Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tinkering, Aesthetics, and Carving Up Time.

I will have to do a significant re-write of the documentation for Teliya Nevashi in the near future. There are many sweeping changes coming along.

I am making some changes to the whole phono-mess. I am going to collapse my two r's (rh /R/ and r /4/) into one, which will be /r/ or /4/, and x /x/ will disappear into h /h/. Both changes affect the word xirhos ("how many"), which will become hiros. I do think that's an improvement. Part of me will miss rh and x though. Having those in addition to r and h was just asking for trouble from the start, and that was not an accident.

I also don't see the point in actually writing in the glottal stop when the most common place it occurs is between two identical (consecutive) vowels, and it always occurs in that case. There are a few other places I've put it, but it really wouldn't be missed from those places.

As described in the previous entry, I am making changes to the way nouns work, and I am scrapping the entire set of personal pronouns for new ones. (I will probably keep de for 2nd person, but the rest are history.)

All of the examples will have to be rewritten for these changes. That alone could take a while. It will give me a chance to get a feel for how the changes work out in practice. There's quite a lot of work to be done, and that's not counting things not written anywhere that need to be documented. All of this tinkering is good for my mental health, though, since it keeps me from worrying about other things going on in my life.


I have something to confess about the aesthetics of my conlangs: sometimes I make things ugly on purpose. And I don't mean, "This is an ugly concept, so it should have an ugly word." I mean that I quite often create things that aren't necessarily pretty to me because they are ugly in an interesting way or because a certain amount of ugliness makes a language feel more well-rounded to me. Otherwise, every word ends up sounding like "fishery" or "lilacs", words that I particularly like in English. For every "lilac fishery", there has to be a "salt water" (which sounds ugly to me, especially in my native dialect).


Teliya Nevashi has two verb tenses: Past and Non-Past. The non-past covers present and future, but it also covers the very recent past. If something happened an hour ago, that's still non-past. If it happened last week but *feels* like it just happened, that's non-past too. This recent past bleeding into the present that's bleeding into the near future reflects how I carve up time in my own mind, and tends to be a thread running through my various conlangs, even when they have more tenses. What's "present" is a little fuzzy for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nouns: A Progress Report...

I decided to completely scrap my set of personal pronouns and to revise how nouns are marked for number and case. It's taking me a while to come up with the set of pronouns that I really like, but in the meantime, I can share this much about nouns:

Nouns & Pronouns (Again.)

I’ve never been ecstatically happy with the noun and pronoun systems of Nevashi, so this seems like a good time to try something new.

Currently, there are a set of declensions based on suffixes. This proposal is for a system that parallels the way that verbs work, as suggested (by David Peterson?) at one point when I was kvetching on CONLANG-L about how unhappy I was with my nouns. While I am overhauling nouns, pronouns are getting reworked too.

The genitive has shifted to -i, which is also the most common adjectival ending. This was a change that mainly had to do with sound, but it is also consistent with the established (alternative) practice of using adjectives to show possession.

There are two sets of things that can precede nouns that can carry number and case markings. The first set is for use in any case where the noun, like the cheese, stands alone. The second set is case-and-number-marked definite article, demonstrative adjectives, and prepositions:

singular dual plural
Nom. (Optional) i il in
Genitive i’i ili ini
Accusative im ilim inim
Dative it ilit init

(I had thought, at first, that the nominative and genitive singular would be the same, but the glottal stop just isn’t getting enough play, so there it is, where it will suddenly become extremely common.)

Ya (The definite article, now with fabulous new marking)
Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ya yal yan
Genitive yai yalai yanai
Accusative yam yalam yanam
Dative *etc* yat yalat yanat

(And, of course, it butchered the tables in the copy & paste. Y'all are bright. You'll figure it out.)

Everything else will likely follow the pattern of ya there, except for some vowel changes as necessary. As usual, any ending that requires a vowel will echo the last vowel before it.

There's the possibility, under this system, of an empty, placeholder noun (similar to the magical verb an.) I am not sure what that would be or how it would be used, but the possibility is intriguing to me.

These changes will require me to change (or at least provide the alternative using this system) for every example in the documentation. I haven't decided if I will simply replace the existing noun-related section or present this as an alternative scheme.

Nevashi has always had alternate versions, which is one of the things I've lost in the existing documentation online. This is a shame because I've always enjoyed that aspect of this particular project. At one point, I had been working on a Babel text translation, and three versions emerged that were radically different in terms of structure, using exactly the same vocabulary set. I wish I had kept that, because it would give some insight into the overall development of Standard Teliya Nevashi, and also demonstrate how broad the shadow grammar really is.

(I can't think of a better way to describe the undocumented or underdocumented alternative grammars than "shadow grammar".)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bits & Pieces

Once upon a time, I had a chat on Facebook about what kind of gender system a race of insectoids might have. I had a thought or two on that matter that turned into this, which I found in a file oh-so-descriptively named "notes.txt":

Animate/Edible (most plants and animals, water, and enemies)
Inanimate/Edible (meat; grains, cooked, processed or manufactured foods)
Animate/Inedible (people, poisonous plants and animals, spirits, emotions, fire)
Inanimate/Inedible (Most concrete, inanimate objects)

The difference between 'pig' and 'pork' is one of gender-- a pig is A/E and pork is I/E.
Abstract concepts are assigned gender according to where they seem to best fit metaphorically. Animate and inanimate could also be seen as moving/stationary-- “Murder” is probably A/I because it is an action (moving) committed by living things (animate), while “neglect” might be I/I, because it is a sort of non-action.

Also in this file was a paradigm showing what I will assume is the present indicative of a verb tos or tosva. I know what tosva is ("there is, there are"), so I guess I was just working back from there to coax a more useful verb out of it.

Anyway, I thought I'd post some orphaned bits and pieces while I work on a potential overhaul of Nevashi nouns, which is taking me longer to write up than I initially thought it would. (It's actually two different possible alternatives to the system in the documentation now.)