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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:28 am 
Smeric
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Xephyr wrote:
Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there, cowboy! You can't just go throwing terms like that around without making sure you have approval from the Official Polysynthesis Verification Bureau!


I must admit, I don't entirely understand the umbrage that everyone seems to take with this idea of strictly defining polysynthesis in ways that differ from the more casual usage. Plenty of words have distinct and much stricter definitions in scientific contexts than they have among laypeople. No one minds that paleontologists don't consider pterosaurs dinosaurs in the strict sense and entomologists would never describe spiders and scorpions as insects. Plenty of people have jumped on me in this very thread for not heeding the technical definition of "syntax". Why should it bother anyone that polysynthesis works the same way?


even Dinosaur Train says pterosaurs aren't dinosaurs. how much more lay do you want?

(they're archosaurs, same as dinosaurs)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:40 am 
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Eddy, the umbrage taken at you misunderstanding syntax was because you deliberately avoided listening to what someone said by selecting to parse the word "syntax" in the wrong way even when informed the other participant in the discussion meant the wider, more scholarly meaning.

The umbrage taken at you trying to hold polysynthesis to some similar stricture is because you, likewise, do it to avoid having to listen to points made by people.

What you actually do with the words at first isn't the problem - it's that you refuse to go on in the conversation in any different direction once informed that you have misunderstood a word. In the case of polysynthesis, the problem is that you try to force on it a very idiosyncratic definition that you have the gall to claim is the true definition, and then refuse to learn more about polysynthesis unless it lines up with your expectations.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:01 pm 
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Also, there is no distinction between a lay definition of polysynthesis and a technical one because noone talks about polysynthesis on children's television programmes or anything like that so even if people would call pterosaurs "dinosaurs", "dinosaur" is still not comparable to "polysynthesis" in usage.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:13 pm 
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Fine then, I never meant to step on any toes with the definition of polysynthesis that I was using. I was merely relying on what seems like a reasonably authoritative and clearly delineated definition of polysynthesis. One can certainly offer and use other definitions, although many sound rather vague and subjective to me and offer little guidance to making a polysynthetic conlang. The polysynthesis parameter offered by Mark Baker at least provides specific criteria that I can use for my projects.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:24 pm 
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Jabechasqvi, just do in your conlang what feels right to you. Don't worry whether it meets this or that definition of "polysynthetic" or not.

I went through a similar episode myself. I made a conlang which I thought would be active-stative, but one guy on the CONLANG list said that it was not. I thought, "WTF? It is my conlang, I do what feels right to me, no matter what others call it" and kept the controversial morphosyntactic alignment the way it was, which I took over into my current conlang. (Also, I have meanwhile been told that that guy was wrong.)

Lesson: Don't get hung up with terminological sophistry when conlanging.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:13 pm 
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WeepingElf wrote:
Jabechasqvi, just do in your conlang what feels right to you. Don't worry whether it meets this or that definition of "polysynthetic" or not.


Well ok, but I happen to like the definition that Mark Baker gave and find it more helpful than the more subjective and vague definitions of polysynthesis that one often sees. It tells us little about a language to say that it can combine large numbers of affixes to form lengthy words or that it can express an entire sentence in one word (the casual definitions of polysynthesis). Plenty of languages can easily do both without anyone calling them polysynthetic. Look at the massive compound words of German or the heavily affixed verbs of Japanese or Turkish that can stand alone as complete sentences.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:18 pm 
Smeric
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Look at the massive compound words of German or the heavily affixed verbs of Japanese or Turkish that can stand alone as complete sentences.

Massive compound words cannot be used as independent complete sentences.

Just, ignore what you think polysynthesis is, and go with what you think it is, without trying to expand on it too much as you will then stop conlanging.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:38 pm 
Smeric
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Eddy, I have no problem with your working with a certain definition of polysynthesis because you like it.

But I don't believe that you actually know what that definition even is, and I further believe that you don't know that you don't know what it is.

Prove me wrong. Go on, tell us: what is polysynthesis, according to Mark Baker?

I've asked you this before, and you've ignored me, and you'll ignore me this time too, because you can't answer it, because you don't know. Isn't that right?

I am convinced that you are parroting Baker's conclusion without having the slightest grasp of the reasoning behind it.

And that's where a large part of my "umbrage" comes from.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:50 pm 
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cromulant wrote:
Prove me wrong. Go on, tell us: what is polysynthesis, according to Mark Baker?


Bakers says that verbs in polysynthetic languages must agree with all core arguments (the subject, object, and where applicable indirect object) or else incorporate them into the verb itself. They differ from other head-marking and polypersonal languages in requiring verbs to agree with all core arguments in all situations rather than allowing verbs to omit agreement in certain situations.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:57 pm 
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You surprised me. Very well, I take that comment back.

Can't blame me for being suspicious, though.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:24 pm 
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Bakers says that verbs in polysynthetic languages must agree with all core arguments (the subject, object, and where applicable indirect object) or else incorporate them into the verb itself. They differ from other head-marking and polypersonal languages in requiring verbs to agree with all core arguments in all situations rather than allowing verbs to omit agreement in certain situations.


Wow. I've only recently learnt about things like Subject, Direct Object and Indirect Object. That seems a revolution to me, and yet, somehow, I understand it.

But what is the nature of the agreement? Case? Number? Gender? Other? Any or all of the above? That's blowing my mind right now...

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:29 pm 
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Uh...I guess read through the Polysynthesis thread in the L&L Museum for starters.

EDIT: Although actually that's not great for learning about polysynthesis, maybe I'll make a summary post one day~~


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:35 pm 
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Xephyr wrote:
zompist wrote:
Now, you say "recursive", and maybe that does it. Quechua doesn't have anything like that. Can you give an example?


What I mean is that, in Eskimo there are "postbases" (derivational suffixes that go before the conjugation suffixes) that modify the sum of the root and all postbases that precede it, regardless of how many postbases are to its left. I can't find any good examples, which is frustrating cause I'm certain I've read a couple articles about this very thing. So I've pulled these examples out of my ass, but based on everything I've read I'm pretty darn sure all this is legal:

angya-li-uq
boat-make-3sg.INTR
"he makes a boat"

can be made into:

angya-li-ssuun
boat-make-tool.for
"tool for making boats"

which can be made into:

angya-li-ssuu-li-uq
boat-make-tool.for-make-3sg.INTR
"he makes a tool for making boats"

And each postbase modifies the element(s) to the left of it:

angya-rpa-li-ssuu-cuara-li-uq
boat-big-make-tool.for-small-make-3sg.INTR
"he makes a small tool for making large boats"

... and so on.


Interesting stuff. I guess it's recursive in the sense that each postbase affects the entire tree of morphemes to its left. I don't think Quechua works like that... you can add a dozen affixes (though normally you don't), but most of them could be said to modify the verb alone, not each other.

FWIW I'm reaidng Payne right now, and I like his take on polysynthesis... basically, that it's an interesting overall description but not very predictive of the rest of the grammar. Thus it's not something to obsess over.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:47 am 
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With those grammatical questions out of the way, I am now wondering what to do with the Terpish tone system. I have already sketched the general outline of the tone system, which gives the language two underlying tones, the high and low tone. Each vowel mora carries one tone, so syllables containing short vowels have only one tone while those containing long vowels have two underlying tones. Sequences of high and low tones on long vowels blend together to yield rising and falling tones. Most tonal languages, from what I understand, have rules that require tones in adjoining syllables to shift in various ways known as tone sandhi. I am trying to figure out what sort of tone sandhi rules Terpish should have.

My initial research on this manner suggests that tone sandhi can follow some surprisingly abstract and unintuitive rules. I have found some PDFs describing tone sandhi in Cheyenne and Arapaho and they refer to all sorts of abstract considerations like the obligatory contour principle and optimality theory. Many of the tonal changes seem motivated by these abstract principles rather than any particular acoustic phenomena.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:08 am 
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Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:24 am 
Osän
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Drydic Guy wrote:
Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.


It looks like I don't even know my options at this point. I can hardly pick something and run with it until I understand the possibilities available to me.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:00 am 
Osän
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Drydic Guy wrote:
Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.


It looks like I don't even know my options at this point. I can hardly pick something and run with it until I understand the possibilities available to me.


7 years and you don't know what your options are? Bullshit. Pick something and run with it, and if you find something else you like along the way, add it in THEN, don't just do nothing until you have every perfect piece of knowledge and know every possibility.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:04 am 
Smeric
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Drydic Guy wrote:
Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.


It looks like I don't even know my options at this point. I can hardly pick something and run with it until I understand the possibilities available to me.


Turn your mind off.
In the timespan of eleven years, I have made over sixty conlangs, and have stuck with three (one of which I am now making), two of which are descendant langs.
I went with where my imagination took me, leading me to a polysynthetic English (Even according to Bakers' standards) that has pharyngeals, pharyngealised vowels, pre- and postvelars, and a set of central vowels that contrast with non-central, peripheral vowels, and a Dutch with breathy and aspirated fricatives contrasting, without plain.

I didn't care about finding new stuff out when I was making the conlang - I used what I knew.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:33 pm 
Visanom
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Drydic Guy wrote:
Jabechasqvi wrote:
Drydic Guy wrote:
Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.


It looks like I don't even know my options at this point. I can hardly pick something and run with it until I understand the possibilities available to me.


7 years and you don't know what your options are? Bullshit. Pick something and run with it, and if you find something else you like along the way, add it in THEN, don't just do nothing until you have every perfect piece of knowledge and know every possibility.

More like nine years


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:38 pm 
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Whimemsz wrote:
More like nine years


I was guessing, too lazy to go check.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:21 pm 
Sumerul
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Quote:
Incidentally, why do Nahuatl and Inuktitut fall into the polysynthetic category when neither marks agreement for noun class the way Jeff says polylangs must do in order to identify the arguments of a verb?


When did I say this? I've never (TMK) offered any set criteria for a language's inclusion in the "polysynthetic" catgeory. It's a vague term that I try to avoid, usually, unless someone else uses it first.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:28 pm 
Smeric
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
Drydic Guy wrote:
Just pick something and run with it and stop taking 6 years to decide whether it's 'natural' enough.


It looks like I don't even know my options at this point. I can hardly pick something and run with it until I understand the possibilities available to me.


seriously?

even I know you don't have to first master all the traditions and mediums, before you can even doodle and sketch....yes, some grow into masterworks, but that's not the point of doodling and sketching.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:44 pm 
Osän
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Drydic Guy wrote:
7 years and you don't know what your options are? Bullshit. Pick something and run with it, and if you find something else you like along the way, add it in THEN, don't just do nothing until you have every perfect piece of knowledge and know every possibility.


I have never really gotten to studying tone in depth, not surprising given the complexity of the topic. Some recent reading on the subject suggests that my intuitions on how tone ought to function do not fit how many actual tonal languages work. It looks like the tonal system that I have sketched for Terpish so far does not work anything like real tonal languages, although I will need to read some more to figure out what I need to do to make it work right.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:51 pm 
Smeric
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Jabechasqvi wrote:
It looks like the tonal system that I have sketched for Terpish so far does not work anything like real tonal languages, although I will need to read some more to figure out what I need to do to make it work right.


does it work for Terpish? if it does, then that's all it needs. (how are you going to feel if you change it as "unrealistic", and then a month from now, someone describes a Real World language whose tone system is exactly like what Terpish's was?)

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Rodlox wrote:
does it work for Terpish? if it does, then that's all it needs. (how are you going to feel if you change it as "unrealistic", and then a month from now, someone describes a Real World language whose tone system is exactly like what Terpish's was?)


That seems somewhat unlikely based on what I have seen so far, since the processes I had in mind for Terpish so far seem unprecedented in the natlangs at which I have looked. It would appear that tone tends to work quite differently than what my intuition woulod suggest, and many accounts of tone sound quite counterintuitive to me. Although having a tonal system identical to some real world language raises the opposite problem of making the conlang too derivative. It really is a challenge, I think, to balance the competing demands of originality and naturalism.

I have been looking for other polysynthetic languages with tone to get some ideas on how they handle it. Chinese probably has the most studied and well-known tone system, but its isolating grammar and prevalence of monosyllabic morphemes make it less applicable to the Terpish situation. Vohpenonomae sent me a paper on Cheyenne tone rules which has given me a starting point. I have been looking at some others here and there, like Arapaho and the Bantu languages, that have similar properties of lengthy words and complex morphology.

It would also help to consider where tone originates in the Terpic languages and what implications that could have for the tonal system. I am thinking that the high tone originated on syllables which ended in glottal stops derived from eroded final consonants. That seems pretty well attested in natlangs, although it could result in most words lacking tone unless coda consonants occur pretty regularly. It does raise some interesting possibilities like suffixes which induce high tone on the preceding syllable because they historically began with glottal stops.

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