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Re: Native Grammatical terms

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 18, 2003, 19:12
I am gathering opinions on what amount of native grammatical terms would be
present in a conlang which is entirely oral (i.e. whose speakers are a
pre-literate culture.  I, the conlanger, obviously have created a
transcription system for the language.)

The language in question is Índumom Tovlaugadóis, also known by its Trehelo
name, Cwendaso.  In the near future, the Trehelo alphabet will be adapted
(by dropping a lot of characters and inventing at least three new ones) for
use in writing Tovlaugadóis, but, as things stand now, the Tovláugad are an
entirely oral culture.

Now, the Trehelo have a long history of written language, long enough that
the Trehelo alphabet has at least once undergone major revision to reflect
sound changes.  (Or perhaps it's more fair to say that the proto-alphabet
used by the Trehelo and other related peoples was revised to reflect
certain of the sound changes that distinguish the Trehelo language from its
sister languages.)  In any case, Trehelo scholars (and printers) are fairly
linguistically aware - both of modern dialects and of diachronic
change.  They have a good set of grammatical terms for describing their
language and a good sense of what is and isn't good grammar in certain
dialects and time periods, as well as a sense for what is and isn't good
style in composition.

I am wondering how much grammatical terminology the Tovlaugad would have,
being an oral culture.  Language is terribly important to them.  They have
a poetic corpus spanning at least one and a half millennia, and this corpus
is very important to them.  They have basically no sense of diachronic
phonological change.  As the phonology changes, so does their
pronounciation of the words in the poetic corpus, so they are not aware of
the change and there is no record of it.  They do have some real sense of
the phenomenon of diachronic syntactic change, since they can easily
perceive that the older poetic works tend to use different syntactic
constructions than do more recent ones.  (The preferred method for
subordinating a clause in everyday language has been entirely replaced over
the course of the centuries, but the older form is retained in formal
situations.)  They also have some sense of the synchronic differences in
dialects.  (For instance, the "vowel compression" rules that Jesse Bangs
and I were working out on the list some time ago are not universal across

There is a syntactically conservative dialect of the language used and
understood by all speakers (except young children) for giving speeches and
other formal occasions.  Tovláugad in general have a very good sense of
what is and isn't good composition and grammar.

What I am wondering is whether they are likely to have much native
grammatical terminology, and, if so, how complex it would be.  When writing
is introduced, it is through a Trehel who has a great deal of knowledge
about the grammar of his native language and his wife who is a Tovláug who
has nearly the entire poetic corpus memorized and is a poet herself.  Was
grammatical terminology for Tovlaugadóis already in existence before
writing or was most of it invented by the couple who adapted the alphabet?



Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>