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This summer I'm finishing up documenting and learning Michif, a language
spoken by mostly a lot of older Metis from central/western Canada and
North Dakota.  The language is unique in that it uses almost exclusively
French nouns and Cree verbs.  French nouns largely maintain French NP
structure, gender, articles, etc., while Cree verbs maintain all the
inherent complexity of Cree (including marking for an inanimate/animate
gender giving every noun 2 distinct genders!).

Basically the only way this language could come in to being is for some
kid some day from a bilingual French/Cree community to say "wouldn't it be
cool if we started talking like this?" and then have their friends adopt
the way of speaking.  Because the language was such a strong statement of
identity, much of the larger Metis community adopted it and it took on a
life of its own (I think this happened around 1780-1820).  To me, that
means that this language is/was a conlang.

So, a few questions for yous - at what point does a conlang cease to be a
conlang and become an natlang? and - have any of you ever looked at SILs
Dictionary Development Project resources as a tool for fleshing out a
conlang? http://www.sil.org/computing/ddp/

Dale



Here's a few of the cool things this language does just for kicks:

kipwaashkwaamow sa shmiizh ana la pchi gaarsoń
you-button-up-it-for-him his shirt (of) that-one (animate determiner) the
little boy

notice how it uses French NPs, but not VP?  and of course having multiple
dimensions of gender marked for...

en ban zhornii anohch
(it's) a nice day today
miyo-kiishikaaw anohch
(it's) nice-day-ing today

and here's an example of how there's two ways of saying the same thing -
both from the same language, but one using nouns (from French), and the
other using a verb (from Cree).  Really expands on the way you can say
things.

soń nestomaa
his stomach

This means his stomach, but semantically it's meaning isn't drawn only
from the French word - actually it also corresponds to the Cree noun watay
- meaning the chest below the ribcage.  Many nouns have assumed the
semantic meaning of the words they replaced, even though they've
maintained their own NP structure, though I should add that many nouns
have not changed meaning.

Last for now - it has all kinds of words related to water travel - to go
across the current, against the current, to drift across, against, with,
to be blown over water by the wind, and many more - reflecting a culture
that was built around canoes and navigable lakes.  Another semantic domain
to add to your language...