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

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

Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote:
03 Jun 2020 14:54
Omzinesý wrote:
03 Jun 2020 12:58
I'm thinking about diachronic conlanging.

If the proto-language has /o:/, what could condition that the/o:/ changes to /u:/ in some environments and /uo/ in some environments?
Well, it's best to think of this sort of thing not as a phoneme changing to either X or Y depending on environment, but as the product of two discrete changes, one of which was context-dependent.

So, there's really two possible questions for you to look at here: what would cause /o:/ > /u:/ (remaining /o:/ then breaks); or what would cause /o:/ to break (remaining /o:/ then raises).

I think the latter is more likely, probably. And why would /o:/ break? Well, the obvious culprits would be a following low vowel [ko:ta > koata > kuot] or less likely some sort of following coda consonant (ko:ht > ko@ht > /ku@ht > /kuoht/). You could also have /uo/ come from /oe/ - ie from a fronting or derounding (ko:ti > koeti > kueti > kuoti). And you could have breaking be due to a preceding raising element (jo:ta > juota)

With the plain raising of /u:/, the most likely thing would be an adjacent raised element (palatals, palatoalveolars, approximants, etc), before or after the segment (ones before could alternatively trigger breaking). However, /u:/ is usually also more rounded than /o:/, so it could be an adjacent rounding element. Or, of course, some sort of vowel affection or harmony (ko:tu > ku:tu).

Finally, in both cases, issues around stress and syllable weight may be relevant. Particularly if /o:/ > /u:/ is a merger, which could easily be more common in unstressed syllables. Breaking could happen only in stressed syllables (perhaps via an overlong allophone). It's less likely but conceivable it might only happen in unstressed syllables for syllable shape reasons (if long vowels are only allowed in stressed syllables, unstressed /o:/ could break into bisyllabic /o.o/, which could then remerge as /uo/).
Thank you!

Those are very similar ideas that I thought.
At last, I was boring and took the Italian/French sound change and conditioned it just with openness of the syllable.

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

Post by Odkidstr »

I'm trying to create a new conlang. It's VSO (mostly) and I'm wanting to use auxiliary verbs to indicate aspect. However my verbs are fairly bare and don't have things like number, gender, or mood attached to them (it's a very isolating language). What I'm trying to figure out is if what I'm trying to do is more of an auxiliary verb or perhaps an aspect particle. It seems like an auxiliary verb would necessarily need to be declined with something, otherwise it'd be more of a particle.

Also I'm wondering if it'd be odd for verbs to take a tense & mood suffix, but still use an auxiliary verb for aspect?

And one last question: Would switching the word order from VSO to SVO be a reasonable way to create the passive?

If it matters at all, I haven't fully decided on a case system, but was thinking of using prepositional clitics.

Hopefully I used all of the right terms; I'm a bit rusty as I haven't had time for a long while to conlang.

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Post by Omzinesý »

Odkidstr wrote:
04 Jun 2020 01:33
It seems like an auxiliary verb would necessarily need to be declined with something, otherwise it'd be more of a particle.
So the question is what makes some word a verb.
If the main verb still inflects in tense/mood and the auxiliary does not, yes, I think the main verb is the verb and the auxiliary is a particle. If the main verb appears in the infinitive, it probably has a head. That does not mean the head is a verb. Some English grammars speak about "auxiliaries" without stating is "can" is a verb or not.

It nice that you think about terminology and distinguish the conlang and its description.
Odkidstr wrote:
04 Jun 2020 01:33
Also I'm wondering if it'd be odd for verbs to take a tense & mood suffix, but still use an auxiliary verb for aspect?
I see no problem in that.
"I am drinking coffee." and "I drink coffee." have an aspectual difference, that of the progressive and non-progressive.
Odkidstr wrote:
04 Jun 2020 01:33
And one last question: Would switching the word order from VSO to SVO be a reasonable way to create the passive?
Yes, it is a very reasonable way to code one of the main functions of the passive. It codes that the clause is about (the topic if you wanna Google) the patient not about the agent like an English active clause. So you just decide that the position after the verb codes topicality, whether the participant is the agent, the patient or something else. Such languages usually have cases/case adpositions to code what role the participant has.

But it is not a passive. The passive is a much more complicated thing where semantic roles and topicality are coded by the same device.

If you are asking if those particular word orders can do that, I think they are not the most common ones, but I see no reson why not. The important thing is to decide what position codes topicality.

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Odkidstr wrote:
04 Jun 2020 01:33
I'm trying to create a new conlang. It's VSO (mostly) and I'm wanting to use auxiliary verbs to indicate aspect. However my verbs are fairly bare and don't have things like number, gender, or mood attached to them (it's a very isolating language). What I'm trying to figure out is if what I'm trying to do is more of an auxiliary verb or perhaps an aspect particle. It seems like an auxiliary verb would necessarily need to be declined with something, otherwise it'd be more of a particle.
The first and most important thing to say is: it doesn't really matter. It's better to be clear on what a word does, than on what the word 'is'. If it seems questionable what something is, personally I think the best way is to pick an analysis and go with it, while noting the alternative analyses are possible.


But to the meat of the question: a word is a verb if it acts like a verb, and is not a verb if it does not act like a verb.

"Acting like a verb" can indeed include inflecting like a verb. But it can also mean being treated as a verb syntactically. Does the auxiliary go in the same place as an ordinary verb? What about in questions, and imperatives? Is it negated the same way as an ordinary verb? Where do adverbs go?

For instance, in Old-Fashioned English (not a linguistic term, but...), it's clear than "can" is a verb, despite not taking normal verbal inflections, because it patterns the same way syntactically.

Normal word order:
[the man] [likes] [to eat fish]
[the man] [can] [eat fish]
S V O

Questions:
[likes] [the man] [dogs]?
[can] [the man] [hunt]?
V S O

Negations:
[the man] [likes not] [dogs]
[the man] [can not] [hunt]
S V neg O

Adverbs:
[the man] [surely likes] [dogs]
[the man] [surely can] hunt

Other than 'can' not requiring 'to' before a verbal object, it's basically the same word order.

[You may notice, however, that in modern English it's rather less clearcut: 'can' retains the old question and negation forms but ordinary verbs don't, and adverbs now more often follow 'can' (due to confusion between [surely can] [hunt] and [can] [surely hunt]), but remain prohibited after ordinary verbs. Add in that auxiliaries can't take non-verbal objects, and that they can't be put in the imperative or infinitive, don't have participles and don't take the -s inflection or a regular productive past tense, it would certainly seem valid to say that 'can' is no longer a real verb in English. However, we usually say it is because a) it used to be, and b) it enables us to have to useful, simple rule, "every independent clause requires a finite verb".]


Also I'm wondering if it'd be odd for verbs to take a tense & mood suffix, but still use an auxiliary verb for aspect?
Not at all, I don't think. English of course does this with tense. And in general aspect is the most 'peripheral' part, frequently conveyed through periphrastic constructions that can easily become grammaticalised as auxiliaries.
And one last question: Would switching the word order from VSO to SVO be a reasonable way to create the passive?
A real passive cannot be SVO... because a real passive has no O. [discounting here the symmetrical 'voices' of Austronesian, which often coexist with a genuine passive].

Word order changes normally aren't enough to change voice. However, it could conceivably happen, in a language with no voice marking (or voice marking that erodes) and a system of either topicalisation or focusing. Alternatively, it could happen through zero-nominalisation of the verb - with the patient of the verb (i.e. the subject of a passive) being converted into the possessor of a verb. [as though English formed the passive of 'I ate the fish' by saying 'the fish's eating']

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

Post by Odkidstr »

Thanks for the help. I've got a clearer idea of what I want to do now.

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

I describe the vowel system of my Elvish language's abugida as follows: "[t]he native script is an abugida with an inherent [​i] and the remaining seven vowels arranged from first high-to-low, then front-to-back as diacritics—[y, u, e, ɛ, œ, ɔ, ɑ]". Are the descriptors in the correct order for the provided collation pattern?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by WeepingElf »

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
05 Jun 2020 13:41
I describe the vowel system of my Elvish language's abugida as follows: "[t]he native script is an abugida with an inherent [​i] and the remaining seven vowels arranged from first high-to-low, then front-to-back as diacritics—[y, u, e, ɛ, œ, ɔ, ɑ]". Are the descriptors in the correct order for the provided collation pattern?
The correct order, according to the description you give, would be [e ɛ y œ u ɔ ɑ]. Your order is more like first front-to-back, then high-to-low, i.e. the priorities reversed.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar »

Based on the order "[y, u, e, ɛ, œ, ɔ, ɑ]", I thought yangfiretiger121 might have intended "first high-to-low, then front-to-back" to be interpreted as "vowels are arranged by hight, from high to low, and vowels of the same height are arranged from front to back", if that makes sense. So, the two high vowels are listed before all non-high vowels, but [y], being front, is listed before [u]. Of course, I can't speak for yangfiretiger121, though.

In any case, I think I agree that "first front-to-back, then high-to-low" seems like a better way to describe "[y, u, e, ɛ, œ, ɔ, ɑ]".

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

Post by Salmoneus »

A better option would be to drop the description altogether - if someone doesn't already know that /a/ is lower than /e/, they won't understand you telling them it anyway.

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Post by yangfiretiger121 »

Thanks for the help, guys.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

As you know, the language's base vowel system is [ɑ, e, ɛ, i, œ, ɔ, u, y]. Considering the language is meant to sound like French, is a vowel harmony system likely to develop? If so, how?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by jimydog000 »

Has nasalisation of vowels ever been a product of prosody?

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

Post by Omzinesý »

jimydog000 wrote:
08 Jun 2020 10:03
Has nasalisation of vowels ever been a product of prosody?
Guaraní has this nasal harmony. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarani_l ... al_harmony

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

My setting's main language has the beginnings of a two-tiered vowel harmony system containing front/+atr [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], and central/neutral [ə]. If full front/back harmony develops, is [ɑ, ɪ̟, ø, u] or [ɑ, e, o, ʏ̟] the more likely set of allophones to arise? Mind you, I am just asking because of the language's current vowel alignment but don't think I'm using vowel harmony at all.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by jimydog000 »

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
14 Jun 2020 23:54
My setting's main language has the beginnings of a two-tiered vowel harmony system containing front/+atr [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], and central/neutral [ə]. If full front/back harmony develops, is [ɑ, ɪ̟, ø, u] or [ɑ, e, o, ʏ̟] the more likely set of allophones to arise? Mind you, I am just asking because of the language's current vowel alignment but don't think I'm using vowel harmony at all.
The difference between an Advanced Tongue Root harmony and Front/Back harmony may occasionlly be up to what analysis you make of the language (Kazakh), but they are not interchangeable.

I think you made a few typos or don't fully understand harmonic systems did you actually mean:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [i, ɔ], and neutral [ə]. ?

That would make more sense and put the vowels in the right order. Although /æ/ alternating with /i/ with a neutral schwa is a bit out there. Alternatively you could do:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [ə, ɔ], and neutral [i].

Or:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [ɑ, ɔ], and neutral [i, ə].

Or even simpler (and follows what Kazakh apparetly does)

+ATR [æ, i, ʊ̠], -ATR [ɑ, ə, ɔ].

And to answer your question about the result of allophones becoming front back or something. I would suggest a combination of the two as:
-Back[e, ø] ~/~ +Back[ɑ, o]
Last edited by jimydog000 on 15 Jun 2020 20:21, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

jimydog000 wrote:
15 Jun 2020 18:31
yangfiretiger121 wrote:
14 Jun 2020 23:54
My setting's main language has the beginnings of a two-tiered vowel harmony system containing front/+atr [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], and central/neutral [ə]. If full front/back harmony develops, is [ɑ, ɪ̟, ø, u] or [ɑ, e, o, ʏ̟] the more likely set of allophones to arise? Mind you, I am just asking because of the language's current vowel alignment but don't think I'm using vowel harmony at all.
The difference between an Advanced Tongue Root harmony and Front/Back harmony may occasionlly be up to what analysis you make of the language (Kazakh), but they are not interchangeable.

I think you made a few typos or don't fully understand harmonic systems did you actually mean:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [i, ɔ], and neutral [i]. ?

That would make more sense and put the vowels in the right order. Although /æ/ alternating with /i/ with a neutral schwa is a bit out there. Alternatively you could do:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [ə, ɔ], and neutral [i].

Or:

+ATR [æ, ʊ̠], -ATR [ɑ, ɔ], and neutral [i, ə].

Or even simpler (and follows what Kazakh apparetly does)

+ATR [æ, i, ʊ̠], -ATR [ɑ, ə, ɔ].

And to answer your question about the result of allophones becoming front back or something. I would suggest a combination of the two as:
-Back[e, ø] ~/~ +Back[ɑ, o]
Thanks for the help. However, I ordered them like that because I interpreted this to mean that near-high vowels, such as [ʊ̠], will be -atr no matter their backness, which may have been incorrect. The neutral [ə] originated through consolidation of Elvish's [e, ɛ, œ] and Phoenixtongue's [ø, œ, ə]. That said, I understand vowel harmony just fine and was mainly referring to the fact that the current system has to front vowels that can be described as +atr in [æ,i], two back vowels that are, presumably, -atr in [ɔ, ʊ̠], and a central vowel that would be neutral in [ə]. Perhaps, my disclaimer should've been clearer and said that the language (a) doesn't and (b) is exceedingly likely to never have actual vowel harmony.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
14 Jun 2020 23:54
My setting's main language has the beginnings of a two-tiered vowel harmony system containing front/+atr [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], and central/neutral [ə]. If full front/back harmony develops, is [ɑ, ɪ̟, ø, u] or [ɑ, e, o, ʏ̟] the more likely set of allophones to arise? Mind you, I am just asking because of the language's current vowel alignment but don't think I'm using vowel harmony at all.
If [+ATR] becomes [+front] and [-ATR] becomes [-front], you simply get [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], where [æ] alternates with [ɔ] and [ i ] alternates with [ʊ̠]. Am I missing something here?

If you are asking generally, which of the the two system presented is more likely, I would guess the first one, but I don't see how you could go from your five vowel system to such a four vowel system with a set of simple changes.

Just a nitpick. Schwa is usually considered [+ATR].
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

Creyeditor wrote:
15 Jun 2020 20:02
yangfiretiger121 wrote:
14 Jun 2020 23:54
My setting's main language has the beginnings of a two-tiered vowel harmony system containing front/+atr [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], and central/neutral [ə]. If full front/back harmony develops, is [ɑ, ɪ̟, ø, u] or [ɑ, e, o, ʏ̟] the more likely set of allophones to arise? Mind you, I am just asking because of the language's current vowel alignment but don't think I'm using vowel harmony at all.
If [+ATR] becomes [+front] and [-ATR] becomes [-front], you simply get [æ,i], back/-atr [ɔ, ʊ̠], where [æ] alternates with [ɔ] and [ i ] alternates with [ʊ̠]. Am I missing something here?

If you are asking generally, which of the the two system presented is more likely, I would guess the first one, but I don't see how you could go from your five vowel system to such a four vowel system with a set of simple changes.

Just a nitpick. Schwa is usually considered [+ATR].
That's nice to know, and you're not missing anything. Honestly, I wasn't aware how close the language is to having a working vowel harmony system, which changes things to make one developing slightly more likely. While that's still highly unlikely. what's a traditionally neutral vowel I can slot in with the four current peripherals because I like the idea of one vowel being eligible for every word?
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Post by Creyeditor »

In ATR vowel harmony systems the low vowel (/a/) is often neutral, because it is inherently RTR and does not have an ATR counterpart in most languages. In backness harmony systems /i/ or /e/ are often neutral, because there are no back unrounded vowels. This fact however mostly holds for languages where rounding and backness are contrastive/distinctive independtly. In the system I proposed in the last post, rounding and backness covary. There are neither front rounded nor back unrounded vowels. I cannot guarantee that this system itself is natural as a regular productive vowel harmony system. I have seen such systems mostly in restricted systems, where harmony only applies to some affixes. Anyways, neutral vowels are a difference between ATR harmony and backness harmony systems, at least frequently.
One sudden idea I just had is to introduce a diphthong /ai/. This could be neutral in both systems. Also, some diachronic ideas from the main language's system to an ATR or a backness harmony system.

Proto-L:
/i ʊ̠/
/æ ɔ/
/ai/

Daughter ATR:
/æ/ > /e/
/ai/ > /a/
We get the common neutral /a/ for ATR systems.
/i ʊ̠/
/e ɔ/
/a/

Daughter Backness:
i > e
ai > i
We get the common neutral /i/ for backness systems.

Just for completeness sake. Another, less spontaneous, change leading to vowel harmony is the phonologization of overlapping articulatory gestures. At least that's what I have heard. This would mean that you could start out with a very basic vowel system, like the following, and still get a nice ATR or backness harmony system.

/i u/
/e o/
/ɑ/

After a back rounded vowel, the non-rounded vowels could develop a rounded allophone and after front vowels, the back vowels could develop a front allophone. After /ɑ/ all vowels could develop a back/central unrounded allophone. This would yield the following allophones.

/i/ [i y ɨ]
/u/[u y ɨ]
/e/[e ø ɤ]
/o/[o ø ɤ]
/ɑ/[æ ɑ ɒ]

Words are now generally harmonic, but they start with one of the five vowels from the first stage. The new allophones have to become phonemic. One way to do this is by monophthongizing diphthongs.

ɑi > ɑ
ɑu > ɒ
oi > ø
ui > y

This would mean that only non-low back unrounded vowels are non-phonemic.You would get the following phonemic system with rounding and backness harmony.

/i/ /y/ [ɨ] /u/
/e/ /ø/ [ɤ] /o/
/æ/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/

You could apply a similar strategy to your main languages vowel (either for backness or analogically for ATR/RTR harmony) and adjust the result. I am not a 100% sure about the result though.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by CarsonDaConlanger »

In languages with case prefixes, is number also often prefixed as well?

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