A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cases)

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Doranwen
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A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cases)

Post by Doranwen » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 08:58

I posted a few times last year, struggling to grasp some basics, and then real life sort of took over and I didn't have a chance to work on my conlang (named Cerstan) properly for a long while. I've been pulling it out and working on it recently - spent one evening going through the dictionary and making it match my new orthography (as well as replace phonemes I removed with similar ones to align words to my new phonemic inventory). In the process I discovered that Lexique Pro (at least, as run with Wine on Linux Mint) does not properly handle either ł or ý, and I had to revert back to the digraphs in the lexeme fields so everything would alphabetize properly, but that was a minor issue with an easy workaround.

What I found far more challenging was figuring out what I was doing on a couple specific areas:

1) Stress. My instincts are something like English - put the stress wherever it "feels right", meaning it's likely to end up all over. With some testing out words on the tongue, I did manage to narrow it down to a light stress on the first syllable - but Cerstan uses some prefixes on words (pronouns on the verbs, for instance), which leads me to wonder: Are there languages with stress relating to the beginning of the word, which use prefixes? (My only real language knowledge besides English is Spanish, which has stress relating to the end of words, I believe, so not very helpful.) And if so, what do they do with words that have the prefixes added? For instance, if I have a three-syllable verb "sarlénĉri" (sar-lén-ĉri) with first syllable stress (SAR-lén-ĉri), what should happen if I apply the pronominal prefixes to make it into a sentence as one word? "Ecesarlénĉri." (e-ce-sar-lén-ĉri) Which syllable gets the stress now? (Is it "sar" still, or has "e" taken it because of its new position? Or something else?) You might say "this is your language, decide it how you want", which brings me to my second thing, relative rarity.

2) Cerstan might be a heartlang, but I also don't want it to do the weirdest thing possible in every situation. I like knowing if what I'm using is very common vs. less common vs. rare vs. no natural language on Earth uses it. I'd really prefer not to use features that would fit into the last category if possible (though I don't mind using some rare features here and there), so I like to know the relative rarity of each way of doing something. I've poked around at WALS but it isn't always helpful. For instance, I decided I wanted to go with a rare feature (tripartite case system) because I liked it better than the other options. From what I can read about the few languages listed there, tripartite systems leave the agent of the intransitive verb unmarked, and mark both agent and patient of the transitive verbs. But is this an "always" thing? In other words, are there any natural languages known that shift things so the unmarked case is either the agent or patient of the transitive verb (or that don't have an unmarked case at all), or is the unmarked case in a tripartite system always the agent of the intransitive verb?

I'll save my other questions for another topic another day so I don't end up with too many unrelated things all at once in the same thread.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 12:16

Doranwen wrote:1) [...] Are there languages with stress relating to the beginning of the word, which use prefixes? (My only real language knowledge besides English is Spanish, which has stress relating to the end of words, I believe, so not very helpful.) And if so, what do they do with words that have the prefixes added? For instance, if I have a three-syllable verb "sarlénĉri" (sar-lén-ĉri) with first syllable stress (SAR-lén-ĉri), what should happen if I apply the pronominal prefixes to make it into a sentence as one word? "Ecesarlénĉri." (e-ce-sar-lén-ĉri) Which syllable gets the stress now? (Is it "sar" still, or has "e" taken it because of its new position? Or something else?) You might say "this is your language, decide it how you want", which brings me to my second thing, relative rarity.
Both are definitely attested. In describing your language, you could say that the first syllable of a word is stressed (if it is E.ce.sar.len.cri) or that the first syllable of the root is stressed (if it is e.ce.SAR.len.cri). None of them are rare in natlangs. In some languages even only some pre-root morphemes influence stress, while others don't.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 12:45

Even within English both options are attested: assimilate, repair and foretelling against aspirate, rebate and forearm.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Doranwen » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 16:26

Creyeditor wrote:Both are definitely attested. In describing your language, you could say that the first syllable of a word is stressed (if it is E.ce.sar.len.cri) or that the first syllable of the root is stressed (if it is e.ce.SAR.len.cri). None of them are rare in natlangs. In some languages even only some pre-root morphemes influence stress, while others don't.
Good to know, thanks! I'm leaning toward the first syllable of the root, and we'll see if it gets more complicated than that. I know I've had to correct myself in pronunciation sometimes because I'll drift to pronouncing certain words differently. Do any languages (besides English, which is just weird) have different rules when it comes to loan words from other languages? For instance, if I borrowed "America" for the country/region, I'd have a really hard time making it pronounced "A-mer-i-ca" and would instead be more likely to either keep the original stress "a-MER-i-ca" or condense the word to make the stress work "AM-ri-ca".
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 15 Jul 2017, 17:01

I am pretty sure there are languages that keep the stress pattern from the source language (or just adjust them minimally). IIRC a lot of languages do this with loan words from French, which are stressed on the last syllable.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Doranwen » Sun 16 Jul 2017, 04:44

Creyeditor wrote:I am pretty sure there are languages that keep the stress pattern from the source language (or just adjust them minimally). IIRC a lot of languages do this with loan words from French, which are stressed on the last syllable.
Ah! *notes this down* I will probably do that, then, because I do intend to borrow a lot of "countries' name for themselves" sort of thing. More culturally appropriate and all that, than picking a name for the Other that might or might not be insulting.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Ashtăr Balynestjăr » Tue 18 Jul 2017, 07:40

Doranwen wrote:
Creyeditor wrote:Both are definitely attested. In describing your language, you could say that the first syllable of a word is stressed (if it is E.ce.sar.len.cri) or that the first syllable of the root is stressed (if it is e.ce.SAR.len.cri). None of them are rare in natlangs. In some languages even only some pre-root morphemes influence stress, while others don't.
Good to know, thanks! I'm leaning toward the first syllable of the root, and we'll see if it gets more complicated than that. I know I've had to correct myself in pronunciation sometimes because I'll drift to pronouncing certain words differently. Do any languages (besides English, which is just weird) have different rules when it comes to loan words from other languages? For instance, if I borrowed "America" for the country/region, I'd have a really hard time making it pronounced "A-mer-i-ca" and would instead be more likely to either keep the original stress "a-MER-i-ca" or condense the word to make the stress work "AM-ri-ca".
In any case, there would already be a precedent in your language for the original stress pattern in "America": trisyllabic word forms with a monosyllabic prefix.
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Iyionaku » Tue 18 Jul 2017, 08:19

Creyeditor wrote:
Doranwen wrote:1) [...] Are there languages with stress relating to the beginning of the word, which use prefixes? (My only real language knowledge besides English is Spanish, which has stress relating to the end of words, I believe, so not very helpful.) And if so, what do they do with words that have the prefixes added? For instance, if I have a three-syllable verb "sarlénĉri" (sar-lén-ĉri) with first syllable stress (SAR-lén-ĉri), what should happen if I apply the pronominal prefixes to make it into a sentence as one word? "Ecesarlénĉri." (e-ce-sar-lén-ĉri) Which syllable gets the stress now? (Is it "sar" still, or has "e" taken it because of its new position? Or something else?) You might say "this is your language, decide it how you want", which brings me to my second thing, relative rarity.
Both are definitely attested. In describing your language, you could say that the first syllable of a word is stressed (if it is E.ce.sar.len.cri) or that the first syllable of the root is stressed (if it is e.ce.SAR.len.cri). None of them are rare in natlangs. In some languages even only some pre-root morphemes influence stress, while others don't.
In German, for example, there is an opposition in meaning depending on whether the prefix is stressed or not: fahren (to drive) --> umFAHren (to drive around something), UMfahren (to roll over something, to knock something over)
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by eldin raigmore » Tue 18 Jul 2017, 20:39

Doranwen wrote: .... I like knowing if what I'm using is very common vs. less common vs. rare vs. no natural language on Earth uses it. I'd really prefer not to use features that would fit into the last category if possible (though I don't mind using some rare features here and there), so I like to know the relative rarity of each way of doing something. ....
Two resources you might find useful:
https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/archive/intro/index.php the Universals Archive
and
https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/rara/intro/ the Grammatical Rarity-Cabinet
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Re: A couple questions on rarity of features (stress and cas

Post by Doranwen » Wed 19 Jul 2017, 05:46

Thanks! That is interesting to poke through. The vocabulary is a bit challenging at times but very educational. :)
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