A riddle for you guys

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Creyeditor
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A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 04 Apr 2019 22:33

I wanted to do this for years. Here is an alternative way of presenting my conlang. The idea is as follows: I post a few sentences with translation but without glosses, adapted from the Conlang Syntax Test Cases. Your job is to figure out how the grammar/morphosyntax works. You can post hypotheses on the grammar and/or glossing and I will comment on them, but more importantly, you can request more sentences to be translated (ideally one by one). This way you will learn more and more about the language. I will not answer any other specific questions. Remember that there is no wrong or right. Some descriptions might fit all existing data, but will they work with the new translations you request?

Hint: There is not a lot going on in the morphology, but the syntax might be more interesting. Maybe start with things like basic word order? Alignment? Glosses? ...

I hope you all enjoy the riddle and request some translations [:)]

Here are the first 9 sentences.

(1)
Sutu mim pakun.
`The sun shines'

(2)
Nama mim pakun kun sin mani.
`The sun is rising now.'

(3)
Kukam mim tupa su tinan na.
`All the people shouted.'

(4)
Tamu mu pupun pum sum sam sin ta kumu.
`The kitten jumped onto the table.'

(5)
Nipum mu pupun pum kun sin kumum.
`The kitten walked away.'

(6)
Nupan.
`It's raining.'

(7)
Pinu mu pupun pum kun tu nupan.
`The kitten is playing in the rain.'

(8)
Si kiku tun sin nipum.
`You should walk away. '

(9)
In nimu kun sin anin tun sin nipum.
`I will be happy to walk away.'
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by All4Ɇn » 04 Apr 2019 23:55

What a cool idea! Here are my guesses:
It very much seems to be a generally VSO language. I think definite articles come before the nouns they modify, but adjectives come after. There seems to be some kind of gender agreement as well:
Spoiler:
Mim- Nominative definite article
Mu- Nominative definite article (for a different gender)
Ta- Adessive definite article
Tu- Adessive definite article (for a different gender)
Sutu- Shine (any relation to Hungarian süt?)
Pupun pum- Kitten (maybe "cat little"?)
Kun- Some kind of progressive marker
Sin- Marks an acton with a definite start and stop
Nupan- Rain (as a noun)
Pinu- Play
Nipum- Walk away
Si- Should
In- Will

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 06 Apr 2019 01:13

All4Ɇn wrote:
04 Apr 2019 23:55
What a cool idea! Here are my guesses:
It very much seems to be a generally VSO language. I think definite articles come before the nouns they modify, but adjectives come after. There seems to be some kind of gender agreement as well:
Spoiler:
Mim- Nominative definite article
Mu- Nominative definite article (for a different gender)
Ta- Adessive definite article
Tu- Adessive definite article (for a different gender)
Sutu- Shine (any relation to Hungarian süt?)
Pupun pum- Kitten (maybe "cat little"?)
Kun- Some kind of progressive marker
Sin- Marks an acton with a definite start and stop
Nupan- Rain (as a noun)
Pinu- Play
Nipum- Walk away
Si- Should
In- Will
Hey thank you [:)]
VSO very much fits the sentences 1-7. 8 and 9 are a bit different, right? You also got some case markers right, IMHO. I think you can improve on your translations for sin, kun, si and in. Is there any particular (set of) sentence(s) that you request to do so and/or test your other hypotheses?
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 08 Apr 2019 22:23

Here are some more sentences, this time involving sin, kun, si and in.

(10)
Isi mim ipinim su unanim na ta pisu kun tin sitin.
`A box of growing plants stands in the window.'

(11)
Unum mu sinana tum ata kun tu aka su nikimin na.
`A bird nest is built in the apple tree.'

(12)
Si upi mim sunam.
`You have come too soon.'

(13)
In nipam ta paka mim kipa.
`I usually sleep soundly.'
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by All4Ɇn » 10 Apr 2019 14:20

I've got some ideas for these new ones, but I'll leave them for other users

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Shemtov » 11 Apr 2019 23:12

Is In some type of mood marker?
Many children make up, or begin to make up, imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write.
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by GrandPiano » 13 Apr 2019 16:07

This reminds me of linguistics olympiad problems. Can you translate “the sun is rising”?
Spoiler:
It looks like in and si mean “I” and “you”, respectively?
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 13 Apr 2019 18:48

I think GrandPiano is closer here than Shemtov. I prepared two sentences with mood in it (14-15) and for GrandPiano I translated the progressive aspect.

(14)
Si nimu kun sin anin tun sin nipum.
`You will be happy to walk away.'

(15)
In kiku tun sin nipum.
`I must walk away.'

(16)
Minum ta sutu mim pakun.
`The sun is shining.'
Edit: Sorry, blanked on the translation of the last sentence. Corrected now.
Last edited by Creyeditor on 14 Apr 2019 21:21, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Shemtov » 14 Apr 2019 02:35

I agree with Grandpiano's assessment, now that I've looked at the data a bit more. I'm leaning towards sin being an aspect marker, possibly some kind of perfect or perfective (?), but it may be a more complicated TA marker.
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by GrandPiano » 14 Apr 2019 14:45

You translated "si kiku tun sin nipum" as "you should walk away" but "in kiku tun sin nipum" as "I must walk away". If I'm allowed to ask, does the use of "should" vs. "must" reflect a difference in meaning or mood, or is it just an arbitrary difference in translation?
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 14 Apr 2019 21:35

GrandPiano wrote:
14 Apr 2019 14:45
You translated "si kiku tun sin nipum" as "you should walk away" but "in kiku tun sin nipum" as "I must walk away". If I'm allowed to ask, does the use of "should" vs. "must" reflect a difference in meaning or mood, or is it just an arbitrary difference in translation?
There is no difference between `should' and `must' in this language. I just felt that 'I must ...' and `you should' were more natural renderings of deontic necessity or obligation.
Shemtov wrote:
14 Apr 2019 02:35
I agree with Grandpiano's assessment, now that I've looked at the data a bit more. I'm leaning towards sin being an aspect marker, possibly some kind of perfect or perfective (?), but it may be a more complicated TA marker.
Here are some more sentences with sin.

(17)
Pinu mu pupun pum kun sin atisum.
`The kitten is playing in the kitchen.'

(18)
Nupan kun sin kupipin kun sin anin.
`It will rain in the desert.'
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by GrandPiano » 16 Apr 2019 06:57

I'm assuming we're allowed to work together on this, but I'll continue to put my thoughts in spoilers in case anyone wants to try and solve this on their own.

Here are my thoughts so far, after looking at All4En's ideas:
Spoiler:
in - 1SG pronoun
si - 2SG pronoun
pakun - sun
pupun pum - kitten
nupan - rain (both noun and verb)
sitin - window
atisum - kitchen
kupipin - desert
sinana - bird nest
sutu - to shine
nama - to rise
kukam - to shout
tamu - to jump
nipum - to walk away
pinu - to play
isi - to stand
unum - to build
kiku - must, should
nimu - to be happy

The basic word order in intransitive sentences is VS; since none of the sentences so far have direct objects (at least in their English translations), we don't know whether transitive sentences are VSO or VOS. When the subject is a pronoun, the order switches to SV.

As far as I can tell, there doesn't appear to be any distinction made between past and present tense. However, future tense is marked with the phrase "kun sin anin", discussed below.

When the subject is a noun and not a pronoun, either "mim" or "mu" invariably appears between the verb and the subject. I'm not sure what function these words have; they appear in every sentence except for a few with pronoun subjects and the ones with the subject-less verb "nupan". They can't be definite articles as All4En guessed, since they appear in sentences where the subject has an indefinite article in the English translation; it looks like this language doesn't use articles at all. When they appear with a pronoun, I'm not sure where they go in relation to the verb because I can't tell which word is the verb in those sentences. It may be that the difference between mim and mu has to do with a gender system, as All4En suggested. Pakun "sun" always takes mim, and pupun pum "kitten" always takes mu (all other nouns only appear once as far as I can tell). It looks like pronouns always take mim. The fact that the only two sentences without a subject (the ones with nupan as the verb) both lack mim/mu further suggests that the choice of mim vs. mu is connected to the subject.

It looks like the words kun, sin, tu, and tin are used in prepositional phrases. Most prepositional phrases have the structure kun + sin/tu/tin + noun. "In the kitchen" and "in the desert" have sin, while "in the rain" and "in the apple tree" have tu, and "in the window" has tin. Perhaps this has to do with a gender system, or maybe sin, tu, and tin all have different meanings. I don't know if there's any significance to the fact that the only noun that appears with "tin" has the syllable "tin" in it. "Kun sin mani" appears to mean "now"; perhaps mani is a noun meaning "now" or "the present". "Kun sin anin" appears to convey future tense; perhaps anin means something like "future" or "later". The sentence "the kitten walked away" has the phrase "kun sin kumum", but it isn't clear what this means since that sentence's verb "nipum" appears on its own in other sentences with the meaning "walk away". Maybe kun sin kumum means "away", and serves to emphasize the "away" aspect of nipum? There is one unusual prepositional phrase: sum sam sin ta kumu "onto the table" (assuming I dissected the sentence correctly). I'm not sure yet what the structure of this phrase is, but I make some speculations below where I discuss "ta".

The sentences with kiku "must, should" and nimu "to be happy" have another, similar structure, tun sin [verb]. It appears that tun sin functions like a subordinator, or otherwise somehow connects the verb after it to the verb before it, so kiku tun sin nipum is "must/should walk away" and nimu tun sin nipum is "to be happy to walk away". Interestingly, these sentences and the sentences with the verb "nupan" are the only sentences so far without mim or mu.

The structure [noun] su [noun] na appears to be a genitive construction. Since none of the nouns that appear in this construction appear in any other sentences, I'm not sure which noun has which role.

I'm not sure yet what "ta" means. It appears in: sum sam sin ta kumu "onto the table", ipinim su unanim na ta pisu "box of growing plants", in nipam ta paka mim kipa "I usually sleep soundly", and minum ta sutu "is shining". In the second example, since all the other example of the ... su ... na construction use two nouns, and because all the other verbs so far are disyllabic, I'm assuming that pisu means "to grow". The last example has ta before a word that we already know is a verb. Considering this, and noting that ta appears before disyllabic words in the other two examples as well, we can assume that ta always appears before verbs, in which case "to sleep" is paka and kumu is a verb whose meaning is unclear to me right now. "Table", then, is either sum or sam, or maybe sum sam as a phrase means table. If paka is "to sleep", then we can assume that mim and mu always go after the verb, and therefore in sentence #12 "to come" is upi and sunam means something like "too soon". "Minum ta" before the verb apparently indicates the progressive aspect.

Based on sentence #11 alone, "tum ata" after the subject appears to mark the passive voice.
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 16 Apr 2019 19:57

A lot of interesting things in GrandPiano's post. Keep in mind that you can also request translations of specific sentences. Another advise that might be helpful. Maybe you could describe the function of some marker as a disjunction (it is used either for X or for Y) and then later try to unify its uses.
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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by GrandPiano » 16 Apr 2019 22:40

I wrote that post late at night and forgot to ask—could I see some more sentences with “ta”?
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: A riddle for you guys

Post by Creyeditor » 20 Apr 2019 11:53

Here are two sentences with ta.

In kiku in tin asu kun tin mapisu kun ta nupan.
`I must stay at home if it rains.'

Tumu ta pisam num tu minun ku tu isu pum.
`The father makes the knife for the little boy.'

I don't how much that helps. I guess asking for translations of specific sentences, might make sense if you have a hypothesis about the meaning/function of some word.
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