The Dailies. July 21

The Dailies. July 21

Did you work on your language today? Create any new rules of grammar or syntax? New progress on a script? New words in your lexicon?

On the other hand, do any excavating or reading or enjoying stuff you’ve already created? Do you have any favorites to share?

How did you conlang today?


11 thoughts on “The Dailies. July 21

  1. Yes Word Stuff

    So trying to figure out where yes/no words typically come from. There’s at least a Chinese yes word that came from a “to be” verb and our English came from “so”, which came from an old form of “to be”. Anyone know any other likely sources?

    I’ve got evidence of gah in Akachenti being used as a dummy noun, which is confusing. (I’m still trying to figure out for sure if I’m going to go with “accusative” type marking on the possessive affix but it often feels right to say it that way.) While hushi gahót? looks like its saying, “Did eat your yes?”, it could also be interpreted, “Did you eat your (food)?” or “Have you eaten?”

    Thus, dummy noun. And the accent normally indicates the object, but if I was going with a third person object, it should be hushí gahot?, and it’s not. Which seems to indicate that “object-marking” or whatever this thing actually is gets used on the possessor vowel indicator on a possessive affix attached to the possessed object.

    Technically, this is the “related/kinship” affix, not the “ownership/possessive” one, but they behave identically, so it doesn’t matter much.

    So gah is clearly used to say yes. And it’s generally said gah when it follows a copular phrase, but it’s said gahi when it stands alone as an answer, which is a third-person indicator in the agent/subject position. “Yes, that,” is how I originally interpreted it, but it’s an interesting little beast because there’s no way it didn’t originate from some other meaning the way it’s treated grammatically.

    Copular Stuff

    And I doubt it’s “to be”, because internal reconstruction tells me the old form of “to be” was se:n, which is now mostly sa, except in some cases where it still retains the long vowel or the final nasal.

    And the -a:sh, -a’ch suffixes, which appear at first blush to be copular, equivalent in many respects with the English -er, are actually likely modified forms of a second person pronoun, which still looks like usha. The u is telling to me because that’s the fallback for being next to a long, low tone vowel when the high tone glottalic accent is suppressed. And -a:sh is very much a long, low tone vowel word.

    No Word Stuff

    Then we pop back over to the “no” half of our polarity words bucket, and we come up with the too many related words that are similar, short, and different, and I think the most obvious internal reconstruction would be iehet.

    I’ve got iehi, the equivalent to gahi, which shortens to ieh in most conditions where gah would be the affirmative form, but eh in topical, sentence-initial positions. This could simply be a speaker reinterpretation of the initial i as a topic/noun indicator rather than the first phoneme of the root.

    I’ve got e:t, which is pronounced even longer than usual as it’s the calling out equivalent of “Don’t do that” or a warning basically. Try calling out ehet in warning, and I can see that losing the h in a hurry.

    Then, I’ve got iet, which roughly translates “oh no” or “that’s bad.” It’s a dismayed or negative statement. The loss of a syllable he is not an unsurprising possibility, so it generally supports that it came from the same original word.

    Which also clearly does not come from the same source as infixed verb negation or noun reversal, which hinges on the phoneme -r-, and is connected with prefixes obru- and -(h)ru, though I’m not attached to the second one being in that form, it seemed likely at the time. Iehet seems to always be used in situations involving negating a full sentence or when dealing with adjectives.

    I did wonder if they originated from good/bad words because of iehi gah, ”
    “That’s no good,” and iet meaning “that’s bad,” but I’m neither entirely sure if that’s plausible nor sure if that bears up any better with the dummy noun scenarios where gah gets deployed. Anyone know if good/bad words ever migrate into dummy or yes/no meanings?

    Vowel Stuff

    In the course of all this, it has come to my attention that words involving front vowels show very interesting variations:

    • i, e, ie, ii, or e:
    • a, e, or ae/ai
    • a, e:, or a:
    • a, ia, or ie

    Back vowels show a lot fewer variations for words that came from the same root:

    • o or o:
    • o or u
    • u or u:
    • ui or Ø

    Other diphthongs all seem to be accidents of coincidence. Combined with the Modern Akachenti pairs of a/e, o/u, and unpaired i, it makes me think the distribution of vowel mutations should tell me something about the phonemes they came from, but I have no idea really what. Anyone have a clue where to look for that sort of thing?

    I could try sound change charts and have, but they don’t really tell me about patterns of number of variations could mean this about the vowel sounds in pre-[language under investigation]. I have a distinct feeling that there might have been a back open vowel, rounded or unrounded, and it moved forward some along the way, but I’d think I’m staring at a history of all unrounded front/central vowels if I didn’t know that even the modern a phoneme has a back allophone that sees a lot of use.

    Vowel shifts are a huge thing and I keep looking at them, but I don’t think I’ve successfully understood them, even after reading relevant sections of Campbell’s Historical Linguistics. Is there any good resource that would help me get it? I keep trying and not figuring out what I feel like should be obvious.

    1. I think your knowledge is a lot more exhaustive than mine!

      I’m pretty sure Irish doesn’t have yes/no words; you have to answer a question like “Did you have lunch?” with “I did,” or “I didn’t.”

    2. This is super interesting to read about. I love your yes/no words, they’re so complex but don’t feel contrived. 

      Can’t help on the vowel stuff, sorry.

  2. I couldn’t think of what to do for the challenge today but I did make some new words inspired by the theme, namely some family terms:


    tillehwa – nibling, niece or nephew. Compound of tilla (child) and lehwa (sibling).

    lehweija – parent’s sibling, aunt, uncle. Compound of lehwa (sibling) and eija (parent).

    I keep feeling like this should be the other way around (f.ex. sibling+child for nibling rather than child+sibling) just because that’s how I’m used to it being in Swedish etc, but I’m explaining it in my head by it being some kind of construction with “of” that merged. I still haven’t decided how those constructions work in this language though.


    kemmeija – grandparent

    kemtilla – grandchild

    These two are constructed with kem (two) and eija (parent) and tilla (child) respectively. I’m not sure why I went with this rather than for ex. doubling the word as in Swedish (mormor, literally mothermother for grandmother) or something like “great” or “big”, but I like how they sound so I’ll probably keep them.

  3. I haven’t done much conlanging; however, I did manage to make a simple formula to help me keep track of new words for the day in my spreadsheet. So now, I enter a word, put today’s date, and the formula labels the entry as “new.” When I open the spreadsheet the next day, the entry is no longer new and the formula removes the label. Cool, eh? This makes it easy for me to keep track of new words while I talk about them for the day.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.