The Don language family

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Tue 20 Sep 2016, 17:47

Hello! This is a language family I've been working on for a little while. It started out as an experiment in tonogenesis as well as bipartite verbs. I have a protolanguage, a fairly well-developed daughterlang and I want to start developing another daughter. This post will provide an overview. In later posts I'll go into more detail about specific things.

First, the proto-language. It has a large consonant inventory with many pharyngealized consonants, which was inspired an insane reconstruction of Old Chinese initials I saw on Wikipedia (Baxter-Sagart system, it has 35 consonants, all of which can be pharyngealized!). Mine isn't quite that extreme:

Image

And the following three vowels:

Image

Sound changes aren't finalized, but I'm happy with the way tonogenesis works. To wit:

Image

Old and Modern Don have two or three phonemic tones, depending on how you analyze things. Stress is preserved, but is always realized as a high tone. This affects the pitch contour of the entire word. Some affixes shift stress (those of older origin), while those affixes of more recent vintage do not. Rising tone is indicated by an acute accent, high tone by a macron, and middle tone is unmarked. The full romanization and older cyrillization is here.

Proto-Don
*viqʷ-ɕa-buqˤ "I have laid down."
*i-viqʷ-ɕa-buqˤ "having laid down"

Old Don
[vɪqʷ33-ɕɑ55-wuq515] “I have laid down.”
[e33-viqʷ55-ɕɑ33-wuq15] “having laid down”

Here, stress is preserved. But the more recent os- (from *us "self") does not shift stress:

Old Don
[ip33-ɕɑ55-lu33dɪ33] “I washed (someone).”
[os33-ip33-ɕɑ55-lu33dɪ33] “I washed myself.”

The most developed daughterlang ("Standard Don", in-universe the only language with a literary standard), presented here, is the southern branch. The northern branch, consisting of two languages, Western Don and Satyan, is nontonal. It has distinct reflexes of pharyngeals. One notable common development in the Northern Don languages is the loss of unpharyngealized nasals in the coda, leaving behind a nasalized vowel. Compare Modern Standard Don emāsa, Western Don [æ̃sa], Satyan [ə̃ɑʃə]; Standard Don siŋ, Western Don [ɦisĩ], Satyan [qisĩ]. Western Don has further lost pharyngealized coda nasals, which are preserved in Satyan.

Southern, Western and Satyan Don all preserve the phonemic distinction between pharyngealized and tenuis consonants in some environments, although they do so in three different ways. Southern Don developed tones, but the distinction is lost in the onset. Thus we have homophones like ejud "phone" (from *akˤud "yell") and ejud "blue" (from *akud). Western Don preserves the distinction using creaky voice on the vowel— the same words are [ækṵð] and [ækuð]. However, both onset and coda pharyngealized consonants impart creaky voice to the vowel in the nucleus. Thus *mˤin "smile" and minˤ "crop" both yield [mḭ̃ ], while the words are distinct in Southern Don: [min33] and [min15]. Satyan preserves pharyngeals in all environments: [əkˤuð], [əkuð], [mˤĩ], [minˤ].

Here is the Modern Don consonant inventory:

Image

And the vowels:

Image

Bipartite verbs


One notable feature of Don's morphology are its bipartite verbs. This is a feature inspired by the Native American language isolate Washo. The way it works is as follows: every verb consists of two distinct bound morphemes. The preverb is either a nominal classifier, an instrumental or an adverbial. The verb proper imparts specific meaning. Neither can exist without the other, but in Proto-Don, this was highly productive and constituted the principal method of new verb formation - both preverbs and verbs being semi-closed word classes which could combine in numerous ways to form new compound verbs. Examples follow:

Noun classifier
ciɽ "1 dimensional object" + nan "walk" > ciɽ-nan "walk (along a road)"
ɦiŋ "2 dimensional object" + nan "walk" > ɦiŋ-nan "walk (across flat terrain)"
faf "3 dimensional object" + nan "walk" > faf-nan "walk (up or down a hill, in hilly terrain)"

Note that "walk (along/across)" here is semantically transitive. This might in isolation be analyzed as noun incorporation, and may in Pre-Proto-Don have actually been so, but none of the preverbs are independent nominals and exhibit no overt commonality between any nominals.

kʷid "liquid" + buq "set down" > kʷid-buq "pour"
kʷid + qas "eat" > kʷid-qas "drink"
ib "animate" + puʔ "help" > ib-puʔ "help (someone)"
ib + ɦis "love" > "love (familial)"

*ib- (modern eb-, ep-) is the most common preverb by far in Modern Don.

Instrument
*pˤik "round object" + nan "walk" > *pˤik-nan "ride in a wheeled carriage"
*tumˤ "tongue" + qas > *tumˤ-qas "lick"
ɦas "spear" + istuqʷ "kill" > ɦas-istuqʷ "kill with a spear"

Adverbial
ɟaŋ "forcefully" + ɕi "speak" > ɟaŋ-ɕi "yell, speak angrily"
ɟaŋ + nan > ɟaŋ-nan "walk with heavy steps, stamp"
is "quickly" + nan > is-nan "run"
is + *dotˤ "leave" > *is-dotˤ "leave in a hurry"
viqʷ "in a forest" + um "gather" > viqʷ-um "pick berries"
viqʷ + ʔaɕ "hunt" > viqʷ-ʔaɕ "hunt in the forest"
tu "romantically" + ʔaɕ > tu-ʔaɕ "court, flirt with"
tu + ɦis > tu-ɦis "love romantically"

Verbs are conjugated by inserting an infix between the preverb and root:

qʷiŋ faf-is-qas
boar.meat 3DIM-1.IMPF-eat
"I am eating boar meat."

Preverbs are most commonly monosyllabic, but may be bisyllabic. In Modern Don, by analogical leveling, the infix is always inserted after the first syllable of a verb. In Modern Don, as in Washo, bipartite verbs are only marginally productive. There are two classes of verbs, the infixing and the prefixing verbs. The infixing verbs are older and slightly more numerous, although all newly coined verbs today are prefixing. Below are examples of infixing verbs:

eppuq "help": ollu eb-shā-puq "I helped a woman."
ollu eb-ū-puq "I am helping a woman."

chipnan "swim":chip-shā-nan "I swam."
chip-ēl-nan "You are swimming."

And prefixing verbs:

āsagōn “complete”: xusiten py-āsagōn “He completed his homework.”
dudu nímra el-āsagōn “They are completing the bridge.”

Finally, here is a short story in Modern Don. It's a cosmological creation story, involving the two gods or spirits, the trickster Tawi and Madōmék (Nothingness, the Void). What follows is the original, an English translation, and finally an interlinear gloss:

Madōmék ŋutasal gi pyat. Tāwi madōmék gi pyat. Tāwi madōmek tepȳmamish: oŋ "Ni omāmi duq mica!"
"Itta duq elatsu?" Madōmek eppȳqwam.
"Kwu láŋsang to elīssa mím hóm tunelāte jāsam."
Oŋ "Tos gi ebihālhoma," madōmek eppȳshi.
Oŋ "Ŋela hóm tun-ebēlhal ŋela okebānhal elqi ebīshiti itta," Tāwi eppȳshi.
Madōmek aq mupȳqámsa o.
Aq madōmék ṇdamā oshīme duq hóm melat, itta otún tumu elat. Madōmék es élām pyat teca gi ashȳmpytes nekw. Oŋ "Láŋsang to elīssa?" Issaq itta elātitta?
Issa madōmék gi hóm pyāt, madōmék láŋsang elīssa to es pyātti itta hóm tunȳmelchitsa tílmā. Madōmék elqi alwepȳcise lámqush ashēppytum. Ke madōmék elqi Tāwi welcise sapȳqaŋ tílmā.
Oŋ "Elqi goshāsagōnim," madōmék eppȳshi. "Kwu láŋsang to elīssa mím gi shat."
Oŋ "Láŋsang to elīssa hóm pyat," Tāwi eppȳshi. Tāwi elemāʝim, issa hóm pyat duq.
Issa hóm pyat duq, madōmék énnic gi eppȳtum, oŋ "Láŋsang to elīssa hóm pyat," Tāwi nétal eles tosu gi tunēbelshi. De issa ŋela elāsti madōmék ŋela tunebelshi Tāwi oŋ "Ke! Ni léb gi anat, issa ni gi léb elat duq."
Madōmék eqi alompȳtáke oktesēldím tílmā.
Oŋ "ʝechi elomāmi omutákti aq elat," Tāwi eppȳshi: "Issa anāsti, icis o."
Aq ashpȳat.


In the beginning there was nothing. In that nothingness was Tawi. Tawi called out to nothing: "I have a bet for you!"
"What is it?" Asked nothing.
"I bet that you cannot be yourself for one turn of the moon."
"But of course I will," said nothing.
"If you cannot, you must do as I ask," said Tawi, and nothing agreed.
This was no hard task for nothing, which was all the world. But after some time had passed, nothing began to wonder. One turn of the moon? What is this moon? There was no moon in the nothingness, so nothing could not know how long one turn of the moon was. Slowly, nothing began to realize that it had been tricked. So nothing decided to trick Tawi right back.
"All done," said nothing. "I have been myself for one turn of the moon."
"One turn of the moon has not passed," said Tawi, and Tawi was right, for there was no moon.
Then it dawned on nothing that, since there was no moon, Tawi could continue to say, "One turn of the moon has not passed," until the end of time. And if nothing created a moon, then Tawi could say, "Ha! You are no longer yourself, for there is a moon in you."
And so nothing had to admit that it was defeated.
"As payment for the bet you lost, you shall create the moon," said Tawi. "And the earth too."
And so it was.

Code: Select all

          Madōmék     ŋutasal gi     py-at.      Tāwi   madōmék gi    py-at.
          Nothing       beginning LOC   3PF-be. Tawi    nothing LOC 3PF-be.

          Tāwi madōmek    te<pȳ>mamish:   oŋ    "ni omāmi duq  m-i-ca!"
          Tawi  nothing     call.to<3PF>    QUOT "2 bet OBL BEN-1IMPF-have"

          "Itta duq el-at-sú?"   Madōmek  ep<pȳ>ȳqwam.
          "3OBJ OBL 3IMPF-be-Q?" Nothing    ask<3IMPF>.

          "Kwu  Láŋsang   to  el-īssa    mím    hóm    tun-el-āt=e            i-āsam."
          "Self turn        one 3-moon  for NEG can-3IMPF-be=NMNZ   1IMPF-bet."

          Oŋ   "Tos       gi    eb<i>hal-homa,"    madōmek    ep<pȳ>shi.
          QUOT "Future LOC do<3IMPF>-MIR,"  nothing     say<3PF>.

          Oŋ   "Ŋela hóm tun-eb<ēl>hal  ŋela   ok-eb<an>hal    elqi eb<ī>shi=ti       itta," 
          QUOT  "IRR    NEG can-do<2IMPF> IRR   must-do<2IMPF> 3     say<1IMPF>=REL 3OBJ,"

          Tāwi ep<pȳ>shi.
          Tawi say<3PF>.

          Madōmek  aq  mu<pȳ>qámsa   o.
          Nothing       this    agree.with<3PF> and.

          Aq    madōmék    ṇdamā   oshīme  duq    hóm    m-ēl-at,         itta  otún   tumu    el-at.
          This  nothing task    difficult   OBL NEG BEN-3IMPF-be,   3OBJ    world   all 3IMPF-be.

          Madōmék es  élām  py-āt  teca    gi   ash-ȳm<py>tes     nekw.
          Nothing   time some   3PF-be after ADV INCH-wonder<3PF>   but

          Oŋ   "Láŋsang  to  el-īssa?"  Issa=aq   itta el-āt=itta?
          QUOT  "Turn       one 3-moon?"    Moon=this 3OBJ 3IMPF-be=3OBJ?

          Issa  madōmék   gi  hóm    py-āt, madōmék   láŋsang el-īssa to es py-āt=ti
          Moon  nothing     in  NEG 3PF-be, nothing turn   3-moon  one time 3PF-be=REL

          itta  hóm    tun-ȳm<el>chitsa   tílmā.
          3OBJ  NEG can-know<3IMPF> therefore.

          Madōmék elqi    al-we<pȳ>cis=e           lámqush  ash-ēp<py>tum
          Nothing   3       ITR.PASS-trick<3PF>=NMNZ    slowly   INCH-understand<3PST>

          Ke    madōmék   Elqi    Tāwi   we<el>cis=e         sa<pȳ>qaŋ tílmā.
          PART  nothing     3   Tawi    trick<3IMPF>=NMNZ   decide<3PF> therefore.

          Oŋ   "Elqi go-sha-āsagōn-im,"        madōmék ep<pȳ>shi.
          QUOT  "3  PTCPL-1PF-complete-PRED,"   nothing say<3PF>.

          "Kwu  láŋsang    to el-īssa    mím    gi shat."
          "Self turn    3-moon  one for ADV  be.1PF"

          Oŋ   "Láŋsang to el-īssa  hóm    py-at," Tāwi   ep<pȳ>shi.
          QUOT  "Turn   one 3-moon  NEG 3PF-be," Tawi   say<3PF>.

          Tāwi el-emaʝ-im issa    hóm    py-at      duq.
          Tawi  3PF-right-PRED moon NEG 3PF-be because.

          Issa hóm py-at duq,      madōmék     énnic    gi  ep<pȳ>tum,
          Moon NEG 3PF-be because, nothing  then    LOC understand<3PF>,

          Oŋ   "Láŋsang to el-īssa  hóm    py-at," Tāwi   nétal  el-es   tosu    gi tun-ēb<el>shi.
          QUOT  "Turn   one 3-moon  NEG 3PF-be," Tawi   end 3-time  until   ADV can-say<3PF>.

          De issa ŋela  el-āsti   madōmék   ŋela tun-eb<el>shi     Tāwi  oŋ  "Ke!    Ni  léb    gi
          FOC moon IRR  3IMPF-create nothing    IRR can-say<3IMPF> Tawi QUOT "Ha!   2 now   ADV 

          an-at, issa   ni  gi  léb    el-at   duq."
          2IMPF-be, moon    2   in  now 3PF-be because.

          Madōmék Elqi    al-om<pȳ>ták=e        ok-tes<el>dím  tílmā.
          Nothing    3  ITR.PASS-lose<3PF>=NMNZ must-admit<3IMPF>   therefore.

          Oŋ   "ʝechi el-omāmi om<u>ták=ti  aq  el-at,"        Tāwi    ep<pȳ>shi:
          QUOT  "payment 3-bet  lose<2PF>=REL this  3IMPF-be," Tawi say<3PF>:

          "Issa an-āsti,       icis    o."
          "Moon 2IMPF-create,   earth   too."

          Aq      ash-pȳ-at.
          This  INCH-3PST-be.
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

Re: The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Wed 28 Sep 2016, 00:22

Some morphophonology!

/q/ takes the form when followed by a front vowel or /k kʷ/. Thus we have eppusel "nurse" and uŋpussel "veterinary" from eppuq "help (humans)" and uŋpuq "help (animals)" + the derivational morpheme -el "someone who does habitually."

When two plosives follow each other, voiced plosives devoice, as seen in the common prefix eb- which becomes ep- in the infinitive eppuq.

In Proto-Don, [ə] was an unstressed allophone of /a/ which then developed to [ɛ] in Modern Don. Some affixes in /e/ have an allomorph in /a/ when stressed. For instance, /-essa/ "something tall": /muɦa/ "great" + /-essa/ > muhessa "tall tree", but ám "woman" + -essa > ámāssa "mother, aunt (deferential)."

/em eŋ eɽ/ reduce to syllabic /m̩ n̩ ɽ̩/ when following a stressed closed syllable. /e/ tends to drop when following a vowel, although there are notable exceptions like the 3rd person imperfective infix el←. Thus /e'vat/ "something sweet" + /-em/ "adjectival suffix" > evatṃ "sweet", but /ʔu'su/ "murderer" + /-el/ "one who does habitually" > xusul "serial killer." (That this suffix is indeed /-el/ is evidenced by the fact that it takes the form /-al/ when stressed, as in /'shi/ "talk about" + /-el/ > shial > shal "politician, polemicist.")

Reduplication is a very productive part of Don morphology. When a syllable is reduplicated, a number of changes occur. Normally, the first syllable of the word is reduplicated, often in combination with suffixes.

The coda, if present, is removed in the reduplicated syllable, e.g., Dun "member of the Don people" > Dodun "the Don people", meskalīn "mescaline" > memaskālinet "someone under the influence of mescaline."
The vowels /a u/ are reduced to /e o/: mama "mother" > memamāmuq "motherly instinct", qúmsa "write" > kóqumsi "literature."
/q qʷ kʷ/ > /k/, e.g., qwudtīŋṇ "businessman" > koqwudtīŋni "businessmen in general."
If the syllable to be reduplicated carries a high tone, the reduplicated syllable takes on the high tone and the original takes the middle tone, e.g., sháqe "a drunk" > shéshāqi "addicts."
/j/ > /g/, e.g., isājím "build" > isāgíjim "building".

Verbal morphology

Modern Don distinguishes five aspects: perfective, imperfective, iterative, delimitative and inchoative. The latter three are marked using prefixes, while the first two are marked using either prefixes or infixes, depending on the verb. The perfective may be combined with the iterative, delimitative or inchoative, in which case it functions as a past marker. However, when the perfective stands alone, it is purely an aspectual marker. The imperfective may not be combined with the perfective, and may be used to describe either past, present or future events. Verbs distinguish person, but not number.

Image

The 4th person is used for obviative purposes:

dá- kītap dám soq ep<pȳ>saset
4- book 4 to give<3PF>
He1 gave him2 his2 book.

el- kītap dám soq ep<pȳ>saset
3- book 4 to give<3PF>
He1 gave him2 his1 book.

It's also used for generic constructions ("somebody", "anybody", "everyone", "no one"):

Code: Select all

putim  ad<da>m
flute    blow<4IMPF>
"Someone is blowing a flute."

má  putim  mit=aq     ad<so>m
NEG flute   day=PROX blow<4PF>
"No one blew a flute today."
There are two classes of verbs, the infixing and the prefixing verbs. The infixing verbs are older and slightly more numerous, although all newly coined verbs today are prefixing. Below are examples of infixing verbs:

eppuq "help":ollu eb-shā-puq "I helped a woman."
ollu eb-ū-puq "I am helping a woman."

chipnan "swim":chip-shā-nan "I swam."
chip-ēl-nan "You are swimming."

And prefixing verbs:

āsagōn “complete”:

xusiten py-āsagōn
homework 3PF-complete
“He completed his homework.”

nímra el-āsagōn
bridge 3IMPF-complete

“They are completing the bridge.”

The delimitative, iterative and inchoative aspects are expressed by reduplication (iterative) or prefixation (delimitative, inchoative) in combination with the personal affixes. When used with these three aspects, the personal affixes function as a simple past (perfective affixes)/nonpast (imperfective affixes) distinction.

The iterative aspect is formed by reduplication. It expresses repetitive action. In infixing verbs, the second syllable of the root is reduplicated. In prefixing verbs, the first syllable is reduplicated. The coda of a syllable is dropped when it is reduplicated:

eppupuq "helping and helping": ollu epshāpupuq "I kept helping the woman (over and over)."

The delimitative aspect indicates an event with a limited duration. It is formed with the prefix ŋé-:

ni ŋé-eb-shā-tas "I will come by to visit."

Atelic verbs, that is verbs that are conceptualized as not tending toward some endpoint, cannot be used with the delimitative aspect. For instance, the verb heŋnan "walk around" is atelic and therefore cannot take the delimitative:

*ŋe- heŋ<ū>nan
DEL- walk.around<2PST>
"You walked around for a bit."

Correct:

adzá muhu gi heŋ<ū>nan
time little LOC walk.around<2PST>
"You walked around for a bit."

The inchoative aspect is indicated by the prefix ash←. It expresses the beginning of an event or action:

pánem i otto ash-tȳs<sha>amín
bee 1 near INCH-be.aware<1PF>
"I became aware of a bee near me."

Valency

Don verbs are not ambitransitive: they are either intransitive, transitive or ditransitive. There is a wide range of voices/applicatives that can be used to transform verbs from one form to another. Here is a small chart:

Image

For instance, the prefix al← takes a transitive verb and forms a passive:

pulleŋ i duq al-fāf<sha>qas
steak 1 OBL PASS-eat<1PF>
"Steak was eaten by me." Here, the subject is a patient and the agent is reintroduced with the general-purpose oblique postposition duq.

While the prefix m← takes a transitive verb and rearranges things so that the beneficiary becomes the direct object (there is no dative) and the patient may be reintroduced via an oblique object (this is incorrect in the chart above, I was using the postposition em where I should have used the oblique duq, but can't be bothered to change it):

elqi oxíŋ duq mēppyanum
elqi oxíŋ duq m-ēb<py>anum
3 child OBL BEN-give.birth.to<3PF>
“She bore him a child.”

Observe that the child in the above exmple is not obligatory:

]elqi m-ēb<py>anum
3 BEN-give.birth.to<3PF>
“She bore him a child.”

Thoughts so far?
User avatar
Frislander
runic
runic
Posts: 3105
Joined: Sat 14 May 2016, 17:47
Location: The North

Re: The Don language family

Post by Frislander » Wed 28 Sep 2016, 12:32

It looks fantastic, but where is it spoken? The name "Don" leads me to believe it's spoken near the river of that name, but you don't say. Your word for "book" is clearly an Arabic loan, so it's somewhere in Eurasia which has had contact with Arabic in some way (proximity to Islam, perhaps?).
User avatar
gestaltist
mayan
mayan
Posts: 1714
Joined: Wed 11 Feb 2015, 11:23

Re: The Don language family

Post by gestaltist » Wed 28 Sep 2016, 18:15

Very impressive! One of the most enjoyable conlanging entries I've ever seen. I am also curious who speaks the language and if you are also working on the conculture that speaks it. I loved the creation story!
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

Re: The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Thu 29 Sep 2016, 09:12

I haven't said much about the conculture, because it isn't very well developed. The name "Don" was actually chosen randomly, as I wanted something short and sweet and there are no natlangs with that name. Then I realized the potential in the actual river named Don. I imagine the culture has an urheimat near the Don river, whereupon they migrated to Crimea/Southern Ukraine. The family then split up with some migrating to Northern Europe. The main language described here is spoken as a minority language in Ukraine/Crimea. The language has some influence from Russian and Ukrainian, but was also in the Ottoman sphere of influence until Russia conquered the area in 1783. Thus the language has quite a few Turkish loans (like adaj "candidate") and Arabic loans via Turkish, especially related to things like commerce, administration and learning. The first widespread source of books would have come from the Near East, so naturally, the word for book did as well.

I'm partial to Cyrillic orthography, but it's just easier to type Latin on my keyboard layout, especially with diacritics and special characters not present in Russian orthography, so I made a deliberately bad Cyrillic orthography that I could then explain as having become obsolete (because it's bad and also because nationalism). This laziness may or may not be a character flaw [:)]
Iyionaku
mayan
mayan
Posts: 1623
Joined: Sun 25 May 2014, 13:17

Re: The Don language family

Post by Iyionaku » Thu 29 Sep 2016, 10:28

For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
Wipe the glass. This is the usual way to start, even in the days, day and night, only a happy one.
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

Re: The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Sat 01 Oct 2016, 23:43

Iyionaku wrote:For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
I didn't know that! Let's just say nationalist sentiment spiked after 1990.

This post will contain some cultural notes, such as they are, as well as some more verbs.

Religion

The Don are mostly Orthodox, but traditionally they followed a pagan folk religion. This religion is dualistic; the picture of the world is dominated by two demigods, Madomek ("Nothingness") and the trickster god Tawi. Madomek desires to be the only thing in existence, or, failing that, for the things in existence to be as orderly as possible. In the creation story in the first post, Tawi tricks Madomek into creating the Moon and the Earth. In modern physics terms (although the Don do not use this term), it's a struggle between entropy and the lack thereof. Tawi desires not only to create highly organized (and thus low entropy) beings such as humans and animals, but also for their relations to be as chaotic as possible. Thus we have many folk stories about Tawi messing with human relations, seemingly only for his/its (there is no 3rd person masculine or feminine pronoun, and so gender remains nebulous) amusement. This is similar to the Norse Lokí and other trickster archetypes in other world cultures.

Here are the notes on culture I have in my grammar:

The Don people first appears in historical records around 1 AD. At the time, they were a nomadic tribe dwelling along the Don river. Not much is known about the early Don. One of the more fanciful theories comes by way of the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl. The Old Icelandic saga writer Snorri Sturlason had given a historical interpretation of Norse mythology, according to which the Norse gods were exaggerated stories about a people who migrated into Scandinavia from the east in ancient times. Heyerdahl attempted to find a historical basis for this interpretation and identified the Norse gods with a people living near the mouth of the Don, where the river runs into the Sea of Azov. This is in the general area where the ancient Don are thought to have resided, but the rest of the theory is held to be fanciful and unscientific by the scientific establishment. [Note: This is a real hypothesis advanced by Heyerdahl (famous for proving that South Americans could have reached Polynesia by replicating the feat using a raft that SA's could have made--the documentary about the expedition won an Oscar) has advanced, although the connection to my conpeople is obviously fictional).]

During the migration period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, circa 500 AD, the language split into three branches. By then the Don people had migrated westward to Crimea. Some continued north and west, while the ancestors of the modern southern Don, whose language is the subject of this grammar, stayed behind in Crimea. The first surviving texts in Old Don date to the 9th century AD. The unattested, reconstructed language known as Proto-Don was spoken before 500 AD.

The northern branch, spoken by a people in modern-day Belarus, is extinct. Western Don is spoken as a minority language by 5-10 thousand people in Poland and Germany. (The size of the estimate depends on how the question is asked: the higher number includes anyone with any proficiency in the Western Don language, while the lower bound is L1 speakers.) The southern branch is the only Don language with a standard written form. It is spoken as a first language by some 30,000 people in Crimea and Ukraine. An additional 10,000 are estimated to possess some proficiency in Don as a second language, following a language and cultural revival effort. It is this language, Modern Don, which is described in detail in this grammar. Western Don and Standard Don are not mutually intelligible.

Image

Map of approximate area where Southern Don is spoken. Note that the majority of these areas are currently occupied by Ukrainian rebels in the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

From the 15th to the 18th century, the Crimean Don were a vassal nation of the Ottoman Empire, subject to the Turkic Crimean Khanate, but at times also sending independent envoys to the sultan in Istanbul. The Crimean Khanate became independent in 1774, following the Russo-Turkic Treaty of Küçük Kaynarc, and was formally annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783. Accordingly, there have been two main lexical influences on Southern Don: Russian and Turkish. Many words relating to bureacracy, trade and government come from Turkish or Arabic via Turkish. Some examples of Turkish loanwords include kitap "book" (originally from Arabic) and adaj "candidate." From Russian comes mainly religious vocabulary, for instance suwashēnik "priest" and wog "the Christian god" (from бог bog "god" with the regular sound change /g/ > /w/.) Until the 20th century, Don was written in the Cyrillic script.

Proposals have been made to group the Don languages with the Altaic language family, which has now been widely discredited as a valid language family, and with Pre-Indo-European. The latter seems more plausible, as the urheimat of the Don people was probably in the northern parts of the Pontic-Caspian steppes, where the Proto-Indo-Europeans also likely dwelled. However, there is little we can know for certain about Indo-European prior to the last common ancestor of the modern-day IE languages. There is also little evidence of linguistic similarity—indeed, the classification of Don as related to IE has been criticized as being based purely on geographical, and not linguistic closeness. Possible cognates include Proto-Don *pali [pəɽi] "carry" and PIE *bʰer- "carry", PD *smanˤ "laugh" and PIE *(s)meyh2 "laugh, be glad", but the evidence of a connection is rather slim. In other words, no certain links have been shown between the Don language family and other families. Modern Don must not be confused with Don Balachka, the varieties of Russian spoken by Cossacks living around the Don river.

Standard Don is based on the dialect spoken in Sevastopol, traditionally the city with the largest Don-speaking population. Accordingly, the Sevastopol dialect forms the basis for this grammar. Although dialectal differences exist, they are small enough that we will not concern ourselves with them in this grammar.

More verbs

Mirativity

Don has two verb suffixes which express the speaker's level of surprise at what the verb describes. These are →ho and →ṇsa, which can be translated as "obviously" and "surprisingly" or "astonishingly", respectively. Example:

Code: Select all

Donald Trump	adaj	presīden	-ʝas	amēlika	-ʝas	el-	āt-	-ṇsa
Donald Trump	candidate	president	-ADJ	America	-ADJ	3IMPF	be-	-MIR
"Holy shit, Donald Trump is actually an American presidential candidate." (forum.don.ru)
The mirative suffixes are only used in the casual register. In the deferential register, there is an archaic suffix -hosa which means "obviously, it is understood that," which is occasionally added to verbs expressing a superior's authority. It is also sometimes used to express sarcasm:

Code: Select all

annēksa	Rusīja	-ʝas	el-	Krim	hóm	el-	sakandāla	-im	-hosa
annexation	Russia	-ADJ	3-	Crimea	NEG	3IMPF	scandal	-PRED	-MIR
"Russia's annexation of Crimea is no scandal, of course." (Gasēta el-Sebastōpol)
Predicates

Predicate verbs (such as “He is strong”, “I am a linguist”) are formed from nouns or adjectives with the suffix -im:

Code: Select all

i-	liŋwīst	-im
1IMPF	linguist	-PRED
"I am a linguist."

el-	múqȳm	-im
3IMPF	strong	-PRED
"He is strong."
Predicate verbs formed in this way behave in every way like normal verbs, and may follow one another in a serial fashion:

Code: Select all

el-	múqȳm	-im	el-	liŋwīst	-im
3IMPF	strong	-PRED	3IMPF	linguist	-PRED
"He is strong and he is a linguist."

They may also take objects:

elqi	daq	el-	tisaŋēss	-im	=e	el-	múqȳm	-im
3	OBL	3IMPF	male.guardian	PRED	=NMNZ	3IMPF	strong	PRED
"He is a strong (male) parent/guardian to her."
In the example above, we see that predicate constructions may modify each other by nominalizing one of the predicates. Here is another example:

Code: Select all

Sīmón	el-	tēmud	-im=e	el-	látqishi	-im=e	el-	wa	-im
Simon	3IMPF-	bright	-PRED=NMNZ	3IMPF-	young	-PRED=NMNZ	3IMPF-	man	-PRED
"Simon is a bright young man."
Converbs

Don has a number of converbs - prefixes that create adverbial phrases that act as a complement to the main verb. These attach to fully conjugated verbs. Here is a partial list:

Image

Below are some examples of these converbs in use.

The prefix lí← forms an adverbial stating a purpose for the main verb:

Code: Select all

lí-	tun-	fāf<sha>qas	i	-naq
CVB	can-	eat<3PF>	1PF	pause
"I took a break so I could eat."
But if the reason is non-intentional, dup- is used:

Code: Select all

dup-	to<an>lūmám	-im
CVB-	poor<2IMPF>	PRED
"because you are poor"

sotik	dup-	ni<dā>súm	cil<sha>mákw
umbrella	CVB	rain<4IMPF>	bring<1PF>
"I brought an umbrella because it's raining."
The prefix lash- forms an adverbial stating the result of the main verb:

Code: Select all

hóm	lash-	pok<shā>ŋas	et<shā>uqqi
NEG	CVB	breathe<1PF>	laugh<1PF>
"I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe."
The prefix es- creates a time adverbial which describes an event that takes place immediately prior to the main verb in the sentence:

Code: Select all

oset	es-	osū-	ʝīs<py>tám	wo-	āsh-	met<py>qaŋ
wife	CVB-	ITR-	marry<3PF>	TR	INCH-	cheat<3PST>
"As soon as he got married, he began cheating on his wife." (forum.don.ru)
The prefix il- can be translated as "until":

Code: Select all

il-	u-	tēmshi
CVB	2PF	mature
"until you grow up"
kwoŋ- marks an action that began after the main verb and ended before it:

Code: Select all

kwoŋ-	py-	ālkohol	-el	-im	py-	olenchi	-im
CVB-	3PF-	alcohol	-AGT	PRED	3PF	student	PRED
"while he was a student, he became an alcoholic for a while (but is not anymore)"
Shí- converbs mean "before":

Code: Select all

shí-	to<an>lūmám	-im
CVB-	poor<2IMPF>	PRED
"before you were poor"
The prefix les- forms adverbials of manner and can often be translated as "how":

Code: Select all

aq	aji	les-	so-	qāŋwas	el-	at
this	DUMMY	CVB	4PF-	happen	3IMPF-	be
"this is how it went down" (first line of Ni háŋsa, a pulp detective novel by Ivan Hamikovich)

elqi	les-	an-	lāma
3	CVB	2IMPF	like
"the way you like it"
This also demonstrates the "dummy pronoun" aji, which among other things is used to make the referent of a relative phrase the object and not the subject of the main verb in the relative phrase.

Thanks for the feedback guys, glad you like it! I only have a little bit more of what I've already written, and then it's onto the frontier! Once I've presented the most well-developed daughterlang, I want to get back to working on the sound changes to the Northern branch, which is something I've barely paid much attention to. The Northern branch, unlike the Southern branch, is nontonal and has different reflexes for the pharyngeals.
User avatar
Frislander
runic
runic
Posts: 3105
Joined: Sat 14 May 2016, 17:47
Location: The North

Re: The Don language family

Post by Frislander » Sun 02 Oct 2016, 12:06

imperialismus wrote:
Iyionaku wrote:For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
I didn't know that! Let's just say nationalist sentiment spiked after 1990.
What, enough to prompt people to switch to the Latin alphabet in otherwise Cyrillic-using Ukraine?
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

Re: The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Sun 02 Oct 2016, 19:19

Frislander wrote:
imperialismus wrote:
Iyionaku wrote:For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
I didn't know that! Let's just say nationalist sentiment spiked after 1990.
What, enough to prompt people to switch to the Latin alphabet in otherwise Cyrillic-using Ukraine?
Cultural imperialist swine! /s

It's perhaps unusual, and I may yet change it. I may even go the lazy route and say I'm transcribing for an English-speaking audience. But the Cyrillic orthography is awful (deliberately so), and I could see a movement against "cultural oppressors" that seeks to distance itself from everything to do with the Russian sphere of influence. Also, mind, this people would have been unusually multilingual and, I imagine, also unusually cultured for a minority. They were Christianized by Greek missionaries, who wrote in the Greek alphabet, but at a time when most people were illiterate; the first period of literacy among the upper classes was during Ottoman dominance, and thus the dominant writing systems would be the Arabic and Perso-Arabic scripts. So there is a rich history of multilingualism and of using different scripts. Perhaps a people that wants to see itself as apart from the country in which they live and connected to a vibrant cosmopolitan culture in the Near East and elsewhere in Europe, Latin script (or even Arabic) is seen as the most "culturally enlightened" script for the modern age.
User avatar
qwed117
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4400
Joined: Thu 20 Nov 2014, 02:27

Re: The Don language family

Post by qwed117 » Sun 02 Oct 2016, 22:27

imperialismus wrote:
Frislander wrote:
imperialismus wrote:
Iyionaku wrote:For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
I didn't know that! Let's just say nationalist sentiment spiked after 1990.
What, enough to prompt people to switch to the Latin alphabet in otherwise Cyrillic-using Ukraine?
Cultural imperialist swine! /s

It's perhaps unusual, and I may yet change it. I may even go the lazy route and say I'm transcribing for an English-speaking audience. But the Cyrillic orthography is awful (deliberately so), and I could see a movement against "cultural oppressors" that seeks to distance itself from everything to do with the Russian sphere of influence. Also, mind, this people would have been unusually multilingual and, I imagine, also unusually cultured for a minority. They were Christianized by Greek missionaries, who wrote in the Greek alphabet, but at a time when most people were illiterate; the first period of literacy among the upper classes was during Ottoman dominance, and thus the dominant writing systems would be the Arabic and Perso-Arabic scripts. So there is a rich history of multilingualism and of using different scripts. Perhaps a people that wants to see itself as apart from the country in which they live and connected to a vibrant cosmopolitan culture in the Near East and elsewhere in Europe, Latin script (or even Arabic) is seen as the most "culturally enlightened" script for the modern age.
I think some Tatars did that as well, right?
Spoiler:
My minicity is Zyphrazia and Novland
What is made of man will crumble away.
imperialismus
hieroglyphic
hieroglyphic
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue 20 Sep 2016, 16:30

Re: The Don language family

Post by imperialismus » Tue 04 Oct 2016, 02:04

qwed117 wrote:
imperialismus wrote:
Frislander wrote:
imperialismus wrote:
Iyionaku wrote:For your diachronic considerations you have to keep in mind that the Sovjet Union prohibited that the peoples living in its borders stop using a Kyrillic alphabet. A new alphabet would have to be a relatively new invention (or an older one that was revived after 1990, but that didn't seem to happen in natlangs).
I didn't know that! Let's just say nationalist sentiment spiked after 1990.
What, enough to prompt people to switch to the Latin alphabet in otherwise Cyrillic-using Ukraine?
Cultural imperialist swine! /s

It's perhaps unusual, and I may yet change it. I may even go the lazy route and say I'm transcribing for an English-speaking audience. But the Cyrillic orthography is awful (deliberately so), and I could see a movement against "cultural oppressors" that seeks to distance itself from everything to do with the Russian sphere of influence. Also, mind, this people would have been unusually multilingual and, I imagine, also unusually cultured for a minority. They were Christianized by Greek missionaries, who wrote in the Greek alphabet, but at a time when most people were illiterate; the first period of literacy among the upper classes was during Ottoman dominance, and thus the dominant writing systems would be the Arabic and Perso-Arabic scripts. So there is a rich history of multilingualism and of using different scripts. Perhaps a people that wants to see itself as apart from the country in which they live and connected to a vibrant cosmopolitan culture in the Near East and elsewhere in Europe, Latin script (or even Arabic) is seen as the most "culturally enlightened" script for the modern age.
I think some Tatars did that as well, right?
Yes. Crimean Tatars! Perfect. That's settled then. If the Crimean Tatars can do it, so can my Crimean conpeople.
Post Reply