Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

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Shemtov
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Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

Post by Shemtov »

I want to make an Isolating/Analytic lang, but I am not sure of how to make it interesting. Actually, I'm afraid of making it a Mandarin Chinese clone! In the past, to avoid this, I've used "make it ergative" as a fallback. I don't want to do that. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure they're naturalistic. Can an otherwise Chinese-like language have English-like pronouns, with suppletion for possessive and non-nominative pronouns? Is there anything else I can do to make it unique?
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Salmoneus
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Re: Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

Post by Salmoneus »

If a language has case-marking (eg through suppletive pronouns), then it is not purely analytic. Of course, there's no reason a language has to be 'purely' anything.

However, I think you're thinking about this the wrong way, by constantly thinking about Chinese - trying not to be Chinese, and yet asking about a "Chinese-like language". If you don't want your language to be like a clone of Chinese, why make it 'Chinese-like' at all?

All the vast diversity of language is still available even in a 100% isolating language. Only a single thing is fixed: there's no non-zero morphology. So? Nothing else is determined!

Consider a simple English sentence like: "I wanted to see Bob's yellow dog that my mother had not seen, and take a photograph of it with my camera to help inspire my students, who are often bitten by dogs".

Let's consider some completely isolating languages (that just happen to have vocabulary very similar to English!) and how they translate this:

1. I want then to see yellow dog of Bob that mother of me has then not seen, and take a photograph of it to with camera of me to help inspire my student group, who dog group often bite
I don't really need to gloss this one, do I?

2. I am after time away from sight of, as mother at me not own sight, that yellow dog at Bob, and capture of one photograph upon by camera at me, and so stand before inspiration of each student at me, who several dog often bite
Obviously a bit of Celtic inspiration here, with the prepositional tenses and verbal nouns instead of verbs. Putting the relative before the noun isn't Celtic, though. 'that' and 'one' used as articles. And the negative messes things up a bit.

3. dog, as go yellow, as Bob hold friend of, as I mother no see before, I want is I sight of, accompany I photograph of, with camera I hold tool for lead I nurture student student I hold burden they inspiration, student stand dog dog bite often
So, topic-comment structure of course. Heavy use of possession structures, including for deranked verbs: direct possession marked as possessor-possessum, indirect possession as "possessum possessor hold classifier", with classifier marking purpose of possession (here: dog kept as a companion, camera owned as a tool, student assigned as a responsibility). Pluralisation through reduplication. Verbs used instead of conjunctions, reservations about anaphora to non-topics (hence repetition required). And just for fun, some direct-inverse marking (you can't say "dog dog bite student", you have to say "student stand dog dog bite", or "dog dog come bite student "). Tense just isn't marked.

4. One time, I want I see Bob thing yellow dog, that no mother thing no sight then, and I want I use camera make image of it, I thing camera, so that I make inspiration give I thing student, that often dog bite they hurt
...well, you get the idea.


My point is, you still have to make all the usual decisions about what the language does. It's just that when you THEN think "so how does the language mark that thing?", the answer isn't a bound morpheme.
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Torco
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Re: Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

Post by Torco »

does "my" and "of me" indicate alienable/inalienable possession in the first language? [:D]

otherwise, I agree: remember that a language you know quite well is, if not perfectly isolating, very much so too, so you're not limited to chinese for inspirations. the same thing "normal" languages use inflection for can be shown using register, or having different forms of a word that you use in different situations, or word order, or particles. also, there's probably solid grammars on other isolangs available.
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Sequor
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Re: Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

Post by Sequor »

Salmoneus wrote: 03 Nov 2020 01:064. One time, I want I see Bob thing yellow dog, that no mother thing no sight then, and I want I use camera make image of it, I thing camera, so that I make inspiration give I thing student, that often dog bite they hurt
...well, you get the idea.
How do you imagine negation working in that conlang? Why does "no" appear twice like that?

And man, I laughed IRL out of amusement at your direct-inverse syntax in the 3rd example.

I talk book. 'I'm talking about the book.'
I stand book talk. 'I'm talked about by the book.' (or "in the book"...)
Book come talk me. 'The book talks about me.'
*Book talk me. (ungrammatical)

[xD]
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.
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Shemtov
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Re: Making an interesting Isolating/Analytic lang

Post by Shemtov »

Salmoneus wrote: 03 Nov 2020 01:06 If a language has case-marking (eg through suppletive pronouns), then it is not purely analytic. Of course, there's no reason a language has to be 'purely' anything.



I never said that it was supposed to be purely isolating/analytic. In fact, I want it a bit less isolating/analytic then most Sinitic languages, yet more so then Thai or Yoruba, maybe a bit like between Thai and Mandarin's levels of isolatingness.
Salmoneus wrote: 03 Nov 2020 01:06
However, I think you're thinking about this the wrong way, by constantly thinking about Chinese - trying not to be Chinese, and yet asking about a "Chinese-like language". If you don't want your language to be like a clone of Chinese, why make it 'Chinese-like' at all?


It started out as a naming language for loan vocabulary for a language that is heavily based on Japanese grammar, whose culture has Japanese influences, so I wanted the loaning language to have the same level as Chinese influence, as it is, in conworld, to Fuheko as Chinese is to Japanese!
Many children make up, or begin to make up, imaginary languages. I have been at it since I could write.
-JRR Tolkien
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