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

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

Post by LinguistCat » Wed 31 Jan 2018, 01:01

Vlürch wrote:
Tue 30 Jan 2018, 16:35
LinguistCat wrote:
Sun 28 Jan 2018, 11:54
B. If I went k > x > h conditionally (or something similar), what else could I do feeding into this or branching off?
I don't really understand the question since if it's unconditional, it's... well... unconditional.
It wouldn't be unconditional, I just don't know what the conditions would be just yet. I'm assuming what other things /k/ or /x/ could become would depend on conditions.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý » Sat 03 Feb 2018, 22:06

LinguistCat wrote:
Wed 31 Jan 2018, 01:01
Vlürch wrote:
Tue 30 Jan 2018, 16:35
LinguistCat wrote:
Sun 28 Jan 2018, 11:54
B. If I went k > x > h conditionally (or something similar), what else could I do feeding into this or branching off?
I don't really understand the question since if it's unconditional, it's... well... unconditional.
It wouldn't be unconditional, I just don't know what the conditions would be just yet. I'm assuming what other things /k/ or /x/ could become would depend on conditions.
I'm not sure what you are asking.
Hungarian has /k/ -> /h/ /_[+vowel, + back], i.e. k becomes h before back vowels.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » Thu 08 Feb 2018, 23:26

So, I think I'm going to attempt to make a fusional language. I know you can invent the different "forms" for fusional language, but I want mine to evolve naturally from an agglutinative proto-language. I like fusional morphology the best, though most of my languages tend to be agglutinative since they are easier to make, and I'm still getting used to the processes for sound changes. Ironically, many of my first attempts were fusional languages as the only language I was familiar with at the time (other than my native English) was Spanish.

A couple of questions.

1. How could I create verb infinitives? I am thinking about having a particle for the infinitive (as in "to run"), but it follows the verb, and later becomes a suffix. Are there other ways?

2. How does a masculine/feminine gender distinction arise? I know it is believed to come from animate vs. inanimate, with the animate class splitting into masculine and feminine and inanimate becomes "neuter." Some languages go further and end up doing away with the neuter. To my knowledge, it seems natlangs do not denote animacy the same way languages with sex-based genders do: They usually have different verbs depending on the level of animacy, while gender is usually marked on nouns and articles. I could be misunderstanding this, of course.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by gestaltist » Fri 09 Feb 2018, 10:31

LinguoFranco wrote:
Thu 08 Feb 2018, 23:26
1. How could I create verb infinitives? I am thinking about having a particle for the infinitive (as in "to run"), but it follows the verb, and later becomes a suffix. Are there other ways?
The locative case attached to the verb is a frequent source of infinitives cross-linguistically, if I am not mistaken.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ehesh » Sat 10 Feb 2018, 23:35

I recently saw the conlanging film an have recently been inspired by Tapissary and logographic writing systems and wish to make one. However, I believe the organization to be a lengthy process and confusing process. I saw on the film that on Tapissary Steven Travis had a form of software to do this, does anyone know what it is?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » Mon 12 Feb 2018, 23:44

LinguoFranco wrote:
Thu 08 Feb 2018, 23:26
2. How does a masculine/feminine gender distinction arise? I know it is believed to come from animate vs. inanimate, with the animate class splitting into masculine and feminine and inanimate becomes "neuter." Some languages go further and end up doing away with the neuter. To my knowledge, it seems natlangs do not denote animacy the same way languages with sex-based genders do: They usually have different verbs depending on the level of animacy, while gender is usually marked on nouns and articles. I could be misunderstanding this, of course.
I believe the theory you have come upon is based specifically on Indo-European languages - I can imagine a language coming up with a masculine-feminine gender system without starting from an animate-inanimate one, even starting from a genderless system. A derivational suffix denoting female persons and / or animals could spread from nouns to adjectives and determiners.

Concerning your other question, I believe you are refering to the active syntactic alignment? It is true that, as far as I know, it is commonly encountered together with an animate-inanimate gender system, but that doesn't mean you can't mark an animate-inanimate gender system on nouns! Here, Indo-European comes to the rescue!

Basically, in an animate-inanimate gender system, inanimate nouns are less likely to be agents than animate nouns. In (old, case-preserving) Indo-European languages, the only difference between animate (masculine and feminine) and inanimate (neuter) nouns is how they mark the nominative and the accusative case: for inanimates, nominative and accusative are identical, either unmarked or marked with the accusative suffix, while animates have both a nominative and an accusative suffix. Also, since inanimates are less likely to be thought of as individuals than animates, they have a different plural suffix, originating in an earlier collective suffix. For that reason, I guess (there might be other explanations), inaimate plurals agree with their verbs in the singular.

In short, in an animate-inanimate gender system, there are more likely to be semantic causes of a specific syntactic and morphological behavior than it is the case for sex-based systems.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 00:35

Zekoslav wrote:
Mon 12 Feb 2018, 23:44
LinguoFranco wrote:
Thu 08 Feb 2018, 23:26
2. How does a masculine/feminine gender distinction arise? I know it is believed to come from animate vs. inanimate, with the animate class splitting into masculine and feminine and inanimate becomes "neuter." Some languages go further and end up doing away with the neuter. To my knowledge, it seems natlangs do not denote animacy the same way languages with sex-based genders do: They usually have different verbs depending on the level of animacy, while gender is usually marked on nouns and articles. I could be misunderstanding this, of course.
I believe the theory you have come upon is based specifically on Indo-European languages - I can imagine a language coming up with a masculine-feminine gender system without starting from an animate-inanimate one, even starting from a genderless system. A derivational suffix denoting female persons and / or animals could spread from nouns to adjectives and determiners.

Concerning your other question, I believe you are refering to the active syntactic alignment? It is true that, as far as I know, it is commonly encountered together with an animate-inanimate gender system, but that doesn't mean you can't mark an animate-inanimate gender system on nouns! Here, Indo-European comes to the rescue!

Basically, in an animate-inanimate gender system, inanimate nouns are less likely to be agents than animate nouns. In (old, case-preserving) Indo-European languages, the only difference between animate (masculine and feminine) and inanimate (neuter) nouns is how they mark the nominative and the accusative case: for inanimates, nominative and accusative are identical, either unmarked or marked with the accusative suffix, while animates have both a nominative and an accusative suffix. Also, since inanimates are less likely to be thought of as individuals than animates, they have a different plural suffix, originating in an earlier collective suffix. For that reason, I guess (there might be other explanations), inaimate plurals agree with their verbs in the singular.

In short, in an animate-inanimate gender system, there are more likely to be semantic causes of a specific syntactic and morphological behavior than it is the case for sex-based systems.
As for the typical Semitic masculine vs. feminine gender system with the latter marked with a suffix -t (or something similar), this apparently goes back all the way to Afro-Asiatic, which even conservative estimates suggest was spoken around 10,000 years ago. I've not really looked into it, but it would be interesting to see if anyone has a hypothesis regarding where that system came from.

Anyway, gender systems can arise, IIRC, in several different ways, both phonetically and semantically.

The most obvious division, assuming you start from no gender classes at all, is to have masculine and feminine classes divide solely on the basis of biological sex and animacy, i.e. what is inanimate is just whatever, but animate things are divided into masculine and feminine based on whether it's male or female. The inanimate class doesn't have to become distinct from the animate class, and it could just be marked as masculine or feminine (from what I can remember there's a tendency to use the masculine as the default, although in some languages the feminine class is treated more like the inanimate class where the two are distinct, so I guess it could go either way, e.g. if the feminine contains a large number of derived terms (male+feminine suffix), then I'd assume the masculine would be treated as default.

Then there are cultural associations, i.e. what is considered "of men" and "of women" that then divides the space of inanimate nouns. So sewing and anything to do with it (wool or needles), foraging for food (from what I can remember, in !Kung society gathering is predominantly the role of women and unmarried men, providing around 80% of their protein intake), and so on, might be considered "feminine", and eventually associated with the feminine grammatical gender. Some things may be classified on the basis of their shape. Alamblak, a language of Papua New Guinea, according to Steven B. Jackson, associates long and tall things with the masculine gender and round and short things with the feminine gender. Diminutives are often associated with the feminine gender, if I remember rightly.

And then there's phonetics, e.g. words that coincidentally appear phonetically similar (towards the side of a word closest to inflection, from what I can tell) to words that have an established grammatical gender, especially where the established gender appears to have a pattern. So if, for example, a relatively large number of nouns ending in -a (for whatever reason) happen to be considered feminine, then that might end up being considered a default pattern, resulting in unassigned nouns also ending in -a being considered feminine.

How the difference in marking appears as well might be important too. There's a suggestion that some the inanimate (later neuter) class in PIE, for example, came from a split amongst nouns. As LinguoFranco stated above, inanimate nouns are less frequently the agent, so over time they simply loss agentive marking, with the nominative being replaced by the older accusative. In a system that goes from no gender marking to masculine vs. feminine, one might employ a difference in how the two genders appear in other areas of a phrase (since masculine and feminine nouns are both animate, it seems like it would be rare to have them be differentiated on the basis of conjugational "gaps" as in PIE), so you might see different demonstratives used with masculine nouns vs. feminine nouns, and then these might merge into adjectives, and then the pattern might expand to verbs, and so on.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 01:19

sangi39 wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 00:35
Alamblak, a language of Papua New Guinea, according to Steven B. Jackson, associates long and tall things with the masculine gender and round and short things with the feminine gender.
This is actually a crosslinguistic tendency. Khoekhoegowab does something similar for example.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 12:56

sangi39 wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 00:35
Zekoslav wrote:
Mon 12 Feb 2018, 23:44
LinguoFranco wrote:
Thu 08 Feb 2018, 23:26
2. How does a masculine/feminine gender distinction arise? I know it is believed to come from animate vs. inanimate, with the animate class splitting into masculine and feminine and inanimate becomes "neuter." Some languages go further and end up doing away with the neuter. To my knowledge, it seems natlangs do not denote animacy the same way languages with sex-based genders do: They usually have different verbs depending on the level of animacy, while gender is usually marked on nouns and articles. I could be misunderstanding this, of course.
I believe the theory you have come upon is based specifically on Indo-European languages - I can imagine a language coming up with a masculine-feminine gender system without starting from an animate-inanimate one, even starting from a genderless system. A derivational suffix denoting female persons and / or animals could spread from nouns to adjectives and determiners.

Concerning your other question, I believe you are refering to the active syntactic alignment? It is true that, as far as I know, it is commonly encountered together with an animate-inanimate gender system, but that doesn't mean you can't mark an animate-inanimate gender system on nouns! Here, Indo-European comes to the rescue!

Basically, in an animate-inanimate gender system, inanimate nouns are less likely to be agents than animate nouns. In (old, case-preserving) Indo-European languages, the only difference between animate (masculine and feminine) and inanimate (neuter) nouns is how they mark the nominative and the accusative case: for inanimates, nominative and accusative are identical, either unmarked or marked with the accusative suffix, while animates have both a nominative and an accusative suffix. Also, since inanimates are less likely to be thought of as individuals than animates, they have a different plural suffix, originating in an earlier collective suffix. For that reason, I guess (there might be other explanations), inaimate plurals agree with their verbs in the singular.

In short, in an animate-inanimate gender system, there are more likely to be semantic causes of a specific syntactic and morphological behavior than it is the case for sex-based systems.
As for the typical Semitic masculine vs. feminine gender system with the latter marked with a suffix -t (or something similar), this apparently goes back all the way to Afro-Asiatic, which even conservative estimates suggest was spoken around 10,000 years ago. I've not really looked into it, but it would be interesting to see if anyone has a hypothesis regarding where that system came from.

Anyway, gender systems can arise, IIRC, in several different ways, both phonetically and semantically.

The most obvious division, assuming you start from no gender classes at all, is to have masculine and feminine classes divide solely on the basis of biological sex and animacy, i.e. what is inanimate is just whatever, but animate things are divided into masculine and feminine based on whether it's male or female. The inanimate class doesn't have to become distinct from the animate class, and it could just be marked as masculine or feminine (from what I can remember there's a tendency to use the masculine as the default, although in some languages the feminine class is treated more like the inanimate class where the two are distinct, so I guess it could go either way, e.g. if the feminine contains a large number of derived terms (male+feminine suffix), then I'd assume the masculine would be treated as default.

Then there are cultural associations, i.e. what is considered "of men" and "of women" that then divides the space of inanimate nouns. So sewing and anything to do with it (wool or needles), foraging for food (from what I can remember, in !Kung society gathering is predominantly the role of women and unmarried men, providing around 80% of their protein intake), and so on, might be considered "feminine", and eventually associated with the feminine grammatical gender. Some things may be classified on the basis of their shape. Alamblak, a language of Papua New Guinea, according to Steven B. Jackson, associates long and tall things with the masculine gender and round and short things with the feminine gender. Diminutives are often associated with the feminine gender, if I remember rightly.

And then there's phonetics, e.g. words that coincidentally appear phonetically similar (towards the side of a word closest to inflection, from what I can tell) to words that have an established grammatical gender, especially where the established gender appears to have a pattern. So if, for example, a relatively large number of nouns ending in -a (for whatever reason) happen to be considered feminine, then that might end up being considered a default pattern, resulting in unassigned nouns also ending in -a being considered feminine.

How the difference in marking appears as well might be important too. There's a suggestion that some the inanimate (later neuter) class in PIE, for example, came from a split amongst nouns. As LinguoFranco stated above, inanimate nouns are less frequently the agent, so over time they simply loss agentive marking, with the nominative being replaced by the older accusative. In a system that goes from no gender marking to masculine vs. feminine, one might employ a difference in how the two genders appear in other areas of a phrase (since masculine and feminine nouns are both animate, it seems like it would be rare to have them be differentiated on the basis of conjugational "gaps" as in PIE), so you might see different demonstratives used with masculine nouns vs. feminine nouns, and then these might merge into adjectives, and then the pattern might expand to verbs, and so on.
Thanks for the explanation. (BTW, it was LinguoFranco who asked the question, and me who tried to respond. [:D]) It is nice to know that a masculine-feminine gender system can also divide nouns based on semantics - my knowledge of gender is based too closely on Indo-European languages, where such a division has long been mostly arbitrary. Even there, though, abstract nouns tend to be feminine, for example, and that is also the case, in Afro-Asiatic, at least for Ancient Egyptian. Are there other cases of abstract nouns being feminine?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Frislander » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 15:49

Creyeditor wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 01:19
sangi39 wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 00:35
Alamblak, a language of Papua New Guinea, according to Steven B. Jackson, associates long and tall things with the masculine gender and round and short things with the feminine gender.
This is actually a crosslinguistic tendency. Khoekhoegowab does something similar for example.
In fact this is a general tendency of Papuan languages in general, and also Tiwi In Australia.
Zekoslav wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 12:56
Thanks for the explanation. (BTW, it was LinguoFranco who asked the question, and me who tried to respond. [:D]) It is nice to know that a masculine-feminine gender system can also divide nouns based on semantics - my knowledge of gender is based too closely on Indo-European languages, where such a division has long been mostly arbitrary. Even there, though, abstract nouns tend to be feminine, for example, and that is also the case, in Afro-Asiatic, at least for Ancient Egyptian. Are there other cases of abstract nouns being feminine?
I think there is a general tendency to develop feminine marking from some kind of abstract/collective/indefinite suffix; I think this is the current theory for their origin in both Semitic and IE, and the indefinite > feminine shift is also found in Northern Iroquoian as well (if a little more complicated and multi-layered, though frankly I wouldn't be surprised if the IE and Semitic situation were similar).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 16:03

Re sewing needles etc:

Ive used the possession idea for gender in my conlangs, but I'm not aware of it occurring in any natlang.

My explanation for the system is a combination of several of the above, plus the coalescence of locative and plain forms of some monosyllabic classifiers. E.g. "in the water" merges with "water" ... only as a suffix .... and water is feminine, so therefore all things in the sea become feminine. Im not aware of this happening in a natlang either.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Parlox » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 20:44

What are some interesting ways to form Comparatives and Superlatives?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by gestaltist » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 21:04

Parlox wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 20:44
What are some interesting ways to form Comparatives and Superlatives?
Reduplication is one. Semitic "X of X" for superlative is kinda cool, as well.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 21:59

Parlox wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 20:44
What are some interesting ways to form Comparatives and Superlatives?
Verbal and phrasal ones. Looking at the WALS chapter might help. Things like 'I exceed you in talness' or 'I am tall, you not' are my favorite constructions. Also building the superlative from the comparative by adding 'everyone else', like 'big, bigger, bigger than everyone else'. Oh and of course merging them into an elative is also cool.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 22:00

As you probably already know, Pelsodian is an isolating and agglutinative romance language spoken around Lake Balaton in modern day Hungary. The language has been heavily influenced by the language of the Pannonian Avars and later the Hungarians to the present day. Right now I am deciding on whether or not I should suffix the definite article, ell, as in Romanian, or keep it separate like in most other romance languages.

Arguments for suffixing the article include the possibility that the Avars have done it if it was anything like modern Turkish, it's relative closeness to the Balkan Sprachbund and Romanian, and just the huge tendency for suffixing it's influence's have.

Arguments against include the fact the languages most closely related (Venetian, Istriot and Dalmatian) all do not suffix their article, the language may be to far from the Sprachbund to be affected, and the second biggest influence on the language - HungarIan - doesn't suffix it's article despite its agglutination.

So I am wondering what you guys think is most plausible.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 22:05

Maybe have a compromise? Maybe have differential object marking for definitness. (Hungarian has it, right?) And then only suffix the article if it is needed to dintinguish it in other positions, like subjects and so on.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Tue 13 Feb 2018, 22:36

Creyeditor wrote:
Tue 13 Feb 2018, 22:05
Maybe have a compromise? Maybe have differential object marking for definitness. (Hungarian has it, right?) And then only suffix the article if it is needed to dintinguish it in other positions, like subjects and so on.
How would this work? Suffix the article for the nominative case but say, not for accusative or vice versa?

If HungarIan has it I would definitely include it.

Edit: Hungarian doesn't suffix it's article though, it has a(z) but i haven't heard of it changing beyond the presence of vowels.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Wed 14 Feb 2018, 00:43

Hungarian IIRC has an a different verbal paradigm for a group of objects, roughly saying definite objects. There might be other effetcs of this that I forgot.
Now my Idea is, that if you develop something simila, e.g. accusative marking only for definite subjects a bit à la Spanish, you do not need to mark definiteness in the accusative case. You would have to mark it in the nominative though.
Here are schematic examples (assuming nominative is unmarked, but that's not actually crucial):
(1)
I eat apple
`I eat an apple.'
(2)
I eat apple-ACC
`I eat the apple.'
(3)
man eat apple
`A man eats an apple'
(4)
man-DEF eat apple
`The man eats an apple. '

As you can see in (1) and (2) only definite objects are marked with accusative, the indefinite objects take the unmarked nominative case. In (3) and (4) you can see that the situation is different for the subject. It is always in the unmarked nominative case, but additionally marked with a definite article suffix in (4).
Edit: Looking at Romanian differential object marking it seems that you might want to swap the contexts for accusative marking, such that only indefinite objects take the accusative instead of having it the other way around.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » Thu 15 Feb 2018, 19:24

Suppose my proto-language has agent markers -a and -an and patient markers -eo and -igu:
How easy would it be for just -a and -an to replace -eo and -igu and as such now mark both agent and patient, without undergoing phonological change?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Thu 15 Feb 2018, 22:18

Creyeditor wrote:
Wed 14 Feb 2018, 00:43
Hungarian IIRC has an a different verbal paradigm for a group of objects, roughly saying definite objects. There might be other effetcs of this that I forgot.
Now my Idea is, that if you develop something simila, e.g. accusative marking only for definite subjects a bit à la Spanish, you do not need to mark definiteness in the accusative case. You would have to mark it in the nominative though.
Here are schematic examples (assuming nominative is unmarked, but that's not actually crucial):
(1)
I eat apple
`I eat an apple.'
(2)
I eat apple-ACC
`I eat the apple.'
(3)
man eat apple
`A man eats an apple'
(4)
man-DEF eat apple
`The man eats an apple. '

As you can see in (1) and (2) only definite objects are marked with accusative, the indefinite objects take the unmarked nominative case. In (3) and (4) you can see that the situation is different for the subject. It is always in the unmarked nominative case, but additionally marked with a definite article suffix in (4).
Edit: Looking at Romanian differential object marking it seems that you might want to swap the contexts for accusative marking, such that only indefinite objects take the accusative instead of having it the other way around.
This is a bit difficult as I've merged the nominative and accusative. My former idea, syncope all final vowels except in the nominative, would have worked for the accusative instead, but I wanted to eliminate gender as well. Although perhaps the difference between the nominative and accusative could be maintained by the presence of the definite article?
Last edited by Ælfwine on Thu 15 Feb 2018, 22:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Mannish — A North Germanic language spoken on the Calf of Man
Pelsodian — A Romance language spoken around Lake Balaton
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