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Semitic-style nonconcatentative morphology and han4zi4.

From:Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 19:21
I'm working on a new take on a language I've been
plinking away at for the last six months or so (for
now, I call it M@khi:S [m@.Xi:s`] = "of the coasts",
since they're a coastal people).

The backbone of most roots is a one-to-four consonant
stem, and there are a large number of affixes for
things like pronominal clitics, negators and so on.

An example:

m-k-S (/S/ = [K], which alternates with [s`] in coda
and consonant clusters)

"to go, to come" — this is also the root for "coast"
(the basis for the name of the language). The two
roots used to be distinct in the final consonant,
until a sound shift merged the sibilants [s`] and [K].

ma:kS [mA:xS] = perfective/telic verb root
i:mka:S [i:mxa:S] = imperfective/atelic verb root
mu:kS [mu:xS] = arrival / departure ("act of ___")
me:kS [me:xS] = origin / destination ("place of ___")

Directionals (required for this particular verb, and
most other verbs of motion)

na = towards (Ger. "hin", Eng. "hither")
k'i = away from (Ger. "her", Eng. "hence")

n@-mu:kS = arrival (Ger. "Ankunft")
n@-me:kS = destination
k'@-mu:kS = departure (Ger. "Abfahrt")
k'@-me:kS = origin (Ger. "Herkunft")

(unstressed vowels have an overwhelming tendency to
reduce to schwa, hence the alternations in the

Now, I have this masochistic desire to do two things:

One, to come up with a way of representing all this in
Chinese Hanzi...

...and two, understanding that I can't represent
_every_ morpheme with a unique character (why would I
even want to try?), I want to come up with some
phonetic writing system to represent what I can't come
up with a character for (= kana).

I'm thinking this: characters for roots, and a
heavily-modified Semitic abugida (appropriately
Sinicized so it doesn't look too out of place amongst
all the ideograms) for everything else, including
roots I can't find or cobble up a character for.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

I'm working on a modified form of the Aramaic alphabet
(since the phonology is heavily based on Hebrew
anyways), and may be able to come up with samples of
what I'm thinking of in a few days, once I figure out
the nuts and bolts of all this.

I'm also planning to incorporate a large number of
Chinese loanwords (with a split akin to the Japanese
on- and kun'yomi, where the characters can either be
read in their M@khi:s forms, or a rather mangled
Chinese reading), but for that, I need to come up with
a plausible conhistory.

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