Conlanging - Grammar 2018-07-22

By Max Woerner Chase

In this post:

I'm making a judgment call, and stopping the daily sentence quota. I'm just slipping a lot, and it's hard to deal with.

Anyway, let's see how this works.

There are several categories of word, which each have different requirements for the associated information:

Persons are:

The obviative is used to mark a distinct third person from the proximate, which is the default, except in certain sentences.

Numbers are:

The plural number is used for mass nouns and some abstract concepts.

Aspects are:

The latter two can be used to distinguish meaning where some languages would use different verbs.

So far, there have been two basic sentence structures.

A typical sentence starts with a verb, and follows it with noun phrases with an associated case, which generally go in order:

There is also a genitive case, which doesn't appear on its own at the noun phrase level, but does appear within certain constructions.

There was also, until about five minutes ago as I write this, a "reflexive" case in the lexicon. It functioned as a combination of nominative and accusative.

Looking over this, I'm probably going to get rid of the privative case. I think it can be replaced with something like "[ala (adj)].number.genitive [thing].number.genitive'[wan (adj)]".

Anyway, the other major sentence structure just puts the accusative noun phrase before the verb, and makes the nominative noun phrase optional; it's sort of a passive construction.

Notes on specific cases:

The genitive case is used to form possessives, superlatives, and comitatives, and can probably do other things.

To use the genitive:

Adjectives normally follow the noun they modify. I currently have determiners under the "adjective" umbrella.

It's possible for a sentence to have multiple verbs, and the mechanics of this were deliberately chosen to confuse:

There is no infinitive form. Each verb has a subject. The subjects MAY be equivalent noun phrases. If they are, the subjects after the first (... I think) can be omitted. If they are not, the verbs after the first agree with the first verb, and not their subject, in terms of person and number. The verbs are not required to agree in terms of aspect, because trying aspect agreement took it from "pretty confusing" to "way too confusing".

Usually, the first verb has a special meaning when used like this:

When I combined multiple verbs with the passive form, I concluded that the first verb has to include a nonce indirect object, if it doesn't already have a direct object or later case.

So far as verbs of motion, the language is mostly "verb-framed", and encodes the manner of motion using the instrumental case.

There is no specific equivalent of "to be". So far, I've used [lon (v)] to talk about location, and [sama (v)] to talk about appearance.

I haven't explored this in the example sentences, but I want the "prestige dialect" to favor "name-like" noun phrases over pronouns. Basically, the way this would work is that there are certain "name-like" nouns that encode person in addition to number and case, and these would be used both to conclude each part of a name, but to construct "name-like" versions of phrases along the lines of "humble servant" or "most merciful".

One thing that I haven't really thought about hard with these sort-of glosses I'm doing is the "indefinite deteminer", [sin (adj)], the equivalent of "a(n)". It exists to introduce new ideas, and there's no definite counterpart; things are assumed definite by default.

I think that's everything I've worked out so far.

I think what I want to do is take a break, then come back to this and try to use Describing Morphosyntax on it.

Next time, I wrap this up for now.