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

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

Post by Creyeditor » 26 Oct 2017 21:58

Could you give an example sentence with an old and a derived form? I find it hard to wrap my head around it without an example.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ashtăr Balynestjăr » 26 Oct 2017 22:44

Suppose that the old simple past gave way to a progressive form like English “was X-ing”.

hasate riba-ma kudi
farmer till-PST field

hasate li-ma riba-n kudi
farmer COP-PST till-GER field

After syncope of unstressed vowels, the copula became a clitic attached onto the noun.
haste=ľ-ma riba-n kuď
farmer=COP-PST till-GER field

Then, the tense suffix on the copula is sent back to the verb as a prefix, and the stem becomes the nominative ending.
haste-ľ ma-riban kuď-Ø
farmer-NOM PST-till field-ACC
Last edited by Ashtăr Balynestjăr on 26 Oct 2017 23:54, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » 26 Oct 2017 23:50

Oh, wow, I think if you go via progressive constructions it totally makes sense. Maybe you could even make the nominative marker have different etymologies (but being formally the same) depending on the aspect/tense. Think that maybe i.e. English 'has' and 'is' could neutralize to '-s'.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 27 Oct 2017 00:28

Could a sound change undergo phonemicization even if its environment doesn't change? This is a problem I have with developing certain phonemes, such as affricates, in environments like "intervocalic" and "before back vowels".
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » 27 Oct 2017 00:37

If other processes introduce contrasting phones, then yes. For example, if a language's plosives are /p t k/ and they voice intervocalically, the resulting are not phonemic. But if that change stops being productive in the language's morphophonology, things like derivation (or borrowing) could well create new instances of [p t k] between vowels. As soon as you get minimal pairs, voilà, a new phonemic contrast.

Let's have these hypothetical words change like so:
[aka] > [aga]
[ak] > [ak]

Then [ak] takes the suffix [a], giving [aka] and creating a phonemic contrast with [aga].

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

Post by sangi39 » 27 Oct 2017 01:16

Dormouse559 wrote:If other processes introduce contrasting phones, then yes. For example, if a language's plosives are /p t k/ and they voice intervocalically, the resulting are not phonemic. But if that change stops being productive in the language's morphophonology, things like derivation (or borrowing) could well create new instances of [p t k] between vowels. As soon as you get minimal pairs, voilà, a new phonemic contrast.

Let's have these hypothetical words change like so:
[aka] > [aga]
[ak] > [ak]

Then [ak] takes the suffix [a], giving [aka] and creating a phonemic contrast with [aga].


Additionally, later sound changes could create a new phonemic contrast, which can be seen with the first and second palatalisation in Proto-Slavic.

At first, velars become palatalised before short and long *i and *e as well as before *j, which is common enough, but at this point the resulting sounds were only partially phonemic thanks to the loss of *j after the new palatal sounds. If you ignore the instances involving *j however, this means you've got velars before back vowels and palatals before front vowels.

After this, diphthongs are simplified, e.g. *oj and *aj to *i and *e which created new instances of velars before front vowels contrasting with palatals before front vowels...

Although I get the feeling I might not have answered the question that was actually being asked.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 27 Oct 2017 01:33

Well see, I have S/A/_B where S=stop and A=affricate before B=back vowels, but there aren't really any situations where that environment changes, especially word-initially.

For example, there is the aspect prefixes *śu- and *tu- that go before the tense prefixes *ā- *ō- respectively (and the tense affixes drop eventually). They're supposed to undergo affrication in descendant languages but they can't become affricate phonemes because the back vowel in that environment doesn't become non-back.

I wonder if they can be phonemicized through the process of analogy where the allophone is carried over to a different environment, as, for example, a proto-verb in non-past tense, *ō-lḗtu is supposed to eventually become lutsats
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » 27 Oct 2017 03:41

Well, my "other processes" list was by no means comprehensive. Analogy is also a valid way to add contrasts. I think your idea sounds fine.

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

Post by sangi39 » 27 Oct 2017 03:53

Do back vowels become non-back in any environments at all in the language after triggering affrication?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 27 Oct 2017 03:59

sangi39 wrote:Do back vowels become non-back in any environments at all in the language after triggering affrication?
Yes, long /uː/ becomes /əw/in open syllables while short /ɔ ʊ/ become /ə ɨ/ in closed syllables in Old Takshian. Although Old Takshian and Himoshian also tend to have open syllables which is where most of the affricates are found.

Old Takshian derives /ts͡ dz͡ tɬ͡ dɮ͡/ from Himoshian /t d ɬ ɮ/ through back vowels, but no large-scale elision is supposed to occur between the ancestor and descendant.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » 27 Oct 2017 05:04

And do those sound changes create any instances where, say, /tə tɨ/ might contrast with /tsə tsɨ/? (perhaps through non-back vowels merging into /ə ɨ/ as well)
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 27 Oct 2017 05:23

sangi39 wrote:And do those sound changes create any instances where, say, /tə tɨ/ might contrast with /tsə tsɨ/? (perhaps through non-back vowels merging into /ə ɨ/ as well)
Yes, /tæ tɛ tɪ/ becomes /ta tə tɨ/ while /tɑ tɔ tʊ/ becomes /tsa tsə tsɨ/ but both cases are only in closed syllables, which are rare. I would only have affricates word medially in a CVCVC type word and initially in a CVC type word, but not have them word finally or initially.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » 27 Oct 2017 05:39

That's really not that bad. A number of languages have phonemes restricted to certain environments, even restricting them to the interiors of words. I can't remember an example off the top of my head, but I seem to recall a language that has both /r/ and /l/ but /r/ cannot appear word-initially while both are able to appear as syllable onsets word-internally.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Frislander » 27 Oct 2017 14:45

Creyeditor wrote:Oh, wow, I think if you go via progressive constructions it totally makes sense. Maybe you could even make the nominative marker have different etymologies (but being formally the same) depending on the aspect/tense. Think that maybe i.e. English 'has' and 'is' could neutralize to '-s'.
*furiously scribbles down ideas for future-English conlang*
sangi39 wrote:That's really not that bad. A number of languages have phonemes restricted to certain environments, even restricting them to the interiors of words. I can't remember an example off the top of my head, but I seem to recall a language that has both /r/ and /l/ but /r/ cannot appear word-initially while both are able to appear as syllable onsets word-internally.
Maybe Basque perhaps? Or maybe an Australian language (this kind of thing is ridiculously common in those languages).

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

Post by sangi39 » 28 Oct 2017 00:50

The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sumelic » 28 Oct 2017 00:58

sangi39 wrote:The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
I think many Australian languages, which often have large coronal inventories with things like distinct dental, alveolar, retroflex and alveolopalatar series, don't allow the retroflex plosives to occur word-initially. Not allowing the rhotic liquid to occur word-initially actually seems to show up fairly widely (although not all that commonly as a synchronic constraint in present-day languages) in various Eurasian languages: I think it's been postulated for PIE and Proto-Japonic, and as a feature of the "Altaic" languages in general. The following paper about "r" in Japanese mentions some typological comparisons: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs ... 5/document

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

Post by sangi39 » 28 Oct 2017 03:33

Sumelic wrote:
sangi39 wrote:The Australian languages were the ones I was thinking of initially, but I couldn't remember what restrictions they had. I think it was something to do with the plosives
I think many Australian languages, which often have large coronal inventories with things like distinct dental, alveolar, retroflex and alveolopalatar series, don't allow the retroflex plosives to occur word-initially. Not allowing the rhotic liquid to occur word-initially actually seems to show up fairly widely (although not all that commonly as a synchronic constraint in present-day languages) in various Eurasian languages: I think it's been postulated for PIE and Proto-Japonic, and as a feature of the "Altaic" languages in general. The following paper about "r" in Japanese mentions some typological comparisons: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs ... 5/document
This was what I was thinking about (suddenly remembered it):

"Australian languages typically favour peripheral consonants word- and syllable-initially, and they are not allowed or common word- and syllable-finally, unlike the apicals."

... which seems to support the non-initial retroflex plosive idea (might vary from language to language, or course, since I'm sure I've seen <rt> occur word-initially, possibly in Western Desert).

Oo, and let's not forget the prohibition against root-internal clicks in some languages (ǃXóõ, for example, has a strict limit on this, with only /b j l m n ɲ/ occurring within a root).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 28 Oct 2017 05:04

This way could work to create phonemic distinctions in environments where they would have been allophonic?
tun > tsun
taun > tun
xin > shin
xain > xin
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » 28 Oct 2017 05:26

Ahzoh wrote:This way could work to create phonemic distinctions in environments where they would have been allophonic?
tun > tsun
taun > tun
xin > shin
xain > xin
Seems reasonable enough [:)]

IIRC, there's a term along the lines of "minimally phonemic" or "restricted phonemicity" which refers to a set of sounds that, in some or most environments, are distinct and phonemic, but in others are in complementary distribution. In the case of this language, the affricates would indeed be phonemic, since they do contrast with plosives in certain environments, but they just wouldn't, for historical reasons, appear in all environments that the plosives could (and vice versa). In other words, you might have words where /tu/ and /tsu/ contrast, but others where you might find that [tu] alternates with [tsu]. A good example of this might be Russian. For example, in roots, you can and do find contrasts between /d/ and /ʐ/ that don't alter at all, but in other words, like second conjugation verbs, /d/ alternates with /ʐ/ somewhat regularly.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 28 Oct 2017 08:12

I remember that chart for determining phonemicity and I wonder if palatal consonants (derived from palatalized velars) could be considered "phonetically distinct" enough from velars even if they are in complimentary distribution.
And what are some environments that cause vowels to shorten other than closed syllables and, conversely, what are environments that lengthen vowels other than open syllables, stress, and compensatory lengthening?
I wonder if there are also consonants that change based on the length of vowels.
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