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Re: I'm back (was: Re: Leaving for three weeks...)

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Friday, August 26, 2005, 5:21
On 8/25/05, Julia Schnecki Simon <helicula@...> wrote:
> > > Really -- I should probably find some more friends who live a few > hours away from me, so I can get myself some more quality > conlanging-on-a-train time... After just one short trip to Frankfurt, > I suddenly had a budding verbal inflection system. (There are four > inflectional classes; I already have paradigms for intransitive verbs > for a "neutral" tense -- I'll call it "present imperfective" for now > -- for each class and now I'm thinking about what other tenses, > aspects etc. I'd like to have, and whether a tenseless "aspect-only" > system wouldn't be much nicer. I also need to figure out how to deal > with object agreement, because that's something I definitely want to > have.)
I'm not sure how universally this generalization holds, but object-incorporated verb forms seem to tend towards an imperfective, habitual, or durative interpretation. It makes sense. "He hoes the/some beans" vs. "He bean-hoes", the second meaning something like "He habitually hoes beans" or "He's a bean farmer". So maybe a *combined* TAM and object agreement system! Object agreement (person or class) and PAST suffix = past perfective Object incorporation and PAST suffix = past imperfective Object agreement (person or class) and NONPAST suffix = nonpast perfective Object incorporation and NONPAST suffix = nonpast imperfective Now this necessitates the question of how to deal with aspect in intransitive forms. Perhaps just a neutral interpretation, or an indefinite object marker can signal the imperfective. Now I'm looking into noun class systems. I'm envisioning a system with
> a handful of inflectional classes and a somewhat larger number of noun > classes; each noun would be assigned to a certain inflectional class > based on its phonetic structure, and to a certain noun class based on > its meaning. I'm not sure yet whether the noun class will show up > somewhere on the noun itself (like in the Bantu languages with their > class prefixes) or not; in any case, I'm planning noun class agreement > for 3rd-person verb affixes, pronouns, etc. My main problem at the > moment is that there are so many fascinating noun classes/noun class > systems out there that I have trouble deciding what *I* want for *my* > (still unnamed, BTW) language. ;-)
From Totonacan: body-part based noun classes. The following are examples of numerical classifiers, these and similar roots also show up in verb derivation/noun incorporation, nominal derivation, and locatives. qaqa- (ear) handles chaa- (trunk) sprouts, branches kilh- (mouth) holes laq- (face) parts/divisions pish- (neck) bunches of flowers of leaves paa- (belly) sacks, containers kaak- (head) houses, squash and so on. It's a neat idea in general: take a limited set of semantically related nouns (for seasons, colors, tastes or smells, gods) and slowly expand each classifier's range. Squashes are artifacts of the harvest season; round things are like squashes; big animals are like round things; and so on. The moon is classed as silver, and later on, women as well, and even later, cats, even if they're orange. Hmm, thinking seasonally, the Ages of the world. The spear was first invented and squash was first harvested in -- or, at least, the current words for these things came from -- the Age of the Sun. So they all get the same classifier. Basically, classifiers indicating the historical strata of the language's words... I've also started thinking about syntax (probably VSO, with questions
> derived from declarative sentence by adding a question particle to the > sentence and putting an indefinite pronoun -- or a "pro-verb", as the > case may be -- in the place of the part of the sentence that the > question is asked about [umm, was that grammatical just now?]) and > about number systems (I'm leaning towards something basically decimal > with remnants of older duodecimal ["dozen" etc.] and vigesimal [think > Danish -- "halfway-through-the-third-score" instead of "fifty", and > the like] patterns). These two areas obviously still need a lot of > fleshing out, though.
Since you started with a Mesoamerican inspiration, maybe overcounting is in order. For 32, not "two and thirty" but "two towards fourty"! -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00


Julia "Schnecki" Simon <helicula@...>