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

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

Post by LinguoFranco » 13 Aug 2016 01:30

Xing wrote:
LinguoFranco wrote:One more question.

What exactly is the antipassive voice? I know it is a feature in ergative languages.

I couldn't find much on it through Google, and I appreciate examples of how it works.

Basically, what Micamo said.

English is relatively liberal when it comes to valency-change in verbs. Many verbs can be both transitive and intransitivt, without morphological change. For instance, the verb "eat".

I'm eating.
I'm eating the fish.

In some languages (like our made-up lang below) you would have different forms of the word "eat", depending on whether it appears in a transitive or and intransitive clause. The verb "eat", might, for instance in itself always be transitive, and require an object:


ul-eg nak-o tser
1s-ERG fish-ABS eat
"I'm eating the fish."

If you'd like to use it without an object, you might have to use the antipassive form of the verb:

ul-o tser-kib
1s-ERG eat-ANTIPASSIVE
"I'm eating."

Antipassive voices are especially useful in ergative languages (though they are also found in accusative languages:

ul-o tser
I-ABS eat
"I'm being eaten"

In our little language, in this kind of sentence, the subject might be interpreted as the patient. Or, alternatively, it might be interpreted as a regular transitive sentence, with the subject dropped. So that the meaning might be "I'm being eaten", or something like that. Note that it does not have to be so – it may be different from language to language, and from verb to verb in a single language. But of this "problem" arises in a language, the use of an antipassive voice could help to distinguish between "I'm eating" and "I'm being eaten".

In an ergative language, it might sometimes be required that the subject in in the absolutive case, for various syntactic reasons. (Just like, in an accusative language, there might be syntactic reasons why we would like to put the patient in the nominative case, or "subject position".)

The use of an antipassive voice can also serve other, more pragmatic functions. A passive voice can serve to down-play the role of the agent: The deer was shot (by whom???) In a corresponding, but opposite way, the use of an antipassive voice can serve to emphasise the role of the agent. A sentence like "Peter shoots" might this have pragmatic undertones like Peter is involved in shooting (at what??) – the agents involvement in the action is the important thing; the target of the shooting, or the result, is less important.
Thanks!

So why is the antipassive example ul-o instead of ul-eg? I noticed you have the same case for both "I am eating" and "I am being eaten" -obut why did you say one is ergative while the other is absolutive? So do "kib" in the antipassive example mark the voice while the example below it is the "default" and without such a case marking would be passive by default?

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

Post by Sumelic » 13 Aug 2016 02:57

LinguoFranco wrote:
Xing wrote: In some languages (like our made-up lang below) you would have different forms of the word "eat", depending on whether it appears in a transitive or and intransitive clause. The verb "eat", might, for instance in itself always be transitive, and require an object:

ul-eg nak-o tser
1s-ERG fish-ABS eat
"I'm eating the fish."

ul-o tser-kib
1s-ERG eat-ANTIPASSIVE
"I'm eating."

ul-o tser
I-ABS eat
"I'm being eaten"
Thanks!

So why is the antipassive example ul-o instead of ul-eg? I noticed you have the same case for both "I am eating" and "I am being eaten" -obut why did you say one is ergative while the other is absolutive? So do "kib" in the antipassive example mark the voice while the example below it is the "default" and without such a case marking would be passive by default?
Like you, I would expect the subject of an antipassive verb to take absolutive marking in a language with ergative alignment of pronouns, since antipassives are a type of intransitive verb. I'm not sure why Xing put the subject in the ergative case.

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

Post by Xing » 13 Aug 2016 09:09

Sorry, I just made an error in the glosses. It should of course be the ABS in both the antipassive and the regular intransitive.

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

Post by Ear of the Sphinx » 14 Aug 2016 18:39

clawgrip wrote:
OTʜᴇB wrote:English. [ɕ] (if I'm not mistaken) is like that in "shield" and "shard" so it's easy. As far as I know, [ɬ] isn't even in English, or my dialect (RP with a bit of South West) of English.
No English accent that I know of uses [ɕ] for /ʃ/. In fact, speaking of Japanese, using [ʃ] for /ɕ/ in Japanese is common for English speakers and is conspicuously foreign-sounding. Same goes for the reverse, Japanese speakers using [ɕ] for English /ʃ/. This is my experience.
Estelle uses something close to [ɕ] in this song, she has a strong British accent, however.

If my impression is correct, British accents tend to palatalise the postalveolars much more than, say, American accents (which, in turn, sometimes turn them into retroflexes).
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Post by Omzinesý » 15 Aug 2016 23:50

HoskhMatriarch wrote:Don't (probably a small number of) languages also have (productive) zero-derived antipassives or antipassives that are formed by deleting the object agreement morpheme as well though?
That's an interesting note!
Do you have an example? Does some linguist analyse it as an antipassive?

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

Post by MrKrov » 17 Aug 2016 12:20

What could condition a differential object marking split besides animacy or definiteness?

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

Post by Frislander » 17 Aug 2016 12:45

MrKrov wrote:What could condition a differential object marking split besides animacy or definiteness?
In Finnish it's telic vs. atelic actions: "I read the book" v.s. "I was reading a book"

I think success is a possibility: "I kicked the cat" vs. "I kicked at the cat".

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Post by Salmoneus » 17 Aug 2016 15:19

Frislander wrote:
MrKrov wrote:What could condition a differential object marking split besides animacy or definiteness?
In Finnish it's telic vs. atelic actions: "I read the book" v.s. "I was reading a book"

I think success is a possibility: "I kicked the cat" vs. "I kicked at the cat".
Yes. More generally, you're looking at differences in the level of transitivity.

According to WP, Hopper and Thompson give 10 characteristics of transitivity:
1. two or more participants
2. action involved
3. telicity
4. punctuality
5. volition
6. affirmation
7. realis mood
8. high potency of agent
9. object is highly affected
10. object is highly individuated

So you may have different object marking if:
a) only one participant (i.e. for reflexives)
b) no action involved (eg. verbs of perception or attitude) or perhaps little action (eg. communicative verbs - English "I punched him" but "I talked TO him")
c) action is not telic
d) action is not punctual (so the equivalent of, say, "I kicked him" vs "I was kicking at him")
e) involuntary actions (so "the car smashed the lamppost (intentionally)" vs "the car smashed into the lamppost (when it crashed)")
f) negations
g) irrealis moods ("I ate it" but "I would eat from it if I could" or "I wonder whether he ate from it")
h) low potency of agent (i.e. low animacy)
i) object is not affected (eg failed actions or non-transformative verbs, like "worship") or only partly affected (eg incomplete actions)
j) object is not individuated (eg a mass noun, or perhaps just an indefinite noun).

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

Post by Creyeditor » 17 Aug 2016 16:58

Salmoneus wrote:
Frislander wrote:
MrKrov wrote:What could condition a differential object marking split besides animacy or definiteness?
In Finnish it's telic vs. atelic actions: "I read the book" v.s. "I was reading a book"

I think success is a possibility: "I kicked the cat" vs. "I kicked at the cat".
Yes. More generally, you're looking at differences in the level of transitivity.

According to WP, Hopper and Thompson give 10 characteristics of transitivity:
1. two or more participants
2. action involved
3. telicity
4. punctuality
5. volition
6. affirmation
7. realis mood
8. high potency of agent
9. object is highly affected
10. object is highly individuated

So you may have different object marking if:
a) only one participant (i.e. for reflexives)
b) no action involved (eg. verbs of perception or attitude) or perhaps little action (eg. communicative verbs - English "I punched him" but "I talked TO him")
c) action is not telic
d) action is not punctual (so the equivalent of, say, "I kicked him" vs "I was kicking at him")
e) involuntary actions (so "the car smashed the lamppost (intentionally)" vs "the car smashed into the lamppost (when it crashed)")
f) negations
g) irrealis moods ("I ate it" but "I would eat from it if I could" or "I wonder whether he ate from it")
h) low potency of agent (i.e. low animacy)
i) object is not affected (eg failed actions or non-transformative verbs, like "worship") or only partly affected (eg incomplete actions)
j) object is not individuated (eg a mass noun, or perhaps just an indefinite noun).
It would be so cool, to have hundreds of different object markers for different combinations of these [:)]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » 18 Aug 2016 23:14

So are tenseless strictly necessary for languages?

Mine is agglutinative, but Idk if I want tenses. Are there any examples of natlangs like this?

Also, if I include tenses, I will have present, recent past, and remote past, but it seems like a lot of languages lack a future tense and are rather past and non-past. Why is this?

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Post by Salmoneus » 19 Aug 2016 00:59

To the first question: all languages have ways of indicating position in time, but lots of them do not have morphosyntactic tenses. Malay, for instance, is one of the ten most spoken languages on the planet, and does not have tense.


To the second question, I can think of two answers, one practical and one philosophical (or, pragmatic and semantic if you prefer):

- the true present is very rarely useful. It makes sense, therefore, to combine it with either past or future. From a pragmatic point of view, the past/nonpast distinction is more important than the future/nonfuture one, because past/nonpast defines whether things can be altered or influenced - what is past is done, but what is ongoing or in the future can be changed. So past/nonpast systems are likely to be more common.

- the future, meanwhile, isn't really a tense at all. Or it is, but only as a cheat, a way to talk about something important within a tense-prominent system. Semantically, however, we can't really talk in the indicative about the future, because there's no fact of the matter about what will or won't happen in the future - it's all hypothesis, preference, conditionals, fears, promises, etc, not set in stone (or maybe it is, according to some physicists, but the point is that it may as well not be from the point of view of human observers, as it is unknowable). Therefore there will always be a tendency to blur the line between the 'future tense' and various irrealis moods. So English's periphrastic 'future tense', for instance, derives from and probably is still better conceived of as a series of modal expressions.

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Post by LinguoFranco » 19 Aug 2016 01:32

Salmoneus wrote:To the first question: all languages have ways of indicating position in time, but lots of them do not have morphosyntactic tenses. Malay, for instance, is one of the ten most spoken languages on the planet, and does not have tense.


To the second question, I can think of two answers, one practical and one philosophical (or, pragmatic and semantic if you prefer):

- the true present is very rarely useful. It makes sense, therefore, to combine it with either past or future. From a pragmatic point of view, the past/nonpast distinction is more important than the future/nonfuture one, because past/nonpast defines whether things can be altered or influenced - what is past is done, but what is ongoing or in the future can be changed. So past/nonpast systems are likely to be more common.

- the future, meanwhile, isn't really a tense at all. Or it is, but only as a cheat, a way to talk about something important within a tense-prominent system. Semantically, however, we can't really talk in the indicative about the future, because there's no fact of the matter about what will or won't happen in the future - it's all hypothesis, preference, conditionals, fears, promises, etc, not set in stone (or maybe it is, according to some physicists, but the point is that it may as well not be from the point of view of human observers, as it is unknowable). Therefore there will always be a tendency to blur the line between the 'future tense' and various irrealis moods. So English's periphrastic 'future tense', for instance, derives from and probably is still better conceived of as a series of modal expressions.
I see. That makes sense.

I figured it had to with the future being less certain, which isn't far from your response.

Originally, I had three tenses (past, present, and future) and past and future were divided between between "recent" and "distant. It seems to make more sense to divide up the past tense like that, but not the future due to the uncertainty of the future and most references of the future would more likely be recent since it is more relevant to everyday life and the closer it the future is, the higher the certainty.

Idk if I'm making any sense.

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Post by Keenir » 19 Aug 2016 04:01

LinguoFranco wrote:So are tenseless strictly necessary for languages?

Mine is agglutinative, but Idk if I want tenses. Are there any examples of natlangs like this?
there are plenty of tenseless languages; but I don't know if many of them are also agglutinative. that would be cool, though.
Also, if I include tenses, I will have present, recent past, and remote past, but it seems like a lot of languages lack a future tense and are rather past and non-past. Why is this?
because they cheat, and talk about the future either by referring to it, or with non-tense features of the language. ("why yes, we would be happy to walk your dog.")
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Post by loglorn » 19 Aug 2016 04:24

I've checked WALS and approximately 12% of the languages who had values for all the features in question were purely agglutinative and tenseless. This may or may not be accurate because i'm not sure how well WALS "exclusively concatenative" value relates to what we mean by agglutinative.

For the record, i used features 20A, 66A and 67A for that.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by clawgrip » 19 Aug 2016 04:33

Past and present are known and verifiable, while the future can never be known with certainty*. Therefore, the future is often not differentiated using the same means as is used to distinguish past and present. Since present actions are often in progress and thus are continuing into the future, the present tense is often a natural choice for marking the future as well, giving us a nonpast tense. This tense may be further augmented by modals that indicate the degree of certainty, method of inference, etc.

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

Post by LinguoFranco » 19 Aug 2016 18:13

Any tips on making an isolating/analytical language grammatically interesting?

I think isolating languages are ideal as an auxlang or lingua Franca but I find them boring to create.

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Post by k1234567890y » 19 Aug 2016 18:20

LinguoFranco wrote:Any tips on making an isolating/analytical language grammatically interesting?

I think isolating languages are ideal as an auxlang or lingua Franca but I find them boring to create.
you can simply get rid of adpositions and conjunctions and use the combination of verbs and nouns instead.

Case endings are likely to be from adpositions, and adpositions are likely to be eventually from nouns and verbs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_verb_construction < consider to use this (:

you can consider to use verbs like "be.located" to replace "at", "go" or "give" to replace "to", "be.located the root belonging.to" to replace "from" etc., and phrases like "be.located the back belonging.to that" to replace "after(conjugation)". "be.located the back belonging.to" to replace "after(adposition)", "be.at the time" to replace "when(as a conjugation)", etc. and you can use an adjective meaning "some" or "many" as a plural marker.
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.

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

Post by LinguoFranco » 19 Aug 2016 18:23

k1234567890y wrote:
LinguoFranco wrote:Any tips on making an isolating/analytical language grammatically interesting?

I think isolating languages are ideal as an auxlang or lingua Franca but I find them boring to create.
you can simply get rid of adpositions and conjunctions and use the combination of verbs and nouns instead.

Case endings are likely to be from adpositions, and adpositions are likely to be eventually from nouns and verbs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_verb_construction < consider to use this (:

you can consider to use phrases like "be.at the back belonging.to that" to replace "after", "be.at the time" to replace "when(as a conjugation)", etc. and you can use an adjective meaning "some" or "many" as a plural marker.
Thanks!

I want to use cases, but idk if that counts as inflection. I know isolating languages can have a little bit of inflection, but I want a purely isolating conlang.

I've also considered using a pitch accent like what Japanese has instead of a fully tonal system like Mandarin.

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

Post by k1234567890y » 19 Aug 2016 18:27

LinguoFranco wrote:
Thanks!

I want to use cases, but idk if that counts as inflection. I know isolating languages can have a little bit of inflection, but I want a purely isolating conlang.

I've also considered using a pitch accent like what Japanese has instead of a fully tonal system like Mandarin.
(:

case endings are inflections unless you use adpositions instead, adpositions are independent words that can function the same.

there are languages like Hebrew that use adpositions to mark direct objects(in case of Hebrew, it is only used on definite direct objects, proper nouns and pronouns though)

and your idea that uses tones to indicate inflections can work, there are few languages using solely tones to mark grammatical informations: http://wals.info/chapter/20
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.

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

Post by LinguoFranco » 19 Aug 2016 18:32

k1234567890y wrote:
LinguoFranco wrote:
Thanks!

I want to use cases, but idk if that counts as inflection. I know isolating languages can have a little bit of inflection, but I want a purely isolating conlang.

I've also considered using a pitch accent like what Japanese has instead of a fully tonal system like Mandarin.
(:

case endings are inflections unless you use adpositions instead, adpositions are independent words that can function the same.

there are languages like Hebrew that use adpositions to mark direct objects(in case of Hebrew, it is only used on definite direct objects, proper nouns and pronouns though)

and your idea that uses tones to indicate inflections can work, there are few languages using solely tones to mark grammatical informations: http://wals.info/chapter/20
I did something like that with one of my older conlangs where a pitch accent was used to mark a noun's gender and a verb's tense.

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