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Things that started life as mistakes, but you like them anyway

From:Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Date:Friday, January 24, 2003, 15:24
Some time ago, I was looking on the web for information on Anglo-Saxon
English. I discovered that the first known example of Anglo-Saxon writing
was a runic inscription on a ring, thought to be a spell to stop bleeding,
although the words themselves were not thought to be meaningful. I decided
this inscription would make useful source material for Khangathyagon, which
I had just started work on at the time, and so I glossed it with an
appropriate language. Having decided that a VSO, agglutinating syntax
seemed right for a magical language, this was my first source of vocabulary.

AErkriuflt kriarithon glaestaepontol

AErkr- i- uf-  lt       kria- rith- on  glaes- taep-   ont- ol
heal    3p pass imp     blood flow  PrP spirit command PrP  by

Let the bleeding be healed by conjuration.

I now had two forms for the present participle, but that was OK, since
perfect regularity is far too Esperanto for my tastes. Soon afterwards, I
wanted a translation for "wizard". Since "wizard" in English is derived
from "wit-haert", "wise person", I decided that it should translate as one
with true knowledge of magic. Hence "khangathgevont"

khangath- ge-   v-    ont
magic-    true- know- PrP

Now, here's the problem. The present participle was now being used to mean
a person characterised by an action, rather than the action itself. I had
conflated two entirely different concepts, "ing" and "er", into a single
suffix. However, I liked all those words as they were, and didn't want to
change any of them. I eventually decided that the use of "on" and "ont",
and whether they referred to an action or a person, was entirely idiomatic
for each word, and that if necessary I could use a further suffix to
disambiguate them
(eg "Khangathgevontthadh" wizardry, "kriarithonhol" blood-letter). The
thing is, it now seems entirely natural and right for the present
participle to behave that way.

Does anyone else have a similar experience, where an unintentional slip of
the mind in language making lead to a feature that you decided to keep?

Pete Bleackley


Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>
Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>