At 12:12 PM 3/8/99 -0800, Matt Pearson wrote:
>Hi Tim,
>I have to say that Neo-Anglic really appeals to me, both the original
>sketch and your proposed revisions.  My only 'complaint' is that the
>language isn't strange enough - it's too much like conventional modern
>day creoles (except for the agglutinativity, which I really like).  I
>encourage you to play with it some more and see what emerges...

Thanks for your encouraging remarks!  I had some doubts about whether this
"made sense"; to hear from a "real" linguist that it does is great.
>Also, I think you should follow your gut and eliminate the creolisation
>stage from the history of Neo-Anglic.  Instead, have the language be
>descended directly from English.  As you describe it, Neo-Anglic seems
>like a completely probable descendant of English - especially if you
>consider the increasing influence of African American Vernacular English
>and other 'non-standard' dialects on the standard spoken language.

That's certainly the direction I'm leaning in now.
>IMHO, just about the only changes you'd have to make would be
>eliminating the prepositions "bla(q)" and "lo(q)" (too reminiscent of Tok
>Pisin "bilong" and "long"), and replacing them with descendants of English
>prepositions.  How about "a(v)" or "fo" instead of "bla(q)", and "on"
>instead of "lo(q)"?  The use of "on" to mark direct objects could be the
>result of an extension of AAVE imperfective constructions like "he dissin'
>on me" and "don' be hittin' on me" to perfective constructions.  As far
>as I know, "he dissed on me" and "he hit on me" (with perfective
>interpretation) are ungrammatical in AAVE, but perhaps they're
>acceptable in Proto-Neo-Anglic...?  Imagine a progression like this:
>Future Standard English:
>    he be hittin' on the man    (imperfective)
>    he hit the man              (perfective)
>    he hittin' on de man        (imperfective)
>    he (done) hit (on) de man   (perfective)
>Early Neo-Anglic:
>    ihetin on man               (imperfective)
>     [OR ihetinim, on man]
>    idanhet on man              (perfective)
>     [OR idanhetim, on man]
>Modern Neo-Anglic:
>    ihetinim on(im) man         (imperfective)
>    idanhetim on(im) man        (perfective)
>...Something like that.  What do you think?

I like that.  I can certainly see "on" becoming an accusative marker in that
way.  But I wonder if it would also take on the dative, allative, and
locative functions, or if it would end up being accusative only, with "to"
having those other functions?

I also like the [I]->[E] sound change that you've implicitly introduced,
although it has to be modified to get [in] instead of [En] for the
imperfective suffix.  How about: [I]->[E] before voiceless stops (or all
voiceless consonants), otherwise [I]->[i]?  I definitely need to think some
more about sound changes.  The strategy I've followed so far has been to
keep the sound changes pretty conservative, avoiding anything that isn't
already attested in real-world creoles and/or "non-standard" varieties of
English, but to make the orthography very different, so that to a
non-linguist it would look quite "foreign" on paper but would be fairly
intelligible when spoken.  (Hence your comment that it's not strange
enough.)  But I think I had in mind all along that this was just the
beginning, and that once I had the grammar down I'd start introducing more
sound changes.

The thorniest problem, I think, is what to do about gender.  I've long
thought that "they" is well on the way to becoming a gender-neutral singular
pronoun, as well as a plural one.  (As several people on this list have
pointed out at various times, this is not a "PC" innovation, but rather a
revival of what used to be standard usage until the prescriptive grammarians
decided that it wasn't "logical".)  But if this happens, will "they"
supplant "he" and "she", as "you" supplanted "thou", or will "he" and "she"
remain in contexts where the gender of the referent is known and relevant?
Either way, there will probably be a perceived need for an unambiguously
plural third-person pronoun, and something like "th'all" (analogous to
"y'all") will emerge to fill this need.  And probably "it" will remain as an
inanimate singular pronoun.  Any way you look at it, the pronominal
agreement paradigms will be a lot more complicated than what I've described.
Using a creole as a starting point eliminated all this; since NO creoles,
AFAIK, have grammatical gender, I could just take it as given that this was
not an issue.

Another problem is how to deal with English strong verbs (another feature
that seems to simply disappear in the process of creolization).  But on
further reflection, that probably isn't really a problem.  It would probably
make sense to assume that most strong verbs are "regularized" as part of the
process of agglutinization (is that a real word?), leaving just a few of the
most common as irregular verbs to lend a convincing air of complexity.
>Features which you should *definitely* keep include the demonstratives,
>and the use of a framing negation "-no- nan" negation (which has clear
>precedents in non-standard English "he don't like me none").
>Let us know how things develop...

I will.  But don't hold your breath.  As usual, I have too many conlang
ideas in my head to give any one the time and attention it deserves.
Tim Smith
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Get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please.
- Mark Twain