Interesting features in your conlang

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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Makri » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:22 am UTC

1. Well, yes, the inference from typological non-existence to unaquireability is pretty Chomskian, I admit that. Of course, if it is the language of a different species, that's perfectly fine.

2. I see. That would be somehow reinterpreting the system as based on simple tenses. But if you do that, the system loses almost all of its speciality. On the other hand, I just realized that there isn't really a problem with having temporal adverbs refer to the runtime of the event, anyway. All the tense morphology does is give you an interval - and you have to relate the runtime of the event to that interval. There is no problem with independently saying things about that runtime (with adverbs).
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:54 am UTC

Makri wrote:I see. That would be somehow reinterpreting the system as based on simple tenses. But if you do that, the system loses almost all of its speciality. On the other hand, I just realized that there isn't really a problem with having temporal adverbs refer to the runtime of the event, anyway. All the tense morphology does is give you an interval - and you have to relate the runtime of the event to that interval. There is no problem with independently saying things about that runtime (with adverbs).


I don't think I'd want a situation where it was the norm to use temporal adverbs, as you say, that would make the system lose most of its specialness; I was imagining a situation where such adverbs would be used solely when precision is needed and the rest of the time to use the tenspect system. If this (temporal adverbs shifting the temporal focus) were the case though then the tenspect affixes would essentially become affixes for various degrees of (a)symmetric (im)perfectiveness and a fairly system tense+aspect system.

In order to try and keep the specialness of the tenspect system, I think it might be better if, instead of the adverbs shifting the temporal focus, they just provide a point in time at which the action was taking place (so any point between the beginning and end), that way the adverb adds clarification without turning it into a tense+aspect system.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Makri » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:12 pm UTC

Actually, I don't see at all what's aspectual about this system. It's purely a tense system, as far as I can see.

Using adverbs only when precision is needed is pretty much what all languages do, isn't it? ;) Having adverbs shift the temporal center (i.e. the present) would retain much of the specialness of the system - in that it would be very different from what is found in human languages. You could, for instance, express "before Monday" as "past-V-past Monday". Something of a problem arises because adverbs don't necessarily specify points in time, but often intervals (such as "Monday"). The question is what happens if you center on an interval. What does "past-V-future Monday" mean? I think it should mean "did (or will do) on Monday", because otherwise you don't have a way to express that. But it's a bit tricky to make all this precise and not loose the systematicity.

Obviously, since tense is by default interpreted with respect to the present, but otherwise with respect to adverbs, you can't use tense to draw inferences on the temporal location of that Monday. You might want to introduce morphemes (possibly as part of the determiner system, which may be suffixal or not) that localize it. Things like "last, next, one before last, one before next", and also possible indefinites that just mean "future" and "past".

Another thing that would have to be worked out is what happens with multiple temporal adverbs.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:18 pm UTC

Makri wrote:Actually, I don't see at all what's aspectual about this system. It's purely a tense system, as far as I can see.

Using adverbs only when precision is needed is pretty much what all languages do, isn't it? ;) Having adverbs shift the temporal center (i.e. the present) would retain much of the specialness of the system - in that it would be very different from what is found in human languages. You could, for instance, express "before Monday" as "past-V-past Monday". Something of a problem arises because adverbs don't necessarily specify points in time, but often intervals (such as "Monday"). The question is what happens if you center on an interval. What does "past-V-future Monday" mean? I think it should mean "did (or will do) on Monday", because otherwise you don't have a way to express that. But it's a bit tricky to make all this precise and not loose the systematicity.

Obviously, since tense is by default interpreted with respect to the present, but otherwise with respect to adverbs, you can't use tense to draw inferences on the temporal location of that Monday. You might want to introduce morphemes (possibly as part of the determiner system, which may be suffixal or not) that localize it. Things like "last, next, one before last, one before next", and also possible indefinites that just mean "future" and "past".

Another thing that would have to be worked out is what happens with multiple temporal adverbs.


Yeah, you're right. I was thinking of it as defining a degree of perfectiveness, but the tenspect forms, even with shift-focus adverbs would still be a primarily tense system.

past-v-future Monday would literally mean starting before Monday and ending after it. The way round this problem seems to me to not allow any adverbs to count as intervals so, instead of Monday it would be "noon on Monday" or something along those lines, this way, past-V-past Monday would mean early Monday rather than Tuesday as well.

Indeed. At the least I'll need either separate forms for "last Monday" and "next Monday" or determiners specifying "last", "next" etc. I think what would be most interesting/realistic would be to have the determiners but to have irregular forms for certain common adverbs.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Makri » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:40 am UTC

Actually, "Monday" could mean "a time on Monday". It does that in natural languages, too. So "past-V-future Monday" would mean "there is a time t on Monday, and that is the center of past-V-future". The whole action could easily have taken place on Monday. And possibly, by implicature, it would be understood that way, because otherwise, what would have been the point of centering specifically on Monday?

On the other hand, if you allows "past-V-past Monday" to mean "early on Monday", then you kind of lose the idea that adverbs effect temporal centering. I think "past-V-past Monday" should mean "V by Monday", but of course, that's problematic with the existential idea from above. I can't think of a way to solve that right now.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:38 pm UTC

Yeah, you're right again. Having the adverb being "a time in interval X" is best. This does raise ambiguities with the two -past tenspects (likewise the two future- tenspects) although I think they'd be best resolved by declaring them to mean "by Monday" and "after Monday" respectively.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby davedrowsy » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:14 pm UTC

I'm surprised this thread isn't more active! Conlanging is such a fascinating hobby.

An idea I've had is to use tense modification for nouns instead of verbs. It makes sense in a weird way. To represent an idea like "The dog ate the cat," rather than saying "the dog eats(past) the cat," you would say "the dog(past) eats the cat(past)" -- in other words "that dog of the past ate that cat of the past," with the past tense "ate" being implied out of translation to English.

A benefit of doing this would be that you can more easily represent concepts that might be wordier to disambiguate otherwise, such as "the Latin language, in the state it used to be in the past," or "my deceased mother (may she rest in peace)," or "the sandwich I ate yesterday," and so on and so forth. It also lends itself towards mixing and matching past and present tense nouns, in order to easily convey sentences like "Gustave Eiffel(past) created the Eiffel Tower(present)(that we know and love today)," as opposed to some other (fictional) Eiffel Tower that is no longer existent, or perhaps not currently memorable or widely known. You would use the past tense for nouns you want to describe as being in the past, implying that at some point they either died, were destroyed, faded into obscurity, etc. Or you could even use the past tense to describe a past state of something, like "myself, back in my foolish adolescent years," implying that at some point you ceased to be that person that you used to be. If you went that route, assuming you haven't changed much in the last week, you would actually use the present tense when describing something you did yesterday (for example, "yesterday, I-present-tense eat a sandwich-past-tense"). Using the present tense with nouns would imply that they do currently exist in a readily apparent state. I suppose for intangible ideas like "love," one would use the present tense, unless the speaker is dramatically suggesting that love no longer exists. :)

Think I might use this idea for my next conlang!
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Derek » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:03 pm UTC

I could imagine such a feature being very useful for time travel.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Voekoevaka » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:16 pm UTC

Derek wrote:I could imagine such a feature being very useful for time travel.

That's reminds me H2G2's second volume, when the only things which have suffered from time travel is conjugation...

In my case, I have created several conlangs, and my favorite is called Kzusho Gseyshooshvoejoo (translation : where I come from is where you'll be).
It don't use any verb, any noun or adjective, but it is made of expressions that are part of an action, linked together to make sense.

Another conlang I made is based on a totally different method, and the name I give to it is Mead zat mead hann (translation : this is how you say no, this is how you say yes).
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Chaest » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:59 pm UTC

I've just registered here so I'm answering the basic thread (I didn't read the other's replies).
One of the most important part of my best conlang (The Dèyrik) is the 'accentuation". And so far I've never seen something like that i any other languages.
The idea is quiet simple, you've got a word, with its meaning (for example : kéno = to kill). And you apply to it an "accent". There are 18 of them. They'll change the meaning of the word. For example, one of these will change the meaning to something way more important.
Kéno (/keno/) = to kill/murder
Kéno° = (to commit) genocide
kéno° would be pronounced /konɛ/.
It's getting really tricky when you've got more than one accent per words, but I'm just exposing the basic idea here.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Lawrencelot » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:44 am UTC

ZLVT wrote:a) "we" would have enough forms to ensure that everyone knows what combination of people is being reffered to

This. It causes so much confusion, in many languages.

If I'd make a language, I would also make it clear how to answer a negatively posed question, but I think there already are many natural languages that do not have a problem with this.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Voekoevaka » Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:28 am UTC

I made a song in a conlang of mine. It's difficult to put the accentuation in a song, but I use melodic structure instead of it : https://soundcloud.com/o-1-2-3-4-5-6-7- ... th-no-eyes
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:38 pm UTC

I was playing around with one of my conlangs which, to try and make things interesting (it's the proto-lang for a family I'm working on) I'd given it multiple copulae so different daughter languages could preserve/merge the different roots differently.

Previously I'd had them split up based on a tense distinction (the language does not mark the tense of its verbs so having explicitly different roots would not be unreasonable) however this was seeming a bit too similar to English's distinction between the two roots it conjugated and so I thought it needed some reworking. I'd also recently been in a discussion about copulae in other languages and how they don't always function like verbs which had got me thinking about treating them as conjunctions like in propositional logic. I decided this would be a bit too far for this language but the idea of basing my copulae on propositional logic.

Anyway, I now have 6 copulae, three corresponding almost exactly to the three implications in logic and the others loosely corresponding to their negations (but not exactly).

They are:

es (bi-implication)
weþ (implies)
pweo (because)
trow (=T)
csor (xor)
fal (=F)

(the last three are just mangling the English names for them into my phonology as a bit of an easter egg).

The key thing here is that this suggests that if-then, either-or, neither-nor, both-and etc. statements should all share a common structure but using different copulae (word order is roughly VSO and the extended copula structure here simply replaces one or more of the arguments with a verb phrase and places a particle ījel (originally intended to be "if") between the two arguments).

Es can be used to show equivalence of two actions, weþ and pweo can both make causal and if-then statements (depending on the moods of the dependent clauses), trow can state that multiple events are occurring but suggesting some link (as opposed to simply using a conjunction), csor says that one and only one of two or more events is occurring and fal suggests that neither one action nor the other is occurring.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Interesting features in your conlang

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:05 pm UTC

Wonderful thread, I've learned so much.

For my quarter-baked attempt at a con-lang: The only thing the feels consistent and thought out is my usage of tenses.

Each tense provides information about if the action has started or not (much like eSOANEM's idea), but this information is trinary (yes/no/ unspecified). Each statement has a "context time" which can be established in previous statements; the tense provides information relative to the context time.

Exhaustive description spoilered.
Spoiler:
I haven't considered phonetics/morphology or orthography yet, so all my specific words/morphemes are arbitrary placeholders.

  • a - present indefinite. Unspecified if action has started. Unspecified if action has stopped.
  • o - present definite. Action has started. Action has not finished.
  • pa - past indefinte. Action has started. Unspecified if action has stopped.
  • po - past definite. Action started. Action has finished.
  • fa - future indefinite. Unspecified if action has started. Action has not finished.
  • fo - future definite. Action has not started. Action has not finished.

I planpa my vacation. I enjoya travel. I beo excited. I packfa my trip. I vistfo Europe. I paypo my plane ticket.
Some planning has been done for my upcoming trip; I may make more plans.
When I travel, I enjoy it, I've might have done so it the past, and maybe in the future to; I'm not necessary traveling this very moment.
I am exited, right now; feel free to ask what I'm excited about; I wasn't excited before I started planning my trip, and I don't expect to excited after the trip is over.
I need to pack for my trip. I may have started, but was matters is I haven't finished and I have work to do.
I will visit Europe; I'm still at home.
I paid for my plane ticket; it's important that I completed doing so, because half a plane ticket isn't a thing.

Relationship to English tenses:
  • Simple present - covered by present indefinite for most verbs (I eat,, I do), some verbs are covered by present definite (I feel, I have, I am)
  • Present progressive - covered by present definitive.
  • Present perfect - No direct analogue; closest is establishing a context time that's ambiguous with now and using a past tense. Today: I marrypo my wife. Recently: I eatpa. Some usages covered by past indefinite with now as context. "I have been writing (this is new to me)" ≈ "I writepa"
  • Present perfect progressive - No direct analogue; closest is establishing a context time that's ambiguous with now and using the present definite. All the livelong day: I worko on the railroad.
  • Simple past - Covered by past definite or past indefinite, depending if completion is done/important.
  • Past progressive - Covered by establishing a past time as context and using the present definite.
  • Past perfect - Covered by establishing a past time as context and using a past tense.
  • Past perfect progressive - No direct analogue; closest is establishing two past context and using the present definite on the earlier context. Yesterday I beo tired because earlier I runo.
  • Simple future - Covered by future definite or indefinite, depending if commencement is started/important.
  • Future progressive - Covered by establishing the future as a context and using the present definite.
  • Future perfect - Covered by establishing the future as a context and using a past tense.
  • Future perfect progressive - No direct analogue; covered by establishing two contexts, one in the future and one earlier, then using the present definite for the earlier context. For the four hours between now and ten o'clock: I drinko.
  • Future-in-the-past - Covered by establishing a past time as context and using a future tense.
  • Infinitive - Covered by indefinite present. Bea or not bea, that beo the question. Whether it bea nobler in the mind suffera the slings and arrows....
Doing this, I found I don't like a number of things about modal verbs. One of the things this resolves is weird chains like "I have been going to do that." (perfect future, as opposed to the more normal future perfect.).

One of the neat things I find neat about this is that there would no need to Bill Clinton to ask "what your definition of 'is' is"
Bea your relationship with miss Lewinsky inappropriate? (Yes)
Beo your relationship with miss Lewinsky inappropriate? (No)
The future is a combination of east and down.
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