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----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas R. Wier" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 1:55 AM
Subject: Re: Merian H-4: Grammar and Phonology.


> Quoting Joe Hill <[log in to unmask]>:
>
> > Yet another Conlang of My world :-)
> >
> > Merian H-4
> >
> > Merian H-4 is a heavily inflected multi-cased system.  It has a fairly
> > complex phonology.
> >
> > Consonants
> >
> > Tt - Dental Stop
> > Dd - Voiced Dental Stop
> > Qq - Uvular Click
> > Kk - Uvular Stop
> > Gg -Voiced Uvular Stop
> > Nn - Voiced Velar Nasal
> > Ff - Bilabial Affricate
> > Vv - Voiced Bilabial Affricate
> > Ss - Velar Sibilant
> > Zz - Voiced Velar Sibilant
> > Cc - Velar Stop
> > Xx - Velar Affricate
> > Hh - Glottal Aspirate
> > Mm - Voiced Bilabial Nasal
>
> (In the following, I'm assuming that you want your language
> to look like natural languages.  If you don't, then you can
> ignore this.)
>
> Joe, one word about natural languages.  Usually, when languages
> acquire a distinction, they apply that distinction to a whole
> class of sounds.  So, for example, if you get affrication on
> /p/ to get /p_f/, you'll also find affricates /t_T/ or /t_s/
> and /k_x/. So, let's look at your system:
>
>   p     t d       c      k g
>   f v             x
>                                 h
>                          (q)
>   m                 n
>
> This is a little anomalous in several ways. It's not weird for
> a language to have a voiceless /p/ without a voiced /b/ (in
> fact, that's the more unmarked system), but it is unusual to
> have a voicing distinction in some places of articulation but
> not others. Also, it's not unusual to have several manners of
> articulation at bilabial, velar and uvular PoAs, but having
> phonemes at these places implies their presence at a coronal
> (i.e., dental or alveolar) PoA, which is the least marked PoA.
> It's possible to get around this;  labial PoA is only slightly
> more marked than coronal, and yet some languages (Atkan Aleut,
> Onondaga) lack these entirely.  You do have two coronal phonemes,
> but the ratio is a little skewed (but believable).  Lastly,
> uvular clicks are not really possible, unless by uvular you
> mean where the back part of the tongue closes off the airflow.
>
> > Aa - Open Back Unrounded
> > Uu - Closed Front Rounded
> > Oo - Open Back Rounded
> > Ee - Mid Front Rounded
> > Ii - Mid Central Unrounded
>
> So, are you saying that vowel height is not a salient
> distinguishing feature? I take it you mean the following
> by the above:
>
>  <a> = [A]
>  <u> = [y]
>  <o> = [Q]
>  <e> = [o"]
>  <i> = [@] or [E"]
>
> It's not strange that you would have [A] for /a/ and
> [Q] for /o/, but it is a little odd that you would have
> two *rounded* front vowels with no unrounded counterparts --
> the former generally imply the presence of the latter.
>
> > Cases
> >
> > Ergative - The Ergative case is the subject in Present tense
> > transitive
> > sentences.
> > Absolutive - The Absolutive is the object in Present tense transitive
> > sentences, and the subject in intransitive present tense ones.
> > Pretergative - The Ergative, but in Past Tense
> [...]
> > Facudative - Indirect object in the uncertain future tense
> >
> > As you see, there is a different case for each tense, so I shall merely
> > list the Present cases.
>
> It is not very unusual to have split ergativity along
> tense lines, but usually this is restricted to an aorist/
> perfect having an ergative-absolutive system, and present/
> imperfect having a nominative absolutive system.  If you
> want to read up more about this, I would suggest getting
> Dixon's _Ergativity_, which talks at considerable length
> about ergativity splits:
>
> <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521448980/qid=
> 1009315718/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1_1/107-8779639-9578927>
>
> (I didn't know Amazon now has photocopies of excerpts
> on their page! That can be rather helpful information
> when buying books.)
>
> Dixon's style is rather formal, and if you don't have much
> linguistics background, I'd suggest something like _Describing
> Morphosyntax_ by Thomas Payne, which is more approachable:
>
> <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521588057/qid=
> 1009315867/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1_1/107-8779639-9578927>
>
> > (Eastern)- To signify if something is in the East
> > (Western)- same as above, but in the west
> > (Southern)- something is in the south
> > (Northern)-Guess what.
> > (Northwards Etc.) - If something is done towards specified direction.
> >
> > (Rightwards and Leftwards)- Same as above, but right and left.
>
> Usually, natural languages that grammaticalize directions do
> so relative to the kind of terrain that the language is used
> in.  So, for example, the dialect of English spoken on the Great
> Plains of North America (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, etc.) typically
> will talk about the *north* side of the house, or the *south*
> side of the house, because there aren't many recognizable
> features on the plain to relate to otherwise.  In California
> and Alaska, on the other hand, native languages tend to have
> deixis systems that refer to whether things are up river, or
> down river or up the hill or down the hill, because that is
> more accessible than North or South. Usually, though, languages
> don't grammaticalize *both* cardinal and relative directions.
> This would suggest that you should consider what kind of environment
> the language developed in, and choose one of the two systems (
> either right/left or north/south).

Yeah, I'll use the North South one.

> > Number
> >
> > Again, all the work is done by the noun, there are numbers
> > inflected for up to 10, and a plural number, for above or
> > unspecified.
>
> Highly inflected, indeed.  I can't think of a language that
> grammaticalizes so many numbers, but as long as you can think
> of a reasonable sociolinguistic motivation for it, I think it's
> an interesting idea.

Indeed...of course my way is usually to make the language, then the culture
seems to come out of that. :-)


> > Noun Letter Order
> > CVCVC
> > CVC
> > qCV
> > CVCVCV
> > CVCV
> > CVCVCV
>
> Do you mean 'licit syllables'?

Nope, lost you there...

> > The Cases and number are inflected after a glottal stop.
>
> What does this mean?  Does it mean that there are no cases
> usually, and they only appear after a glottal stop, or does
> it mean that cases are normally autonomous units which
> become cliticized after glottal stops at the end of nouns
> they attach to?

It means they only appear after a glottal stop.

> > The Verb does not inflect.
>
> This is typologically normal; it's called 'dependent marking'
> because the dependents (nouns, pronouns, prepositional phrases)
> of the phrase's head (the verb) are what show agreement.
>
> > Letter Order is the same as nouns
>
> When you say letter order, do you mean letters (i.e.,
> orthography) or phonemes (sounds)?
>
> > The adjective merges with the noun, but has the same letter order
>
> What do you mean, "merges with the noun"? Do you mean that
> the adjective becomes phonologically *bound* to the noun it
> modifies, or that it's *written* that way?  You seem to be
> confusing two very separate issues -- the way something is
> pronounced, and the way it is written.  The one is rule-
> based; the other is entirely arbitrary.
>
It is both, the stress pattern is the main thing that changes though.


> > The adverb is the same, but with verbs.
>
> Same question applies here.
>
>