Polysynthetic Conlang

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Aurora Rossa
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Post by Aurora Rossa »

T?l@uilgo// has two forms of the imperitive. One is asking unforcefully, like please, the other is a direct command, like an order.

Now that I've gotten the basic concepts of grammer worked out and have about 400 or so roots, I think my conlang is coming along quite well. I just need to flesh out the case system and vocabulary and add some grammatical details that I haven't encountered yet.
Last edited by Aurora Rossa on Mon Aug 25, 2003 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:T?l@uilgo// has two forms of the imperitive. One is asking unforcefully, like please, the other is a direct command, like an order.


Cheyenne and Noyatukah have direct and delayed imperatives, but no force distinction.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

What's a delayed imperitive? Something you want them to do in the future?
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:What's a delayed imperitive? Something you want them to do in the future?


Like "Come again!" when someone is leaving your house. You don't necessarily want them to turn right around and come back in.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

That would be !demlutqsa k?@aksaemet.(basically "Be at this place again some time, please"
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Post by Aurora Rossa »

Are there words like "fishing" and "working" in the languages you've studied? How are they made? Do I have to use them, because I don't like them a whole lot?
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:Are there words like "fishing" and "working" in the languages you've studied? How are they made? Do I have to use them, because I don't like them a whole lot?


If you mean Mohawk and Cheyenne, no, there are no gerunds in those languages.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

How would you say "I like fishing." or "Working is hard."?
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:How would you say "I like fishing." or "Working is hard."?


You're going to have to get your head out of English grammar, or you'll never make a language that isn't English in disguise, no matter how fusional the morphology. Polysynthesis is a lot more than just shoving words together. A number of your questions, such as this one, betray an implicit assumption that all languages express things exactly the same as English does, but with different words and altered grammar. Not so. Remember the discussion of how Cheyenne doesn't use many subbordinates? How "I want you to build a house" comes out as the imperative neme?maaeonane 'you should house-build'? Apply that same kind of logic to this. Think about how these above basic ideas might be expressed in a language without gerunds and without copulas (forms of be). Don't hew to the formal structure of the original English. And remember my comments on stative verbs, and how "the flower is yellow" comes out as "the flower yellows."

Thinking this through for yourself will help you a lot more than my explaining it.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

I know. I'm merely trying to figure out how I'd translate gerunds into my conlang. I'll translate them as "When I fish, I am caused to be happy." and "people workwith dificulty." If all languages don't expressthings that other languages express, translating is impossible.
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Post by jburke »

I'll translate them as "When I fish, I am caused to be happy." and "people workwith dificulty."


Again, you're wanting to hew to the formal structure of English grammar and just re-arrange the pieces. It doesn't work that way. Here's a clue: 'work-hards' or 'work-difficults'.

If all languages don't expressthings that other languages express, translating is impossible.


All languages can express similar things; but they're not just elaborate ciphers for one another. Translation is an art, a matter of a translator knowing both languages intimately and being able to judge what is meant in each expression; and then rendering what is meant by sense, if the formal structure cannot be retained (as it often can't be in cases of translating between radically different languages). The translator doesn't merely substitute word for word like a computer--look at how shitty computers translate even between related languages. Don't look at languages and what they express scientifically or in too narrow terms; do that, and you'll never get it.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

Again, you're wanting to hew to the formal structure of English grammar and just re-arrange the pieces. It doesn't work that way. Here's a clue: 'work-hards' or 'work-difficults'.


But I can't say "work hards" because work as a noun isn't in my conlang.

All languages can express similar things; but they're not just elaborate ciphers for one another. Translation is an art, a matter of a translator knowing both languages intimately and being able to judge what is meant in each expression; and then rendering what is meant by sense, if the formal structure cannot be retained (as it often can't be in cases of translating between radically different languages). The translator doesn't merely substitute word for word like a computer--look at how shitty computers translate even between related languages. Don't look at languages and what they express scientifically or in too narrow terms; do that, and you'll never get it.


I know that.
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:
Again, you're wanting to hew to the formal structure of English grammar and just re-arrange the pieces. It doesn't work that way. Here's a clue: 'work-hards' or 'work-difficults'.


But I can't say "work hards" because work as a noun isn't in my conlang.


You don't have a word that means 'work'? How about 'it-tires-me'? Or just have a root that means 'work', to which you add an indefinte ending, so that 'one-works'?

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

So I have to "unlearn what I have learned". I'll keep that in mind. I could say something like:

K'?la'ik?uni sni'aksani.(A-building-being-built is-dificult)
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:So I have to "unlearn what I have learned". I'll keep that in mind. I could say something like:

K'?la'ik?uni sni'aksani.(A-building-being-built is-dificult)


Do it without a copula.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

You mean so the adjective exists without a verb? Like this:

K'?la'ik?uni sni'a(A-building-being-built dificult)
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:You mean so the adjective exists without a verb? Like this:

K'?la'ik?uni sni'a(A-building-being-built dificult)


What do you intend this word to say, in English?

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

The act of constructing a building is dificult.
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Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:The act of constructing a building is dificult.


'I-build-buildings-with-difficulty' or 'One-builds-buildings-with-difficulty'.

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

I was translating something similar to "working is dificult".

'One-builds-buildings-with-difficulty'


That's the same thing as people-work-with-dificulty but with work replaced by build-building. It would be K?k'?lasni'a'ik?lami.
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"There was a particular car I soon came to think of as distinctly St. Louis-ish: a gigantic white S.U.V. with a W. bumper sticker on it for George W. Bush."

jburke

Post by jburke »

Eddy the Great wrote:I was translating something similar to "working is dificult".

'One-builds-buildings-with-difficulty'


That's the same thing as people-work-with-dificulty but with work replaced by build-building. It would be K?k'?lasni'a'ik?lami.


Yes, but there's a simpler way to express "work is difficult." It's a straight equative. (And for that matter, the idea behind "building a building is difficult" can be expressed in different, simpler ways, and probably would be. But go ahead with what you have; you may discover how to do it better later on. Without knowing the exact morphology of your language, I don't know what would be the most straightforward.)

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Post by Aurora Rossa »

I think that covers most major grammer points. Are there any minor points that I haven't discussed here?
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Post by Salmoneus »

No gerunds? How interesting. In my one attempt with a highly agglutinating language, I found everything turning into gerunds.
Eg. "As men moved to the west" became "at the same time as the moving westward of the men". In fact, almost all subordinate clauses became gerunds.

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Post by jburke »

Salmoneus wrote:No gerunds? How interesting. In my one attempt with a highly agglutinating language, I found everything turning into gerunds.
Eg. "As men moved to the west" became "at the same time as the moving westward of the men". In fact, almost all subordinate clauses became gerunds.


Cheyenne and Mohawk are languages where a single word can translate into several different English forms, and where the same word can fill multiple grammatical roles without morphological change. How you translate depends largely on context, and to some degree your own psychology. A Mohawk verb, e.g., can not only function as a verb, but also a nominal, a relative clause, or a gerund, depending on how the translator wants to render it and what best fits the sense of the meaning. Cheyenne works in a similar way. E.g., the Cheyenne word hetanohtoo?e can translate as 'the-man-sits' or 'sitting-man' either one. There's a fluidity and freedom to usage and meaning that you don't find in English; I often think that conlangers who approach languages like this tend to over-grammaticalize in the IE tradition, and start pigeonholing things without need. "This is a noun, this is a verb, this is a gerund," etc. Nah; not for me.

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Post by jburke »

Addendum:

hetanohtoo?e can also mean 'the-man-who-sits'.

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