Deriving an agglutinating language

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Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Sat 03 Sep 2016, 07:27

How could I derive an agglutinating language from a moderately synthetic language, such as Latin or Old Norse?

From what I've read, languages seem to prefer to go into cycles, where a language will get very isolating until it breaks down enough and then become agglutinative. But what if I were to go from a moderately synthetic language straight to agglutination, probably influenced by another language or substrate? How could this work?

Certainly, it could possibly involve breaking down the grammar to many individual morphemes. I would wonder what would happen to the current grammatical case system. Simplify? Expand? Reduce? Be thrown out completely and remade?

And then what happens, when I have my morphemes? Do I just start gluing them together like an art project? OfcourseIcanjustdothiswithEnglishbutthatdoesnotmakeitagglutinatingatall.

The reason I want to do this is because I've been jotting down ideas here and there for an agglutinative Germlang. I chose Germanic because it is already capable of extremely long crazy looking compound words (and not just because I am familiar with it!). Take Icelandic for example, the longest word in Icelandic is Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur.) What I am wondering is what if a Germanic language (like Icelandic, or German) was agglutinating (and not simply just compounding - what difference is there?) and regularly crapped (for a lack of a better word!) out these kind of words? Perhaps a normal sentence would normally have three twelve to fifteen letter words, but be capable of much more? Perhaps I could even change the orthography to give the language doubled long vowels for even longer words? This is the idea that has popped up in my head from time to time, and while I am busy with my two other Germlangs, (and I want to do some non-indo European conlangs after it), I would appreciate information that can be given on how to accomplish such a task.

(Also, if you can, dumb down the terminology unless it is unavoidable - even after a year of conlanging certain linguistic terms still tend to befuddle me.)
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Sat 03 Sep 2016, 08:14

Regularize through analogy. Separate endings into their various elements. For Latin, -s appears to be the most common sound among plural declensions, and the ending Romance languages seem to have favoured, so this can be the plural suffix across the board. Then do the same for the cases, so say the stem vowel or nothing for nominative, -(u)m for accusative -s or a vowel of your choice for genitive, -o for dative. Then apply them regularly:

aqua, aquam, aquas, aquao
aquas, aquams, aquasas, aquaos

domin, dominum, domins, domino
domins, dominums, dominsas, dominos

Not especially realistic unless maybe you have mass immigration, but it works cleanly anyway. If you run this through progressive stages instead of in one go like I did, you can probably get something a bit more realistic.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 03 Sep 2016, 10:07

I think there are at least two ways of approaching this. One is reanalysis as already explained by clawgrip.
The other one is basically cheating.1 You could get rid of the inflection and use compounding instead. Let's use English roots and compound them. Let's say the word set, is used for plural, because a set is more than one 2. You could use words like cow-set for the plural of cows. Other morphemes may be more difficult to derive from compounding, but if you look at other languages that might be possible. You could also use derivational affixes, which are usually less phonologically fused and/or more monoexponential than their inflectional counterparts in Germanic languages.
1 Because you go through a more analytic/isolating stage.
2 I know it isn't.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Sat 03 Sep 2016, 12:25

The development of the Romance future tense to replace the Latin future tense is a good example of how to develop new suffixes. If the personal suffixes are regularized before the auxiliary becomes an enclitic, then it can preserve its form quite regularly.

"I walk" etc.
ambulo
ambulas
ambulat

"I will walk" etc.
ambularbo
ambularbas
ambularbat

from ambulare hab- we get our future suffix -arb

If we allow stacking of infinitives, we can get more suffixes.

if possum "can" is regularized to posso:

"I can walk"
ambularpso

rp may be reduced to pp, which may again reduce to p, so:

ambulare posso "I can walk " etc.:
ambulapso
ambulapsas
ambulapsat

ambulare posse habeo "I will be able to walk" etc.:

ambulapsarbo
ambulapsarbas
ambulapsarbat

with plurals:
ambulapsarbons
ambulapsarbasans
ambulapsarbatans

ambul-aps-arb-o-ns
walk-POT-FUT-1-PL

(I want to reduce ambul- to ambl-, but that's a different matter)
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Sat 03 Sep 2016, 23:21

Thanks for the responses, guys!

Yeah, I prefer realistic solutions to cheating (sorry Crey!)

I’m so far using your information to attempt to come up with a way I can first simplify ON declension forms before breaking them apart. They seem a bit more complex* than Latin, which I think didn’t figure definite and indefinite forms into its inflection (although I know little of Latin so I could be wrong.) It also seems more “irregular,” so more work might have to be done to get the desired forms.

So for example, in Old Norse we have this form for a strong masculine a-stem noun:

Singular | Plural
Indefinite | Definite | Indefinite| Definite
Nominative: hestr | hestrinn | hestar | hestarnir
Accusative: hest | hestinn | hesta | hestana
Dative: hesti | hestinum | hestum | hestunum
Genitive: hests | hestsins | hesta | hestanna

The first thing I want to do is analogically introduce /r/ to all plural forms, while dropping it in the singular. This isn’t without precedent – Faroese introduced /r/ to the accusative plural, giving it hestar and hestarnar. So this gives me the following:

hest hestinn hestar hestarnir
hest hestinn hestar hestarnar
hesti hestinum hestum hestunum
hests hestsins hestar hestarnar

Faroese, and also the continental Scandinavian languages, also simplified /n/ in the inflectional form. I’m not sure if this sound change was due to analogy or not, but let’s pretend it was (with the dative.) This gives me the following:

hest hestin hestar hestarnir
hest hestin hestar hestarnar
hesti hestinum hestum hestunum
hests hestsins hestar hestarnar

Already I see -ar appearing for the plural, and -in appearing for the definite article (should it be used). I’m not sure where to go from here. Probably -ar would appear also in the plural dative, so the dative indefinite plural could be something like hest-ar-(n)um broken apart, and then it’s definite counterpart could be hest-in-ar-num (I’m not sure how to parse that correctly, but essentially it has definite, plural, and dative components respectively.) And then I have to contend with the genitive forms and the definite form of the rest of the plurals. And this is just a simple noun.

If I want to take a break from Germlanging, then Romance languages also seem like a close candidate (although to avoid Eurocentrism and get out of my safe zone, I could try to make a future, agglutinating Chinese as well.) I'm not quite familiar with Romance languages though, so in your first example Clawgrip is what I am assuming the first word is ambul plus ego? (Or maybe it's from a vocative form, I don't know.)

The next thing I probably will take time to do is learn how to grammatically parse something into it's components, something I am weak on. But just looking at your "word" ambul-aps-arb-o-ns I think I can determine the components with a fair amount of certainty.

*morphologically speaking, but they were actually more reduced than Latin was
Edit: Okay, I lied. I am not actually that opposed to Creyeditor's idea of simply throwing out the inflection, if I can find a reason for it to be suddenly abandoned. There are some interesting Old Norse prepositions that could be compounded for interesting results. I also believe Chinese has also some interesting prepositions/postpositions worth look at that could be separated from their default functions,
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 04:14

ambulo/ambulas/ambulat are just the standard Latin 1st/2nd/3rd person singular conjugations. I created the plural suffix -ns haphazardly by sort of averaging the standard Latin -mus/-tis/-nt plural endings.

What you need to do is completely separate case marking from person and plural marking, which you have not yet done. If we break it down by suffix, we can see that things don't quite line up:

Code: Select all

NOM  hest-Ø  hest-Ø-in   hest-Ø-ar  hest-Ø-ar-nir
ACC  hest-Ø  hest-Ø-in   hest-Ø-ar  hest-Ø-ar-nar
DAT  hest-i  hest-i-num  hest-um    hest-un-um?
GEN  hest-s  hest-s-ins  hest-ar    hest-ar-nar
You have some fusional remnants here:
  • The definite suffixes of NOM and ACC differ in singular and plural, despite the existence of the -ar plural suffix.
  • ACC is almost merged with NOM except in the plural definite. NOM and ACC should be identical or be distinct everywhere.
  • DAT and GEN have different plural forms that cannot be analyzed and do not match the singular.
If we just regularize everything, we get this:

Code: Select all

        SG -Ø        SG -Ø        PL -ar       PL -ar
        INDEF -Ø     DEF -in      INDEF -Ø     DEF -in
NOM -Ø  hest-Ø-Ø-Ø   hest-Ø-Ø-in  hest-Ø-ar-Ø  hest-Ø-ar-in
ACC -Ø  hest-Ø-Ø-Ø   hest-Ø-Ø-in  hest-Ø-ar-Ø  hest-Ø-ar-in
DAT -i  hest-i-Ø-Ø   hest-i-Ø-in  hest-i-ar-Ø  hest-i-ar-in
GEN -s  hest-s-Ø-Ø   hest-s-Ø-in  hest-s-ar-Ø  hest-s-ar-in
i.e.
hest, hestin, hestar, hestarin
hest, hestin, hestar, hestarin
hesti, hestiin, hestiar, hestiarin
hests, hestsin, hestsar, hestsarin

You can of course have interaction between the suffixes, as long as they are completely predictable, like maybe -in becomes -n after -ar or other VC stems (like hestarin is hestarn, bálin is báln but hestin remains), or DAT hesti → /hestj/ [hes.t͡ʃ]], which is still readily analyzed as an agglutinative word, since this would not occur with other consonants, such as /m/, so DAT becomes hesti or hesch, heschin, heschar, hescharn but say, ermi, ermjir, ermjar, ermjarn.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 05:36

clawgrip wrote:ambulo/ambulas/ambulat are just the standard Latin 1st/2nd/3rd person singular conjugations. I created the plural suffix -ns haphazardly by sort of averaging the standard Latin -mus/-tis/-nt plural endings.

What you need to do is completely separate case marking from person and plural marking, which you have not yet done. If we break it down by suffix, we can see that things don't quite line up:

Code: Select all

NOM  hest-Ø  hest-Ø-in   hest-Ø-ar  hest-Ø-ar-nir
ACC  hest-Ø  hest-Ø-in   hest-Ø-ar  hest-Ø-ar-nar
DAT  hest-i  hest-i-num  hest-um    hest-un-um?
GEN  hest-s  hest-s-ins  hest-ar    hest-ar-nar
You have some fusional remnants here:
  • The definite suffixes of NOM and ACC differ in singular and plural, despite the existence of the -ar plural suffix.
  • ACC is almost merged with NOM except in the plural definite. NOM and ACC should be identical or be distinct everywhere.
  • DAT and GEN have different plural forms that cannot be analyzed and do not match the singular.
If we just regularize everything, we get this:

Code: Select all

        SG -Ø        SG -Ø        PL -ar       PL -ar
        INDEF -Ø     DEF -in      INDEF -Ø     DEF -in
NOM -Ø  hest-Ø-Ø-Ø   hest-Ø-Ø-in  hest-Ø-ar-Ø  hest-Ø-ar-in
ACC -Ø  hest-Ø-Ø-Ø   hest-Ø-Ø-in  hest-Ø-ar-Ø  hest-Ø-ar-in
DAT -i  hest-i-Ø-Ø   hest-i-Ø-in  hest-i-ar-Ø  hest-i-ar-in
GEN -s  hest-s-Ø-Ø   hest-s-Ø-in  hest-s-ar-Ø  hest-s-ar-in
i.e.
hest, hestin, hestar, hestarin
hest, hestin, hestar, hestarin
hesti, hestiin, hestiar, hestiarin
hests, hestsin, hestsar, hestsarin

You can of course have interaction between the suffixes, as long as they are completely predictable, like maybe -in becomes -n after -ar or other VC stems (like hestarin is hestarn, bálin is báln but hestin remains), or DAT hesti → /hestj/ [hes.t͡ʃ]], which is still readily analyzed as an agglutinative word, since this would not occur with other consonants, such as /m/, so DAT becomes hesti or hesch, heschin, heschar, hescharn but say, ermi, ermjir, ermjar, ermjarn.
Okay, I see.

I'm not crazy about using /i/ for the dative, instead of /m/. If anything the definite article would reduce to /i/ or simply /n/ without /i/. Also, there is a possibility that /r/ could survive in the nominative form and be used as a syllabic consonant. thisuld be used to differentiate the nominative, so hestr, hestri, hestrar, hestrari. If necessary an epithetic /u/ can be inserted before /r/ and /m/, possibly after certain consonants e.g., hestum, hestumi, hestumar, hestumjar. (Or depending on the order, hestum, hestjum/hestim, hestarum, hestjarum...)

Also, how much does the order of the suffixes matter? If possible I'd like to keep it as close to it's original order as possible, like in ON the article always comes first in the dative form, but not the nominative.

Regularized Norse orthography would probably use /j/ to denote palatalization, so those forms would be hestj, hestjin, hestjar anyway, but I get what you mean.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 06:51

Naturally, I was just working with the stuff you gave me (plus a couple other modified Old Norse stems) and showing you how to eliminate the fusional elements, and giving you ideas of what you could do to make it structurally regular but less systematic phonetically.

That aggglutinative Latin one was kind of fun to make though.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Lao Kou » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 07:03

clawgrip wrote:aggglutinative
As spoken by Max Headroom [xP] :

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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 21:17

clawgrip wrote:Naturally, I was just working with the stuff you gave me (plus a couple other modified Old Norse stems) and showing you how to eliminate the fusional elements, and giving you ideas of what you could do to make it structurally regular but less systematic phonetically.

That aggglutinative Latin one was kind of fun to make though.
I agree. I recall seeing an agglutinative romlang on this board, and I tried studying that a bit. It's a shame it was never continued further, it sounded like a cool idea.

A few questions:

Can the compounding order be irregular (or does it matter at all?) For example, I have NOM-DEF-PL for the nominative definite plural form of "hest," but could I have DAT-PL-DEF for my dative definite plural form?

I guess verbs would compound in the same manner? For example, what if I made the sentence "the horse sees" with vita. (Icelandic has changed the definition I think, but declension should be the same except final -ð would be -t.)

Finally, what constraints should there be in the inflection? For example, in our example I don't think that the definite article could reduce to -i in some circumstances as it would be no different than the dative. (It could possibly reduce to -n though, like after VR clusters as you pointed out.) hestarn, hestrarn (hesturarin, the orthography might be a bit more conservative.)

Anyway, thanks for the help.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Sun 04 Sep 2016, 23:51

Agglutinative compounding as far as I know always occurs strictly in the same order, regardless of part of speech. Suffixes of course can be left out when not relevant (as you can see above in e.g. hest-Ø-Ø-Ø), but when they do occur, they pop up in exactly the same place in that order. This holds true regardless of the part of speech.

You can have two suffixes that are identical as long as they can't be mistaken for each other, e.g. they occur in a different part of the sequence, as mentioned above, or one of them has some sort of alternate form when it would otherwise be mistaken. Like perhaps the definite article can't be reduced to -i when this would make it identical to the dative. One or the other or both could perhaps even be lengthened in some way as a consequence of careful speaking to avoid convergence, so maybe hestin becomes hestini and hesti becomes hestji. Whatever you want. (Assuming you keep dative as -i, which you didn't seem to want to do; don't take my example words as something you have to use).
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Mon 05 Sep 2016, 20:00

clawgrip wrote:Agglutinative compounding as far as I know always occurs strictly in the same order, regardless of part of speech. Suffixes of course can be left out when not relevant (as you can see above in e.g. hest-Ø-Ø-Ø), but when they do occur, they pop up in exactly the same place in that order. This holds true regardless of the part of speech.

You can have two suffixes that are identical as long as they can't be mistaken for each other, e.g. they occur in a different part of the sequence, as mentioned above, or one of them has some sort of alternate form when it would otherwise be mistaken. Like perhaps the definite article can't be reduced to -i when this would make it identical to the dative. One or the other or both could perhaps even be lengthened in some way as a consequence of careful speaking to avoid convergence, so maybe hestin becomes hestini and hesti becomes hestji. Whatever you want. (Assuming you keep dative as -i, which you didn't seem to want to do; don't take my example words as something you have to use).
Alright, but they can be in any order as long as they stay in the same order?

Alright, good to know. I've sort of changed my mind, I might use -i for the dative, but -um for another function. (Maybe the ablative?)

And one more question, would the morphology regularize across boundaries? I mean, would I start to see the same suffixes be used for say, feminine ja-stems as I would with strong masculine a-stems?
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Tue 06 Sep 2016, 06:19

I would imagine that elements that semantically alter the core meaning of the verb would be more likely to appear closer to the stem, such as transitivity voice, gender-specific marking (like how Cree verbs mark the animacy of the direct object directly in the verb stem), and so on, but at the same time I think you have some amount of freedom, depending on which elements get grammaticalized first. You will notice below that person is generally at or close to the edge of the chain in the examples I found here.

Turkish seems to follow this order:
ROOT - Reflexive - Reciprocal - Causative - Passive - Negative - Tense/Aspect - Mood - Person

Japanese follows this pattern:
ROOT - Causative - Passive/Potential - Politeness - Aspect - Negative - Tense - Mood

The elements that Japanese and Turkish share occur in the same order.

Sumerian follows this pattern (as far as I can tell, anyway...):
"Conjugation" (negations and various other things) - Ventive - Various personal and oblique affixes - ROOT - Aspect - ABS person

Georgian follows this pattern:
Preverb - Person - Version - ROOT - Voice - Causative - Thematic - Aspect - Person - Auxiliary - Plural

Sorry, I am baffled by both Sumerian and Georgian, this is the best I can do. I tried looking up some North American languages like Cree and Blackfoot, but could not get clear info for orders of affixes.

It seems like most agglutinative languages are quite regular, but I imagine you could have divide your parts of speech into a few different classes that conjugate/decline slightly differently. Japanese has regular verbs and adjectival verbs, which can compound with each other (in standard negation of verbs turns them from regular verbs to adjectival verbs via compounding), and which share some but not all affixes. Georgian is apparently quite irregular, but I imagine it has some classes or something.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Fri 09 Sep 2016, 04:17

clawgrip wrote:I would imagine that elements that semantically alter the core meaning of the verb would be more likely to appear closer to the stem, such as transitivity voice, gender-specific marking (like how Cree verbs mark the animacy of the direct object directly in the verb stem), and so on, but at the same time I think you have some amount of freedom, depending on which elements get grammaticalized first. You will notice below that person is generally at or close to the edge of the chain in the examples I found here.

Turkish seems to follow this order:
ROOT - Reflexive - Reciprocal - Causative - Passive - Negative - Tense/Aspect - Mood - Person

Japanese follows this pattern:
ROOT - Causative - Passive/Potential - Politeness - Aspect - Negative - Tense - Mood

The elements that Japanese and Turkish share occur in the same order.

Sumerian follows this pattern (as far as I can tell, anyway...):
"Conjugation" (negations and various other things) - Ventive - Various personal and oblique affixes - ROOT - Aspect - ABS person

Georgian follows this pattern:
Preverb - Person - Version - ROOT - Voice - Causative - Thematic - Aspect - Person - Auxiliary - Plural

Sorry, I am baffled by both Sumerian and Georgian, this is the best I can do. I tried looking up some North American languages like Cree and Blackfoot, but could not get clear info for orders of affixes.

It seems like most agglutinative languages are quite regular, but I imagine you could have divide your parts of speech into a few different classes that conjugate/decline slightly differently. Japanese has regular verbs and adjectival verbs, which can compound with each other (in standard negation of verbs turns them from regular verbs to adjectival verbs via compounding), and which share some but not all affixes. Georgian is apparently quite irregular, but I imagine it has some classes or something.
That's plenty good, thanks a lot. Interesting how person in Georgian is close to the root, and is a prefix. It also seems that mood is quite close to the stem of the verb as well. For now I might keep the elements in roughly the same order as they had been before agglutination.

Also, I was looking at the Greenlandic language on Wikipedia and it seems to distinguish plural case endings from singular case endings. So for example, the singular case ending for the ergative case is -(u)p while the plural form is -(i)t. From what you were telling me, I thought I had to regularize the plural forms, is this still true?

Finally, what would happen to the gender system? Break down?
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by clawgrip » Fri 09 Sep 2016, 05:58

First of all, let's be clear that there are relatively few things you "have to" do. I was describing the sort of ideal agglutinative/synthetic language, i.e. one where every single morpheme has only a single meaning. Remember that languages are on a continuum between agglutinative and isolating, and even different parts of speech within a single language may fall on different parts of that continuum.

What you describe suggests that Greenlandic displays some fusional characteristics, i.e. it has fused person/case/number. But it looks like only the core cases (ergative and absolutive) display this irregularity; the remaining cases are mostly easily analyzed. I imagine also that there are numerous other affixes that make Greenlandic primarily agglutinative despite these fusional affixes.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Fri 16 Sep 2016, 07:18

clawgrip wrote:First of all, let's be clear that there are relatively few things you "have to" do. I was describing the sort of ideal agglutinative/synthetic language, i.e. one where every single morpheme has only a single meaning. Remember that languages are on a continuum between agglutinative and isolating, and even different parts of speech within a single language may fall on different parts of that continuum.

What you describe suggests that Greenlandic displays some fusional characteristics, i.e. it has fused person/case/number. But it looks like only the core cases (ergative and absolutive) display this irregularity; the remaining cases are mostly easily analyzed. I imagine also that there are numerous other affixes that make Greenlandic primarily agglutinative despite these fusional affixes.
Alright! It is now obvious that the distinction between "agglutinative" and "fusional" isn't so clear as it seems to be, and agglutinating languages simply seem to be on the more extreme side of the synthetic spectrum. Thank you.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Wed 21 Sep 2016, 06:48

Another question, although this one is sort of vague.

What exactly is "case" in relation to agglutinating languages? Are the basic cases I have in any way distinguished from the rest of the "cases" that I tack on via suffixing?
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Creyeditor » Wed 21 Sep 2016, 10:38

Some people distinguish between core (or morphosyntactical) cases like nominative, accusative, genitive, dative cases and adverbial cases (or semantic cases) like locative, superessive and translative case.
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Ælfwine » Sat 24 Sep 2016, 23:21

Creyeditor wrote:Some people distinguish between core (or morphosyntactical) cases like nominative, accusative, genitive, dative cases and adverbial cases (or semantic cases) like locative, superessive and translative case.
Oh, I see...

Say, any conlangs that people have done that went through the process of agglutination that I may study? Or better yet, any good free online articles/books that do not require a bachelor's degree in linguistics I can read? I just want to study more examples.
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Isfendil
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Re: Deriving an agglutinating language

Post by Isfendil » Sun 25 Sep 2016, 14:59

Ælfwine wrote:
Creyeditor wrote:Some people distinguish between core (or morphosyntactical) cases like nominative, accusative, genitive, dative cases and adverbial cases (or semantic cases) like locative, superessive and translative case.
Oh, I see...

Say, any conlangs that people have done that went through the process of agglutination that I may study? Or better yet, any good free online articles/books that do not require a bachelor's degree in linguistics I can read? I just want to study more examples.
Maybe we can demonstrate this to you with our own conlangs? What exactly do you want to see?
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