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kechpaja wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 08:55:09PM -0400, Herman Miller wrote:
>> Well, there's a bit of a difference between the river metaphor and the 
>> family tree one that we're accustomed to, in that big rivers form from 
>> little streams coming together, while trees grow from the roots up and 
>> branch out from there. So if you're thinking about classification in a 
>> genetic sense, you're more likely to come up with the image of a tree 
>> branching out. 
> 
> Not necessarily, though. When that metaphor was first mentioned, I
> assumed it was in reference to a river *delta*, where a single large
> river splits up into a number of smaller bits before ending up in a
> larger body of water. 

I didn't actually have a word for river delta yet, so I made one, 
"gremu" (also new: tsesta "small river, tributary"; emba "estuary").

Tirëlat speakers often do things in multiples of 12, so it makes sense 
to have categories that are roughly based on powers of 12. At the base 
level is "dajtu" which is more or less a species. Then you get the 
larger groups (pjak) which are named after bodies of water:

synapjak "stream-category" (genus, around 12 species)
tsestapjak "tributary-category" (family, around 12 genera)
serripjak "river-category" (order, around 12 families)
embapjak "estuary-category" (class, around 12 orders)
lağipjak "bay-category" (phylum, around 12 classes)
mundapjak "sea-category" (kingdom, around 12 phyla)

"Rhak" is another word used for the largest categories. Although at 
first glance this seems a lot like the standard rank-based biological 
taxonomy, there's a couple of notable differences. For one, the 
categories are not necessarily nested in a cladistic way; a river may be 
known by more than one name in various regions as it flows from its 
sources to the ocean. (As it applies to birds, you can think of the 
"Bird Estuary" flowing into the "Dinosaur Estuary" before it reaches 
"Vertebrate Bay"). The other difference is that these categories are 
defined by size, not chronological order of divergence. Again using 
birds as examples, we've got something like this:

Aves
   Paleognathae
     Struthioniformes (ostriches)
     Rheiformes (rheas)
     Casuariiformes (cassowaries, emus)
     Apterygiformes (kiwis)
     Tinamiformes (tinamous)
   Neognathae
     Galloanserae
       Anseriformes (ducks, geese, etc.)
       Galliformes (pheasants, etc.)
     Neoaves
       All other birds (lots of orders)

With the Tirëlat system you get something like this:

┐ Bird Estuary
┌┐ Ratite River
│┌ Ostrich Brook
│┌┌ Rhea Brook
││┌ Cassowary Creek
││└ Kiwi Creek
│└ Tinamou Stream
│ (Bird Estuary continues)
┌┐ Fowl River
│┌ Duck River
│└ Chicken River
└ (Bird Estuary continues)

That is, even though it's a ranked system, there's no need for higher 
ranks if there aren't enough related species to group together. Streams 
can flow directly into an estuary. Ostriches, with only 2 species, 
barely even require a genus in this system (and would probably be 
considered as a single "dajtu" in Tirëlat, as that can include two or 
three related species if they're similar enough). There's no Tirëlat 
equivalent of "Struthionidae" or "Struthioniformes".