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 Post subject: Tidbits from beyond IE
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2002 8:51 pm 
Lebom
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I'm making my way thru my volume of modern Chinese grammar, and am, as usual, amazed by how different it is from IE.

Since I can't seem to find some of these features in any conlang, I can't resist posting some tidbits. I hope that these ideas will get out into the conlang community and create more variety among the many IE-like conlangs.

MORPHEMES
90%+ of all Chinese morphemes are monosyllabic. Very very few are more than one syllable long.
Consequently, all these morphemes overloads the Chinese phonetic system and results in a large amount of homophones:

yi4 "advantage"
yi4 "meaning"
yi4 "translate"
yi4 "easy"
yi4 "artistic skill"
yi4 "hundred billion"
yi4 "strangle"
yi4 "Ytterbium"
etc.

However, this poses no problems for the Chinese-speakers, since most of these are morphemes, not words. Very few of these morphemes can stand alone as words. This is like English morphemes "-er", "-volve" and "anti-".
(The only morpheme in the list that can function as a standalone word is, in fact, "Ytterbium".)

WORDS
A few words are monosyllabic. In this case they are single, standalone morphemes. e.g.
ren2 "person"
tiao4 "jump"
yi4 "Ytterbium"

A vast majority of words, however, are disyllabic, made up of morphemes bound to each other:
zhen4 "press"(v.) + ding4 "firm" (adj.) ---> zhen4ding4 "calm, cool" (adj.)
kai1 "open" (v.) + guan1 "close" (v.) ---> kai1guan1 "light switch" (n.)
and two more very non-IE examples:
peng2 "friend" + you3 "friend" ---> peng2you3 "friend"
lao3 "old" + ying1 "eagle" ---> lao3ying1 "eagle"
You see, there's such an obsession with disyllabic morphemes that Chinese starts tacking on unnecessary syllables to fill the ranks up.

trisyllabic words usually form in the pattern 2+1: a disyllabic word gets another morpheme.
tou4ming2 "transparent" + du4 "degree" ---> tou4ming2du4 "transparency"

Finally, quadrisyllabic words are another oddity. The category is the exclusive home to idiomatic expressions:
hua4she2tian1zu2 "extraneous, unnecessary" < made from draw+snake+add+feet
san1xin1er4yi4 "inattentive" < made from three+hearts+two+minds

Both examples above are words (adjectives, in fact), made by idiomatic combination of morphemes. They are not like English idioms, which are phrases made from idiomatic combinations of words. And these idiomatic combinations occur mostly in quadrisyllabic words.

METER

The huge obsession with disyllabic words results in a very "rhythmic" language. This becomes very apparent in descriptive literature, which tends to use a lot of "big words".
E.g.

Ren2sheng3 shi qing1chen2 chong1chu1 long2zi4 de fei1ge1.

Morphemes:
person-life be clear-morning dash-out cage-diminu adjmark fly-pigeon.

Words:
life be earlymorning dash-out cage adjmark pigeon.

"Life is the pigeon flying out of her cage in the morning."

Meter:
2 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 2

The meter is very much "dadum dadum dadum". It's broken at only two places, by grammatical particles which are unstressed.

So there you have it. A little tidbit from beyond IE. More is coming for those interested.[/u]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 12:20 am 
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Nice stuff, Ranskaldan. Are you Chinese yourself, or just studying the language?

Some linguists argue that the great number of disyllables in Mandarin derives from the problem of homonyms that you point out... it's a way of reinforcing what you mean. Some evidence for this is 1) wen2yan2 (classical Chinese) had many fewer disyllables, and 2) Cantonese, which has lost fewer phonetic contrasts than Mandarin, has fewer disyllables.

I should really get back to my Mandarin course. (If nothing else, to hear the Chinese girl on the tape. Mandarin sounds really cute spoken by girls...)

I've used some bits of Chinese syntax in Almean languages, notably the te particle in Kebreni.

By the way, the one useful 'smiley' I've created is an arrow :> which you can get by typing : > (without the space).


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 12:32 am 
Avisaru
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I was motivated to learn Cantonese after i heard the conversation in Wayne's World.

still haven't quite got there though . . . got caught up in Hindi.

Zeng!

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 9:20 am 
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sounds like a lot of rambling for a little bit of nonsense. Confucius would be proud.

I've tried a monosyllabic lang, but i haven't gotten much work on it. Eh, life. or should i say, "Eh, pigeon flying out her cage in the early morning"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 11:34 am 
Lebom
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zompist wrote:
Nice stuff, Ranskaldan. Are you Chinese yourself, or just studying the language?

I'm Chinese myself. Naturally, I know next to nothing about its grammar (since I learnt it as a child). I probably know more French grammar than Chinese grammar, which is why I'm making my way through a Chinese grammar.

It's actually a lot easier that way, since I speak the language, and everytime I see a strange rule, I can always find justifications in my own speech.

Quote:
Some linguists argue that the great number of disyllables in Mandarin derives from the problem of homonyms that you point out... it's a way of reinforcing what you mean. Some evidence for this is 1) wen2yan2 (classical Chinese) had many fewer disyllables, and 2) Cantonese, which has lost fewer phonetic contrasts than Mandarin, has fewer disyllables.


That's very very true.
Your knowledge of languages is pretty amazing, Z... what else do you know about non-IE langages? :D

Quote:
I should really get back to my Mandarin course. (If nothing else, to hear the Chinese girl on the tape. Mandarin sounds really cute spoken by girls...)

I've heard that Mandarin sounds "feminine"... frankly I don't consider retroflexes "feminine", but that's just me.

Quote:
I've used some bits of Chinese syntax in Almean languages, notably the te particle in Kebreni.

:)
And the "bu" negative in Cadhinor... it's suspicious similar to a certain East Asian language... :)

Quote:
By the way, the one useful 'smiley' I've created is an arrow :> which you can get by typing : > (without the space).

Thanks!

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 10:22 pm 
Lebom
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Here's tidbit #2. It's shorter, I promise.

In Chinese there's a structure showing you how successful an action is. Often, a verb can't survive without this structure:

*Ta1 kan4.
He read
"He reads".

Ta1 kan4 de wan2.
He read affirmat. finish
"He can finish reading it."

Ta1 kan4 bu wan2.
He read neg. finish
"He won't finish reading it."

The complement, wan1, is normally a verb, meaning "to end".

This can also be used, slightly modified, with aspects:

Ta1 kan4 le.
He read-perf
"He has read." (but this structure implies that he didn't read it through.)

Ta1 kan4 wan2 le.
He read-finish-perf.
"He has finished reading."

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2002 11:36 pm 
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ranskaldan wrote:
Your knowledge of languages is pretty amazing, Z... what else do you know about non-IE langages? :D


I know quite a bit about Quechua-- several Quechuas, really. The only other non-IE language I can say I've studied is Japanese, and that was mostly to work through a couple chapters of Ranma 1/2.

I've been exposed to many other bits and pieces, however, through general linguistics studies, or by reading the sketches in Comrie and Lyovin (full citations in the LCK).

Hmm, since you're covering Mandarin, I'll share a bit of Quechua syntax, illustrating how close nouns and verbs can be in Quechua.

Llaqta rinaykita willani.
town go-nom.-you-acc. advise-1s
"I advise you to go to town."

Riy is the verb 'go'; -na is normally a nominalizer, so rina is "a going" or even "a thing for going"; but also, in this case a verb form "that goes". -yki is a possessive; so rinayki could mean "a going of yours, your going". Finally -ta is the accusative marker.

What I find interesting about this word is that it seems perfectly balanced between being a noun (which it is, morphologically) and being a verb (which it is semantically).


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 Post subject: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 6:32 am 
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While you're talking about features of non-IE languages, one question: What, on the other hand, are typical Indo-European features? Are there things that all IE languages have in common?

The numbers sound distinctly familiar in almost all of them, and the European ones have borrowed a number of political, scientific and otherwise technical terms from Latin, Greek and each other (though I guess that's the same with non-IE European languages), but what other similarities are there?


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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:03 am 
Lebom
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Raphael wrote:
While you're talking about features of non-IE languages, one question: What, on the other hand, are typical Indo-European features? Are there things that all IE languages have in common?

The numbers sound distinctly familiar in almost all of them, and the European ones have borrowed a number of political, scientific and otherwise technical terms from Latin, Greek and each other (though I guess that's the same with non-IE European languages), but what other similarities are there?


Distinction between voiced and voiceless. Any IE language would distinguish between "pa" and "ba".
Consonant clusters. It is not uncommon to find "kl", "gl", "gr", etc in IE languages.
Syllables of variable length. (For example, "sway" is noticeably longer than "way". Suei4 in Chinese, however, is generally the same length as wei4.)
No tones, obviously. No IE language, afaik, has any trace of tones.
Much emphasis on stress.
E.g.
A ch?mical pl?nt in the c?ty that's been sh?t d?wn by the g?vernment
The stresses are all more or less evenly spaced and intoned, while the unstressed "fillers" are weakened and "mumbled".
This might not be the case in all individual IE languages, but throughout IE, you can find traces of this "syllable hierarchy": e.g., how syllables dropped away in Latin to give you civitatem :> cit?, bonitatem :> bont? etc.
(In Chinese, syllables are more or less given equal weightage, except for a very small number of grammatical particles.)

Polysyllabic morphemes. In English, we have morphemes like "seven" or "paper", which can't possibly be broken down into smaller, meaningful parts. This exists all over IE. Odin "one" in Russian, quinque "five" in Latin, etc.
A lot of morphology and inflections. Case endings... tense endings... derivational morphology. Even in English, there's a lot of derivational morphology left, if nothing else.
Very few particles, except for prepositions.

Fixed roles for word types. Nouns must be subjects or objects, sometimes modifiers. Verbs can't be subjects or objects, unless you modify them. Adjectives can only modify nouns, etc.

Subject-verb sentences. Each sentence has a subject and a verb (or at least a verb). In other languages, there may be topic-comment sentences.
One main verb per sentence. Chinese uses multi-verb sentences.

zompist wrote:
Llaqta rinaykita willani.
town go-nom.-you-acc. advise-1s
"I advise you to go to town."

Riy is the verb 'go'; -na is normally a nominalizer, so rina is "a going" or even "a thing for going"; but also, in this case a verb form "that goes". -yki is a possessive; so rinayki could mean "a going of yours, your going". Finally -ta is the accusative marker.

What I find interesting about this word is that it seems perfectly balanced between being a noun (which it is, morphologically) and being a verb (which it is semantically).


Whoa... that's pretty wild a twist. But basically it's been transformed into a perfectly regular object.
"I advise a-going-into-town-of-yours."

The Chinese construction of this is much more bland, I'm afraid....

Wo3 jian4yi4 ni3 dao4 cheng2liqu.
I advise you go town-within-go.
"I advise you to go into town."
The "town-within-go" specifies the direction of movement, that it's towards the inside of the town and away from the speaker.

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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 3:11 pm 
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A few corrections on your comments...

ranskaldan wrote:
Raphael wrote:
While you're talking about features of non-IE languages, one question: What, on the other hand, are typical Indo-European features? Are there things that all IE languages have in common?


No tones, obviously. No IE language, afaik, has any trace of tones.


Tones per se, no; but Swedish, Serbo-Croatian, and ancient Greek are all pitch-accent languages like Japanese.

ranskaldan wrote:
Much emphasis on stress. E.g.
A ch?mical pl?nt in the c?ty that's been sh?t d?wn by the g?vernment
The stresses are all more or less evenly spaced and intoned, while the unstressed "fillers" are weakened and "mumbled".


Linguists talk about "stress-timed" languages (which space each stressed syllable at equal intervals) and "syllable-timed" languages (which give each syllable equal time). English is stress-timed, but not all IE languages are, I believe. Spanish, for one, insists on keeping all the vowels unreduced.

ranskaldan wrote:
A lot of morphology and inflections. Case endings... tense endings... derivational morphology. Even in English, there's a lot of derivational morphology left, if nothing else.


IE languages are noted for inflections-- basically, affixes which have fused so thoroughly that you can't distinguish separate morphemes. Even English still has inflections (e.g. -s = 3s + present).

ranskaldan wrote:
Fixed roles for word types. Nouns must be subjects or objects, sometimes modifiers. Verbs can't be subjects or objects, unless you modify them. Adjectives can only modify nouns, etc.


Not so true for the Germanic languages, at least... English can easily turn nouns into verbs, and the other Germanic languages tend not to distinguish between adjectives and adverbs.

On the numbers, which Raphael mentioned, it's worth noting that in IE he numbers from 1 to 10 all unanalyzable. This is true of many other families (Chinese and Quechua, for instance); but it's not true of many Amerindian languages, where number names are often derived from something else.

IE languages all (I think) have traces of the proto-IE tendency to modify words by vowel change. In English, this is why we have sequences like sing / sang / sung or drink / drank / drunk.


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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 4:01 pm 
Lebom
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zompist wrote:

Tones per se, no; but Swedish, Serbo-Croatian, and ancient Greek are all pitch-accent languages like Japanese.


What exactly is pitch-accent, though?

Quote:
Not so true for the Germanic languages, at least... English can easily turn nouns into verbs, and the other Germanic languages tend not to distinguish between adjectives and adverbs.

The versatility of IE words, however, are still greatly limited. By this I mean series of words like beauty - beautiful - beautify - beautification - beautifulness. There is intense use of derivational morphology.

In Chinese, however, it's allowed in certain circumstances to fit verbs or adjectives, totally unchanged, into the roles of nouns. This is not typically IE.

Adverbs are another thing - when Germanic languages mix adjectives and adverbs, it's not a typical IE feature. In Chinese this is routine. Grammar books would in fact tell you that Chinese adjectives "modify nouns and verbs" while adverbs "modify adjectives or clauses".

Quote:
IE languages all (I think) have traces of the proto-IE tendency to modify words by vowel change. In English, this is why we have sequences like sing / sang / sung or drink / drank / drunk.

Yes... but I don't think this is a typical feature of IE grammar any more.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 8:42 pm 
Lebom
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heh, before reading this I would never have imagined how "different" non-IE tongues were.

Just wondering, does anyone know about the characteristics of the Altaic language family? I believe Turkish is a member, and the most I know about it is that it is the most "regular" language in the world. The only (slightly) irregular words are the verb "to be" and the noun "water"


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 9:27 pm 
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Iscun wrote:
heh, before reading this I would never have imagined how "different" non-IE tongues were.

;)

Quote:
Just wondering, does anyone know about the characteristics of the Altaic language family? I believe Turkish is a member, and the most I know about it is that it is the most "regular" language in the world. The only (slightly) irregular words are the verb "to be" and the noun "water"


Here's a basic Turkish grammar:
http://www.cromwell-intl.com/turkish/Index.html
As far as I can see, it's an explosion of verb tenses and other sorts of endings.

Turkish has an extensive system of vowel harmony:
http://www2.egenet.com.tr/mastersj/turk ... stent.html
Basically, if a syllable has a certain vowel, the next syllable must only have this or that vowel.

Hungarian, by the way, takes vowel harmony into account in its grammar. (Turkish probably does the same, but I don't know for sure.) E.g.:

Vowel Class a-o-u
tanulni "to study"
?n tanulok "I study"

Vowel Class e-i
besz?lni "to speak"
?n besz?lek "I speak"

Vowel Class ?-?
?lni "to sit"
?n ?l?k "I sit"

(source: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~arubin/hu3.html)

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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 10:51 pm 
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ranskaldan wrote:
zompist wrote:

Tones per se, no; but Swedish, Serbo-Croatian, and ancient Greek are all pitch-accent languages like Japanese.


What exactly is pitch-accent, though?


Pitch-accent language have tonal contours-- but only one per word, not a separate tone per syllable. To pronounce a Chinese multi-syllable word, like Zhong1guo2ren2, you need to know the tone for each syllable. To pronounce a Japanese word, you need to know just one item of information for the word-- the location of the 'accent'. (See the LCK for details.)

Swedish has just two tonal contours, which can be seen in ?nden 'the duck' vs. ?nd?n 'the spirit'. (The accents aren't indicated in writing... unfortunately for foreigners.)


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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:13 pm 
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zompist wrote:
Swedish has just two tonal contours, which can be seen in ?nden 'the duck' vs. ?nd?n 'the spirit'. (The accents aren't indicated in writing... unfortunately for foreigners.)


Are there word pairs like that in Japanese, where they're distinguished only by tone contour? For example, if you say kokoro with the tone contour low-low-high to a Japanese person, will it just sound like you're saying the word for 'heart' incorrectly, or will it sound like a totally different word?


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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:27 pm 
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ranskaldan wrote:
In Chinese, however, it's allowed in certain circumstances to fit verbs or adjectives, totally unchanged, into the roles of nouns. This is not typically IE.


I'm not in a position to say if it's typical, but Spanish allows adjectives to be used as nouns (i.e. rojas "red ones").

I don't know about using verbs as nouns, but colloquial English certainly allows some weird noun-to-verb conversions. An interesting one I hear at my job is "to store-use (something)", pronounced as in the noun phrase "store use", never like the verb "to use".

However, you're probably right that these things are usually "marked" or colloquial... Although in English they tend to pass into standard usage over time, like the verb "to ímpact", with the meaning "to have an impact on".


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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:28 pm 
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eodrakken wrote:
zompist wrote:
Swedish has just two tonal contours, which can be seen in ?nden 'the duck' vs. ?nd?n 'the spirit'. (The accents aren't indicated in writing... unfortunately for foreigners.)


Are there word pairs like that in Japanese, where they're distinguished only by tone contour? For example, if you say kokoro with the tone contour low-low-high to a Japanese person, will it just sound like you're saying the word for 'heart' incorrectly, or will it sound like a totally different word?


I believe I've seen such a pair in Japanese, the words for "sun" and "fire". Not sure about that at all, though.

As for pitch-accent languages: what's the difference then between pitch-accent languages and stress languages (like English)? We have such pairs too, rec?rd and r?cord.

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 Post subject: Re: IE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:31 pm 
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eodrakken wrote:
zompist wrote:
Swedish has just two tonal contours, which can be seen in ?nden 'the duck' vs. ?nd?n 'the spirit'. (The accents aren't indicated in writing... unfortunately for foreigners.)


Are there word pairs like that in Japanese, where they're distinguished only by tone contour? For example, if you say kokoro with the tone contour low-low-high to a Japanese person, will it just sound like you're saying the word for 'heart' incorrectly, or will it sound like a totally different word?


In the Tokyo dialect, it'll sound like you're saying something incorrectly, since LLH is not a possible tonal contour. For 3-syllable words, you can only have LHH, HLL, or LHL.

But there are minimal pairs for tone contours. My references don't have a nice 3-syllable pair, except with a succeeding particle: hana ga can be LHL 'flower + NOM' or LHH 'nose + NOM'.


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 Post subject: Stress and pitch
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 11:51 pm 
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ranskáldan wrote:
eodrakken wrote:
Are there word pairs like that in Japanese, where they're distinguished only by tone contour?[...]


I believe I've seen such a pair in Japanese, the words for "sun" and "fire". Not sure about that at all, though.


Interesting! Can anyone tell us if that's right, and if so, if one came from the other? I know tones can be inflections, but it would be cool in a conlang to use them for some of the derivational morphology. Just an off-the-cuff example:

lisu "fire"
l?su "great fire", i.e., "sun"

pori "river"
p?ri "minor river", i.e., "creek"

ranskáldan wrote:
As for pitch-accent languages: what's the difference then between pitch-accent languages and stress languages (like English)? We have such pairs too, rec?rd and r?cord.


Play a key on the piano. Now hit it harder. That's stress. Play a key and then play the one above it or the one below it. That's pitch.

Of course, in English, stressed syllables are usually a little higher in pitch too. I think the line can be fuzzy between the two systems.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 1:15 am 
Sanci
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zompist wrote:
eodrakken wrote:
Are there word pairs like that in Japanese, where they're distinguished only by tone contour? For example, if you say kokoro with the tone contour low-low-high to a Japanese person, will it just sound like you're saying the word for 'heart' incorrectly, or will it sound like a totally different word?

[... T]here are minimal pairs for tone contours. My references don't have a nice 3-syllable pair, except with a succeeding particle: hana ga can be LHL 'flower + NOM' or LHH 'nose + NOM'.

This illustrates an interesting (IMO) feature of Japanese -- the fact that tone contours of a word can continue beyond the word. In this case, both "flower" and "nose" are simply LH in isolation, but they differ in whether a following particle will be L or H.

I never learned pitch-accent while learning Japanese (unfortunately, as I can see now -- since it seems to be fairly important), but I remember asking someone which kanji to use for "haku" and getting a wrong answer because of accent differences. I asked for haku with stress on "ha" (which probably comes across as HL) and got understood as "to vomit", while I wanted "to put on (shoes)", which is apparently LH (I heard it as "hak?" with stress accent on "ku" at the time, because I wasn't familiar with pitch accent).

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 Post subject: Kebreni and Chinese
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 1:16 am 
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zompist wrote:
I've used some bits of Chinese syntax in Almean languages, notably the te particle in Kebreni.


You mean the suffix -te, I assume? The only instance of te as an entire word I can find is this:

keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house

And I confess I don't know what the word te does in that clause.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 10:42 am 
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I'd almost consider Tigerian an IE language, except for the fact that it's...well...not a terrestrial language at all. But I did base the grammar and overall sound heavily on Spanish, the only non-English terrestrial language I have a good command of.

If you've noticed, Tigerian words can ramble on. Many roots, apart from endings, have three syllables, and some even have four.
Example : curiperane -> don't count the -ne infinitive ending.

But then again, Tigerian doesn't have your nasssty consonant clusters, either. Of course that's intentional.


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 Post subject: Re: Kebreni and Chinese
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 11:44 am 
Boardlord
Boardlord

Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 8:26 pm
Posts: 3376
Location: In the den
eodrakken wrote:
zompist wrote:
I've used some bits of Chinese syntax in Almean languages, notably the te particle in Kebreni.


You mean the suffix -te, I assume? The only instance of te as an entire word I can find is this:

keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house

And I confess I don't know what the word te does in that clause.


It makes keda ziunte into a relative clause, rather than a simple modifier. It's parallel to the behavior of adjectives; thus:

keda ziunte mygu the ox in the house
keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house

thesuru hami a golden land
thesurute hami a land that's golden

This is intended to be similar to Mandarin:

da4 yu2 big-fish (a 'fused mental image' according to my grammar)
da4de yu2 a fish that happens to be big


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 12:24 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2002 12:13 pm
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Well, there is an underlying thing that is majorly ignored in the study of Latin. Classical Latin, in the upper class, attempted to revive the long dead pitch-accent characteristic of Indo-European languages. Each syllable had either a short length, or a long length, but were neither accented nor unaccented, but what we call the 'accent' was where the pitch fell on the word. The Rule of Antepenult worked in that case.

There is some reasoning behind this: Long vowels, for one, wouldn't be pronounced for a longer series of time if they were unstressed, which is what happened in Vulgar Latin. The length system just about died into an open-closed vowel system.

A new system developed out of the old, and generally, the vowel with the accent is always a long vowel.


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 Post subject: Re: Kebreni and Chinese
PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 3:38 pm 
Lebom
Lebom

Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2002 9:37 pm
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Location: Winterfell / Lannisport / Highgarden
zompist wrote:
da4 yu2 big-fish (a 'fused mental image' according to my grammar)
da4de yu2 a fish that happens to be big


Uh... well that isn't exactly part of the Mandarin that I speak... dialect differences maybe?

As far as my Mandarin goes, de is used thus:

duan3 xiu4zi
"short-sleeve" - fused
*duan3 chen2mo4
"short silence" - no such fused image

To make the adjective able to qualify all nouns and not just serve as a fused morpheme, it's duplicated and de is added to it.

duan3duan3 de xiu4zi
"short sleeves"
duan3duan3 de chen2mo4
"short silence"
With the reduplication is also added an image of fleeting randomness and informality. It's kinda hard to explain but that's my mental image of this construction.

EDIT:
I've mulled long and hard over this and I think that duan3 de xiu4zi "short sleeves" is a possible combination, though somewhat marginal. And you're right - the "feel" of it seems to change in the way you talked about.

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Last edited by Ran on Mon Sep 30, 2002 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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