Ok, time for some proper grammatical content: Here is the first draft set of noun classes to use in the language, all marked with a branch direction (U/D/L/R):
- Apudessive "beside" (R)
- Inessive "inside" (U)
- Intrative "between" (literally between the two nouns)
- Locative "at" (R)
- Pertingent "against/touching" (R)
- Postessive "behind" (R)
- Subessive "below" (D)
- Superessive "above" (U)
See what I did with these? The branch direction is based on what the class means wherever possible. While a tad irregular compared to the rest of the system in its current form, I think it adds a nice level of intuition to it, which I hope to take advantage of in other places later on.
- Ablative/Initiative "from; starting at" (R)
- Elative "out of" (R)
- Lative/Terminative "to; ending at" (L)
- Illative "into" (L)
- Perlative/Prolative "through/via" (U)
This tries to use the intuitive aspect of the previous set. I've merged several of these as they have a relatively similar meaning that can be discerned through context, and I'll just about always take an opportunity not to have to come up with more
grammatical words and things
. With a motion verb in the clause, one could also use location cases - using the Superessive for instance for "over".
- Accusative "for _ (time)" (R)
- Essive/Temporal "at" (U)
- Limitative "due by; until" (L)
- Accusative (subject) (U)
- Instructive "by means of" (U)
- Instrumental "using" (U)
- Nominative (object) (U)
I've never done a free-word-order-type-thing before, so I'm kind of new to this kind of case use, and I want to come up with some kind of rules to determine what order to use. It might be order of emphasis, with the topic being first and least important bit of information being last, but I'm not too sure yet. Suggestions are open there. I can imagine the Instructive case will be placed on an embedded clause, so having it be in a vertical split might help as it almost then acts as a heading to it.
- Benefactive/Dative "for" (U)
- Causal "because" (U)
- Comitative "accompanied by" (agent above case above company)
- Distributive "for each" (U)
- Possessive "owned by" (possessor above case above possessee)
Here are some examples where there would be multiple things being affected by the case. I want to follow a theme of trying to group things in columns, so things like showing something is owned by something else or accompanied by something else would fit nicely as little columns.
I'd say that's a fair amount to start with at least. Now let's apply it to our example sentence, and throw in some more things to demonstrate things. I'll use:
"the quick brown fox smoking Jeff's pipe jumped over the lazy dog until dusk"
Now, I'll just spend half an hour putting that together /s:
Code: Select all
⎡ ⎤⎡ ⎤[ ACC ][ SUPE ][NOM ]
⎢ ⎥⎢ ⎥⎛[ ACC ][PROG ][Jeff]⎞⎡ ⎤⎡ ⎤[DEF ]
⎢LIM⎥⎢dusk⎥⎢[ DEF ]⎡ ⎤[POS ]⎥⎢ ⎥⎢ ⎥⎡ ⎤
⎢ ⎥⎢ ⎥⎢[ fox ]⎢smoke⎥⎡ ⎤⎥⎢PST⎥⎢jump⎥⎢dog ⎥
⎢ ⎥⎢ ⎥⎢[quick]⎢ ⎥⎢pipe⎥⎥⎢ ⎥⎢ ⎥⎣ ⎦
⎣ ⎦⎣ ⎦⎝[brown]⎣ ⎦⎣ ⎦⎠⎣ ⎦⎣ ⎦[lazy]
Wow, that took quite a while, but it actually looks quite beautiful (not in the variable-width font though). Some points to make about the layout: In cases where vertical stretching happens, I am always preferencing the main content word. I'm also trying to follow some kind of arbitrary hierarchy, for instance where branching for the superessive case on the verb before the past tense marker. I'm still not too sure how I want to do that ordering, or if it should change meaning, but for now, I'm preferencing vertical splits, as I like the look of wide boxes in the current layout - that might change though as I start to look into writing systems (kind of
want to go logographic, but I gave up very quickly last time I tried that).
I'm starting to find that this box layout feels much nicer to work with than actually visualising it as a tree. It still has this tree of branches heavily ingrained into it, but the tree itself isn't really something I can see myself wanting to use to visualise it, as the boxes feel much more intuitive to me (feel free to disagree Crey
). It looks very akin to the way a tiling window manager
looks and feels, which would make sense seeing as I use one and so have developed an intuition for that kind of layout.
That then brings me on to rethink the way it is read. I'm thinking a system of reading in columns (top-to-bottom; left-to-right) would work well. Where in the embedded clause or verb section, a column is split part way through, each of those smaller columns is read in order. This would mean that the abomination above would be read as this:
"LIM dusk i ACC -ACC DEF fox quick brown i PROG smoke i Jeff POS pipe- i SUPE PST jump i NOM DEF dog lazy"
I made a little diagram showing the path through the text too if it is of any use to people:
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how this project is coming along. I'll continue working on grammatical content for now, and I'll get on to phonologies and words and things later on, at which point the language could start becoming reeeeeaaaly
interesting, as I could finally start to see how the language looks and feels.
One concern I have though, is translating from the language back to English or even just a gloss. It wouldn't be too hard when looking at the language when written down, but if you heard a passage of it, how would you be able to discern the order of branches and so on? I feel like the language would be very much a primarily written language, but I feel like attempts to make it properly understandable when spoken could require introducing piles of particles to mark splits and so on. The writing no longer stores the speech; the speech describes the writing.
Now, I've been working on this one post on and off all afternoon, so it has become really rather long, but since starting the post, I've had more ideas. I want the layout to try and follow the columns strictly. By always having at least one "header" box at the top of each column, column boundaries become almost trivial. I think, when modifying a single block, vertical comes first, so you get stuff like this:
Where the one with the asterisk is the block being modified. This is easy to follow, and makes sense considering the more column-based reading order.
I think I'm going to stop myself here as I've been sitting on this one post for hours. It would probably be better to try and break it up more. Next, I'll work on more list-based items. I'm thinking articles first, then tense and aspect. I might
look into moods, but I'm not sure yet. I've got a relatively good idea about how to expand possibilities for verbs though - but that can wait for another time.