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

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Does it make any sense to have a negative particle only for irrealis verbs? It's my understanding that Ancient Greek has this with μή, but I wasn't sure if that was the exact situation.

Lihmelinyan has two forms of "not": te and ta

te is for indicative
ta is for subjunctive/optative

ánkei te héti = he is not in the house (indicative)
ánkei ta hēti = he may not be in the house (subjunctive)

Any natlangs or conlangs that do something like this?
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Post by Creyeditor »

I have seen something similar, yet different in Oceanic languages. Any negated verb will be in the irrealis form. This kind of makes sense, since we talk about an event that does not take place, even though it probably could. I have never seen mood marked on the negation particle, but it doesn'tstrike me as unnaturalistic.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sequor »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote: 26 Sep 2020 06:31Does it make any sense to have a negative particle only for irrealis verbs?
I think it's fine, even if I don't know of a natlang example.

For what it's worth, Standard Arabic has four words for 'not':
لا laa - used with indicative present, subjunctive, jussive and imperative
ما maa - used with indicative past
لم lam - used with jussive to negate a verb with past semantics (a more formal alternative to maa)
لن lan - used with indicative present to negate a verb with future semantics

I'd like to direct your attention towards 'lan', to the extent one can say verbs in a future tense are 'irrealis'. 'Irrealis' marking is not limited to subjunctive/optative kinds of things: some languages effectively mark the expression of the future in verbs as irrealis, and/or also negated verbs in general.
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Post by DesEsseintes »

Ser wrote: 26 Sep 2020 08:34
لن lan - used with indicative present to negate a verb with future semantics
لن lan is used with the subjunctive, not the indicative.
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Post by Salmoneus »

I'm almost certain that there are many languages that have different negation marking on irrealis verbs. And also that there are language with different modal marking on negative verbs.


EDIT: three more specific things come to mind.

First, because many languages (~10% according to WALS) mark an irrealis mood on negatives, some of those languages avoiding neutralising mood in negatives by creating a separate negation construction for irrealis verbs. Unfortunately, the only example WALS gives is Quechua, which marks all negatives as questions, and then marks real negative interrogatives differently. But I'm sure it happens with broader irrealis negatives too. [and if you don't want the irrealis marking on the verb, you could always just have it drop diachronically]

Second, it occurs to me that Proto-Indo-European is an example of this. Or Indo-European, at least. PIE is reconstructed as having two different negating particles, one specifically for imperatives. [But Tocharian uses the imperative-negator as a plain negator, so it's possible it was plain all along and became limited to imperatives in certain continguous daughters]. Again, this is an imperative specifically, but the same principle could apply to other irrealis forms, surely. [wait, this is the particle in Greek that you cite]

Third, there are two obvious ways to get your ta/te alternation. First, you could just have a negative particle fuse with a following irrealis particle (that, being itself rather light, was dropped in non-negative irrealis verbs once a more distinctive form of marking was innovated). Second, in some language the 'negative particle' is actually an auxiliary verb, and ta/te could indicate the negative verb being inflected for the irrealis mood (it could then go from being a full verb to being just a plain particle, if you wanted).
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Post by DesEsseintes »

I have an example of a language with different negatives used according to mood: Blackfoot. These are prefixes within the verb complex so they’re not particles but it might nevertheless be of use as a reference.

máát- is used for indicative verbs.
miin- is used in the imperative.
kátá- is used for irrealis/counterfactual.
sta- is used for ‘in order not to’.

Hope that helps.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thank you for the answers. It's been helpful [:)]

It's good to know that it isn't unheard of. My intent with making the particles similar in form is to suggest that they are etymologically related and were presumably at one point a single form. Lihmelinyan also has an etymologically unrelated prohibitive particle used with the so-called "injunctive mood" (really just a tenseless form of the verb with multiple miscellaneous functions) to form prohibitions.
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Post by Ælfwine »

How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
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Post by DesEsseintes »

Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 07:56 How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
An /x ç/ seems perfectly plausible to me; they are very distinct sounds. In South America, Taushiro, Jaqaru, and Trinitario are listed as having both phonemes. None of those languages have a voicing contrast in fricatives, but it would be easy to envisage a language where voicing would result in /x ç/ vs /ɣ ʝ/ where /ɣ/ might then go in any of a number of directions (zero, /w/, etc.).
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Post by sangi39 »

Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 07:56 How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
I think the Goidelic languages all contrast palatal and velar fricatives (both voiced and voiceless), but that's part of the wider palatalised vs. velarised consonant distinction found in the languages. There are some people who transcribe this as /xʲ/ (and likewise /c/ as /kʲ/, for example) presumably for this reason.

Kabyle apparently has the palatal fricatives contrasting with uvular fricatives (both voiced and voiceless), but it only contrasts velar and uvular plosives when they're labialised, i.e. there's /kʷ q qʷ/ but not /k/ (Adyghe, over in the Caucasus, coincidentally does the same thing with its plosives).

On the note of the Goidelic languages, some languages have a post-velar fricative that seems to be alternately transcribed as /ç/ or /xʲ/, but they all also seem to have a palatalisation distinction that applies to (more or less) all consonant phonemes. I wonder then, if a phonemic /ç/ is more "stable" if it's sort of "reinforced" by the rest of the phoneme inventory.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Aevas »

Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 07:56 How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
In Norwegian and German you have phonemic /ç/ vs /ʃ~ʂ/, which seems to me like an even narrower contrast than with /x/. Swedish has /ɕ/ vs /ɧ/ (which is basically /x/). In Swedish /j/ is commonly [j~ʝ~ʑ] which doesn't match entirely with /ɕ/ but comes pretty close.
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Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 07:56 How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
Some people argue that German is developing a phonemic contrast between /ç/ and /x/ based on the mininal pair Kuchen 'little cow' vs, Kuchen 'cake'. I have also seen German /j/ described as /ʝ/ but I can't recall if it was based on phonetic or phonological evidence.
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Post by Salmoneus »

sangi39 wrote: 27 Sep 2020 12:52
Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 07:56 How common is /ç/?

Could it be reasonably contrasted with /x/ and/or /ʝ/?
I think the Goidelic languages all contrast palatal and velar fricatives (both voiced and voiceless), but that's part of the wider palatalised vs. velarised consonant distinction found in the languages. There are some people who transcribe this as /xʲ/ (and likewise /c/ as /kʲ/, for example) presumably for this reason.
Yup; when it doubt, assume Irish already does it. [it also has the voiced version of this contrast]
On the note of the Goidelic languages, some languages have a post-velar fricative that seems to be alternately transcribed as /ç/ or /xʲ/, but they all also seem to have a palatalisation distinction that applies to (more or less) all consonant phonemes. I wonder then, if a phonemic /ç/ is more "stable" if it's sort of "reinforced" by the rest of the phoneme inventory.
Yes, very much so.

I think there's a tendency for anything between alveolar and velar to be easily interpreted as a secondary palatalisation on either a velar or an alveolar; so they tend to more stable if there's palatalisation elsewhere too.
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Post by Ælfwine »

Excellent, thanks for all the information guys n' gals! I was a bit worried as Wikipedia (fantastic resource I know) tells me that /ç/ is a relatively rare phoneme and contrasts between /ç/, /x/, or /ʝ/ and /ɣ/ even rarer.

Nonetheless, this exact contrast is what my Crimean Gothic reconstruct has, i.e. lachjen [ˈla.çən] (< *hlahhjan) contrasted with the first person past tense form luch [ˈluːx] (< *hlōh), contrasted with the 3rd person past plural lugen [ˈluː.ɣən]. The /ç/ phoneme here in fact might be better described as "post-palatal" perhaps.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Yeah, /ç/ seems to be one of those that's almost always an allophone (of /h/ or /x/ usually).
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Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 17:54 Excellent, thanks for all the information guys n' gals! I was a bit worried as Wikipedia (fantastic resource I know) tells me that /ç/ is a relatively rare phoneme and contrasts between /ç/, /x/, or /ʝ/ and /ɣ/ even rarer.
So far as I'm aware, both these things are true. The palatal area seems particularly unstable; not only are there usually few phonemes there, but there are often breaks in series, anomalies (eg the Irish example is actually /x/ vs /ç/ vs /ɣ/ vs... /j/. Although it does go back to being a fricative next to consonants. [and apparently there's a third allophone halfway between an approximant and a fricative!?]), and even sometimes additional phonemes in the area that 'shouldn't be there (like an anomalous voiced fricative without a voiceless counterpart).

However, just because something is rare doesn't mean it can't happen! I mean, having over a dozen different vowel qualities, and phonemic triphthongs, and interdental fricatives, and more fricatives than stops is very rare indeed... but look at English!
Nonetheless, this exact contrast is what my Crimean Gothic reconstruct has, i.e. lachjen [ˈla.çən] (< *hlahhjan) contrasted with the first person past tense form luch [ˈluːx] (< *hlōh), contrasted with the 3rd person past plural lugen [ˈluː.ɣən]. The /ç/ phoneme here in fact might be better described as "post-palatal" perhaps.
This seems like a sensible way to derive such a contrast. However, I wouldn't expect it to be very stable in the long-run. In particular, /hj/ isn't that common in Proto-Germanic anyway. If that's the only source of the phoneme, it would appear in, what, two, three verbs only? And only in certain forms of the verb? If there's not some other source of the phoneme, I'd expect it to quickly level to the velar fricative by analogy to the non-geminating forms of the verb, or just through merger.

[full disclosure: my own Germanic language also has this distinction, although I call [x] /h/ in theory. I mostly derive it from /h/ adjacent to /i/, including following original /ai/ (which merges with /au/ as /a:/; this and the loss of many unstressed /i/s make it phonemic). ]
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Post by Ælfwine »

Salmoneus wrote: 27 Sep 2020 20:57
Ælfwine wrote: 27 Sep 2020 17:54 Excellent, thanks for all the information guys n' gals! I was a bit worried as Wikipedia (fantastic resource I know) tells me that /ç/ is a relatively rare phoneme and contrasts between /ç/, /x/, or /ʝ/ and /ɣ/ even rarer.
So far as I'm aware, both these things are true. The palatal area seems particularly unstable; not only are there usually few phonemes there, but there are often breaks in series, anomalies (eg the Irish example is actually /x/ vs /ç/ vs /ɣ/ vs... /j/. Although it does go back to being a fricative next to consonants. [and apparently there's a third allophone halfway between an approximant and a fricative!?]), and even sometimes additional phonemes in the area that 'shouldn't be there (like an anomalous voiced fricative without a voiceless counterpart).

However, just because something is rare doesn't mean it can't happen! I mean, having over a dozen different vowel qualities, and phonemic triphthongs, and interdental fricatives, and more fricatives than stops is very rare indeed... but look at English!
That is very true. It seems like mergers tend to create irregularity.
This seems like a sensible way to derive such a contrast. However, I wouldn't expect it to be very stable in the long-run. In particular, /hj/ isn't that common in Proto-Germanic anyway. If that's the only source of the phoneme, it would appear in, what, two, three verbs only? And only in certain forms of the verb? If there's not some other source of the phoneme, I'd expect it to quickly level to the velar fricative by analogy to the non-geminating forms of the verb, or just through merger.

[full disclosure: my own Germanic language also has this distinction, although I call [x] /h/ in theory. I mostly derive it from /h/ adjacent to /i/, including following original /ai/ (which merges with /au/ as /a:/; this and the loss of many unstressed /i/s make it phonemic). ]
You are probably correct. /h/ seems to have been lost in the actual language, with CGo. lachen being its only reflex in the corpus. One scholar theorized that the voiced velar fricative was extended to the infinitive here, i.e. [ˈla.ɣən] (perhaps initially being [ˈla.ən]) although it is also possible the language had a West Germanic style gemination before /j/ to /hh/ > /xx/. Though a phoneme from palatalization had also been suggested here.

That's fascinating!
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Post by Omzinesý »

What could be the origin of retroflex affricates?

In Slavic languages, they usually derive from palatals/postalveolars after new palatalization has pushed them to retroflexes.
In Swedish, retroflexes derive from /r/ + a velar, but they are not affricates.
I think English <tr> is pronounced as an affricate in some dialects.

What I'm thinking is having them without palatals contrasting with them.
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Post by DesEsseintes »

Omzinesý wrote: 28 Sep 2020 14:10 What could be the origin of retroflex affricates?
Several Athabaskan languages, including Gwich’in and Hän, had the following shift:
tʃ tʃʷ → ts tʂ

I think all of them still contrast these with tʃ from earlier *k.
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Omzinesý wrote: 28 Sep 2020 14:10 What could be the origin of retroflex affricates?

In Slavic languages, they usually derive from palatals/postalveolars after new palatalization has pushed them to retroflexes.
In Swedish, retroflexes derive from /r/ + a velar, but they are not affricates.
I think English <tr> is pronounced as an affricate in some dialects.

What I'm thinking is having them without palatals contrasting with them.
I think rhotics and labialization are a possible source, because all three have similar acoustic effects on the third formant.
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