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I would love to learn some of this language once you have some 
interlinearized examples!

tylakhlp'f,
Amanda

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 11:57:59PM -0600, Logan Kearsley wrote:
> I went looking through old emails for a phonology sketch I did a while
> ago (in 2012, in fact) in response to a Conlangery episode, and ended
> up also finding that I did another sorta-Salish-inspired sketch back
> in February of this year. It has a lot of similarities with this one,
> so I'm stealing from it! We'll just go ahead and call this a
> continuation of the same project, I think.
> 
> I also went looking for more information of possessives in Salish
> languages, and found these inspirational papers:
> http://lingserver.arts.ubc.ca/linguistics/sites/default/files/1996_Burton_Davis-H.pdf
> http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/Tg0MzZhY/Underspecified%20Tense.pdf
> 
> The second one there doesn't actually have anything to do with
> possession, so I'm not sure why it came up in my search, but it's got
> some cool ideas nonetheless. After reading that tense paper, I'm
> thinking of having a basic underspecified non-future tense, where
> different verbs are more likely to have a default interpretation as
> present or past based on lexically-specified aktionsart. Manipulating
> aspect would force perfective verbs to be interpreted as past, but
> then there'll be an explicit past-tense clitic (like in St'at'imcets)
> to force past interpretation in other cases. Meanwhile, I'm thinking
> paraphrastic futures with modal distinctions, consciously stolen from
> English.
> 
> The possession paper gave me a lot to think about, and I think I'm
> much closer to a decision on how to handle possessives, but not quite
> there yet....
> 
> In the February stuff, I had the idea of a class of oblique pronouns-
> essentially, intransitive determiners with the built-in preposition /
> case that can be used in place of a relativized clause for an explicit
> oblique argument. Those are useful because core argument positions are
> all be marked on the verb, regardless of whether there is an explicit
> DP/NP for them, but obliques can't be.
> 
> The pronoun set I came up with then had a distinction between 3rd and
> 4th person, where 3rds are always definite and 4ths are obviative
> and/or indefinite. Before I rediscovered this, I had been thinking of
> giving the language both 3rd and 4th person agreement affixes as well,
> but with a slightly different distinction- third persons to be used
> for proximate items (things that would be described as "here") and
> people who are part of the discourse but not being directly addressed,
> and 4th person to be used for things that are out-of-sight or people
> who are not party to the conversation, with either one potentially
> being capable of definite or indefinite marking. Keeping both systems
> feels like a delicious bit of naturalistic complexity, and it even has
> some internal logic to it- if an explicit DP is not provided for a 3rd
> or 4th person argument, then 3rd person agreement would typically
> indicate something definite, while 4th person would typically indicate
> something indefinite. Thus, the pronouns can be seen as matching up
> with the agreement affixes, and just making explicit what is implicit
> in the agreement system.
> 
> My February sketch also had an animacy hierarchy, so I'm gonna settle
> on that as well- we get more use out of the inverse voice marker that
> way.
> If animacy rather than syntactic ordering determines core argument
> roles, however, then we run into the problem of how to distinguish two
> 3/4p arguments in the same clause. In my February sketch, I supposed
> that a 3+4 combination would be OK, but a 3+3 or 4+4 wouldn't, but
> that would require having different determiners for different persons,
> and I don't really want to do that. We could still make an animacy
> distinction for definite vs. indefinite arguments, but it's a weird
> special case which I'd rather not deal with. So, there are two
> options: either those kinds of clauses just are ambiguous, or they are
> ungrammatical, and you can actually only ever have a maximum of one
> explicit core argument to any verb. Making it ungrammatical is the
> more typical Salishan solution, and results in more interesting
> discourse structure constraints, so I'm going to go with that. This
> reduces the possible extent of center-embedding, and also gives more
> usefulness to the subject-marking clitics- if there's an explicit
> argument to a transitive verb, and there's a subject clitic, then that
> argument must be the object; and if there's no clitic, then that
> argument must be the subject!
> On a related note, reciprocals will also have to expressed with
> multiple clauses. Reflexives, on the other hand, can be handled by
> adding one more special detransitivizing affix.
> 
> The hierarchy I have in mind is a very simple 2p > 1p > 3/4p. Further
> gradations of animacy in non-discourse-participants should be
> unnecessary, because again the subject marking clitic tells you
> whether an explicit 3/4p argument is the subject or not.
> 
> In my February musings, I noted that "With two [3/4p arguments], the
> situation is ambiguous, and two conjoined clauses are required to
> explicitly resolve the ambiguity. Typically, however, in running
> discourse, one referent will have a higher expected animacy than the
> other, and the usual direct/inverse marking is used to manage your
> *expectations* of relative argument animacy/agency." I still think
> that's a cool idea, so perhaps I shall save it for a dialectal
> variant, or re-use it for a different project. But definitely
> ungrammatical here.
> 
> An overview of the phonology (slightly tweaked from what I had in
> February, and definitely *not* objectively Salish-like at all, so be
> warned) and orthography are as follows:
> 
> Stops come in a voiced and unvoiced series: the usual p/t/k, b/d/g
> distinctions, and then a voiced glottal stop and an unvoiced
> pharyngeal, which I'm tentatively transcribing as <g'> and <k'>. I
> briefly considered <gq> and <kq>, but I figured that would be
> confusing in light of the *clicks*, of which there 2 (and sort of 4):
> <tq> for a dental/alveolar click, and <lq> for a lateral.
> The sort-of-4 comes from the fact that all stops and clicks can be
> prenasalized, indicated by an n-digraph, for a total of 16 stop/click
> phonemes. Voiced prenasalized stops, however, are only realized as
> stops pre-vocalically; in other positions, they become homorganic
> nasals. There are no phonemic simple nasals, so this creates no risk
> of homophony.
> 
> There is only a single series of fricatives:
> 
> <l> - /K/ (lateral fricative)
> <x> - /S/
> <s> - /s/
> <h> - /T/
> <f> - /f/
> 
> The fricatives and clicks default to unvoiced, but gain voicing
> between two voiced sounds (i.e., intervocalically, or between a vowel
> and a voiced stop), in a sort of Old-Englishy way. Yeah, /T/ is
> over-represented in conlangs that voicing rule is reminiscent of
> English/Welsh, but I am fond of /T/ and I think the rest of the
> phonology makes this quite distinct enough that these concessions can
> be forgiven.
> Now, that large fricative inventory seems a little front-heavy, so to
> balance things out and make 'em a little more interesting, /k/ and /g/
> will become fricatives in intervocalic positions, thus providing some
> back-of-the-mouth fricative phones (even though they're not
> distinctive phonemes), one phonemic voicing distinction between
> fricative phones, and one unvoiced intervocalic phone. And it's not
> even too difficult to come up with a few different plausible
> historical explanations for such a scenario.
> 
> There are four basic vowels:
> a - /a/
> e - /E/ or /i/ (this may be free variation, or there may be some
> consonant-conditioning involved here that I haven't figured out yet)
> o - /A/
> u - /M/
> 
> Vowels come in two series, like Russian, but with rounding rather than
> palatalization, for a total of 8. The rounded vowels are written with
> a w-digraph, and induce rounding-assimilation on preceding consonants
> and preceding hiatus vowels. This can induce mutation of
> previously-final vowels during affixation.
> 
> Rounded vowels can occur in hiatus with each other, but unrounded
> vowels can only occur individually. I'm imagining that this is due to
> a historical process where originally there were no vowels in contact,
> but the loss of an original /w/ consonant that produced the rounding
> features on neighboring vowels resulted in some instances of
> rounded-vowel hiatus. Identical vowels in hiatus are half-long, and
> might undergo some subtle quality shifts.
> 
> Syllable onsets must consist of one consonant or a cluster of one
> fricative and one non-nasal plosive, unless the vowel is rounded, in
> which case null onsets are allowed (again, due to the loss of an
> original */w-/, which is still in the romanization as a digraph
> character for rounding). Internal codas may be empty or consist of any
> single non-click consonant. Clicks can only occur word-initially or
> intervocalically. Word-final codas may also include stop+fricative and
> fricative+stop clusters, as a result of the historical loss of some
> final vowels. I expect this to result in some interesting infixing or
> metathesis or something when adding consonant-initial suffixes. The
> simple solutions would, of course, be the insertion of epenthetic
> vowels (irregular ones that reflect the historical form, of course!)
> or loss of one of the consonants, but Infixing & Metathesis Are Cool
> as well.
> 
> In the event that the coda of one syllable and the onset of another
> syllable are brought together such that a nasalized stop is placed
> after a fricative, metathesis occurs to put the nasalized stop first.
> If a click ends up after any other consonant (due to affixing), it
> assimilates to a corresponding stop: tq -> t/d, lq -> k/g, ntq ->
> nt/nd, nlq -> nk/ng.
> If a nasalized stop ends up following a normal stop, the initial stop
> changes into a prenasalized stop instead; thus, k+nt -> nkt.
> 
> Note that a word ending in a voiced prenasalized stop will have its
> pronunciation change depending on whether or not the next word starts
> with a vowel or a consonant- it may be realized as a labialized voiced
> prenasalized stop, or as a non-labialized voiced nasal.
> 
> With the phonology and romanization basically worked out, I can start
> making up words! My initial vocab is likely to come largely from
> borrowings out of examples in papers I'm referencing on Salish, but
> one big advantage of a very-not-Salish phonology is that, by the time
> the borrowings are suitably adapted, you probably won't be able to
> tell.
> 
> -l.