At 05:12 23/06/00 EDT, you wrote:
>Christophe Grand made an interesting lang this way where all
>words can be "activated" with a suffix. for instance "mouth+suffix"
>means roughly "mouth working as the actor of a certain process".
>of course you infer what process it is from "context" (i hate this
>word) like in "shut your mouth, Mathias!"
He he! Seeing myself in such a high-level post :) . Notya (that's the
language) is really a mystery, even for me. The complete grammar of it lies
in two suffixes, with two forms each, heading for two functions and two
relationships, hence four possibilities and only four. All the rest has to
be taken by context or the actual meaning of the roots. Your analysis as
'behaviour' and 'entity' is interesting Mathias, I wonder if I could use it
for Notya, it would be an easier way than the one I usually use to explain
how this language works, and seems to fit nicely the language. Thus I would
explain the suffixes as such:
-m: 'behaviour', 'semantically' modifying the following item,
-mu: 'behaviour', 'grammatically' modifying the following item,
-n: 'entity', 'semantically' modifying the following item,
-nu: 'entity', 'grammatically' modifying the following item.
To give you more info about this languae here is an excerpt from a post I
sent to Conlang one year ago:
Notya is written with a special script, something between the devanagari
script and the Arabic alphabet. It can be thought as a "syllabic alphabet",
which is used as follows:
- the first letter of a noun, whether it is a consonnant or a vowel, has
always a special form followed by a long tail above the entire word (no
spaces are needed to separate words in this script, this tail shows where
the word ends).
- the other letters of the noun are always consonnants (with a special
letter when the consonnant lacks) and are written connected by a line just
under the tail of the first letter.
- vowels (except when they are the first letter of the word) are diacritics
near to the consonnant. They are mandatory (even when they are silent),
with one exception: the endings -m and -n are written with the consonnant
- three other diacritics exist. they are put under the vowel diacritic
(when needed) and change the value of the consonnant.
The Roman transcription I use follows very well this syllabic alphabet.
Here is how it works:
Notya has seven vowels. Four of them are the cardinal a, e, o and u. One is
translitterated i. It is pronounced /i/ under accent, i-like schwa (IPA
"barred i") when not under accent, and silent between a stop and a
non-stop, when not under accent (no matter the word limits). The last two
are palatalized a and o and are transliterated ya and yo.
The diacritics change the value of a consonnant, so they must be presented
before the presentation of consonnants. There are three diacritics which
are called "voicing" (translitteration j), "lenition" (translitteration h)
and "voicing+lenition" (translitteration jh). Never forget that j and h are
not real consonnants but only translitterations of diacritic marks.
The consonnants (besides the zero-consonnant that is used only to carry the
vowel inside a word, and is not translitterated) are translitterated t, p,
s, k, l, m, n and w. All combinations of consonnant, vowel and diacritic
are not possible:
- zero-consonnant, t, k, l, m and n can carry any vowel.
- s can also carry any vowel, but s+ya is translitterated ca and s+yo co
because of their special pronunciation.
- p cannot carry the vowels ya and yo.
- w can carry only a and o.
- m and n can carry no vowel at all, but only as endings.
- t, p and s (also c) can carry "voicing", "lenition" and "voicing+lenition".
- k can carry only "voicing".
Here is how the different consonnants are pronounced:
t: /t/, tj: /d/, th: /T/, tjh: /D/
p: /p/, pj: /b/, ph: /P/, pjh: /B/ (allophones /f/ and /v/ allowed)
s: /s/, sj: /z/, sh: /S/, sjh: /Z/
c: /ts/, cj: /dz/, ch: /tS/, cjh: /dZ/ (affricates)
k: /k/, kj: /g/
l: /l/, m: /m/, n: /n/, w: /w/
The stress in Notya is a kind of tonal curve over the whole word. The curve
is called "circonflex" (rising-falling), the node of this curve being on
the last syllable of the radical (the syllable just before the grammatical
ending generally). Used in certain situations, some words lose their own
stress (they are called then: atonic forms). When this happens, they are
considered part (accentually speaking) of the previous word and fall under
its tonal curve (which is always falling on them).
Now, just carry on with the grammar. The most important thing to know is
that there are no different kinds of words. Any word can appear in any of
the three forms and two functions. The three forms are:
- the radical form: it is the form without ending, which is normally never
used, except with interjections, and in colloquial speech.
- the existential form: this form means that the concept represented by the
radical exists (or does not exist). It is difficult to explain how to
translate it without examples. So its meaning will be explained with the
- the processing for: this form means that the concept is acting, or is in
process. It is not its existence that happens now. Here again, wait for
some examples because it is very hard to define this form.
The existential and processive forms can both appear in two functions:
- the terminal or determinative function: it is used to end a "complete
phrase", that's to say a nominal phrase, or a proposition, or a sentence.
It means that nothing else is needed to complete the phrase, so when it has
a relation of determination with the next element, it must complete it
(hence the name "determinative").
- the conjunctive or determinated function: it is used to show that the
phrase is _not_ complete. It must be completed either grammatically (hence
the name determinated) or lexically, where it has the meaning "and" or
"but" (hence the name "conjunctive").
The different endings are:
existential form (EX) processive form (PR)
terminal function (TE) -n -m
conjunctive function (CO) -nu -mu
Rules of syntax concern the order determiner-determinee, and the relation
The order between the determiner and the determinee depends on the kind of
determination that is discussed.
When the relation of determination is only a grammatical one (like the one
between a preposition and a noun), the determiner follows the determinee,
so the determinee is in conjunctive function.
When the relation of determination is a lexical one (like the one between a
noun and an adjective), the determinee follows the determiner, so the
determiner is in terminal function.
For example, using the words e: me and ka: goal:
- en kan (me-EX-TE goal-EX-TE): my goal (lexical determination).
- enu kan (me-EX-CO goal-EX-TE): for me (grammatical determination).
As you can see, in the first case, kan is translated by a noun, and in the
second case, it is translated by a preposition, but it didn't change its form.
NOTE: In fact, for this example, the word ka is very much used as a
grammatical determiner, so has an atonic form. So in the second example,
"enu kan" is pronounced as one stressed word, stressed on the syllable 'e'.
NOTE 2: Compounding in Notya exists. Phrases with a lexical determination
are compacted to become a single word. For example: sjhen con (read-EX-TE
thing-EX-TE): read thing, or sjhem con (read-PR-TE thing-EX-TE): thing to
read -> sjhecon: book.
THEME AND RHEME:
As you can't talk of nouns and verbs, you can't talk of subject, verb,
object places and other things that usually define a sentence. So in Notya,
you define a sentence as the asssociation between a theme (what you are
talking about) and a rheme (what you say of it). The theme is also the
"already known" and the rheme: "the new information". As the theme is
already known, it can be formally absent from the sentence, if the context
is clear. As for the place in the sentence, the theme comes always first,
and then the rheme (the theme first to remind it to the hearer, and then
the rheme which is the most important part of the sentence, the informative
To give a good example of the syntax, I'll use a sentence already somewhat
complex, with three participants: "I give you a book". The radicals you
must use are: e: me, ya: you, sjheco: book and ma: gift (this translation
doesn't mean that 'ma' is a nominal root. It only means that 'ma' has the
general meaning of giving, gift, to give, etc...). If the sentence is here
only to send a new information (without particular context), the best
translation would be something like:
Em sjhecon yanu mam. (me-PR-TE book-EX-TE you-EX-CO gift-PR-TE)
With 'mam' in atonic form (under the stress curve of 'yanu'). 'ma' in
atonic form is very much like a dative posposition 'to', but can also mean
'to give to' as here. 'e' is used in processive form to mean that 'I'
really acted to give the book, 'sjheco' and 'ya' are in existential forms
because they endure the process, they don't conduce it. 'ma' is in
processive form because it is the process described. You could also
translate this sentence as: "it is the gift to you, of a book, I make"
(very awkward in English, but perfectly right). Now another form of this
Em sjhecon yanu man. (me-PR-TE book-EX-TE you-EX-CO gift-EX-TE)
The only difference is that 'ma' is now in existential form. It means that
it is not the process that is described here. The gift is posed here as
existing, which is very much like the perfect aspect. So a good translation
of this sentence would be: "I have given you a book" (it is the gift to
you, of a book, I have made).
Now, suppose someone asks you the question: "what do you give to him?"
(kili: this-person: him, her). The theme is: 'I give him...' and the rheme
(the new information): '... a book' (you can recognize the rheme because
you use the indefinite article. If it was the theme, the book would be
already known and you'd have to use the definite article in English). As
the rheme comes always at the end of the sentence in Notya, you would answer:
Em kilinu mam sjhecon. (me-PR-TE this.person-EX-CO gift-PR-TE book-EX-TE)
meaning exactly: "it is a book I give to him".
Of course, you could answer simply "sjhecon" as the theme can be formally
absent, being obvious by context.
Now if the question was: "who gives him a book?", you would answer:
Kilinu mam sjhecon em. : "_I_ give him a book."
'sjhecon' is put after kilinu mam because it is not the theme itself, but
only part of it. The theme is the act of giving. If the theme was the book
(the question would be "who gives him _the_ book?"), the answer would be:
Sjhecon kilinu mam em. : "_I_ give him the book."
Of course, those two sentences can be reduced to "em" as an answer.
As you can see, the order between theme and rheme is very important and
cannot be changed, but the order between phrases (always complete phrases
with the last word in terminal function - you can't change the order
between 'kilinu' and 'mam' for instance -) can be changed as you want,
without changing the meaning of the sentence (because of the context, that
says that a book _a priori_ cannot give anything).
Now, if you want more examples, have questions or whatever, every comments