal
phrase.  As far as I can tell, Muvaomir is a nominative/accusative
type of language.  Each Muvaomira verb is used in one of
three paradigms (some verbs can be used in more than one).  Each
paradigm has up to three noun arguments.  The exact grammatical role
of the arguments depends on the particular paradigm. Examples:

Paradigm I: V agent patient destination
give man ball boy = the man gives a ball to the boy
send father son school = the father sends the son to school
(This is your basic transitive verb pattern: the subject performs
an action on the object.)

Paradigm II: V subject destination instrument
go boy school wagon = the boy goes to school in a wagon
love John Mary wit = John loves Mary for her wit.
brown dog = the dog is brown
exist dog here = There is a dog here
(This is your basic intransitive verb pattern: the subject is
put/found in a particular state.  "love" fits here because the
subject of 'love' doesn't act on the recipient of love, so it's
intransitive under this definition.  All adjective and existential
phrases also go here.)

Paradigm III: V instrument patient agent
smash rock window boy = the boy smashed the window with a rock
(While the instrument performs an action on the patient, it differs
from an agent in that it can't act on its own, the agent must set
it in action.  I'm not sure how useful this paradigm would be in
real life!)

There is actually a 4th paradigm, but only one verb uses it:
Paradigm IV: be Noun1 Noun2
be man hunter = the man is a hunter
(The equational pattern.  The only verb used is nwa 'is'.  This is
the 3rd person, present tense indicative form, which usually is
reduced to nasalization of the following syllable in speech.)

The paradigms of the verbs and the order of the nouns are marked
by optional prefixes.  There are various conversions you can put
the phrase through to move the verb or arguments around, to
change the focus or to compensate for missing arguments.

I'm using the term 'paradigm' to describe the verb phrase patterns
and 'argument' for the nouns, but I'm not sure these are correct.
Any suggestions? Lojban uses its own terms for them, so that's
no help.  I'm wondering also about the terms 'agent', 'subject',
'patient', etc. to describe the grammatical roles of the arguments.
Too technical for a general reader?  Are there terms that
would fit better?

-- Terry Donnelly