On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 10:29:51PM -0700, H. S. Teoh wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 10:44:47PM -0500, Aodhán Aannestad wrote:
> > Is the -en suffix also 1st person subject on verbs?
> Unfortunately, I haven't got that far yet. :-P  The current lexicon
> (which is listed in full in my original post as quoted below) doesn't
> have any verbs yet.
> I do have some vague preliminary ideas about how the grammar might work,
> but it's still too early to say anything concrete about it. I'm kinda
> experimenting with letting the grammar develop from the corpus, rather
> than first setting out the grammar then inventing some words to fit into
> the blanks, as I have done with my two other conlangs.

You guys are amazing. With all that feedback last night, the conlang bug
bit, and I was up till midnight fleshing out this toylang. There has
been some rather interesting developments, but first, let me make some

On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 02:32:52AM -0400, Alex Fink wrote:
> In fact the use of Pinyin <q> has nothing to do with its value as a
> Roman letter; it's actually a trans-script borrowing of Cyrillic <ч>!
> That might be innocuous from an internal perspective, but it's
> certainly a poor choice in a world where Roman has other established
> uses.  

No kidding! I would've just adopted Cyrillic instead of Latin... there
are so many more options with the expanded palette of letters! But then
that would defeat the purpose of *roman*ization. Oh well.

> On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 17:18:09 -0700, H. S. Teoh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> [...]
> >I would go for that, except that the apostrophe is already overused
> >for too many things, so I'd like to avoid it if possible. But I'll
> >keep <ts'> in mind; at least for now, it looks to be a far better
> >alternative than <q>.
> Well, to me, the biggest (likely) problem with your use of <q>
> [ts)_h], that no-one's made explicit yet, is its relation to <ts>
> [ts)].  Having a letter for the aspirate when you just use a cluster
> for the simplex is really strange, though slightly less so if
> [+aspirated] is the unmarked member of the opposition, and
> significantly less so if /ts)_h/ is somehow one-of-a-kind in the
> inventory.

Yeah, it *is* very strange, and that's why I commented that I'm not sure
about using <q> yet. At any rate, I think BPJ has found a good solution
(see below).

> Are there other aspirate vs. plain contrasts, and if so
> how do you romanise them?

I haven't even worked out the entire phonetic inventory yet. I'm kinda
leaving it open for revision until the corpus grows large enough.

> On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:54:48 -0700, H. S. Teoh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> [...]
> >From this very scant corpus, one may draw the following conclusions:
> >- The language has a /pf/ consonant cluster.
> You sure it's not an affricate, i.e. unitary?  Esp. given that you
> trancribe /ts)/ as unitary.

You're right, based on the new morphology I developed last night, it
appears that /pf/ is probably a unitary affricate.  It'd be awesome if
there was a ligature for it somewhere, but I don't know of any writing
system that has such a thing.

> >- When _-en_ follows _ŋ_, a linking /g/ is inserted.
> Hah, somewhat like (most dialects of?) English, morphophonologically.
> So, in reference to the thread about /N/, probably your aliens' /N/
> was [Ng] not too long ago?

Heh, you're way ahead of me. :) I haven't even fleshed out core aspects
of the conlang yet, and you're already doing diachronic analysis.
Presently, at least, there appear to be a number of linking consonants
in various contexts (details below).

> >_gruŋ_ [grUN] or [groUN]: arms.
> >_voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
> Interesting that <u> can vary to [oU] in the first but not the second.  
> >_mohipf_ [mo'?Ipf]: monster.
> >_voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
> Also interesting that unstressed <o> has two different values here.  

To be honest, the orthography isn't settled on yet. I'm just making it
up as I go in an attempt to represent the sounds. I know it sounds kinda
weird, why don't just work directly with IPA, but I'm hoping to grapple
with both the orthography and the IPA simultaneously with the hope that
a reasonably naturalistic orthography would develop. I would probably do
a major overhaul of the spelling system at some point, so the above
spellings are only tentative.

On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 03:04:33PM +0200, BPJ wrote:
> I always kind of liked the solution used in a book on Tibetan
> pronunciation I have. The author, a Tibetan scholar, also has
> qualms about <tsh> suggesting [tʃ] so he uses /ts/ = <tz> and
> /tsʰ/ = <ts> even though he otherwise uses Wylie
> <>.

Now this, I *really* like!! <tz> for /ts)/ and <ts> for <ts)ʰ> totally
makes sense for me. I think I'll adopt that convention. :) Thanks!

> And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
> since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.

Yeah, I'm sorta rethinking using <h> to represent /?/, 'cos it turns out
that /x/ is a rather common sound in this language. So the major
spelling overhaul may be nearer in the future than I thought.

On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 08:14:29AM -0500, George Corley wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:04 AM, BPJ <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
> > since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.
> >
>  Is that true. I'm just curious, since for many Mandarin dialects,
>  pinyin <h> is /x/ and there is no /h/ (there are dialects with /h/,
>  though).

My dialect of Mandarin substitutes /h/ for /x/, and collapses several
sibilants into /s/. It probably subconsciously contributed to my dislike
of Pinyin ("why do they have to write /s/ in so many weird ways? they
all sound the same to me!"). I remember first noticing that my
ex-roommate, who is from the Mainland, used /x/ where I'd say /h/, which
sounded really strange to me for quite a while.

On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 04:27:07AM -0700, Padraic Brown wrote:
> > From: H. S. Teoh <[log in to unmask]>
> > 
> > While the storm in the capitalization teacup blows over, I thought I'd
> Interesting, the sort of weather we get around here...

Well, one gets used to it. The only major inconvenience is the delaying
of vowel shipments to Georgia, but the locals don't seem too concerned
about that anyway. :-P

> > This isn't meant to be a "serious" conlang, so I'm purposely
> > ignoring the unlikelihood of the fact that its speakers are
> > whimsical stereotypical green alien beings that look like a ball
> > with pincer-clawed arms and webbed feet with a single eye on a stalk
> > that curves from their lower back above their body, and the fact
> > that they ride in saucer-shaped spacecrafts with a hemispherical
> > half-dome on top and retractable landing gear on the bottom.
> Ah, yes, the glass domed space ship. Popular with so many different
> races of space farer one must think that somewhere *out there* there
> must be some ultra rich, ultra shady glass-domed-used-spaceshipmongery
> that has cornered the market on intrastellar transport.

You must be referring to FTL Tech Inc., who first popularized the
concept of personal iFTLVs (interstellar faster-than-light vehicles)
after being inspired by reports that on a certain planet, the concept of
personal computers caused a major technological revolution. I couldn't
understand what the salespeople were trying to explain about why a
saucer shape was chosen (they weren't very good at explaining technical
details), but they did mention that the glass dome was for maximal
viewing of one's surroundings, which was a major selling point to
personal interstellar tourists.


> > In any case, here's the currently very scant lexicon:
> > 
> > _ipf_ [Ipf]: eye.
> > _ipfen_ [Ipf@n]: my eye.
> > _mohipf_ [mo'?Ipf]: monster.
> > _gruŋ_ [grUN] or [groUN]: arms.
> > _gruŋgen_ ['grUNg@n] or [groUNg@n]: my arms.
> > _tsapjak_ [ts)a'pjak]: feet/legs.
> > _voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
> > _voluŋgen_ [vO'lUNg@n]: my spaceship.
> > _qeŋ_ [ts)ʰEN]: glass. (Not 100% sure about spelling /ts)ʰ/ as _q_ yet, though.)
> > _iqeŋ_ [I'ts)ʰEN]: glass dome.
> Hmm. If ipf is eye and iqeng is made from glass and i- is a
> derivational prefix, then I'd suggest that pf is vitreous (or their
> planet's biological analogue) making "eye" actually "made from
> vitreous".

If that was a joke, I'm grateful for the vitreous humor! ;-)

> Either that or "pf" is "eye" and "ipf" is "wonderful delicious
> delicacy made from eye"!

Well, that would be something served by the evil multi-eyed monstrous
swamp-planet cultists, who prey on young children by grabbing their
eye-stalks, and commit atrocities like growing more than one eye!

> > From: George Corley <[log in to unmask]>
> >
> >>I might suggest that, when you find a few more words, that
> >>"eye-stalk-grabber" is a term of the severest abuse!
> >
> >I would think it more likely that threats to rip out someone's
> >eyestalk would be common as expressions of anger.
> Sure. Kind of like "I'll kill him!" in English, right?

In fact, I found a phrase: _gruŋgemi ipfteku_ "I'll kill you!" which
literally means "I'll grab your eye!". Analysis below.

> > Furthermore, I have in my notes that _mohipf_ is the plural of "eye"
> > (to a 1-eyed species, anything with multiple eyes is monstrous!). 
> Yep. I got that one right away! They might wonder what horrible things
> the poly-eyed get up to with all those extra appendages...

Why, they kidnap children, cut off their eye-stalks and eat their
eyeballs, or attach them to their own head to gain even more eyes, of

> The Ytuun of the World view things similarly, though from the opposite
> side. They have two heads and it is the dual that is the presupposed
> and unmarked normal. Plural is therefore three or five and above (four
> is their dual) and they don't have a concept of "one". For them, what
> is to us "one of something" is "half of a pair". So "one egg" becomes
> "half a pair of eggs" just as the "single face" of a Daine or Man
> comes out to "half a person".
> Their philosophical counting scheme is therefore: none, half, normal,
> three, two, many.

Ha, nice!

> > Which implies that _mo(h)-_ is perhaps some kind of pluralizing
> > prefix. Or maybe it's _mo-_ with a linking /?/ when preceding a
> > vowel.
> I like the latter, but that's just me!

Me too. This thing about linking consonants seems to be surfacing in
other places as well, so perhaps it's a fundamental feature of this
conlang's phonology!

On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 06:12:25AM -0700, Padraic Brown wrote:
> > It seems to me that conventionalized insults are more likely to
> > accuse someone of being cowardly, a victim of violence, or a sexual
> > deviant than to accuse them of being violent towards others, though
> > I could be wrong. 
> Perhaps not wrong. Perhaps these folks think a little differently. In
> any event, I don't see how an expression of anger like "I'll rip your
> eyestalk right off your back!" and a term of abuse like "eyestalk
> grabber!" are mutually exclusive...

I haven't discovered any nominal derivational processes yet, but I
believe there should be a nominal analogue to the "I'll grab your eye!"
threat. :)


Alright, so that's all the replies for the time being. Now for the fun
stuff: new vocabulary, new grammar, and new phonology!

1) Personal possessive suffixes.

It turns out that -en (1SG.POSS) is a generative suffix, and has a
counterpart in -tek (2SG.POSS) and -tai (2PL.POSS). So we have:

	ipf	[Ipf]		eye
	ipfen	['Ipf@n]	my eye
	ipftek	['IpftEk]	your(sg) eye
	ipftai	['Ipftaj]	your(pl) eye

	gruŋ	[grUN]		arms
	gruŋgen	[grUNg@n]	my arms
	gruŋtek	[grUNtEk]	your(sg) arms
	gruŋtai	[grUNtaj]	your(pl) arms

This last group seems to show a linking /g/ when the suffix begins with
a vowel, but none when the suffix begins with a consonant. There's also
some variance in the pronunciation of /e/, which may be related to which
consonants surround it.

The next group also introduces another phonological feature:

	tzapjak		[ts)V'pjak]	feet/legs
	tzapjaken	[ts)V'pjak@n]	my feet/legs
	tzapjaktek	[ts)V'pjaxtEk]	your(sg) feet/legs
	tzapjaktai	[ts)V'pjaxtaj]	your(pl) feet/legs

There seems to be a fricativisation of /kt/ -> /xt/ here.

Yet more phonological fun:

	aehrlu		['ExrlU]	tongue (*)
	aehrlunen	['ExrlUn@n]	my tongue
	aehrlutek	['ExrlUtEk]	your(sg) tongue
	aehrlutai	['ExrlUtaj]	your(pl) tongue

(*) I'm not 100% sure about the IPA transcription of /hr/ as [xr]; it
seems to be some kind of voiceless retroflex fricative / trill that I
can't quite put my finger on. It sounds like gargling. :-P

In any case, it seems that when -en comes up against a vowel, a linking
/n/ is inserted.

There are probably other personal possessive suffixes as well, but I
haven't discovered them yet.

2) Attributive -i.

A new development last night was the discovery of the attributive
suffix -i. It occurs in attributive clauses, for example:

	voluŋenu               daugshti
	voluŋ-en-u             daugsht-i
	spaceship-1SG.POSS-PAT trouble-ATTR
	My spaceship is broken (has trouble).

The function of the -u suffix isn't fully clear yet, but for now, the
simplest explanation seems to be a patientive marker of some kind. Or
perhaps a dative marker.

I'm not really happy with the spelling of _daugsht_; it's pronounced
['dAxSt]. I'll have to reconsider how to spell it when I overhaul the

3) Verbalizing -mi

The most fascinating development last night was the discovery of the
verbalizing suffix -mi, and the interesting way it is used to make
simple clauses. Here's an example:

	ipfemi         bufteku.
	ipf-en-mi      buf-tek-u.
	eye-1SG.POSS-V body-2SG.POSS-PAT
	I see you.

From a phonological standpoint, we have the interesting phenomenon:

	-en + -mi -> -emi

From a syntactic standpoint, it seems that the verb "to see" (if there
is one -- I don't know yet) isn't being used here; instead, we have the
periphrastic construction eye + my + [verb]. The object of the clause is
also interesting: the 2SG possessive suffix -tek appears to be unable to
stand on its own, so the noun "body" is used. So literally, the above
clause seems to be saying "My eyeing your body!".

Well, one clause is rather scant evidence to deduce anything, so let's
look at a few more:

	aehrlunemi        kuugteku.
	[,ExrlUn@'mi      'kuxtEkU]
	aehrlu-en-mi      kuug-tek-u.
	tongue-1SG.POSS-V ear-2SG.POSS-PAT
	I speak to you.

A literal translation might be "My tonguing [at] your ear". It seems
that the verbalizing suffix -mi turns a noun into its most
characteristic action. The object of the verbalized noun then seems to
adopt the body part most relevant to said action.

I haven't discovered what happens if a noun has more than one
characteristic action, or if an atypical action of the noun is referred
to. I also haven't ruled out the existence of verbs yet. It may be that
these verbalized nouns only cover a subset of usages.

On a phonological note, I'm not very happy with the spelling of _kuug_
[kux]. The orthography definitely needs an overhaul. :-/

Anyway, more clause examples:

	tzapjaktekmi    voluŋtektu.
	[ts)V'pjaxtExmI vO'lUNtExtU]
	tzapjak-tek-mi  voluŋ-tek-tu.
	feet-2SG.POSS-V spaceship-2SG.POSS-DAT
	You walk to your spaceship.

	tzapjakemi      voluŋgendu.
	[ts)V'pjak@mI   vO'lUNg@ndU]
	tzapjak-en-mi   voluŋ-en-tu.
	feet-1SG.POSS-V spaceship-1SG.POSS-DAT
	I walk to my spaceship.

Here we see a new suffix -tu/-du, which appears to be either a dative or
directional marker.

Phonologically, it appears that /k/ tends to fricativise before another

	Vkt -> Vxt
	Vkm -> Vxm

And /nt/ appears to undergo lenition to /nd/ (if we assume a single
underlying suffix -tu, which lenites to -du when preceded by /n/).

Finally, the noun _gruŋ_ "arms" verbalizes to "handle" or "grab", so we
have the threat I previously alluded to:

	gruŋgemi        ipfteku!
	gruŋ-en-mi      ipf-tek-u!
	arms-1SG.POSS-V eye-2SG.POSS-PAT
	I'll kill you! (My arms grab your eye!)

(Keep in mind that these aliens have pincers for claws, so grabbing
their tender eyestalk with these claws would amount to beheading, hence
the graphic translation "I'll kill you!".)


Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Use your hands...