Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 09:12

I am giving Ngolu (now also called Iliaqu) a big overhaul. Mostly it's staying the same, but I'm methodically going through the dictionary at the moment, changing a very basic part of the language. I'm losing the kind of strange gender distinction in the human nominals (which used to distinguish between the initiated male gender and the everyone else gender) and replacing it with a dimension that I'm calling accessibility. I'm not sure though - I feel like it would be perhaps better to call it status.

I haven't seen any natlang or conlang precedents for it, although at first glance it might look a bit like a T-V distinction and in some ways, there is some similarity to stance in MONOBA's Trailsend's Feayran. I got inspired by someone's conlang, somewhere on FB, that indicated, in the third person, whether someone was known or unknown to the speaker. I got to thinking about where to draw the line at that (At what point do you know someone?) and somewhere alonge the way I realised I could actually grammaticalise a personal hang-up of mine, which, in a really weird way, is incredibly cool.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Nominals are a closed class of word, equivalent to the pronouns and articles of other languages. The only other word classes are verbals (open), particles (closed) and interjections (closed-ish). Nominals are inflected for grammatical ...
  • Person: 1st / 2nd / 3rd
    Number: singular / plural
    Definiteness and specificity: definite / specific indefinite / non-specific indefinite (only in 3rd person)
    Gender: animate / inanimate (only in 3rd person)
    Accessibility/Status: accessible / inaccessible (only in animate gender)
    Case: nominative / accusative / dative / ablative / locative / genitive / possessive / vocative / causal / benefactive / instrumental / comitative / topical / essive
Accessibility is a concept integral to Ngolu culture. In interactions between two or more people, each person presents themselves as either accessible (glossed ACS) or inaccessible (glossed ICS) to their interlocutor and also acknowledges the accessibility (with regard to the speaker) of the listener as well as any third persons mentioned. Personal interactions only run smoothly when all participants in communication are in agreement about one another's statuses in relation to each other.

At first glance, it looks like a T-V distinction extended to include the 1st and 3rd persons. Strangers and acquaintances generally use the inaccessible nominals nu NOM.1s.ICS and vu NOM.2s.ICS when speaking to each other. (Similarity to French nous and vous is completely coincidental!) Close friends and lovers generally use the accessible nominals na NOM.1s.ACS and ua NOM.2s.ACS. Third persons are referred to with either ju NOM.3s.DEF.ICS or ja NOM.3s.DEF. depending on the speaker's relationship to them.
  • So that I don't have to keep glossing, in the nominative, accessible nominals have the stem vowel a while inaccessible nominals have u. First person is with N, second person with V or U.
    Completely coincidental mnemonics: accessible, "unaccessible", noi/nous/nosotros, voi/vous/vosotros.
It gets a bit more complicated though. The above rules generally hold only amongst peers. In situations of unequal dominance, the dominant person is referred to with inaccessible nominals and the subordinate person with accessible nominals. For example, if I am subordinate to you, I will refer to you as vu and to myself as na (the submissive stance). If I am dominant to you, I will show my dominance with nu and ua (the dominant stance). Dominance which is not met with submission often results in conflict.

To boil it down to what accessibility basically means, it's about whether physical bodily contact is allowed. Accessible basically means touchable and inaccessible means untouchable. This does not mean that close friends who use accessible nominals with each other are necessarily all over each other all the time - physical contact may well be at a higher level than in Western cultures, but accessibility really just means that contact is allowed. It is chiefly a means of indicating one's attitude and openness (thus accessibility) to the other person, whether or not there is actual physical contact. Ngolu speakers are forced, in virtually every sentence, to affirm their closeness to or distance from those with whom and about whom they communicate.

By referring to myself with the inaccessible nu, I am saying "We are not close. Do not touch me! That would be weird and totes inappropes." Calling you vu means "I respect your space and am not going to touch you." Totally normal when talking to strangers. Na means "I consider you a close friend. Physical contact is OK, or even welcome." Ua means "I assume we are close enough for me to touch you (but, by all means, correct me if this assumption is wrong)." In this context, the submissive and dominant stances are basically affirming the right of the dominant person to touch the subordinate person if he or she so pleases, while the subordinate person may not touch the dominant person.

Another interesting thing is that it can be changed at a moment's notice to suit the situation and your current feelings. Deeply offended by what your friend or partner has just said to you? Just call yourself nu in the next sentence. Maybe it sounds like a grammatical tool for passive aggression, but it's an overt way of signalling a change in attitude while simultaneously being able to discuss other content. It's not "passive". Want to make it clear that you are flirting with a stranger or acquaintance? Respectfully continue to address them as vu, but indicate your openness by referring to yourself as na. Earlier, I called this the submissive stance, but it doesn't amount to grovelling. (In fact, I can imagine this being used rather aggressively as well as respectfully.) If they respond with na - ua, you're in! If it's nu - ua, they've followed your lead and adopted the dominant stance - they're not giving you an answer yet. Nu - vu is basically them telling you "Back off. I'm NOT going to touch you." Are you ill and don't think it's wise for anyone to get to close? Got a headache? Feeling tense wound up like a coiled spring? Just don't want to be touched for whatever reason? Quarantine yourself from people with inaccessible nominals. If someone's about to cross your boundaries, simply scream this at them:
  • nnu
    n-nu
    COP-NOM.1s.ICS
    Don't touch me! / I'm here and I'm not up for being touched / There exists "untouchable me".
Ngolu greetings are first verbal then physical. (Just like most Western cultures - hello usually before handshakes, hugs and kisses.) The simplest greetings are just the vocative forms of the second person pronouns (evu and eua in singular). This establishes accessibility immediately. Mistakes can be corrected with nnu COP-NOM.1s.ICS ("There is an untouchable I") or nna COP-NOM.1s.ICS ("There is a touchable I"), or these can be volunteered immediately. When a person is inaccessible, they are then greeted with a wave where the open, spread-fingered hand is turned 180 degrees, showing first the palm and then the back. An accessible friend is greeted with a hand placed gently on their head with the ball of the palm at the top of their forehead and the fingers on their crown. If you are a civilian greeting a soldier, a dignitary or the king, you do not use a vocative second person greeting but simply say nna while doing the turning-back wave with both hands, freeze in that position and let them do whatever the hell they wish to do with the top of your head.

Occasionally, overt talking about accessibility may be needed. If there's a misunderstanding, it needs to be made clear, to whom one is accessible, the dative case is used.
  • nnu eui - nnas eje
    g-nu eui | n-nas eje
    COP-NOM.1s.ICS DAT.2s.ICS | COP-NOM.1s.ACS DAT.3s.ACS
    I'm untouchable to you. I'm touchable to him/her.
And you might want to ask someone this:
  • mvu (ene) texi mo?
    g-vu (ene) texi mo
    COP-NOM.2s.ICS DAT.1s.ACS CAU.3s.DEF.INAN.REL be.what
    Why are you untouchable (to me)?
It could be that the person is offended, in which case, they will now tell you, or they may have their own reason, which they may tell you, or choose not to tell you by simply saying ...
  • nnu teni
    g-nu teni
    COP-NOM.1s.ICS CAU.1s.ICS
    I'm untouchable for my own reason (ie. not because of anything you did).
__________________________________________________________________________________
I think this feature in a language would have a number of interesting effects. I'd love to speak a language that has this in it. Maybe I'm reading too much into it and I don't want to get too Sapir-Whorfian, but I think it'd be handy. I'm not saying that people wouldn't still pretend to be OK with something they're not - consent would still be given under duress (as I've illustrated with the dominance and submissive stances), but it may sharpen the blurred lines a little.

I read an interesting take on the Sapir-Whorf effect. A language doesn't constrain its speakers in the ways it handles things grammatically, but if there is anything that is obligatorily marked all the time, it does force the speakers to be aware of this. For example, languages that use compass directions instead of left, right, front, back are spoken by people who are aware of the compass directions all or most of the time.

I would not say that accessibility would make people more aware of how close they feel to other people - of course we are aware of our own feelings towards other people. However, forcing accessibility to be marked grammatically would take interpersonal openness out of the realm of the subtle, the nuanced - body language, inflection and communication style - and put it on display unmistakably present in almost every utterance whether spoken or written down.

I grew up surrounded by people with Asperger's syndrome and I have a feeling that obligatory accessibility marking would go some way towards making the invisible, hard to interpret subtext in communication a bit more easy to get a hold of and help make other people's intentions clearer (and get your own intentions across). Also, for anyone hypersensitive to touch (as I am, but for different reasons) simply speaking would be a constant reminder to others to respect that person's boundaries.

In any case, even if these things turn out to be not very helpful, for whatever reason - I still like having doubles of every pronoun and article that get used in different circumstances. I like the idea of a non-conlanger taking a very casual interest in my language and just asking how do you say "blah" and me saying "That depends. Would you be comfortable if I were to touch you right now?" "What?" "Well, if you would, it's blah blah blah na blah blah, and if not, it's blah blah blah nu blah blah."
Edit: Fixed typo + misattribution.
Last edited by Imralu on Thu 02 Apr 2015, 04:56, edited 1 time in total.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
User avatar
cedh
metal
metal
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed 07 Sep 2011, 21:25
Location: Tübingen, Germany
Contact:

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by cedh » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 12:37

Reading the first paragraph, I was a little bit disappointed because I liked Ngolu's old gender system. Reading more, I've come to realize that you have replaced it with something that can not only reproduce the exact same social behavior implied by the gender system, but which is much more flexible and opens up lots of very interesting pragmatic nuances. I love it!

(Nitpick: Feayran is not MONOBA's conlang, but Trailsend's.)
User avatar
Ahzoh
korean
korean
Posts: 6089
Joined: Sun 20 Oct 2013, 01:57
Location: Toma-ʾEzra lit Vṛḵaža

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Ahzoh » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 13:21

I got inspired by someone's conlang, somewhere on FB, that indicated, in the third person, whether someone was known or unknown to the speaker.
Strange, I too have a conlang that marks whether the speaker knows someone or not. But I have it for the third person and second person, and it is also marked on verbs.
Image Ӯсцӣ (Onschen) [ CWS ]
Image Šat Vṛḵažaẇ (Vrkhazhian) [ WIKI | CWS ]
User avatar
gestaltist
mayan
mayan
Posts: 1611
Joined: Wed 11 Feb 2015, 11:23

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by gestaltist » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 13:42

I love this post. Read it end-to-end. Where can I find out more about this conculture?

Question: can „mva“ be used as a kind of aggressive assertion of dominance? As in „I consider you touchable no matter what."
Last edited by gestaltist on Wed 25 Mar 2015, 21:50, edited 2 times in total.
shimobaatar
darkness
darkness
Posts: 9332
Joined: Fri 12 Jul 2013, 22:09
Location: PA → IN

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by shimobaatar » Wed 25 Mar 2015, 20:48

Very interesting. I look forward to seeing more!

I read the entire post, but everything looked fine, so I don't really have much to say. However, I liked how you addressed how someone could indicate that they're uncomfortable with touch, but not because they're uncomfortable with a particular person.
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 01:39

cedh wrote:Reading the first paragraph, I was a little bit disappointed because I liked Ngolu's old gender system. Reading more, I've come to realize that you have replaced it with something that can not only reproduce the exact same social behavior implied by the gender system, but which is much more flexible and opens up lots of very interesting pragmatic nuances. I love it!
Thanks! Yeah, I was proud of the gender system, but I like this more ... and the difference is enough to make be want to plunge into the huge effort of wading through my dictionary and changing entries and examples that are now outdated. And then I have to do it for my grammar as well, which will be an even bigger job.
cedh wrote:(Nitpick: Feayran is not MONOBA's conlang, but Trailsend's.)
Oops! Sorry, Trailsend! Sorry, MONOBA!
Ahzoh wrote:Strange, I too have a conlang that marks whether the speaker knows someone or not. But I have it for the third person and second person, and it is also marked on verbs.
Hmm. I might have forgotten some details. It wasn't you, was it? Do you use zu-/zi- as markers? Also, what's the definition of "know" for this? Is it knowing the name, having met someone before? Having had a conversation with them?
gestaltist wrote:I love this post. Read it end-to-end. Where can I find out more about this conculture?
Thanks! Here's a fair bit of now outdated stuff. Accessibility is not there - but you can see the old fucked-up gender system. Some of it was due for an overhaul anyway.
gestaltist wrote:Question: can „mva“ be used as a kind of aggressive assertion of dominance? As in „I consider you touchable no matter what."
Yes, I suppose so. But the form of that word is gua [ŋwá]. I did use V (voi/vous/vosotros) in the mnemonic, but it's actually generally U which hardens to V when the stem vowel is U (thus ua, vu). The copula (used to transform nominals into verbals) is [ŋ] before a vowel.
shimobaatar wrote: Very interesting. I look forward to seeing more!

I read the entire post, but everything looked fine, so I don't really have much to say. However, I liked how you addressed how someone could indicate that they're uncomfortable with touch, but not because they're uncomfortable with a particular person.
Thanks. And yeah, that's personally important to me. Overly personal anecdote in the spoiler:
Spoiler:
A while back, at a wedding reception, someone I was interested in and kind of dating was joking around with me and did something to me that triggered a flashback. He could only see that I was suddenly freaked out and was trying to be nice to me, but to keep it together and not be the guy balling his eyes out, I couldn't speak or look at him for a while. He took it to mean that I didn't trust him, that I would think that he would actually be violent, and he was offended by that, which only made me even more emotional. In that state, I was unable to communicate that it had nothing to do with him. I'm not actually sure how accessibility marking could have made that easier though. Sure it makes "It's not about you, it's me" quicker to say, but I can't see how it would necessarily make that any more believable. I was feeling a bit on edge before (because friends of mine had been having poke wars which I unsuccessfully tried to stay out of) so maybe I would have been using nu leading up to that and he wouldn't have joked around with me like that, but, knowing myself, I probably would have continued using na to pretend that everything's fine, and with him in particular, it would have been na I wanted him to touch me, just not like that. Anyway, I wouldn't say that ruined everything with him, but it was a straw.
Here's some examples from a translation thread.

maro vu eni
be.hated NOM.2s.ICS DAT.1s.ICS
I hate you. (Distant: Expressing emotional coldness or distance. I don't want to touch you.)

maro uas eni
be.hated NOM.2s.ACS DAT.1s.ICS
I hate you. (Dominant: Expressing aggression or dominance. I just might hit you.)

maro vu ene
be.hated NOM.2s.ICS DAT.1s.ACS
I hate you. (Submissive: To a superior, defiant but still following correct protocol. I don't care if you hit me, this is the truth.)

maro uas ene
be.hated NOM.2s.ACS DAT.1s.ACS
I hate you. (Close: Expressing emotional closeness at the same time as hate ... which basically ends up like this.)

Additionally, with verbals such as maro, which lacks an accusative argument, the dative argument, the experiencer, may be expressed with the accusative in very informal speech, giving maro vu ni / maro ua ni / maro vu ne / maro ua ne
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
User avatar
Znex
roman
roman
Posts: 1142
Joined: Mon 12 Aug 2013, 13:05
Location: Australia

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Znex » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 01:42

Do you mind if I borrow this idea and fiddle around with it a bit in my conlang? This is quite a clever idea, and I kind of identify with it on some level too. [:D]
:eng: : [tick] | :grc: :wls: : [:|] | :chn: :isr: : [:S] | :nor: :deu: :rom: :ind: :con: : [:x]
Conlangs: Pofp'ash, Ikwawese, Old Quelgic, Nisukil Pʰakwi, Apsiska
User avatar
Ahzoh
korean
korean
Posts: 6089
Joined: Sun 20 Oct 2013, 01:57
Location: Toma-ʾEzra lit Vṛḵaža

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Ahzoh » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 02:18

Imralu wrote:
Ahzoh wrote:Strange, I too have a conlang that marks whether the speaker knows someone or not. But I have it for the third person and second person, and it is also marked on verbs.
Hmm. I might have forgotten some details. It wasn't you, was it? Do you use zu-/zi- as markers? Also, what's the definition of "know" for this? Is it knowing the name, having met someone before? Having had a conversation with them?
Yes, that was me, using zi- on verbs for active, and zu- for passive. Having met them a couple times is sufficient to use these markers, though it is up to the speaker. Generally, you are considered familiar with someone if you frequently meet them.
Example:
  • A casual customer of a shop
  • a friend or family member
  • Your lover
  • Your rival or enemy.
  • That guy who stole fish from your stall last week.
Counter examples:
  • An unfamiliar voice on the telephone
  • A letter from a foreign official
  • That guy in front of you at the market line
  • The guy who is going to mug you (unless you meet him a second time)
Bad people are more likely to be "familiar" to you, than other people.
Last edited by Ahzoh on Thu 26 Mar 2015, 05:45, edited 1 time in total.
Image Ӯсцӣ (Onschen) [ CWS ]
Image Šat Vṛḵažaẇ (Vrkhazhian) [ WIKI | CWS ]
shimobaatar
darkness
darkness
Posts: 9332
Joined: Fri 12 Jul 2013, 22:09
Location: PA → IN

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by shimobaatar » Thu 26 Mar 2015, 05:26

Imralu wrote:And yeah, that's personally important to me.
Me too.
Imralu wrote:Overly personal anecdote in the spoiler:
I'm sorry that happened. [:(]
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 02:38

Znex wrote:Do you mind if I borrow this idea and fiddle around with it a bit in my conlang? This is quite a clever idea, and I kind of identify with it on some level too. [:D]
Go ahead! I'm flattered.
Ahzoh wrote:Yes, that was me, using zi- on verbs for active, and zu- for passive.
Cool. Well, your idea inspired me. Nice!
Ahzoh wrote:Having met them a couple times is sufficient to use these markers, though it is up to the speaker. Generally, you are considered familiar with someone if you frequently meet them.
I like this because it makes way for some very awkward situations if you don't immediately recognise someone who thinks you should know them. I'm kind of glad I don't speak that language, but it's fun to think about.
Ahzoh wrote:Bad people are more likely to be "familiar" to you, than other people.
Really? Why's that?
shimobaatar wrote:Me too.
It's interesting to see that this seems to resonate with other people.
shimobaatar wrote:I'm sorry that happened. [:(]
Spoiler:
Image
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
User avatar
Ahzoh
korean
korean
Posts: 6089
Joined: Sun 20 Oct 2013, 01:57
Location: Toma-ʾEzra lit Vṛḵaža

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 03:02

Imralu wrote:
Ahzoh wrote:Bad people are more likely to be "familiar" to you, than other people.
Really? Why's that?
Because the things most remembered are negative events, so you recognize them in the future. Getting raped by that mugger down the street will haunt nyou for life; you'll never forget that rapist's face even if you met him once and never again. The face of the man who murdered your wife you'll recognize.
Extreme examples, but proves my point.
Being stolen from is a negative experience and your brain will try to hold onto every detail for future reference.
Image Ӯсцӣ (Onschen) [ CWS ]
Image Šat Vṛḵažaẇ (Vrkhazhian) [ WIKI | CWS ]
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 05:41

One thing I often like to think about is how it would be to be dumped in a conworld and have to learn the language from scratch through immersion, with no common tongue. I think accessibility would really trip up learners of Ngolu. Just trying to learn the nominals (pronouns/articles) would be a nightmare as all of those relating to humans have two forms and copying the forms used by the people you are learning from may get you in trouble. And to make it worse, there is le ilutia 'speech crime'. Not speaking submissively to those of higher rank is actually a punishable crime and as the Ngolu are almost completely isolated from other languages and cultures, they do not tend to be understanding of learner's mistakes.

As a new arrival who, most likely, looks quite different from the Ngolu people, you will be something of a novelty. Non-Ngolu are a rarity in Qu. There is a chance that you may be brought before the Taqu (≈ king). While he will address you as ua (NOM.2s.ACS), addressing him as ua can be taken as grounds for execution. (Unless specifically given permission to do otherwise, the Taqu should only be addressed in the third person with any of a number of honorific phrases, and always in the inaccessible status. Some of these are quite simple, such as ju taqu tta 'the great kings'.) Addressing a balu (≈ king's guardsman, police officer, soldier) or a taza (≈ dignitary) as ua is also a crime, and although it is not considered grounds for execution, the balu can essentially get away with murder. I might write some dialogues soon.
Ahzoh wrote:Because the things most remembered are negative events, so you recognize them in the future.
Yeah, I know that psychological research suggests negative events are burned into the memory more, but do you really think people's Bank of Recognised Faces is mostly filled up with enemies?
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
User avatar
Ahzoh
korean
korean
Posts: 6089
Joined: Sun 20 Oct 2013, 01:57
Location: Toma-ʾEzra lit Vṛḵaža

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 27 Mar 2015, 05:46

No, I just think it is more likely. You'll probably never see the bad ones ever again and will forget them after a few years or months, unless it is severely traumatizing.
Image Ӯсцӣ (Onschen) [ CWS ]
Image Šat Vṛḵažaẇ (Vrkhazhian) [ WIKI | CWS ]
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 03:33

Now a post about rank and how that affects accessibility marking.

The ranks in Ngolu society are:
  • 1) taqu ≈ the king
    2) taza ≈ dignitaries
    3) balu ≈ royal guardists / law enforcers

    4) muja = initiated men
    5) kali = free citizens

    6) tuva ≈ slaves, prisoners
The State
The People
Non-People



From kali upwards, this is a nested hierarchy: All muja are kali, all balu are muja, all taza are balu and all taqu are taza. Generally, however, the word are not used in a nested way, with balu, for example, generally referring to balu who are not also taza. When the whole group needs to be specified, "balu and above" will be used.

Ngolu society is extremely sexist, with ranks above kali being open only to men. Only muja and above are legally allowed to own anything (whether inanimate objects, pets or slaves) meaning that women and children cannot actually be regarded as the owners of anything. A great many activities are also proscribed for certain ranks. (Don't worry, there is a secret, underground humanist/feminist society who wish to do away with the rank system.)

When two people of differing rank meet, by default, the higher ranked is dominant to the lower ranked and this will be represented in their speech with the higher ranked being referred to in the inaccessible (I = nu, you = vu) and the lower ranked being referred to in the accessible (I = na, you = ua). This can change, such as when a friendship develops, but the change is always brought about by the higher ranked individual and may be revoked at any time. Non-adherence to these rules is speech crime and may be punished, with a couple of exceptions.
  • (1) People may be offered a pass known as a tiava.
    (2) Kali must not necessarily be subordinate in speech to muja although a reason must be given.
    (3) The rules for tuva (slaves) are somewhat stranger.
(1) Tiava (Passes)
The taqu (king) may offer a pass to anyone he wishes. Typically, taqu offer this to their family, meaning that the king's daughter, for example, although only kali, is not subordinate to higher ranks. Tiava may be specified for a particular level.
  • tiava balu eni
    be.pass be.guardist DAT.1s.ICS
    I have a pass to the level of balu.
A tiava balu entitles the bearer to be dominant to all ranks below balu, equal with balu but subservient to taza and above. A tiava does not, however, bend the rules of what certain ranks are allowed or not allowed to do. For example, a tiava does not allow a woman to hunt. Bearers of tiava generally carry proof of this in the form of a band worn around the neck.

(2) Kali and Muja
While kali are technically subordinate to muja, unacquainted muja and kali typically start off using the inaccessible mode. However, some muja may decide to lord it over a kali and insist on using the dominant mode, forcing the kali to use the subordinate mode. There is a way out of this. A kali may indicate her or his inaccessibility to her muja interlocutor by mentioning a muja (or above) to whom she is accessible. For married women, this is generally her husband.
  • Muja:
    Eua!
    VOC.2s.ACS
    Hello! [ACS/DOM]

    Kali:
    mma nu eje muja guni - evu
    COP-NOM.3s.ACS.SPEC NOM.1s.ICS DAT.3s.ACS.DEF be.initiated.man GEN.1s.ICS - VOC.2s.ICS
    I am accessible to my husband. Hello. [ICS]
    Literally: I (inaccessible) am accessible to the man (accessible) of me (inaccessible).
If a woman is not married, she may invoke a brother or a male friend. The invokee must be someone who is accessible to the kali and if she can somehow leave a hint that he is large or important, all the better. Children usually invoke their father or a house uncle.

If someone has no one to evoke or, in protest, refuses to evoke anyone known to them, the goddess and god are often invoked. This may be somewhat tongue in cheek.
  • mma nu eje ninivas eje uoqu
    COP-NOM.3s.ACS.SPEC NOM.1s.ICS DAT.3s.ACS.DEF be.Niniva DAT.3s.ACS.DEF be.Uoqu
    I am accessible to Niniva and Uo'u.
    (Niniva is the goddess of life, creation and femininity. Uoqu is the god of death, destruction and masculinity. Referring to them both in the accessible is unusual but indicates that one is on good terms with both deities.)
The muja almost always backs down and uses the inaccessible mode, but occasionally may not and may demand to have words in person with the person (or deity) who has been invoked. This can cause a lot of friction in the community.

(3) Rules for Tuva (slaves)
The rules for tuva are a little bit different. Slaves are the legal property of a person and as ownership is only recognised for muja and above, this means all tuva are owned by men. Since it is not right to touch somebody else's property without asking, no one may touch a slave without the permission of his or her owner. Linguistically, however, they must use the subordinate mode but everyone knows not to actually touch someone else's slave.

When speaking to a balu or above, the accessible nominals to refer to oneself are apparently not low enough for a tuva. A slave must refer to him- or herself in the inanimate gender and to do this, the third person is used. In the beginning of the conversation, the specific indefinite form zu (NOM.3s.INAN.SPEC) is used, later switching to the definite xu (NOM.3s.INAN.DEF). Because this may be confused with the meanings "something" and "it", zu and xu, when referring to slaves in the first and second person, are generally only used as articles (with a following verbal which hangs in a kind of underlying relative clause) rather than on their own as pronouns. There are a range of different verbal constructions used, with the tuva taking the lead from the balu. Some examples are xu tuva ('the thing which is a slave'), xu tuvu ('the thing which is dirt'), xu buji ('the bug'), xu iti ('the thing which is small') ('the ugly thing').

The first and second person distinction can still be maintained with xu ila ('the thing which speaks' = 'I') and xu no ila ('the thing which is spoken to' = 'you').
  • Bio kau xu ila.
    want eat NOM.3s.INAN.DEF speak
    I would like to eat. (Literally: "The thing which speaks wants to eat.")
    • Hema kau xu no ila.
      be.permitted eat NOM.3s.INAN.DEF receive speak
      You may eat. (Literally: "The thing which is spoken to may eat.")
A tiava kali may be bestowed upon a tuva by his or her owner if the owner is balu or above. This simply means that, linguistically, the tuva may behave as a kali. This is fairly rare and generally only afforded to favoured slaves and concubines.

Ok, suitably disgusting, I think!
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
shimobaatar
darkness
darkness
Posts: 9332
Joined: Fri 12 Jul 2013, 22:09
Location: PA → IN

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by shimobaatar » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 03:59

Sorry if I'm accidentally missing the answers to these questions somewhere, but what exactly distinguishes a muja from a kali? Also, what is a "house uncle"?
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 04:53

shimobaatar wrote:Sorry if I'm accidentally missing the answers to these questions somewhere, but what exactly distinguishes a muja from a kali? Also, what is a "house uncle"?
It's near the top, but in slightly more detail: A muja is man who has passed the initiation ceremony to become a muja. A kali is simply a free citizen, so, aside from slaves, women, children and uninitiated men are kali.

A "house uncle" is a bit harder to explain and in fact there isn't even really a word for this in Ngolu. Women raise their children collectively in small groups in a divided up kind of house clustered around a central courtyard, sharing the duties together. This is called a juazi. The women's husbands, if they have them, often live in rooms near the front of the house entrance, away from the courtyard. It's typical 1950s housemaker/breadwinner kind of stuff, but more extreme ... and in collectives. The men bring home the resources, the women do the housey stuff, making clothes, cooking, cleaning, raising the kids, educating the kids. (In addition, an external teacher called an anoi comes about once a week. Later, the teenage boys move away to a special school where boys learn how to be men and prepare for the initiation.) The whole juazi functions as a large family, and very often, women live as adults in the juazi that they grew up in, meaning that they are often extended matrilineal family groups, although there are also composite juazi.

When you are a child, the other children in your house are your tani, the women are your nini and the men are your nana.

From my dictionary:

Code: Select all

• nana :: (v) [MUJA] is a <father> <uncle> of |G| [is one of the male providers of |G|'s 'juazi']
• nini :: (v) [KALI] is a <mother> <aunt> of |G| [is one of the female caretakers of |G|'s 'juazi']
• tani :: (v) is a <sister> <brother> <sibling> <cousin> [is one of the other children of |G|'s 'juazi']
Ngolu has a basically Hawai'ian kinship system. If it is necessary to distinguish one's actual mother, father, siblings from just the other people with the same role in the house, the prefix ba- is added, giving batani ('sibling'), banini ('mother') and banana ('father'). Yes, your actual father is your banana.

So, house uncle doesn't really correspond to any Ngolu word. It's any of your nana minus your banana.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
shimobaatar
darkness
darkness
Posts: 9332
Joined: Fri 12 Jul 2013, 22:09
Location: PA → IN

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by shimobaatar » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 05:12

Ahh, OK. I wasn't sure about what exactly "initiated" meant. More specifically, I wanted to clarify whether or not it was a birthright kind of thing, or something ceremony-related, and it turns out it was the second one. Thanks.

The kinship system is very interesting. How many people make up an average juazi, would you say? Also, is there ever any confusion about who your biological siblings and parents are, as opposed to your "house" cousins, aunts, and uncles? I know there's a linguistic distinction, but, for example, might a woman ever be confused about which man was the father of her child/children, or is this a strictly monogamous culture, and it's obvious to all who a person is biologically related to, even within a juazi? I hope that question makes sense.
User avatar
DesEsseintes
cleardarkness
cleardarkness
Posts: 4551
Joined: Sun 31 Mar 2013, 12:16

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by DesEsseintes » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 05:28

I like the stratified society you've created. It's reminiscent of many ancient cultures, feels naturalistic enough as a result, and the accessibility system working as an honourifics system is just convoluted enough without feeling overwrought.

I also like the way slaves must refer to themselves. It reminds me of humble pronouns and kinship terms in Chinese.
Yes, your actual father is your banana.

Love it!

I love it when things like that happen when conlanging, and words come into being that sound quite absurd to an English speaker but natural in the context of the conlang.
User avatar
gestaltist
mayan
mayan
Posts: 1611
Joined: Wed 11 Feb 2015, 11:23

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by gestaltist » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 11:13

Imralu wrote:Yes, your actual father is your banana.

So, house uncle doesn't really correspond to any Ngolu word. It's any of your nana minus your banana.
You sir, win one internet. And posting this on April’s Fools’ makes it all the more hilarious.

On a more serious note: this is an impressive system. It looks very coherent and sensible.

Is it a part of some kind of conworld or is it just the bits and pieces that were necessary to create the conlang?
User avatar
Imralu
greek
greek
Posts: 812
Joined: Sun 17 Nov 2013, 22:32

Re: Inflectional dimension: "Accessibility"

Post by Imralu » Wed 01 Apr 2015, 14:00

shimobaatar wrote:The kinship system is very interesting. How many people make up an average juazi, would you say?
They vary in size, usually about five or six women plus children and husbands, which usually mean around 20 to 30ish people.

By the way, not all husbands live in the juazi. Husbands have a responsibility to provide for their wive's juazi and it is most convenient to also live there, but not necessary. Many husbands will simply pop by about once a day to bring food and probably also spend some time with his wife.
shimobaatar wrote:Also, is there ever any confusion about who your biological siblings and parents are, as opposed to your "house" cousins, aunts, and uncles? I know there's a linguistic distinction, but, for example, might a woman ever be confused about which man was the father of her child/children, or is this a strictly monogamous culture, and it's obvious to all who a person is biologically related to, even within a juazi? I hope that question makes sense.
Yep, that makes sense.
Of course, no man can be completely sure that a child is his, but it is, in general, a fairly monogamous society. Men can sometimes have more than one wife but the conditions for that are somewhat unusual. Also, within the juazi, the living spaces are divided. The houses are contiguous, forming a large ring shaped compound, but each family has their own space. The only common space is the central courtyard. So, within a juazi, the individual families are still recognisable.

Also, the structure of names is a giveaway. Children's names are simply a word that indicates their birth order and then followed by the name of their parent of the same gender, so if you are the firstborn, you're a boy and your father's name is Patrick, you'd be First Patrick. When coming of age, Ngolu recieve their adult name, which is generally formed over time as a nickname and formalised at the point of adulthood. When formally introducing oneself, it is customary to list many names, beginning with your own and going back through the generations along the line of your own gender. The more formal the situation, the more names are listed. Children are taught to recite their name in this way throughout their childhood.

In the difficult situation that the father of a male child is unknown, the mother may give the child the name of her husband if she has one or a male friend or acquaintance. The man must consent. If this is not possible, she may make up a name ... and a whole string of names going back through the generations to give the illusion of a known father.
gestaltist wrote:Is it a part of some kind of conworld or is it just the bits and pieces that were necessary to create the conlang?
It's part of a conworld. The world is called Qu [ʔú], possibly anglicised to Oo. I haven't written much about it but it's a bit weird. It's not a planet but an enormous artificially built habitat which is obviously located in space (not that anyone's seen it from the outside). In-story, no one knows who or what built it and why. (I know.)
gestaltist wrote:You sir, win one internet. And posting this on April’s Fools’ makes it all the more hilarious.
To be slightly disappointing, I'll tell you that it's pronounced [bànàná], low tone on the first two syllables, high tone on the final syllable like virtually all words in Ngolu. It more or less sounds like a stress on the final syllable ... so it doesn't really sound like "banana". :-(
DesEsseintes wrote:I like the stratified society you've created. It's reminiscent of many ancient cultures, feels naturalistic enough as a result, and the accessibility system working as an honourifics system is just convoluted enough without feeling overwrought.
gestaltist wrote:On a more serious note: this is an impressive system. It looks very coherent and sensible.
Thanks to both of you. I don't really do much history or diachronics, just enough to kind of fake it a bit, and I generally just beep and boop about doing my own little weird thing without worrying too much about how realistic it is, so I'm not really used to getting praise on anything, but people seem to like Ngolu more than anything I've done before. So do I. That makes me happy.
DesEsseintes wrote:I also like the way slaves must refer to themselves. It reminds me of humble pronouns and kinship terms in Chinese.
Cool. I didn't know about that but now I'm reading the wikipedia article on Chinese honorifics. I like the idea of referring to yourself as someone's dad to talk down to them.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
________
MY MUSIC
Post Reply