Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

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Visions1
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Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by Visions1 »

Hi there. I'm not entirely sure how to start off, so I'll introduce myself. I'm Visions; I've had an interest in conlanging and linguistics for ~6 years now (though I'm still working on my learning curve, let's just say).
I'm currently working on a conlang that's heavily based on Hittite. At least in its proto form.
I'm currently a bit lost with the proto-language, so I'm looking for advice. Or at least feedback. Those parts describing that will be in italics.

Phonology
/m n / <m n>
/b d g gʷ / <b d g gw>
/pʰ tʰ kʰ kʷʰ/ <p t k kw>
(p̚ t̚ k̚ k̚ʷ ) (closed-coda allophones of /p t k kʷ/, so are written the same)
/ s x xʷ / <s x xw>
/ z~ð / <z>
/ l r / <l r>
/ j w / <y w>

/i i: u u:/ <i i: u u:>
/ a a: / <a a:>

The consonants have a fortis/lenis distinction. This will be exaggerated in its descendants.
Phonotactics are (c)v(v)(every c except /b d g gʷ/)

Verbal Morphology
Verbs are inflected for number (sg/pl), person (1/2/3), voice (act/pas), mood*, and two groups of aspects.
This is where the first problem is - I'm not sure how many moods I should have. I feel like it should be just two - realis/jussive, but it feels sort of bare. I might even just trash mood entirely in favour of something else, or just use auxiliaries for it.

The second problem has something to do with the aspect system, so I'll explain it first.
There are two sets of aspects: im/perfective, and inchoative/cessative/stative.

Inc. says the verb begins to be done. ("He starts to cook.")
Ces. says the verb finishes being done. ("He stops cooking.")
Stat. says the verb just is. It doesn't specify starting or stopping. ("He cooks.") The stative aspect is unmarked.

The im/perfective tells you whether or not the starting/finishing of the verb has itself been completed - or in the case of the stative aspect, whether it's a general verb, or progressive. (Perfective is unmarked, by the way.)
"He started to cook" vs. "He hasn't yet started to cook."
"He stopped cooking" vs. "He hasn't yet stopped cooking."
"He cooks" vs. "He is cooking."

If you think about it, you can imply tense using these combinations. Ignoring Stative for now, Inc. and Ces. take on the meanings of progressive and perfective respectfully, while "perfective" and "imperfective" come to imply past and future.
"He started to cook (= was cooking)" vs. "He hasn't yet started to cook (= shall cook)."
"He stopped cooking (= cooked)" vs. "He hasn't yet stopped cooking (= shall have cooked)."

This is pretty much reversed in the Stative - there, the imperfective implies progressive, while perfective implies a simple stative verb.
"He cooks" vs. "He is cooking."

Not only does this create a future retrospective (which is really cool - and rather useless, which only makes it cooler and even more useful)
- it gives a lot of options to imply moods, or sequences of events, or just reg. old tenses.

Which is where my second problem comes in: how should I imply tense using these aspects?
I want to use certain aspects as points of reference, like in Mayan languages, but I also want it to just act like a tense system sometimes.
Should I do both? Are there any pieces of advice/real-life examples as to how I should do it?
What else could I imply with them? Should I use them for mood? Or something else?


Noun/Derivational morphology
There will be cases. I don't know about other categories. [I'm going to work on this later]. Animacy is probably too Hittite right?

Syntax
The conlang is head-final (SOV), and inflectional. I'm not really sure if I want to add in ergativity, but I have a feeling it might be necessary.

Currently, I'm not sure how exactly to make an inflectional syntax from scratch. Like I could evolve one, but I want to give it one from the get-go.
And while I could evolve it, I don't know any tried methods outside of just squishing suffixes together and making sound changes.

---------------------
And outside of some future sound changes and a rudimentary word list, that's it!
I haven't started work on much of the actual morphemes (only for 3sg, and that just a draft). So I'll be working on it.

Thanks for reading this far (even if you skipped some of the stuff). I hope it was understandable at least ^w^.
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Creyeditor
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Re: Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by Creyeditor »

Welcome to the board [:)]
Visions1 wrote: 27 Jul 2021 15:32 This is where the first problem is - I'm not sure how many moods I should have. I feel like it should be just two - realis/jussive, but it feels sort of bare. I might even just trash mood entirely in favour of something else, or just use auxiliaries for it.
I think forming the jussive with an auxiliary sounds like a good idea. It can become an affix in the daughter languages if you want to.
Visions1 wrote: 27 Jul 2021 15:32 Which is where my second problem comes in: how should I imply tense using these aspects?
I want to use certain aspects as points of reference, like in Mayan languages, but I also want it to just act like a tense system sometimes.
Should I do both? Are there any pieces of advice/real-life examples as to how I should do it?
What else could I imply with them? Should I use them for mood? Or something else?
How about having the aspect/viewpoint combinations imply a certain tense per default that can get overwritten by context specifications? I think this is how most "tenseless" languages work, e.g. the Indonesian past/perfective system.

Some minor comments on the aspect system.
  • I think something table-like would help me to better understand the various combinations.
  • Is there a better a better term for what you call stative aspect? I am somehow prone to confusing it with its use for states only.
  • You could also have a look at Aktionsart aka Lexical aspect and their interaction with grammatical aspect.
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Omzinesý
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Re: Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by Omzinesý »

First, welcome.
Your questions are hard enough for being in Conlangs section section but probably you get better answers here, we will see.

Is this language supposed to be derived from Hittite or somehow based on Hittite or just be inspired by Hittite? I think it affects much what it should look like.
This is where the first problem is - I'm not sure how many moods I should have. I feel like it should be just two - realis/jussive, but it feels sort of bare. I might even just trash mood entirely in favour of something else, or just use auxiliaries for it.
You can start with realis/irrealis and see if you need more.
Which is where my second problem comes in: how should I imply tense using these aspects?
I want to use certain aspects as points of reference, like in Mayan languages, but I also want it to just act like a tense system sometimes.
Should I do both? Are there any pieces of advice/real-life examples as to how I should do it?
What else could I imply with them? Should I use them for mood? Or something else?
Usually in an "aspect language", perfective aspect has tense reference: past perfective and future perfective distinctly but imperfective does not. Future is sometimes expressed with irrealis mood.
I don't quite understand your aspect system. I'm struggling with combining different aspect markers in my own projects. If stative is some kind of habitual aspect, I recommend calling your aspects: perfective, progressive, and habitual. Imperfective is usually a combination of habitual and progressive. Standard Arabic expresses 'still' with 'has not stopped'.
Animacy is probably too Hittite right?
Animacy is very commonly coded in world's languages. English distinguishes s/he and it.
I'm not really sure if I want to add in ergativity, but I have a feeling it might be necessary.
Why should you?
If I'm right ergative appears in Hittite inas the case of inanimate subjects in the transitive constuction. Not a very big function, thinking that transitive subjects are usually animate.
Currently, I'm not sure how exactly to make an inflectional syntax from scratch. Like I could evolve one, but I want to give it one from the get-go.
And while I could evolve it, I don't know any tried methods outside of just squishing suffixes together and making sound changes.
My ideal is always to start from syntax. Answer, how possession is expressed, and then develop the morphemes that are needed in the construction.
My meta-thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5760
Visions1
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Re: Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by Visions1 »

Sorry about the procrastination-I mean delay
Here are the diagrams I made. https://imgur.com/a/beGYwhN
I need to look over the advice here again. Thank so much!
(A note is that these morphemes are mostly drafts right now)
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by eldin raigmore »

Visions1 wrote: 04 Aug 2021 11:24 Sorry about the procrastination-I mean delay
Here are the diagrams I made. https://imgur.com/a/beGYwhN
I need to look over the advice here again. Thank so much!
(A note is that these morphemes are mostly drafts right now)
Very interesting! And impressive!
Minor spelling error; it should be incHOative, not incOHative.
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Re: Need help with Hittite-eqsue conlang

Post by WeepingElf »

Welcome to the CBB, Visions1!

I am also working on a Hittite-esque conlang (a sister language that will serve as the protolanguage of the family my main conlang Old Albic, which is currently under revision, belongs to). You will probably want to look at this site, which contains a PDF grammar and dictionary of Hittite.
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