The Dailies. October 20

The Dailies. October 20

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?


10 thoughts on “The Dailies. October 20

  1. Not technically today, but the other day… Even so, I’ve got my first few case-marking morphemes!

    I’ve decided that absolutive is unmarked while ergative is marked with the suffix /-qar/.
    Additionally, the lative is /-ɣe/ and the ablative is /-tle/. Additionally, I think if the first consonant in the suffix is unvoiced, but the last sound of the stem is a voiced consonant, the initial consonant of the suffix will generally gain voice (so /-ɢar/ and /-dle/ respectively). Not sure if the same is true in reverse for voiced initial consonants of suffixes.

  2. A collaborative conlang I worked on months ago which fizzled out was just reinvigorated yesterday, when we added another person to work on it. I quite like the language, which is called Dab Vi Suxi Kidap (/ðab vi ‘su.ʃi ‘ki.ðap/, abbreviated DVSK, which means “that which is spoken”). It’s very minimalist and isolating.

    Rather than describe the entire language, I’ll just describe the meaning of DVSK’s own name as a proxy to describing the grammar. “kidap” means “to speak”. “dab” is the marked direct case, which is mostly used in fragments or complex noun phrases that aren’t constituents of a clause. “vi” is a connector particle, which connects a case or preposition to a noun. “suxi” is a role-switching particle, which more-or-less denotes the passive voice. It switches the agent and patient of a verb. A verb marked as a noun is taken to be the traditional do-er of that verb, so “dab vi kidap” means “speaker”. “suxi” binds more strongly to the verb than the noun marking, so “Dab Vi Suxi Kidap” means “that which is the patient of the action of speech”, or more simply “that which is spoken”.

    The other cases are nominative, accusative, dative, and unmarked direct (in which case word order (VAP(R)) decides the role of the constituents.) Most nouns are unmarked.


    In a different collaborative conlang project called Sajem Tan we did a reform of the aspects system based on descriptivism. The language as specified in the reference grammar (feel free to read it, if you’re interested) has perfective, durative, gnomic, habitual, and continuative aspects. Perfective is given the usual definition (no interior composition), and durative is described as expressing “things that happen over a definite period of time, no matter how long.” The term “definite” in the reference grammar can be taken to mean that the duration must be known, however, that did not reflect actual use. It turns out nobody quite understood the distinction and there was nearly no use of perfective at all in the corpus, instead durative was used almost exclusively.

    After some discussion, it was decided that the old durative would be renamed to perfective, and the old perfective would become exactly synonymous and archaic. In the proto-language, they would have the meanings ascribed in the reference grammar, but in the modern language there would only be the perfective, using the inflection that once meant durative.

    I don’t know how interesting the story itself is, but I thought that descriptive conlanging isn’t the kind of thing you do too often and wanted to mention it here.

    1. It turns out that it has been exactly one year since I wrote the DVSK grammar file for my word/sentence generator, (October 20th of 2017) and at the time I said I would add tenses to it “tomorrow”. Well, I did in fact do it tomorrow, plus or minus one year. (It’s after midnight on the 21st here.) I present to you my favorite of the sentences it produced:

      Xix kapat viv ipi sukaxip xapak suxi kapisa.
      FUT_FUT-TERM go A[long hand] P[SUBOF:repeat] R[OBJOF read]
      /ʃiʃ ˈka.paθ viv ˈi.pi ˌsu.kaˈʃip ʃaˈpak ˈsu.ʃi ˌka.piˈsa/

      (A[], P[], and R[] refer to the agent, patient, and recipient noun phrases. I added the brackets because I wasn’t completely sure that the generator was getting the valencies correct and it’s hard to scan the unmarked output if you’re not fluent.)

      A rough translation:

      “Even later on, a long hand will have just accompanied a repeater to something which is read.”

      “Kapat”, the “go” verb, can take a patient, in which form it more closely resembles English “accompany”, which is why I translated it as such. It can also be simply agent+dative, in which case the dative has to be marked explicitly (since it’s not in the third slot if there’s no patient to occupy the second). This oddity comes about because DVSK has nothing like a comitative, not even as a preposition. I suppose that to say “I did it with them” you would say “I did it, and they did it as well”

      Currently, the grammar is all there to do most types of declarative and imperative sentences, but it can’t express questions yet. Once that and other stuff is worked out, I think I’ll do a real post here to describe the grammar in full.

      Tense and aspect is fusional, though regular, and works like this: There are three fundamental tenses, which are past, present, and future. These are assigned a consonant: present gets no consonant, past gets /b/, and future gets /ʃ/. These can be combined to yeild a total of seven tenses (b+b = past of past, x+b = past of future, b by itself is simple past, and so on, and the present is represented by nothing). There are four aspects, which are assigned vowels: perfective gets /iu/, continuative gets /a/, inceptive gets /u/,, and terminative gets /i/. A tense-aspect particle is formed from these elements, so the above-used “xix” is future-of-future terminative. Present+aspect is simply denoted by the vowel, so present continuative is “a”. Hopefully that all makes sense.

      We didn’t quite get to discussing if tense-aspect particles are mandatory when we invented the system.

      Well, it’s late and I should sleep and work on this more tomorrow. I ended up going into more than I meant to already.

    2. I’ve always loved ST and as you know, I love descriptive conlanging. Very nice.

      Sounds almost like a direct-active morphosyntactic alignment on the switching particle. Does it work the same or different from direct-active grammar?

      1. You mean for suxi? I’m afraid I don’t understand what direct-active alignment is. I tried to look it up, and found sources referring to either direct alignment or active alignment but not to direct-active alignment, and I see no obvious way to merge them.

        1. Also known as trigger, direct-inverse, or Austronesian alignment:

          I was just reading about direct-inverse that can turn into split-ergative or tripartite alignment via the inverse, and the flipping via a trigger particle made me wonder if it was related to that.

          (Sorry, there are so many terms for different stuff and I’ve been reading a lot of different papers where people call the same things by different terms.)

          1. I’ll definitely have a closer look at austronesian alignment, I didn’t know much about it before. It looks similar but different to what DVSK does.

            Also, it slipped my mind the first time I replied, but were you involved in ST at some point? I haven’t talked about it very much here, and I didn’t think it was well enough known for people to aren’t involved to have “always loved” it.

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