(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Evni Öpiu-sä
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Evni Öpiu-sä » Sun 08 Apr 2018, 08:06

Axiem wrote:
Sun 08 Apr 2018, 04:05
Evni Öpiu-sä wrote:
Sat 07 Apr 2018, 14:33
How would he spell the word [øykre]?
(Women speak English too. Fluently, even!)
English isn't my native language. I thought "he" can mean any gender.


Thank you all. I prefer "öükré" though it technically didn't answer my question.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » Sun 08 Apr 2018, 18:11

Evni Öpiu-sä wrote:
Sun 08 Apr 2018, 08:06
English isn't my native language. I thought "he" can mean any gender.
"He" as a pronoun for someone of unknown gender usually comes off as archaic and/or sexist these days. In increasingly more situations, singular "they" is preferred. It would be the best choice in an informal context like this forum. If you're writing a formal paper, you'll probably be encouraged to use something like "he or she" or "he/she", which is adequate but can sound stilted, and not everyone is a "he" or a "she", anyway.

In your specific post, you could have also said "that someone" to create a slightly joking or quirky tone.

Evni Öpiu-sä wrote:
Sun 08 Apr 2018, 08:06
Thank you all. I prefer "öükré" though it technically didn't answer my question.
I'm of a similar mind to Axiem. I can't imagine you'd get a consistent spelling from an English speaker for [øykre]; nor is there a spelling that will reliably elicit that pronunciation from them. The sounds and phototactics are simply so un-English-y. I'd go with <öükré> and accept that many Anglophones will mispronounce it. At least it looks pretty.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » Mon 09 Apr 2018, 12:02

While thinking about the uses of moods in my IE. conlang I tried to look at how different moods and tenses are used in different IE. natlangs. Since my native language (Croatian) is comparatively poor in that regard, I've never completely understood some of the ways different moods and tenses are used.

Conditional sentences, for example, differ wildly between IE. languages regarding what moods and tenses are used in different types. One thing I've noticed is that a past tense (regardless of it's mood) is commonly used in protasis to represent a counterfactual hypothesis - that is the case in English, for example ("If I understood the usage of moods in different IE. languages, I would be able to finish my conlang."), but also in nearly every other IE. language I've looked at, with the exception of Slavic languages.

This confuses me greatly, since in my native language would use the present tense in that type of conditional sentence. Does anyone know any resources where I could read up on the historical development on these types of sentences, specifically to find out why it is so common to use a past tense in the way I mentioned?

I hope I've been clear enough - I will happily provide more details if needed. [:D]
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Mon 09 Apr 2018, 13:09

Well, the past tense is naturally associated with if-then protases, because the 'if' is logically and almost always temporally prior to the 'then'. So if the apodosis is in the present, it's natural to put the protasis in the past (and if the apodosis is in the past, it's natural to put the protasis in the pluperfect). I would guess that the modal significance (present protasis = deduction, past protasis = counterfactual present state or speculation, pluperfect protasis = counterfactual past event) is an extrapolation from the generalised use of tense in this way. Semantically it works because a present state is intimately connected to a past event ["If I ate the apple, I would be sick" - if you in the past ate the apple, you would be in the present and future in the state of having eaten the apple, which is what would make you sick]. Cf. how past-tense modal verbs have been repurposed as presents (could, would, should, might).

It's particularly strong in English, I think, because our subjunctive is so weak - we avoid subjunctives, and for most verbs and persons they're not distinct, so their utility in showing modal contrasts is limited, and other means are necessary.





More generally, a lot of languages have a problem with the status of the future tense. For one thing, if your protasis is already in the future, you can't then put your apodosis in the future while retaining the clear if/then priority - you run out of futures*. And for another, the future is conceptually worryingly close to a mood already (we don't really know the future), so there's often reluctance to add on an additional modal layer to that. In many European languages, the future is already expressed through a modal or modal-esque morphosyntax already.

All of which means that while logically we might say "If I will eat the apple..." for future possibilities, we're reluctant to do so. The modalities of "if" and "will" clash - and then the apodosis ("...I will turn into a mongoose") is stuck in the same tense, weakening the if/then.

So one easy way to avoid that is to use the present tense for the protasis and the future for the apodosis: "If I eat the apple, I will feel ill". The present is often used for the future anyway (as future tenses often have modal significance), so it doesn't feel wrong even though the protasis is actually discussing a future event.

Which means you can't then use the same construction for counterfactuals. So it's natural to use the only other simple tense for them. Particularly because many counterfactuals have present-tense apodoses, so the protasis must be past tense to maintain the if/then effect (and just to distinguish which clause is which).

Hence, the present tense is used for hypotheticals, and the past tense is used for counterfactuals (and speculations probably by extension?).




*of course, you could get around this by using a future perfect. And indeed the Latin future perfect ended up a future subjunctive in many languages, and specifically a conditional in Old Romanian.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » Mon 09 Apr 2018, 19:06

Thank you for your thorough explanation. It makes sense that, protasis being logically prior to apodosis, and the present tense already being used for deductive sentences, (especially in languages such as Greek or Latin, where even the subjunctive and optative moods are already used there), one would have to resort to a past tense for speculative sentences.

My native language does have the option of using either the (perfective) present or the future perfect in protases of deductive sentences. While it has relative tenses, it usually avoids using them, and there is no such a thing as sequence of tenses. Conditional clauses are handled by having one conjunction for deduction, and another for counter-to-fact condition, while speculation uses the conditional mood coupled with the temporal conjunction "when".

Semantic evolution of past tense > irrealis mood seems very common. In addition to what you have mentioned concerning English modal verbs, in French (which I study), for example, one can freely use either the conditional or the past tense to express polite wishes, regrets and imagined actions (as in roleplaying). Could it be that a distance in time from the present is reinterpreted as a distance in reality? Or is it more likely an extrapolation from conditional sentences?

Once again thank you for your explanation because it is not easy to find papers which deal with this topic, with the exception of some Latin or Greek-learning materials.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Tue 10 Apr 2018, 17:46

I should make clear that I'm only speculating! I'm not actually a linguist, and I don't know what the scholarly literature says on the subject.

But my explanations make sense to me, and they don't conflict with anything else I know, so in the absence of a professional opinion they'll probably do.
Semantic evolution of past tense > irrealis mood seems very common. In addition to what you have mentioned concerning English modal verbs, in French (which I study), for example, one can freely use either the conditional or the past tense to express polite wishes, regrets and imagined actions (as in roleplaying). Could it be that a distance in time from the present is reinterpreted as a distance in reality? Or is it more likely an extrapolation from conditional sentences?
Taking English as an example again, I think there's several types of underlying semantic drift here, in addition to extrapolation from conditionals. For example:
- "I would like that": "I wanted that" > "I still want that now if that's ok please". Using the past tense still indicates the desire, but it suggests that the desire may have changed if it's not convenient. So it's non-confrontation. Compare expressions like "I was wondering whether...", which commonly means "is it true that?" or "is it permitted that", but the past tense creates, as it were, plausible deniability if the other person takes offence.

- "He could have fallen asleep": "He had the capacity to fall asleep" > "he may be asleep now". Here, past potentials are a way of referring to hypothetical presents. Similarly with "might".
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 10 Apr 2018, 19:30

So giving my professional opinion (I think I can call myself a linguist now): I should say that the connection between past is a bit euro-centric and especially English-centric, i.e. it is a common assumption that this is somehow universal, among generative liguists at least [:D] But since the question was about Europe, I think there is nothing wrong with it.

Other languages often split up the semantic space differently. I heard of several Papuan languages, where the marker for simultaneous actions was also used for conditionals (e.g. If it is green, it is edible.) This also makes very much intuitively sense, at least to me, so I think there is no universal 'natural' connection between past tense and conditionals. Another common crosslinguistic pattern is a strong association of future tense and irrealis mood. In some languages this yields to both parts of a conditional sentence being in the future tense, at least for counterfactual conditionals.

Going back to the original question about historical development, I really don't know any good papers. I would have looked into the Conlangers Thesaurus (here).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch » Thu 12 Apr 2018, 17:41

Which case, ergative or absolutive, do ergative-absolutive languages (especially ones with a comitative case, I guess) use for expressing stuff like "X wants to punch Z with Y"?

As in:
X-abs Y-com
or
X-erg Y-com

Logically, it should be the ergative since punching is a thing done by X (and possibly Y) on Z, but since X isn't actually yet punching Z and the main verb is "want" (which is transitive but has no effect on Z or Y, so AFAIK that would mean the ergative is not used with it... would it, though?), it would make sense for it to be the absolutive instead...?

Wikipedia has an example sentence of Chukchi with a comitative, but the the first word is not glossed with ergative or absolutive, so I'd assume it's absolutive. Still, I don't want to just assume in case that'd be wrong; I found this pdf that would imply it is absolutive since the ergative case is marked by <-e>, which the example doesn't have, so based on this it seems like at least Chukchi uses the absolutive for general comitatives like that. However, that example sentence doesn't have an object, so it's not exactly what I'd like to know. Besides, Chukchi is only one language, so it could be that other languages handle it differently?

Anyone have any idea?

EDIT: Well, I'm stupid. There'd be no comitative in stuff like "X wants to hug Y" at all... the question still stands, though, and I just edited the question to involve a sentence that actually involves comitatives.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Thu 12 Apr 2018, 20:52

So, for all I know in the typical case, it would be X-ERG wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM. But there are languages that have special case patterns for verbs like 'to want'. You migh find dative marked subjects or double absolutive constructions, so X-DAT wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM or X-ABS wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by All4Ɇn » Fri 13 Apr 2018, 20:57

I'm planning on adding a few Ởnh·Vú specific hanzi simplifications (particularly for 義, 魔, and 曜) and was wondering how I could go about it. Not just in terms of programs that could help with it but also things I could look at for inspiration for simplifications. Right now I'm thinking I'd like to incorporate something similar to cursive 鬼 for 魔. Any help is appreciated [:D]
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Odkidstr » Fri 13 Apr 2018, 23:46

So I hope this is the correct place to ask and isn't a particularly stupid question:

I've been interested in studying and/or learning a language lately, but I can't seem to pinpoint one that I want to learn. I'm trying to look for something not too close to English, considering English is all I speak and I'm looking for more distant languages than French, German, Spanish etc. I'm not even necessarily planning to try to be anything more than basic conversational in it, but I do want to study its grammar in depth (me speaking languages is pretty much a lost hope at this point).

I'm looking for languages that, as an English speaker, I might actually be able to pronounce with relative ease. One thing I simply can't do is trill my "r"s, and tones are not my cup of tea.

Do any of you have some suggestions for maybe some lesser known languages that I can try learning? The only real requirement is that there's enough learning material to learn the language well enough. I've been thinking of maybe trying a Celtic language, or a Native American one (though I'm pretty sure I can't actually speak one of those). I'd maybe try Japanese if it wasn't for kanji, the writing system it too intimidating to me.

I've tried out various languages too, especially Modern Hebrew, Esperanto, & Cherokee, and to a lesser degree Korean (my pronunciation is hopeless).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nachtuil » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 04:58

Odkidstr, you have a lot of options. I think you have the right idea. An ideal language for you likely is one that is popular, has a lot of resources, has a similar sound inventory and had the roman alphabet imposed on them. I think the sound inventory may be way less important than your interest in the language/people/culture.

I actually quite like German and monolingual English speakers find it quite odd, even though it is relatively speaking, highly related. It is easy to find resources for but I guess that isn't what you're going after. The Cyrillic alphabet is learn-able I am told so maybe a major slavic langauge is your bag. Palatalised consonants are not so scary.

Persian is pretty comfortable sound wise but then there is the Iranian alphabet, which is a few characters different form the standard Arabic writing system.

I think you should check out Finnish regardless of what you do. I think you should check out Nahuatl too. The most tricky part of Nahuatl sound wise is the laterals but they are not as bad as they first appear.

An odd choice may be Hindustani. Huge speaker population, they make lots of movies you can watch and listen to, probably a lot of resources to learn from, and use an alphabet which isn't terrifying or have 100+ letter variants, Devanagari. The biggest obstacle soundwise will be learning the aspirated - unaspirated stop distinctions. Retroflexes are relatively easy in comparison. I guess the flaps may be a touch tricky. I think sounds are less a problem than your interest in the language though.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by All4Ɇn » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 05:58

Tagalog sounds like just what you're looking for. Easy to write, has /ɾ/ rather than /r/, non Indo-European, and spoken by over 70 million people so not too many speakers but also enough that you could have plenty of people to converse in it with.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 11:33

Austronesian languages in general are rather close to English from their general profile, I would say. Indonesian/Malay is also an idea.The most difficult thing, -phonologically speaking, for an English native is to get rid of vowel reduction. But that's what you need to do for learning every language. And trilling or tapping your r's is again something that you will find in almost any language with a lot of speakers.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Odkidstr » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 21:30

Thanks for the suggestions. Nahuatal looks really interesting, I might try to study that one day. I think I like all of the American languages in general, but I'm fairly certain that speaking them is an effort in futility for me. All the languages suggested look pretty cool though in one way or another, Finnish might perhaps be the most practical of them all. Tagalog is so tempting though, I just don't think I'd ever find much of a chance to use it (well, in reality I might actually have more chances than Finnish I guess). Also, I can do the alveolar tap (albeit probably not well), just not the trill :( I've really tried to learn it, but I've heard some people simply can't do it (how true that is, I don't know).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nachtuil » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 21:51

Oh! Indonesian is a solid suggestion phonologically.

Check out the videos on Aztec that nativlang has made: https://www.youtube.com/user/NativLang/videos He has 3 of them. Sorry.... "Aztec" is Nahuatl but the videos have Aztec in the title. :)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nachtuil » Sat 14 Apr 2018, 21:59

I know a number of languages used demonstrative pronouns for 3rd person pronouns and a lot of languages having distal distinctions. Are there languages where 3rd person pronouns have distal distinctions? I imagine it may function as some sort of quasi obviation system. I would love to know.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch » Mon 16 Apr 2018, 00:19

Creyeditor wrote:
Thu 12 Apr 2018, 20:52
So, for all I know in the typical case, it would be X-ERG wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM. But there are languages that have special case patterns for verbs like 'to want'. You migh find dative marked subjects or double absolutive constructions, so X-DAT wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM or X-ABS wants to hit Z-ABS Y-COM.
Thanks!
Odkidstr wrote:
Fri 13 Apr 2018, 23:46
One thing I simply can't do is trill my "r"s
If you can you do the alveolar tap [ɾ], as in American English kitty [kʰɪɾi], try saying two of them consecutively, eg. *kitttty [kʰɪɾɾi], without it becoming a stop [d]. This should come out as a trill, ie. [kʰɪri].
Odkidstr wrote:
Sat 14 Apr 2018, 21:30
Finnish might perhaps be the most practical of them all.
You definitely should try to get into Finnish. It does have /r/ but there's no phonetic requirement for it to be trilled since it doesn't contrast with a tap phonemically; you'll just sound like a foreigner if you never trill it, but you probably would anyway so it's no big deal and you'll still be understood; however, /r/ can occur both in the syllable onset and coda, so there are words like harrastus (hobby) which do require you to make a distinction between your [ɾ] and something else that's "longer"; you could use [ɾ] for every /r/ and then for /r.r/ use [ɾɹ] or whatever you feel comfortable with and people would understand. Yeah, you could use [ɹ] or whatever English /r/ for every /r/ in Finnish, too, but that would sound painful.

In terms of phonology, Finnish is fairly close to Japanese; the vowels, apart from /u/, are pronounced identically most of the time; most consonants are the same too, but there are certain differences (like Finnish /t/ being dental while in Japanese it's alveolar). It's the language with the least phonemic consonants spoken in Europe, eg. not making a distinction between [s​] and [ʃ] in the standard language except in loanwords, where the latter is spelled <š>, although it's becoming more and more common for them to be spelled with <sh>... personally that's just about the only issue I have a prescriptivist stance on; <š> should NEVER be replaced by <sh> because Finnish does have /s/ in coda and /h/ in onset, and as such there are words where /s/ is followed by /h/... at least Russians are already making mistakes because of this in Finnish, so it drives me up the fucking wall that even the biggest and most influential broadcasting company, Yle, has started using <sh> spellings... [:'(] Also applies to ž. The names of countries like Azerbaijan and Cambodia, which used to be Azerbaidžan and Kambodža, are now Azerbaidzhan and Kambodzha, which makes me want to claw my eyes out...

...uh, yeah, I could rant forever about that, but I'll stop.

Anyway, it also has rounded front vowels, which you may or may not like. The rest of its phonology is simple and only common sounds that exist all over the world, etc. It's not Indo-European but literally like half of its lexicon is made up of Indo-European loanwords, not to mention tons of calques from Swedish, Russian and English.

Grammatically, it could be challenging but the good thing is that it's extremely regular and pretty much all the noun cases have multiple uses; that could be confusing at first, but they're actually logical in most cases. It's also not a language with an insane number of cases like Hungarian, but rather somewhere in between Agglutinative Madness™ and Standard Average European™. Pretty close to Turkish in many ways when speaking of grammar and phonology, but simpler, like vowel harmony being only based on a front/back distinction without rounding harmony, etc... the inflections in Finnish tend to be arguably more complex, though, and the whole point of comparing them is... well, just for comparison. [:P]
Nachtuil wrote:
Sat 14 Apr 2018, 21:59
I know a number of languages used demonstrative pronouns for 3rd person pronouns and a lot of languages having distal distinctions. Are there languages where 3rd person pronouns have distal distinctions? I imagine it may function as some sort of quasi obviation system. I would love to know.
I'm not sure if it counts, but Japanese has あれ and それ. They don't refer to people, though, and the human equivalents あいつ and そいつ are only used informally (and at least according to Wiktionary the latter is rude).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Parlox » Fri 27 Apr 2018, 18:38

Does word order affect the placement of smaller word classes such as articles, demonstratives, numerals, adpositions, and others?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore » Fri 27 Apr 2018, 21:41

Parlox wrote:
Fri 27 Apr 2018, 18:38
Does word order affect the placement of smaller word classes such as articles, demonstratives, numerals, adpositions, and others?
Short answer; yes.
Long answer; see WALS.info.
Chapters 85, 88, 89, 91, 92, 143, 144.
Also search chapter titles for “order” and “position “.
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