R. Nierse wrote:
> Hi all,
> Here is my conlang. It is inspired by African tone languages. Yesterday I
> panicked when I wanted to translate the Magical Tree story, because I found
> out that the grammar wasn't logical or consistent [BTW, how do you
> translate so quickly?? A good translation takes so much of my time ;-( ].
> Still, I present it because I'm stuck. I hope you can help me out, maybe
> your opinions will help me further.

        I'll try to help as best as I can (even if African Tone languages are
not the languages I master the best :) ).

> Gbwl`
> Phonology
> Consonants
>  Voiceless
> p       t               k       kp (little ingressive) 1        ' 2

        Argh! A double-articulated consonnant! :)

>  Prenasalised
> mb      nd      ny      ng

        What is 'ny'? Is it a stop?

>  Voiced
> gb

        So p, t and k have no voiced counterparts but prenasalised
counterparts, and kp has no prenasalised counterpart but a voiced
counterpart. Is there a reason for that?

>  Clicks
> @ 3     c       x       q
>  Nasals
> m       n   (used with low fequency: in loanwords only?)

        It seems strange that a language could have no nasal at all except in
loanwords, especially in a language that has prenasalised consonnants.
Do you know any natlang precedent?

>  Fricatives (may get voiced after nasal)
>         s       sh
>  Laterals (voiced and voiceless resp.)
>         l       hl
> Approximants
> w       y
> Notes:
> 1  Allophones: k/i,e -> tS, c

        Pyuu! Better now, something pronounceable :)

> 2 Glottal stop is only used to distinguish two equal vowels: yhlelh'h  'he
> sees him'
> 3 @ can be pronounced as a bilabial click or as a labial-dental click. BTW,
> has anybody a suggestion for a better symbol?

        As you have no bilabial or labio-dental fricative, why not use f or v
for it? They carry well the idea of labialisation. I know they carry
also the idea of fricativization, but it would just be a bad habit to
lose, and the use of @ as a click is stranger then what I propose (at
least for me :) ).

> Vowels
> i, e, a, o, u.
> All vowels can occur in low, high and falling tone.

        Argh! Tones! :)

> Diphtongs
> Gbwl` has no diphtongs (yet)
> Tone

        Very interesting.

> Syllable structure
> (m)(C)(w)V(')(V)
> CVC is not allowed, except when final V disappears for syntactic reason. If
> that consonant is a voiceless stop, than that stop is pronounced
> unreleased.
> Note: I'm still doubting here. Should the minimal structure be CV (as I
> originally had) or just V ( I accidentally made some syllables beginning
> with a vowel)?

        If you really want to stick to CV as a minimal structure, why not
allowing the glottal stop ' at the beginning of words? It would be
simple then to add it to all your words beginning with a vowel. But a
minimal structure V allowed at the beginning of words is just fine too.

> Grammar
> Gbwl` is inflecting a little. Both nouns and verbs can take affixes and
> reduplication. Verbs can be active or stative, static verbs equalling our
> adjectives most of the time.
> Gbwl` has a split-ergative construction.

        Very interesting part about nouns. I never thought of somehting like
that. How long have you worked on your language?

> Verbs
> Dependent pronouns are inflected with prefixes an suffixes.
> Prefixes
> 1.      `-
> 2.      l-
> 3.      y- + last high tone of root becomes low, or in case of low tone: low
> tone vowel disappears.
> These prefixes also occur on nouns referencing the possessor. As verbal
> prefixes they signal agreement with the transitive agent and with
> intransitive subjects in noncompletive aspects. In the completive aspect
> intransitive subjects are marked by suffixes (see below), resulting in a
> split-ergative verb-agreement system.
> The system is ergative in the completive aspect where transitive agents are
> marked by prefixes and intransitive subjects and transitive objects by
> suffixes. The system in nominative in the noncompletive aspect where
> subjects are marked by prefixes and objects are marked by suffixes.

        This is a thing I love, just like changing word order depending on
tense or aspect. I should try that in a language of mine one day or
another :) .

> Suffixes
> 1. -(x)h
> 2. -(c)`
> 3. -0
> The brackets indicate that the consonants are used when the stem of the
> noun ends in a vowel, i.e. when the 3rd person prefix is used.
> Besides the above mentioned function, these dependent pronouns are suffixed
> to adjectives and nouns in stative constructions: gbb-xh    'I have been
> hungry'
> Examples:
> hlwo-xh                       'I have slept'  (or: Ta hlwo-xh, or: ta hlwo)
> sleep-1
> `-hlwo        'I am sleeping' (or: m-ta `-hlwo, or m-ta hlwo)
> 1-sleep
> y-hlel'-`   'He is seeing you' / 'He has seen you'  (or: m-hle (y-)hlel'-(`)
> td)
> 3-see-2
> I'm still figuring out if I want to use this rule: If (pro)noun is used,
> the afffix(es) is (are) optional.

        Your affixes are short enough. Why not having mandatory agreement? No
need for optional affixes :) .

> Syntax
> Subordination
> relative clauses
> The following relative clauses are encircled by clitics indicating the
> subordination
> 'That'  si + mi       {NB always downstep!}
> qohl` si    `-hlelh-0           mi
> man     SUB     1-see-3         SUB
> 'The man that I see.'
> 'If'    co + co
> co      l-cr        gbi     @a      co,     l-gbi sha     kpwi`
> if      2-can   know    this    if,     2-know  too     much

        I must translate this sentence too! I'll do it tomorrow, I don't have
my Moten-French lexicon here and I'm still wondering how to make
subclauses in Chasma"o"cho. :)

> Gbwl` culture
> Some background to understand the Gbwia culture.

        [lots of very interesting stuff]

> Religion
> There are several gods the Gbwia worship. The Gbwia religion is in between
> the worship of the forces of nature / shamanism and polytheism.
> The 'church' is highly organized and there are several functions within the
> organization, each having different rights (e.g. to perform rituals) and
> privileges and different obligations.

        This kind of religion is much like the religion of the Sky People. But
the Sky People are much more alien than your people, so the comparison
ends very soon :) .

        Christophe Grandsire

        Philips Research Laboratories --  Building WB 145
        Prof. Holstlaan 4
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        The Netherlands

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