(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 27 Mar 2018, 15:10

Davush wrote:
Tue 27 Mar 2018, 11:17
cedh wrote:
Tue 27 Mar 2018, 10:08
Yes, changes of that sort are attested. A fairly well-known natlang example is the palatalisation of *k → tʃ → ʃ before /a/ in French. But: Usually there's a phonetic motivation somewhere underneath; in this case most likely that /a/ was pronounced a bit closer to the front of the mouth than today when the change started (possibly allophonically triggered by the preceding velar!).

Apparent "sound changes" in situations where they don't seem to make sense phonetically might sometimes also be conditioned morphologically. For instance, the addition of a common suffix may phonetically trigger a sound change in some common words. This change might then spread to other words of the same class by analogy, as a morphophonological rule associated with the suffix. If the change is sufficiently common, it may affect all forms of the same words even without the triggering suffix. And finally, the change may be analogically extended to other instances of the same phoneme in other words, even where the suffix never played a role. But note that while this should be possible, the odds for it to happen are very low, and I don't know of any securely attested natlang examples offhand.
Thanks. I did some searching and found an interesting paper which tries to explain some baffling sound changes such as /w/ > /nc/ In Sundanese. The paper says there is no evidence for intermediate stages, but what would you expect the path of /w/ > /nc/ to be? Perhaps /w/ > /ŋgʷ/ > /ɲɟ/ > /nc/? Although that doesn't explain by /ŋgʷ/ would front spontaneously.

A footnote reads: 'As Juliette Blevins (p.c.) puts it: “It seems to me that the entire array of facts could go back to just one high-frequency correspondence (e.g. cai/wai or cai/bai), with analogical ex- tensions of this high-frequency correspondence into subsequent borrowings.'

So, fellow conlangers, if you want to justify an outlandish sound change, it seems one way is to just apply it to one high-frequency word and then have diffusion via analogy. [:D] (The author does admit that this still doesn't explain why /w/ > /c/ though).

It is available here if anyone is interested: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf
Okay, I think w > gʷ makes sense, that basically fortition. If the examples are all word initial, even more probable. Spontaneous prenasalization also happens, so gʷ > ŋgʷ makes sense. And the we are basically back at the French example of palatalization (word initial or spontaneaous devoicing of prenasalized stops also is attested). ŋgʷ > nc should have happened before front vowels, maybe /ai/ was more front, like the old French /a/?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by spanick » Tue 27 Mar 2018, 18:30

How did the Romance languages develop their conjugated forms of habeo? There's no trace of the v~b in the singular forms in most Romance languages and it seems almost like they just kept the endings.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Wed 28 Mar 2018, 01:26

spanick wrote:
Tue 27 Mar 2018, 18:30
How did the Romance languages develop their conjugated forms of habeo? There's no trace of the v~b in the singular forms in most Romance languages and it seems almost like they just kept the endings.
A lot of unstressed, voiced consonants dropped in Proto-Romance. Considering the fact that the /b/ in habeo was likely already a fricative, then it isn't implausible to have it drop in that environment.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by spanick » Wed 28 Mar 2018, 05:43

Ælfwine wrote:
Wed 28 Mar 2018, 01:26
spanick wrote:
Tue 27 Mar 2018, 18:30
How did the Romance languages develop their conjugated forms of habeo? There's no trace of the v~b in the singular forms in most Romance languages and it seems almost like they just kept the endings.
A lot of unstressed, voiced consonants dropped in Proto-Romance. Considering the fact that the /b/ in habeo was likely already a fricative, then it isn't implausible to have it drop in that environment.
Thanks! That’s basically the answer I stumbled upon while doing some research. It was referring to the Percect but the principle of dropping or vocalizing the /w/ applies to habeo as well.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Odkidstr » Wed 28 Mar 2018, 23:26

I have a kind of stupid question here, but I'm still rather rusty and not sure how to translate this.

"There once was a group of friends who were drinking rum."

So with my conlang I'm working on, there's a genitive suffix, and I'm mainly confused on how to word "a group of friends". My best guess, at the moment, would be to translate it (genitive should come last): group friend-Gen. Would that be the proper way to use the Genitive here? I've thought of other methods, such as "a group which was composed of friends," but due to the later relative clause in the sentence, it feels awkward to have two relative clauses here.

When two vowels are next to each other, such as "o" and "i", oi, would that always become a diphthong, or would some languages pronounce them separately (o.i)? I've always been confused on this, because to me such vowel combinations sound distinct compared to when they are specifically a diphthong. What about "o.i.a"? Would that inevitably become a triphthong, or would it be able to be pronounced properly for each individual vowel.

For pronouns, I remember reading that in Japanese, they often go without pronouns? What I'm thinking of doing is using someone or something's name for pronouns, unless unknown (in which case there are pronouns), but I'm wondering how and if that would work. So instead of: He ran, You ran, I ran; it'd be: Odkistr ran, Odkistr ran, Odkistr ran (with context obviously sorting out the person of the pronoun).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Thu 29 Mar 2018, 00:49

Odkidstr wrote:
Wed 28 Mar 2018, 23:26
I have a kind of stupid question here, but I'm still rather rusty and not sure how to translate this.

"There once was a group of friends who were drinking rum."

So with my conlang I'm working on, there's a genitive suffix, and I'm mainly confused on how to word "a group of friends". My best guess, at the moment, would be to translate it (genitive should come last): group friend-Gen. Would that be the proper way to use the Genitive here? I've thought of other methods, such as "a group which was composed of friends," but due to the later relative clause in the sentence, it feels awkward to have two relative clauses here.
So this use of the genitive case you mean seems to be connected to quantities. Languages handle these differently. If you want to use the genitive case, "group friends-GEN" looks okay. Some languages also simply juxtapose the two nouns, even though they have a genitive case, so it would be "group friends". On the other hand languages can also use prepositions/postpositions even if they have a genitive case, so you could also do "group of friends". You might also want to look up partitive if you are looking for ideas.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Odkidstr » Thu 29 Mar 2018, 05:06

Ah, the Partitive looks interesting. I'm thinking I might stick with just using the genitive or juxtaposition though. In the case of the Partitive, could you use it to replace words like "some" or "any"?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Thu 29 Mar 2018, 13:09

For 'some' I guess it would work. I am not sure about 'any', because English is not my native language.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Shemtov » Thu 29 Mar 2018, 17:16

Does anyone know of a searchable online lexicon of Kashmiri? I need it for an altlang I'm planning.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by holbuzvala » Thu 29 Mar 2018, 21:21

@ Shemtov, this might be helpful: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/grierson/

Also, does anyone know how the widespread palatalisation in Russian came about? Briefly.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Fri 30 Mar 2018, 08:32

holbuzvala wrote:
Thu 29 Mar 2018, 21:21
@ Shemtov, this might be helpful: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/grierson/

Also, does anyone know how the widespread palatalisation in Russian came about? Briefly.
Simply put... allophonic palatalisation of consonants before front vowels which became phonemic when the vowels shifted around (first Slavic palatalisation), this process then happened again (second Slavic palatalisation), and then a somewhat contested third round of palatalisation after front vowels. Oh, and the "Loss of Yers" I think played a part in it.

It's not too different from what happened in, say, French, just turned up to 11 [:P]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch » Fri 30 Mar 2018, 08:55

Odkidstr wrote:
Wed 28 Mar 2018, 23:26
When two vowels are next to each other, such as "o" and "i", oi, would that always become a diphthong, or would some languages pronounce them separately (o.i)?
Japanese doesn't diphthongise adjacent vowels at all, at least phonemically. Sometimes, the long vowels /eː oː/, written in hiragana <えい おう> as if they were /e + i/ and /o + u/, are pronounced as the diphthongs /ei̯ ou̯/ (at least in singing), and words like はい ("yes") being pronounced /hai̯/ rather than /ha.i/. However, I think that's probably considered incorrect at least in standard Japanese...? And yeah, I know using /u/ for transcription of the Japanese U may be a bit too broad, but well.

By default Finnish doesn't diphthongise adjacent vowels either, but it does have phonemic diphthongs. Compounds like kouluikäinen ("school-aged") are pronounced /kou̯.lu.i.kæi̯.nen/ rather than /*kou̯.lui̯.kæi̯.nen/, while kouluista ("from schools") is pronounced /kou̯.lui̯s.tɑ/; other declensions may not have diphthongs, though, like the partitive koulua, as in käydä koulua ("to go to school", as in being a student) being /kæy̯.dæ kou̯.lu.ɑ/. I'm sure some people pronounce them all as diphthongs and even have phonetic triphthongs and others don't have any diphthongs, but the point is that technically there is a phonemic distinction.

...and even English does that. Like, going has a diphthong in the first syllable, but even though it's followed by a vowel, it doesn't become a triphthong: phonemically /ɡoʊ̯.ɪŋ/ and, at least with my admittedly weird and Finnish-influenced pronunciation, it's something like [ɡoʊ̯ʔ̞ʷʲiŋ]. I don't really know what's going on between the syllables, but there's some kind of a W-sound that's not [w] or [ʔʷ]... it's a very light approximant that kinda just "flows the sounds together", I think, so I used [ʔ̞ʷʲ]; that may not be accurate, though...

~

Random question:

Let's say these were words...
/apa/ [ɑpə̥]
/ape/ [ɑpə̥]
/apo/ [ɑpʊ̥]
/apu/ [ɑpʊ̥]

...and in inflected forms, they'd become these:
/abal/ [ɑbɑl], /aban/ [ɑbɑ̃]
/abel/ [ɑbɛl], /aben/ [ɑbɛ̃]
/abol/ [ɑbɔl], /abon/ [ɑbɔ̃]
/abul/ [ɑbul], /abun/ [ɑbũ]

Certain other inflections would have umlaut...
/apaʃ/ [æpʲæ̥ʃ], /abaɲe/ [æbʲæ̃ɲɛ]
/apuʃ/ [æpʲʉ̥ʃ], /abuɲe/ [æbʲʉ̃ɲɛ]

...and finally, prefixes would also trigger assimilations:
/sapa/ [sə̥pɑ], /nama/ [nɑ̃mɑ]
/sapu/ [sə̥pu], /namu/ [nɑ̃mu]
/sapaʃ/ [sæ̥pʲʉ̥ʃ], /namaʃ/ [næ̃mʲæʃ]

What would a system like that be called? I'm not really planning to do a conlang with that kind of features, but well.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by wintiver » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 04:49

I'm developing a language with +/- ATR vowel harmony. And as I made it, I decided on an eleven vowel system.

The vowels are as such:

Code: Select all

i ɨ u
ɪ   ʊ
e ə o
ɛ   ɔ
  a
And incidentally, there is a paper describing how a particular language, Anii, does this. If you are curious about the article, I have linked to it here: http://artoflanguageinvention.com/anii.pdf

In the case of Anii and some of it's other 11-vowel system compatriots which also use ±ATR harmony they treat either /a/ as a neutral or non-participatory vowel (i.e. one that does not partake in the fun of harmony) or they treat /ə/ as a neutral vowel.

Alright, so, I would personally conceptualize /ɨ/ as a the +ATR counterpoint to /ə/ and this would leave /a/ as the phonemically neutral vowel. Or, one could say /ɨ/ is neutral and that /ə/ is the +ATR counterpoint to /a/.

Finally now with context out of the way my question: (And skip here if you're part of the (TL;DR) crowd, of which, I myself am a part)

Is it possible to have a situation where /ə/ is -ATR in context with /ɨ/ but is +ATR in context with /a/?

I could argue that /ɨ/ is a newly introduced phoneme and as such its presence may be creating that pair with /ə/ and that somehow this mid-central vowel plays two roles now. Any input you have is always very welcome. Thank you.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Frislander » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 12:41

wintiver wrote:
Sat 31 Mar 2018, 04:49
Is it possible to have a situation where /ə/ is -ATR in context with /ɨ/ but is +ATR in context with /a/?
Yes, that is perfectly possible through the merger or splitting of some vowels. Perhaps for example you originally only had /ə a/ as your central vowels and these were neutral for harmony. Conceivably then in -ATR contexts they could have been raised at first phonetically to /ɨ ə/, and then subsequent changes could make them contrastive. In this respect then it'd make sense to think of there being two different /ə/, one that's +ATR and one that's -ATR.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 12:42

From my experience (with mostly West and East African ATR harmony natlangs) if you have /ə/ and /a/ in a natlang and you don't have a low [+ATR] vowel, than /ə/ is always the [+ATR] counterpart of /a/. For your case that would mean that /ɨ/ is neutral.
But, I really like your idea about having /ə/ as counterparts to both. This reminds me of other natlangs where people assumed phonemically a difference between /ɪ ʊ/ and /e o/, but phonetic measurements showed that they are basically the same acoustically. Or of languages where some mid tones alternate with high tones and others with mid tones. I would say that a traidtional phoneme-based phonological description would probably assume that there are two underlying phonemes instead of one /ə/, you could maybe call them /ɜ/ and /ɐ/. This distinction would then be neutralized to [ə] in most cases. But of course for conlanging purposes the important thing is that you make people understand what you mean. So, let's assume your system is root controlled. What ATR-value would the suffixes get if the stem had a schwa? That's an important question I think.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by wintiver » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 17:27

Frislander wrote: Conceivably then in -ATR contexts they could have been raised at first phonetically to /ɨ ə/, and then subsequent changes could make them contrastive.
I would have thought that in such a situation that /a ə/ would be raised to /ɨ ə/ in +ATR, no? Maybe I'm not conceiving this right though.
Creyeditor wrote: I would say that a traditional phoneme-based phonological description would probably assume that there are two underlying phonemes instead of one /ə/, you could maybe call them /ɜ/ and /ɐ/. This distinction would then be neutralized to [ə] in most cases. But of course for conlanging purposes the important thing is that you make people understand what you mean. So, let's assume your system is root controlled.
Would you mind clarifying for me? I'm not familiar with the term root controlled. I tried googling various versions of "root-control" but I didn't get anything (except a link to jstor about Cupeño).

But I could appreciate the two phoneme structure which gets neutralized in most cases. I'll have to toy around with that more. But it's a good point. I think my initial worry about the possibility of such a proposed system was that /ə/ was functioning in such completely different ways while being a phoneme. Hmm.

Also, would it be possible that basically /ɨ/ became +ATR and /a/ became -ATR and /ə/ became neutral as a result of it's overlapping roles? (Just another possibility I suppose)
Creyeditor wrote:What ATR-value would the suffixes get if the stem had a schwa? That's an important question I think.
This is a good question. If I had a single CVC stem with schwa, what is its default?

My knee-jerk reaction to this question, is to add some fine-grained idiosyncrasy to the system and say that perhaps there is high tone on +ATR /ə/ and low tone on -ATR /ə/. But I don't know if tonogenesis would occur in such a way. It seems somehow intuitive to me, but... that doesn't mean it makes sense on the whole.

I sort of like the idea of having some cases where tones are used as a last ditch effort to distinguish between words.

Also, I owe both Frislander & Creyeditor many thanks for your reply. They were very helpful. I love this board.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 19:55

wintiver wrote:
Sat 31 Mar 2018, 17:27
Creyeditor wrote: I would say that a traditional phoneme-based phonological description would probably assume that there are two underlying phonemes instead of one /ə/, you could maybe call them /ɜ/ and /ɐ/. This distinction would then be neutralized to [ə] in most cases. But of course for conlanging purposes the important thing is that you make people understand what you mean. So, let's assume your system is root controlled.
Would you mind clarifying for me? I'm not familiar with the term root controlled. I tried googling various versions of "root-control" but I didn't get anything (except a link to jstor about Cupeño).
Root control means that the vowels of the root 'control' the ATR-value of the vowels in affixes. So if the root vowel is +ATR all vowels in that word are +ATR. You basically got the idea, because you answered to my last question. Other options are directional harmony (left-to-right or right-to left) and dominant-recessive harmony.
wintiver wrote:
Sat 31 Mar 2018, 17:27
Also, would it be possible that basically /ɨ/ became +ATR and /a/ became -ATR and /ə/ became neutral as a result of it's overlapping roles? (Just another possibility I suppose)
Me personally, I would actually find that less naturalistic. But I might be biased, because of the languages I looked at [;)]
wintiver wrote:
Sat 31 Mar 2018, 17:27
Creyeditor wrote:What ATR-value would the suffixes get if the stem had a schwa? That's an important question I think.
This is a good question. If I had a single CVC stem with schwa, what is its default?

My knee-jerk reaction to this question, is to add some fine-grained idiosyncrasy to the system and say that perhaps there is high tone on +ATR /ə/ and low tone on -ATR /ə/. But I don't know if tonogenesis would occur in such a way. It seems somehow intuitive to me, but... that doesn't mean it makes sense on the whole.
I think the connection between tone and vowel height in natlangs is a very weak one. If you go for the two-phonemes-that-get-meutralized-idea, you could say that [ə]s that are underlyingly /ɐ/ and +ATR will trigger +ATR harmony whereas that [ə]s that are underlyingly /ɜ/ and -ATR will trigger -ATR harmony. Of course, it's ultimately up to you [:)]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 21:26

Are there root-control ATR languages? I distinctly seem to remember reading about vowel harmony that all vowel harmony is fundamentally either left-right or right-left (though certain morphemes may be immune). But I don't think that article really talked much about ATR specifically, so...?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 31 Mar 2018, 21:45

Well, there is a lot of debate there. Some people argue that there is no directional harmony, and that there are only root controlled languages (Turkish can be analzyed either way IIRC). Others have claimed that all vowel harmony is directional. I think there is both. Assamese is a language where ATR harmony is really directional. A quick google search brings up Igbo as a root controlled ATR harmony, but I did not look at the details. Thinking about it, actually all ATR vowel harmony data that I have seen is either analyzed as root controlled or dominant recessive (or both). Assamese is the only ATR harmony that I can recall right now, that is definitely directional (but still it is also dominant-recessive).

The generalization that prefixes are the most likely to be immune to vowel harmony kind of makes it difficult to distinguish between the two hypotheses. Do you recall where you read about all vowel harmony being directional? I could really use that paper for a term paper I am writing right now [:D]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Odkidstr » Sat 07 Apr 2018, 21:36

So I'm continuing to work on translating sentences in my conlang and have come across a few more things I'm unsure if I'm handling correctly. Before my actual conlang questions, how do you do the small caps on this forum?

The original sentence:

She (Lusa) also possessed the ears and the tail of a cat, appropriately sized to her human self.

In my conlang with gloss:


Lusai aínz sïs soano maks so chïsk alik seshithto tsini njon so akani kestik gavïs yot shï Lusak
Lusa-Abs possess also Def-ear-Pl and DEF tail cat-Gen which 3Pl-Abs COP DEF size-Abs appropriate for REFL human Lusa-Gen

Question 1: This is a possessive clause I believe? I understand that can work differently in some languages, here I'm treating it more like a copula construction. Typically for my copulas, the Absolutive is used on both the subject and complement(?). e.g. The car-Abs is White-Abs or A truck-Abs is a car-Abs. However, above I didn't mark "ears" or "tail" with any case. For a possessive clause, with couplas operating as they do above, should I be marking the "possessed" items to agree with the possessor, should I be using the Genitive in this type of construction, or would leaving them unmarked for case be more appropriate?

Question 2: Both "ears" and "tail" belong to "cat." Adjectives agree in case and number with their nouns. Thus, I've assumed it would be logical for Genitives to agree in number with what they possess. However, in this case, one noun is plural and one is singular; how would I choose which one should be marked for agreement? Is what I'm doing with the Genitive logical in the first place? If so would the simplest solution be something along the lines of "ear-Pl cat-Pl-Gen" "and" "tail cat-Gen"?

Question 3: This language is supposed to have resumptive pronouns for its relative clauses, however I'm still a novice with such things. I just wanted to make sure I used it right above.

Question 4: I'm kind of confused over the word "size" and how I used it above. It appears from my English to be an adjective, and this is how I treated it in translating ("which the ears and tail were the appropriate size). I'm unsure if that should be a noun though? I've assumed "appropriate" to function like an adverb for the adjective "size", does that seem correct?

Question 5: I had a hard time for "her human self." What I ended up with was using the Reflexive pronoun and "human" as an adjective to indicate "human self." I'm wondering if this would be appropriate, or if I should be using a word that means "self" instead?
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