So, recently I noticed that I posted quite a lot in the random ideas threads here and that I got some positive feedback on those ideas, but I never really developed them into a whole conlang. I also realized that most of them affect different parts of the grammar, so that they can be easily and nicely combined into one conlang. This is the result. It is still work in progress, so bear with me. Also I will postpone the phonology to some later point, so actual word forms might very well change. Let's just say there is prenasalization in stops, a uvular POA, labialization and ATR-harmony in vowels and two tones.
Rí has 5 parts of speech that are defined with regards to semantics, morphology and syntax. Three of them are functional: Particles never take any inflection and they never occur on their own. They usually occur in the second position of a sentence. Their meaning usually relates to pragmatics or information structure. Light verbs always take medial verb inflection and they occur in the left part of the sentence. They always need a lexical verb that corefers. Their meaning usually relates to the Aktionsart of the lexical verb but it can also select for the type of the lexical verb. Classifiers always take case marking. They occur in the left part of the sentence. They always need a lexical noun that corefers. Their meaning classfies nouns into noun classes. The functional parts of speech contrast with three lexical parts of speech: Lexical nouns take case and number marking. They occur in the right part of the sentence. They always need a classifier that corefers. Their meaning refers to more or less specific individuals, i.e. time-stable things with a location in space. Lexical verbs take final or medial verb inflection. They occur in the right part of the sentence. They always need a light verb that corefers. Their meanings refers to more or less specific properties or relations, i.e. space-stable things with a location in time. The boundary between lexical verbs and lexical nouns is not always clear cut. Event words only take clause-connecting inflection. They can occur at their own. Their meaning refers to events, i.e. a proposition that includes a property/relation and its individuals/arguments. Here are some examples for each of the POS.
- Particle: dọng DP.ALT What I am going to say is not the only possibility, but it's the one I consider true:
- Light verb: ki AUX.PROC to become, to change ones state
- Classifier: bua C.DRINK a drink, something that is drinkable
- Lexical noun: madẹq aunt the older sister of ones mother
- Lexical verb: wala dream to dream, to speak to the ancestors, to make a prophecy
- Event words: grọa tiger_attack a tiger attacking a village
- Prepositions? There are certain locational nouns that modify nouns and act just as other nouns. Some verbs are also translated as verb plus prepositions in English.
- Conjunctions? These are indicated as inflections on medial verbs. The word 'and' between nouns is indicated by juxtaposition.
- Adjectives? There are certain nouns that roughly means something like e.g. 'a big one'. These can occur as predicates and as modifiers of a noun.
... kíi waláa ...
in order to start dreaming of it
for a tiger attack ...
Final verb inflection is almost a superset of medial verb inflection. It occurs on lexical verbs in stand-alone matrix clauses and verbs in matrix clauses that are not followed by any conjoined clause. It marks distance, path of motion, evidentiality, mood and hierarchical subject agreement. Only same subject forms occur here.
I saw him dreaming (himself) to that place.
Nominal inflection is different for classifiers and lexical nouns. Classifiers only take case marking, whereas lexical nouns take both number and case marking. There are three core cases that mostly code affectedness and control: ergative (controlling) accusative (affected) dative (non-controlling, unaffected) and genitive (used for noun modifications). Number marking is only for plural which is often interpreted as an associative plural with names and kinship terms.
of my aunt and here friends
You may have also noticed that I was talking about the left part and the right part of the sentence. Rí syntax is weight-based. Weight is very loosely defined as the number of morphemes per consituent. A sentence starts with the topic followed by all other constituents in order of increasing weight. This means that nominal and verbal phrases are usually discontinious. The general order is the following: Topic > particle > light verb > pronoun > classifiers > medial verb > lexical noun > simple PP/adverb > final verb > complex noun phrases > complex prepositional phrase/adverbial phrase > complement clause. What is a topic? A topic can have a set of properties, but there is only one necessary property: the topic is not the answer to the current discourse question, i.e. it is not in focus. If there is more than one constituent that is not in focus, the constituent that is prementioned will be the topic. If no or all of the non-focus constituents are prementioned, the one that speaker and hearer know exists is the topic. You have not seen examples of full sentences with a topic yet, but you will, hopefully in the next post.
Pretty long for a first post. So what do you think? Does it look to kitchen-sinky? Is it okay? Do you have questions or comments? Is there anything you are particularly interested in?