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

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yangfiretiger121
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 » 15 Oct 2019 20:23

All4Ɇn wrote:
15 Oct 2019 19:02
Is it at all possible that a language currently spoken in Europe could lack the phoneme /j/ except in the case of loanwords? I'm having a hard time finding any languages which lack the sound.
It's more than possible due to being an accurate description of German, which has /ʝ/ rather than /j/ natively.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by All4Ɇn » 15 Oct 2019 21:05

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
15 Oct 2019 20:23
It's more than possible due to being an accurate description of German, which has /ʝ/ rather than /j/ natively.
Well I meant more in the sense of there not being any allophonic sounds for it. That definitely does get me closer to what I'm looking for though so thanks [:)]

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

Post by Ser » 16 Oct 2019 01:46

All4Ɇn wrote:
15 Oct 2019 19:02
Is it at all possible that a language currently spoken in Europe could lack the phoneme /j/ except in the case of loanwords? I'm having a hard time finding any languages which lack the sound.
Well, Spanish doesn't have /j/ (although it does have [j] as a glide following another consonant in the onset, e.g. /pie/ [pje] 'foot', /ˈkambio/ [ˈkambjo] 'change'). It doesn't have /w/ either (although, again, it has [w] in Cw onsets, e.g. /ˈmueɾ.te/ [ˈmweɾte]).

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

Post by cedh » 16 Oct 2019 09:19

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
15 Oct 2019 20:23
All4Ɇn wrote:
15 Oct 2019 19:02
Is it at all possible that a language currently spoken in Europe could lack the phoneme /j/ except in the case of loanwords? I'm having a hard time finding any languages which lack the sound.
It's more than possible due to being an accurate description of German, which has /ʝ/ rather than /j/ natively.
:?:
AFAIK (and I'm a native speaker), German does have /j/ but not /ʝ/, not even phonetic [ʝ] in most dialects.

However, German has /v/ but no /w/, but quite a number of people still use [w] in loanwords from English, even in semi-nativized ones (e.g. the computer software names Windows and Word are frequently pronounced as [ˈwɪndoːs] and [wœːt ~ wœɐ̯t] respectively), so there's at least a parallel to what All4Ɇn is asking about.

Creyeditor wrote:
14 Oct 2019 22:09
cedh wrote:
14 Oct 2019 11:50
Quick notation question:
[...]
So I'm looking for a way to indicate a triggering environment for vowel nasality that is (a) easy to understand, (b) does not clash with glossing for reduplication, and (c) can be used at both affix and clitic boundaries. Any suggestions?
[...]
For the second line, I usually just do the usual affix and clitic boundary, only sometimes an abbreviation of the morphophonological process. But I could also imagine using capital letters for the processes, similar to archiphonemes. It would look something like this.

Code: Select all

kearõru
kearo\N=ru
big  \=become.FG
'grow big'
You could then list this affix as \N=ru
Nice, I quite like this idea! Thanks for the suggestion (also to Vlürch and Shimo, of course)!

I think I'm going to settle on something like =ᴺru btw, which looks a bit more tidy to me.

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 » 16 Oct 2019 10:43

cedh wrote:
16 Oct 2019 09:19
yangfiretiger121 wrote:
15 Oct 2019 20:23
All4Ɇn wrote:
15 Oct 2019 19:02
Is it at all possible that a language currently spoken in Europe could lack the phoneme /j/ except in the case of loanwords? I'm having a hard time finding any languages which lack the sound.
It's more than possible due to being an accurate description of German, which has /ʝ/ rather than /j/ natively.
:?:
AFAIK (and I'm a native speaker), German does have /j/ but not /ʝ/, not even phonetic [ʝ] in most dialects.

However, German has /v/ but no /w/, but quite a number of people still use [w] in loanwords from English, even in semi-nativized ones (e.g. the computer software names Windows and Word are frequently pronounced as [ˈwɪndoːs] and [wœːt ~ wœɐ̯t] respectively), so there's at least a parallel to what All4Ɇn is asking about.
Wikipedia describes it as variable /j~ʝ/, actually—even using /j/ is the non-sibilant fricative row.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar » 16 Oct 2019 11:13

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
16 Oct 2019 10:43
cedh wrote:
16 Oct 2019 09:19
yangfiretiger121 wrote:
15 Oct 2019 20:23
All4Ɇn wrote:
15 Oct 2019 19:02
Is it at all possible that a language currently spoken in Europe could lack the phoneme /j/ except in the case of loanwords? I'm having a hard time finding any languages which lack the sound.
It's more than possible due to being an accurate description of German, which has /ʝ/ rather than /j/ natively.
:?:
AFAIK (and I'm a native speaker), German does have /j/ but not /ʝ/, not even phonetic [ʝ] in most dialects.

However, German has /v/ but no /w/, but quite a number of people still use [w] in loanwords from English, even in semi-nativized ones (e.g. the computer software names Windows and Word are frequently pronounced as [ˈwɪndoːs] and [wœːt ~ wœɐ̯t] respectively), so there's at least a parallel to what All4Ɇn is asking about.
Wikipedia describes it as variable /j~ʝ/, actually—even using /j/ is the non-sibilant fricative row.
Wikipedia also says that "There is no complete agreement about the nature of /j/".

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

Post by Pabappa » 16 Oct 2019 21:07

Italian comes close to lacking /j/, i think .... it's in the name Iago and probably not much else. Im not sure if words like voi are better analyzed as having /j/ or just /i/. (edit: hmm, i forgot about words like doppio. oh well. still /j/ has a fairly restricted distribution)

Some dialects of Spanish have /ʝ/ or even a palatal stop, but i think they still have [j] in diphthongs.
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

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

Post by Trailsend » 18 Oct 2019 03:01

Is there a technical term for a "what-about" question?

"Are you the murderer?" is a polar question.

"Who is the murderer?" is a non-polar question.

"Is Alice the murderer, or Bob?" is an alternative question.

"Alice is the murderer, isn't she?" is a leading question.

"Is Alice the what?!" is an echo question.

"I don't know who the murderer is," contains an indirect question.

Is there a name for the following kind of question?

"Is Alice the murderer?"
"No."
"What about Bob?"
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa » 18 Oct 2019 03:41

I dont know ... that looks to me like it would just be another type of polar question. It's context dependent, but the effect of the words is the same as in the first sentence.
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

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

Post by Trailsend » 18 Oct 2019 04:06

That's incidental to the example; consider this one.

"What did Alice bring to the archvillain convention?"
"A bunch of ridiculous death-ray variations, as usual."
"What about Bob?"

Same structure, but no longer polar.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser » 18 Oct 2019 07:37

Pabappa's observation is very relevant. A "what about" question can be classified in various of the other categories you provide.

"Is Alice the murderer?" "No." "What about Bob?" "Yes." (Polar and direct.)
"Who is the murderer?" "Alice." "And what about the driver that helped the murderer?" "Bob." (Content and direct.)
"Is Alice the murderer? What about Bob? What about Cecilia? What about David?" "None of them." (Alternative/Disjunctive? And direct. These seem kind of polar, but in a sequence like this, without awaiting a response, they seem more like alternative questions.)

Indirectly and when asking about content, it seems you'd need an indefinite pronoun: I don't know anything about the murderer. I want to know something about the murderer.

I don't think it can be transformed into an indirect polar or alternative question. "I want to know whether Alice is the murderer, also *about Bob." Here, "about" is ungrammatical if the intended sense is "I also want to know whether it's Bob instead".



When classifying questions it's best to identify the axes being used. The classic three axes (plus the echo axis) are:

- Type of information sought (type of knowledge gap): simple truth value ("polar"), open-ended information ("content"), information while providing/suggesting (mutually-exclusive or mutually-compatible) (exhaustive or non-exhaustive) choices ("alternative"). Multiple open-ended gaps also happen: "who did what?" ("multiple-content").

- A different axis of information type would be whether a question is seeking, or superficially seems to seek, information about the real world outside language, or a clarification of the utterance of something said ("echo").

- Syntactic formalism: the question is in the main clause ("direct"), or in a subordinate clause after verbs such as "find out" and "don't know" ("indirect"), or marked with an intonationally-distinct phrase that can seem in some cases like practically an after-thought ("tag", or sometimes "leading").

- Pragmatic functions. There's no common classification for these really, but the following could be mentioned:
- - In terms of discourse, things to do with conversation topic cues or turn taking.
- - - A question could be a way to give a signal to the listener to go back to an old topic in the conversation,
- - - or a way to introduce a new topic ("So we're good for the music; by the way, what about the lighting effects?"),
- - - or a way to bounce a question back ("what about you?"),
- - - or a way to just pass the talking turn in general.
- - - Something could also be said about questions in Socratic dialogues that guide the conversation in a certain direction.
- - Whether the speaker is expecting to receive new information from the listener as an answer, or is not expecting that ("rhetorical"). Rhetorical questions come in a wide variety of flavours. Some of these could probably count as pseudo-questions that are actually statements or imperatives/orders.
- - - Negative statements implying a negative indefinite pronoun can also be rendered with questions: "If you go to prison, who's going to hire you when you're free!?" = (almost) nobody's going to hire you.
- - - Many people ask themselves questions in inner dialogue that they know the answers for ("hmm, now what's the next step?").
- - - You can express shock with questions: "You did what!? Are you serious!?".
- - - You can insult with questions: "what are you, stupid or really stupid?".
- - - You can threaten with questions: "do you want me to make an example of you, or what?".
- - - You can do advertisements to sell a product with greater profit with questions: "Got milk?" (an actual, famous ad by the California Milk Processor Board).
- - - You can softly remind your children (or subordinates at work...) to do things with questions: "Trailsend, did you take out the trash?" (I know very well that you haven't).
- - - You can say controversial stuff during your news service but avoid a slander/libel lawsuit with questions: "Is the government spying on us?".
- - - Socratic dialogues, when the person playing Socrates already knows the answers anyway.
- - - It's common for languages to have exclamatives that look somewhat like (or the same as) questions: "How unbelievable that was!", "What a beautiful sunset!".

You can combine these axes in many ways in English.
- "Did you just say you want to ban who?!?" (one interpretation: content, echo, indirect, rhetorical expressing shock).
- "Anyway, did you say earlier that you want to talk about the event this weekend?" (one interpretation: polar, non-echo, direct, suggesting the listener to return to an old topic).



Indirect questions and rhetorical questions are especially interesting because they trigger thought about what the boundaries of what can count as a question are. For example, indirect questions are stereotypically inside a declarative construction--would they also count as questions inside an imperative, as in "tell me who is the murderer"? I gave an example of using questions to remind children about something softly--are all questions actually imperatives that imply "tell me about X"?

Chisholm, Milic and Greppin's (eds.) Interrogativity (1984) end their book with a chapter discussing the declarative-interrogative-imperative triangle. I will finish this post (already way longer than what I originally thought I was going to write) by quoting the following example gradients in that chapter:

FROM IMPERATIVE TO YES/NO QUESTION:
a. Pass the salt!
b. Please pass the salt.
c. Pass the salt, would you please?
d. Would you please pass the salt?
e. Could you please pass the salt?
f. Can you pass the salt?
g. Do you see the salt?
h. Is there any salt?

Amusingly, some of these questions would be socially pretty rude in English. It shows that telling people to do things with imperatives is not necessarily less polite than questions.

FROM DECLARATIVE TO YES/NO QUESTION:
a. Joe is at home.
b. Joe is at home, I think.
c. Joe is at home, right?
d. Joe is at home, isn't he?
e. Is Joe at home?

Since I know you might be curious, I'll also include the sample imperative-declarative gradient:

FROM IMPERATIVE TO DECLARATIVE:
a. Do it!
b. You might as well do it.
c. I suggest that you do it.
d. It would be nice if you did it.
e. It would be nice if it were done.
f. It needs to be done.

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

Post by Salmoneus » 18 Oct 2019 16:26

Notably, "what about" is basically a synonym here for "and".

"Is Alice the murderer?"
"No"
"And Bob?"

"What did Alice bring?"
"A death ray"
"And Bob?"


This has nothing to do with questions, per se. It's just topic-shifting - it's saying "Alice is no longer the topic, Bob is". And because it says nothing else, by implicature the natural reading is usually to import everything else - that is, to put 'Bob' where 'Alice' previously was. This works in both statements and questions:

"What did Alice bring?"
"A death ray"
"And (what did) Bob (bring)?"

Or:
"I want you to kill Alice. And (I want you to kill) Bob."

However, topic-shifting like this doesn't inherently require copying. Sometimes, the context encourages other readings:
"Alice has stabbed Bob. Take Alice to the police station"
"And Bob?"
- clearly here, because it's been clearly established by context that the situations of Alice and Bob are very different, we don't import "take... to the police station" but only "take...", or an implied "deal with...", mutatis mutandis. However, a stupid person, or a person making a joke, could indeed import "take... to the police station" here.


"What about..." just seems like a topic-shifting device unique to questions. A bunch of other constructions can be used either in questions or in statements - "and (?)", "the same goes for(?)", "mutatis mutandis(?)", etc. One can imagine that in a language where you couldn't just use any statement as a question by adding a rising intonation, some of these might be unique to non-questions.

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

Post by Trailsend » 19 Oct 2019 01:54

With regard to questions in particular, languages do this differently.

Spanish uses "¿Y _?", paralleling English's "And _?" method that Sal mentioned.

German uses "Was ist mit _?"

Mandarin uses "_呢?"


I guess what I'm wondering is whether, in the same way you can ask "How does this language form polar questions?", there's an established way to ask:

"How does this language form ___ questions?"

...such that for English, the response would be "You say What about <new topic>?", and for Mandarin the response would be "You say <new topic>呢?".


There doesn't appear to be a really pithy way, but Sal makes a great point: maybe there doesn't need to be. Maybe the question is just, "How do you use a question to shift the topic in this language?"
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 » 20 Oct 2019 14:48

My setting's Proto-Common language reconstructs with [m, ɱ, n, ŋ]. While [m, n, ŋ → b, d, g] are straight forward, I have but am unsure of [ɱ → v] right now. Is [ɱ → v] or [ɱ → p̪] more likely?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » 20 Oct 2019 15:28

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
20 Oct 2019 14:48
My setting's Proto-Common language reconstructs with [m, ɱ, n, ŋ]. While [m, n, ŋ → b, d, g] are straight forward, I have but am unsure of [ɱ → v] right now. Is [ɱ → v] or [ɱ → p̪] more likely?
[ɱ → v] is more likely, since [p̪] is rarer.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser » 20 Oct 2019 19:03

Trailsend wrote:
19 Oct 2019 01:54
There doesn't appear to be a really pithy way, but Sal makes a great point: maybe there doesn't need to be. Maybe the question is just, "How do you use a question to shift the topic in this language?"
I think it'd be nice to have such a term, but we don't. It's something that linguists often don't talk about, for example, I think none of my grammars of Standard Arabic mention how to do this.

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 » 23 Oct 2019 22:55

Thanks.

Earlier on, the sci-fi version of my setting's main language had [θ, ð, s~ʃ, z~ʒ]. From there, speakers merged {θ, s → θ̠}, merged {ð, z → ð̠}, lenited [ʃ, ʒ → ɹ̠̊˔, ɹ̠˔], and retroflexed [ɾʃ, ɾʒ → ɻ̊˔, ɻ˔]. I'm no longer confident in my original end point of [θ̠~ɹ̠̊˔, ð̠~ɹ̠˔, ɻ̊˔, ɻ˔] because it varies a non-palatalized sound with a palatalized sound while a second non-palatalized sound exists. Is [θ̠~ɹ̠̊˔, ð̠~ɹ̠˔, ɻ̊˔, ɻ˔] or [θ̠~ɻ̊˔, ð̠~ɻ˔, ɹ̠̊˔, ɹ̠˔] the more likely end point of these changes?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý » 26 Oct 2019 16:58

I once again made the phoneme inventory first and started thinking about morphological processes later.

So I have the consonant inventory below, and would like to have a Welsh-style system of word-initial consonant mutations. Ideas on how they could form a complete system?

pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ
b d ɟ g
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ
m n ɲ ŋ
s ɕ
l j w

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

Post by sangi39 » 26 Oct 2019 17:26

Omzinesý wrote:
26 Oct 2019 16:58
I once again made the phoneme inventory first and started thinking about morphological processes later.

So I have the consonant inventory below, and would like to have a Welsh-style system of word-initial consonant mutations. Ideas on how they could form a complete system?

pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ
b d ɟ g
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ
m n ɲ ŋ
s ɕ
l j w
b d ɟ g m n ɲ ŋ > pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ (aspirate mutation?)
pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ b d ɟ g > m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ m n ɲ ŋ (nasal mutation?)

I had thought maybe:

pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ b d ɟ g > b d ɟ g m n ɲ ŋ

in a similar manner to Irish eclipsis, but then I'm not sure you could have that and nasal mutation in the same system (unless you can think of a way to get two instances of nasal-related mutations to occur at different points, e.g. /-an pʰ-/ vs. /-ana pʰ-/ > /-a b-/ vs. /-an pʰ-/ > /-a b-/ vs. /-a m̥ʰ-/.

If you had /h/, you could probably add:

pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ > h s ɕ h

to the aspirate mutation.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » 26 Oct 2019 21:10

Omzinesý wrote:
26 Oct 2019 16:58
I once again made the phoneme inventory first and started thinking about morphological processes later.

So I have the consonant inventory below, and would like to have a Welsh-style system of word-initial consonant mutations. Ideas on how they could form a complete system?

pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ
b d ɟ g
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ
m n ɲ ŋ
s ɕ
l j w
Okay, so I'd like to look at the diachronic souce here. One idea is to have lenition as the historical source. This could stem from a set of vowel-final prefixes, where the vowel got deleted, but the lenition stays. I could imagine the following changes (assuming you want a ridiciously complete system). If you want both, maybe one could be triggered by vowel final and the other one by sonorant final prefixes.

Voicing lenition
pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ > b d ɟ g
b d ɟ g > w l j w
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ > m n ɲ ŋ
m n ɲ ŋ > w l j w
s ɕ > l j
l j w > ∅ ∅ ∅

Spirantization lenition
pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ > w s ɕ w
b d ɟ g > w l j w
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ > w s ɕ w
m n ɲ ŋ > w l j w
s ɕ > l j
l j w > ∅ ∅ ∅

Another one could be triggered by originally nasal-final prefixes. This would lead to strengthening in continuants, and nasalization in stops. Alternatively, you could get nasalization all over.

Post-nasal strengthening
pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ > m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ
b d ɟ g > m n ɲ ŋ
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ > m n ɲ ŋ
m n ɲ ŋ > ∅ ∅ ∅ ∅
s ɕ > t c
l j w > d ɟ b~g

Nasalization
pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ > m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ
b d ɟ g > m n ɲ ŋ
m̥ʰ n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ ŋ̥ʰ > m n ɲ ŋ
m n ɲ ŋ > ∅ ∅ ∅
s ɕ > n̥ʰ ɲ̥ʰ m̥ʰ
l j w > n ɲ m
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