Help on language evolution?

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smallish
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Help on language evolution?

Post by smallish » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 00:36

Hi all! I'm new the forums and have only recently begun conlanging. Currently, I'm working on a proto-language from which I plan to evolve two daughter languages. The problem that I'm running into is that the mother language is agglutinative while I want one of the daughter languages to lean toward the isolating end of the spectrum. Not fully isolating, mind you, but with shorter words than what's common in the mother language. For example, the word for seed is lesamoyišabe, which is a compound word essentially meaning "little cradle". I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to evolve a language in a way that would reduce the amount of compound words and create something that's a bit more simple in appearance. Of course, I might just be asking something a bit silly and in that case, don't hesitate to let me know [:D]
Keenir
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by Keenir » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 04:48

smallish wrote:Hi all! I'm new the forums and have only recently begun conlanging. Currently, I'm working on a proto-language from which I plan to evolve two daughter languages. The problem that I'm running into is that the mother language is agglutinative while I want one of the daughter languages to lean toward the isolating end of the spectrum. Not fully isolating, mind you, but with shorter words than what's common in the mother language. For example, the word for seed is lesamoyišabe, which is a compound word essentially meaning "little cradle". I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to evolve a language in a way that would reduce the amount of compound words and create something that's a bit more simple in appearance. Of course, I might just be asking something a bit silly and in that case, don't hesitate to let me know [:D]
just a thought - perhaps take one or more of the syllable breaks, and make that into separate words (though you'd still need all the words to keep the meaning "little cradle")
such as:

<le.sa.mo.yi.ša.be>
little cradle
seed

...becomes...

<le.sa mo.yi ša.be>
little cradle
seed
At work on Apaan: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4799
smallish
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by smallish » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 07:07

Thanks! I thought about doing that, but the proto-language has some very strict rules about how words can be conjoined and thus breaking them down into the root words actually yields something a bit different (i.e. lesamoyišabe is leł- + sam + owišal + pe) so I dismissed it. Thinking about it again, though, I suppose that a child language might reanalyze these compound words and derive new roots. It's a pretty simple thought but one that I neglected to consider [:P] Thanks for your suggestion and help. I know I'll have fun with this once I really dig into the child languages.
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by sangi39 » Thu 16 Mar 2017, 18:14

smallish wrote:Hi all! I'm new the forums and have only recently begun conlanging. Currently, I'm working on a proto-language from which I plan to evolve two daughter languages. The problem that I'm running into is that the mother language is agglutinative while I want one of the daughter languages to lean toward the isolating end of the spectrum. Not fully isolating, mind you, but with shorter words than what's common in the mother language. For example, the word for seed is lesamoyišabe, which is a compound word essentially meaning "little cradle". I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to evolve a language in a way that would reduce the amount of compound words and create something that's a bit more simple in appearance. Of course, I might just be asking something a bit silly and in that case, don't hesitate to let me know [:D]
Sound change is always a good way of reducing word length.

lesamoyišabe > lesamoyišab (loss of final vowels) > lesamoyšab (reduction of Vyi to Vy) > lesmoyšab (loss of some vowels) > lesmešab (diphthong simplification in unstressed syllables) > lesmešap (final consonant devoicing) > lehmešap (loss of debuccalisation of /s/ when syllable-final)

If lesamoyišabe is a compound of say lesam and oyišabe then these could become leysam (lengthening of vowels in stressed open syllables then become diphthongs) and oyšap (the diphthong remains a diphthong when stressed).

So you've got leysam for "little" and oyšap for "cradle" vs. lehmešap for "seed". They still look similar, but lehmešap is less obviously a compound.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
smallish
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by smallish » Fri 17 Mar 2017, 00:33

sangi39 wrote:
smallish wrote:Hi all! I'm new the forums and have only recently begun conlanging. Currently, I'm working on a proto-language from which I plan to evolve two daughter languages. The problem that I'm running into is that the mother language is agglutinative while I want one of the daughter languages to lean toward the isolating end of the spectrum. Not fully isolating, mind you, but with shorter words than what's common in the mother language. For example, the word for seed is lesamoyišabe, which is a compound word essentially meaning "little cradle". I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to evolve a language in a way that would reduce the amount of compound words and create something that's a bit more simple in appearance. Of course, I might just be asking something a bit silly and in that case, don't hesitate to let me know [:D]
Sound change is always a good way of reducing word length.

lesamoyišabe > lesamoyišab (loss of final vowels) > lesamoyšab (reduction of Vyi to Vy) > lesmoyšab (loss of some vowels) > lesmešab (diphthong simplification in unstressed syllables) > lesmešap (final consonant devoicing) > lehmešap (loss of debuccalisation of /s/ when syllable-final)

If lesamoyišabe is a compound of say lesam and oyišabe then these could become leysam (lengthening of vowels in stressed open syllables then become diphthongs) and oyšap (the diphthong remains a diphthong when stressed).

So you've got leysam for "little" and oyšap for "cradle" vs. lehmešap for "seed". They still look similar, but lehmešap is less obviously a compound.
Thank you! I've been fiddling with possible sound changes but you offer great suggestions and it'll help a lot to get the look that I want :3
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by sangi39 » Fri 17 Mar 2017, 02:02

smallish wrote:
sangi39 wrote:
smallish wrote:Hi all! I'm new the forums and have only recently begun conlanging. Currently, I'm working on a proto-language from which I plan to evolve two daughter languages. The problem that I'm running into is that the mother language is agglutinative while I want one of the daughter languages to lean toward the isolating end of the spectrum. Not fully isolating, mind you, but with shorter words than what's common in the mother language. For example, the word for seed is lesamoyišabe, which is a compound word essentially meaning "little cradle". I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to evolve a language in a way that would reduce the amount of compound words and create something that's a bit more simple in appearance. Of course, I might just be asking something a bit silly and in that case, don't hesitate to let me know [:D]
Sound change is always a good way of reducing word length.

lesamoyišabe > lesamoyišab (loss of final vowels) > lesamoyšab (reduction of Vyi to Vy) > lesmoyšab (loss of some vowels) > lesmešab (diphthong simplification in unstressed syllables) > lesmešap (final consonant devoicing) > lehmešap (loss of debuccalisation of /s/ when syllable-final)

If lesamoyišabe is a compound of say lesam and oyišabe then these could become leysam (lengthening of vowels in stressed open syllables then become diphthongs) and oyšap (the diphthong remains a diphthong when stressed).

So you've got leysam for "little" and oyšap for "cradle" vs. lehmešap for "seed". They still look similar, but lehmešap is less obviously a compound.
Thank you! I've been fiddling with possible sound changes but you offer great suggestions and it'll help a lot to get the look that I want :3
You're welcome [:)]

Probably the easiest sound changes to start with are stressed related vowel changes, including syncope, shortening, lengthening and diphthongisation, as well as sound mergers, cluster simplification and loss of coda consonants.

Apart from, say, cluster simplification, a lot of the above are "conditional" sound changes. Consonant being lost under the condition that they appear in certain positions, vowels changing under the condition that they're stressed or unstressed, in open or closed syllables, but they're all relatively easy to keep track of and can yield some fairly interesting results.




Just as a random example, let's take lesamoyišabe, lesam and oyišabe again, and say that they appear in the genitive with the suffix -(a)n. Now, let's throw the same sound changes I did above, assume that stress follows a pattern similar to that found in Finnish, and assume that final -en becomes -a at the end of this process:

lesamoyišabe > lehmešap vs. lesamoyišaben > lehmešauba
lesam > leysam vs. lesaman > leysama
oyišabe > oyšap vs. oyišaben > oyšaba

Now you've got two words containing original -oyišabe- that look quite different in the daughter language thanks to the original compound noun being treated as a single unit, i.e. ešap ~ ešaub vs. oyšap ~ oyšab, and all because of a few fairly simple sound changes.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by Porphyrogenitos » Sun 02 Apr 2017, 07:08

I'll echo that sound changes in order to obscure compound words and make them into unitary, non-compound words is the best way to go. Breaking up compound words doesn't sound like a good way to create an isolating language - you're essentially just reversing the changes that happened just a little bit earlier in the languages's history. Compound words are more likely to coalesce into monomorphemic words over time.

For example, look at these words in English that used to be compounds:

woman < Old English wīfmann, wīf "female" + mann "person"
hussy < OE huswif, hus "house" + wif "wife"
husband < Old Norse húsbóndi, hús "house + bóndi "dweller"
island < OE īeġland, īeġ "island" + land "land"
lord < OE hlāfweard, hlāf "bread, loaf" + weard "keeper"
lady < OE hlǣfdīġe, hlāf "bread, loaf" + dīġe "kneader"
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Re: Help on language evolution?

Post by Nachtuil » Thu 11 May 2017, 01:10

I agree that not breaking up the compounds and instead just letting sound changes grind them down till their components become obscured and their size reduced is a good path. You can create new non-affixing particles arise to pick up the semantic pieces all the old suffixes used to denote.
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