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I've been mulling around some ideas for a new language to work on, and 
I'd love to have some more eyes and brains looking at them - I've got a 
lot of open questions as to how some of this is going to work.

The language so far has no name, but I'm so far calling it my 
'non-conworld language' because unlike everything else I'm doing it's 
explicitly not tied to a conworld and is just a vehicle for trying out 
things I want to mess with. (I've shortened the name to 'the Nonlang' 
for ease of use and pithiness's sake.)

It's so far planned to do (what I think are) some interesting things:

- Phonemic tone. (I just love tone too much to not do it.) Unlike in my 
one already well-developed language Emihtazuu, every root at least is 
marked for tone somehow, and I expect to have one or two tone-only 
affixes somewhere in the grammar. Diachronically tone has been there 
from 'the beginning', unlike in Emihtazuu, in which tone is 
diachronically secondary, at times in fairly obvious ways.

- Tone-like 'word shape' melodies - things that work like tone melodies 
but are made up of suprasegmental features other than tone. Rather than 
just being metrical foot shapes, these also (in their current 
conception) specify where the weight of heavy syllables comes from - 
i.e. instead of just being a shape like a plain trochee [μμ.μ], it's 
explicitly [(C)VV.CV] or [(C)VC.CV]. The example I've got so far is the 
plural marker, which is a right-aligned -VV.CV] shape; turning /nálì 
/'person' into /náɛ̀lì /'people' (underlyingly /naali/+[HL-, with the 
resulting contour tone causing the long vowel to diphthongise).

- A morphosyntactic alignment I'm provisionally calling 
'Austro-inverse'. Like Austronesian-style languages, a verb's arguments 
are all marked for topic/focus roles rather than verb argument indexing, 
and the verb is marked in a way that relates those topic/focus roles to 
its own argument structure. Unlike Austronesian-style languages, though, 
that marking behaves in a way analogous to a direct-inverse system, but 
instead of animacy or some other semantic property being the cue as to 
the assumed subject, it's topicality. Verbs in the Nonlang assume their 
subject is also the topic, and are only marked when that's not the case. 
Here's an example:

náɬí nò kárú
person[TOP] 1sg look.at
'the person is looking at mé'

nálì θò kárú
person 1sg[TOP] look.at
'I'm looking at a pérson'

nálì θò kárùgó
person 1sg[TOP] look.at-INV
'a pérson is looking at me' (where 'me' is the topic but not the subject)

Topicality is marked by a mutation of the last consonant in a word (thus 
above, /l/ > /ɬ/ and /n/ > /θ/). I'm not sure exactly how this works 
overall yet, but it's something like lenition - voiced things devoice 
and stops become fricatives (I'm not sure what to do with 
already-voiceless continuants). ATM the underlying diachronic source for 
this is an original topic marker *-s with a change of something like 
(with 'person') *nálì-s > *náli̥ (devoicing the last vowel) > nál̥í 
(voicelessness moving to the consonant). The devoiced vowel also messes 
up tone patterns and then leaves them changed when it becomes voiced 
again, but I'm not 100% sure exactly how that'll work out; in the 
example you can see unmarked /nálì/ with [HL- provisionally becoming 
topicalised as /náɬí/ with just [H-. (I'm not sure whether the simple 
temporary loss of a tone-bearing mora should be all that changes things, 
or if the devoicing itself should affect the tone that appears on the 
re-voiced vowel.)

I imagine as well that focus-marked arguments would trigger some sort of 
verb morphology, in a system that might look a fair amount like Japonic 
kakari-musubi.

- I'm probably going to do something with applicatives (I love 
applicatives), especially because they seem like a great solution for 
getting topic/focus marking onto obliques in a way that feels very in 
line with the flavour of the language.

That's most of what I've got at the moment (the vocab in those examples 
is literally the full extent of the vocab I have so far); hopefully the 
rest of the language ends up being as interesting. I'm trying hard not 
to just copy half of Emihtazuu over (or half of Japanese, which I'm véry 
susceptible to accidentally doing), while also not keeping myself away 
from features I like just because I've done them before (or because they 
make it too obvious that Japanese is my L2 and the natlang love of my 
life). Hopefully I'm striking that balance.



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