The Takur languages

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Yrusia
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The Takur languages

Post by Yrusia » 04 Sep 2019 10:40

Hi all! Long-time listener, (basically) first time caller. This thread will be about a family of languages I’ve been working on since late 2017. I started working on Proto-Takur, or Project Lily, in this speedlanging challenge in 2017, but coming on 2 years now, it’s by no means a speedlang anymore. In-universe, Proto-Takur was spoken by a seafaring culture that eventually came to settle the northern half of the continent of Tíkrí (also called Ǎt Tír, amongst other names). The Takur family has 4 main descendants, which will eventually hopefully become parent languages of their own daughter families. In this post, I’ll outline the phonology and some basic grammar of 2 closely related daughter languages: Ottóxzhé Gédkerna (called Gédkerna or Gédker for short), and Old Tuókěn.

Ottóxzhé Gétkerna, literally, The Speech of the People of Tégré(=Tíkrí), is spoken among the highlands in the center of the continent. Gétkerna culture features a strong horse-riding culture, but of the vocabulary for animal domestication (and, for that matter, many large animals) come from heavy influence from a substrate language that I’m never going to make was never recorded.

Consonants
/m n ɲ/ m n ñ
/p tʰ t kʰ k ʔ/ b t d k g '
/f s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ/ f s z sh zh x ɣ
/ɾ j w/ r y w

Aspirated and nonaspirated stops are only contrastive before vowels or at the end of a word.

Stops can also be geminated, usually from an adjacent fricative (e.g. ottóxzhé 'speech, language', from Project Lily *ztó'osé).

Vowels
/ɐ e~ə~ɪ ʌ/ a e o
/aː eː oː/ aa ee oo
/a͡ɪ e͡ɪ o͡ɪ/ ai ei oi

All vowels can also be nasalised:
/ɐ̃ ẽ~ə̃~ɪ̃ ʌ̃/ ą ę į
etc.

/e eː/ is much more common than other vowels, so there is significant allophony based on tone and stress, but I haven't totally worked out the kinks yet.

Tone
Short vowels are either high or low tone:
/ɐ́ ɐ̀ ɐ́ ɐ̀/ á a ą́ ą

Long vowels and diphthongs distinguish between high, low, rising, and falling tones:
/áː àː ǎː âː/ áá aa aá áa


Old Tuókěn, also called Estuôźí Gé’ne (“Our Language”), was spoken in Heótien, the riverbeds to the east of Gédker, at the golden age of Early Heótien literature. As you may have guessed, it is the ancestor of Tuókěn (cognate with the endonym).

Out of universe, after creating Tuókěn, I was daunted by the sharp departures it made from its agglutinative protolang, so I backtracked to find a middle ground where I could sort out some goddamn patterns before chopping off the beginning and end of every word. I’m also going to rework Tuókěn pretty soon, having dissected it already by analyzing Old Tuókěn, so the names and words you see here will likely be different by the time it’s ready to share.

Unfortunately for poor Tuókěn readers, Old Tuókěn was also when Tuókěn writing was last codified. [}:D]

Consonants
/m n ŋ/ m n ŋ
/p b t d k g q ʔ/ p b t d k g q '
/f s z s̺ z̺ ɹ x ɣ h/ f s z ś ź r x ɣ h

Nothing especially interesting to see here. I’m not totally sure on the pronunciation of <r> yet, since in most relatives it’s either /r/ or /ɾ/, but in its descendant, it will be /ɹ~ʒ/. Also, strings of –‘C- are too common in Old Tuókěn for my tastes, so I might say that the glottal stop is pronounced /h/ before consonants or word-finally. Either way, it will merge with /h/ after vowels to become a high tone marker.

Vowels
/a e i o u/ a e i o u
/aː eː iː oː uː/ aa ee ii oo uu

Any two short vowels can occur as a diphthong.

Tone
Any vowel can be any tone, though short vowels with contour tones are uncommon.
/á ǎ à â/ á ǎ a â
/áː ǎː àː âː/ aá aǎ aa aâ

Grammar
Gédkerna and Old Tuókěn both lean heavily on verbs, which often cover large semantic ground, and have a complex TAM system, including polypersonal marking and two separate stems for progressive and non-progressive tenses. (I’ll go into the history of this system soon). They are both VSO languages, heavily pro-drop, and are both ergative. Gédkerna has preserved an animate-inanimate distinction, which has developed into split ergativity as well, but Old Tuókěn has lost the animate class entirely, save for a few nonproductive derivations and irregular nouns.

Soon I'll put up a discussion of Tuókěn and Gédkerna verbs, with some vocabulary (so y'all can look for cognates), and maybe even examples!

Yrusia
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Re: The Takur languages

Post by Yrusia » 15 Sep 2019 23:14

Hi everyone! This update took longer than I expected, but I’m back with exciting grammar things

A History of Eastern Takur Verbs, or, a Tale of Two Coverbs

Eastern Takur languages such as Ottoxsh Getkerna and Tuoken have very different verbal systems than their Western counterparts (e.g. Hátu’s Mánn and Hotí'θi, which y’all will meet…eventually), but they both come from the same origin. In order to see where Eastern Takur languages split off, we’ll have to go back to Proto-Takur.

Back in the days of yore, the speakers of Proto-Takur (likely called *ztó’osé gé’n or *ztó’osé nonn, “our speech” or “the people’s speech” respectively) were equipped with a whopping…7 verbs. That’s it. Here they are.

(PAST/NONPAST)
HAVE: b'o/poó
BE: sro/qo
GO: ner/neé
THINK/WANT: qrezo/qrezé
HIT: opóo/opógó
DO/MAKE/SAY: seté/betosé
PERCEIVE: pzóqo/póze

Besides declining for tense, they also declined for subject and object, with a separate system for intransitive verbs as well. Intransitive verbs show singular, dual, and plural numbers, but transitive verbs only distinguish singular vs. plural

As you can imagine, these verbs covered a lot of semantic material, and luckily they weren’t alone. Most declining verbs come with a coverb that comes before it and doesn’t decline at all:

*gépéb pzóqoeé
gépéb pzóqo-e-e
see PERCEIVE.PST-1s-2s
I saw you

(Note: *gépéb is also directly related to Old Tuoken gíffí and Gétkerna géffé ‘eye,’ as well as the word for eye or sight in other languages. Many coverbs have noun or adjective cognates, and most cognate borrowings are coverbs.)

*zóbzoéq eóñsé qrokn opóoós
zóbzo-é-q eóñs-é-Ø qrokn opóo-ó-s
dog-s-ERG cat-s-ABS tooth HIT.PST-3s-3s
The dog bit the cat

Declining verbs also give a bit of semantic detail. If the dog was eating or chewing the cat, you might use HAVE instead, as is common in handling verbs. If the emphasis was on the dog modifying the cat (maybe biting off a limb or creating some visible change), you might use DO/MAKE. If the dog was blind and was trying to probe the cat with its teeth, you would likely use PERCEIVE.

This system roughly stayed the same in Western Takur languages, and is arguably their most distinctive feature. However, in Eastern Takur languages, a few changes occurred. First, the entire verb moved from the end of the sentence to the beginning of the sentence.

Proto-Western Takur: *qrokn opóoós zóbféq eóñsé

This created a bit of a chain reaction. When the verb moved to the front of the sentence, two particles went with it: the negative particle, *bo, and a particle whos meaning is still argued, *é. Eventually, *bo became reanalyzed as a negative coverb, and *é became a sort of progressive affix on the coverb.

*(qrokn) bo opóoós zóbféq eóñsé ‘the dog didn’t bite the cat’

*qrokné opóoós zóbféq eóñsé ‘the dog was biting the cat’

They could even both occur at the same time:

*qrokn boé opóoós zóbféq eóñsé ‘the dog wasn’t biting the cat’

Pretty soon, those generic verbs began to take on grammatical meaning, not just semantic meaning. In Old Tuoken, HAVE began to mark the perfect, while in Gétkerna it was an inchoative. In fact, the progressive marker made things worse – not only did the generic verbs mark TAM, but that pesky little *-é did too. Usually, it now shows up as some sort of ablaut or consonant change rather than an affix, but it’s still there.

Nowadays, every verb in Old Tuoken has 2 forms: a progressive stem (originally vowel-final) and a non-progressive (consonant-final) stem, for different tenses. In Gétkerna, every tense has progressive and nonprogressive forms. Of course (of course!), by now, the generic verb and coverb had properly merged, into a single word. I think I’ll call this newfangled idea…a verb.

I hope this was interesting! Let me know what you think (esp since some parts of this dance between ANADEW and implausible) or if you have any questions. Next up will likely be a more in-depth exploration of Old Tuoken verbs and which generic verbs went where. I might get around to updating/sharing Ottoxsh Getkerna first, since I’ve made some changes rather recently (believe it or not, this system used to be even more complex, with 8-10 generic verbs and 3 tenses in the protolang)

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eldin raigmore
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Re: The Takur languages

Post by eldin raigmore » 17 Sep 2019 01:30

a Tale of Two Coverbs
I definitely like it so far. It at least seems realistic and naturalistic, to me. I think I’d be willing to bet it’s sort of close to something ANADEWish, though I don’t know what.

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Vlürch
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Re: The Takur languages

Post by Vlürch » 18 Sep 2019 11:54

Yrusia wrote:
15 Sep 2019 23:14
If the dog was eating or chewing the cat, you might use HAVE instead, as is common in handling verbs. If the emphasis was on the dog modifying the cat (maybe biting off a limb or creating some visible change), you might use DO/MAKE.
T-the poor cat... [:'(] Seriously, though, that's a cool system you have. Based on everything you've posted so far, for some reason this stuff is somewhat reminiscent of some Caucasian and Native American languages in a way, even without ejectives or rare consonants. I don't know why those are the first types of languages that come to my mind from this, but they are and it's not a bad thing.

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