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zompist bboard • View topic - Consonant Mutation: Ideas on what to use it for?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:47 am 
Sanci
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Hello!

I've made posts about the phonology in the past, but my conlang Fyrthir has an interesting property: almost all consonent phonemes, including sonorants, come in voice and unvoiced pairs. I'd like to make use of this somehow in the morphology, but I'm not quite what to use it for. Specifically, what I had in mind was some sort of derivational process. The first idea I had was rather obvious: opposites. However, this has a number of problems. 1) opposite words sound too much alike, and in whispered speech would be hard to distinguish (though like in English, the voicing distinction is more complex than a simple +/-voicing alternation). 2) for many, if not most, words it's not exactly clear what the opposite would be. What, exactly, is the opposite of "horse" for instance? 3) there are multiple kinds of opposites. This is especially problematic with verbs. For instance, "undo" doesn't mean sitting still, or "not-doing" but rather reversing an action such that the state of affairs are restored to their original. Untangle does not refer to the set of actions which are not members of the set of "tangle" but rather to an action which reverses the process of "tangle."

My second thought was that the voicing alternation might refer to some sort of literal-figurative distinction. For example, red<->angry, or green<->envious, to use two examples from English. I dunno how this would work in practice, but it might be interesting to play around with. The only problem I see here is what I call the Lojban problem in engelangs. In Lojban, we have attitudinal particles which mark metaphorical or non-literal utterances. The problem with this is that metaphorical statements are constructed identically to literal statements in natlangs is precisely what gives them their literary character. If we're writing poetry, it seems odd to have a grammatical feature that all but shouts THIS IS METAPHORICAL. On the flipside, these "metaphorical" readings could be lexicalized in really fun ways, that might add a lot of character to the language.


Finally, I suppose there is no reason why each lexical class (e.g. nouns, verbs, etc.) should utilize this feature either at all, or in the same manner.

Do you guys have any other ideas? I'd be really curious to hear what you all think.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:34 am 
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Someone here did a hihgly abstract "oligosynthetic" conlang a long time ago where words were built of morphemes whose concepts were simple enough that everything had an opposite. The word for horse might be a compound of four basic concepts, each of which could be flipped to change the meaning into something else. Another conlang with a similar idea is Ygyde.

It depends how naturalistic you want your language to be, though. Something like that would never arise naturally on Earth even given a million years of evolution, Im sure. If you want a naturalistic language, youll need to go into the past to see how the consonant mutation arose historically. For example, in my conlang, Poswa, the process I refer to as mutation arose originally from palatalization, although 3000 years of sound changes have messed up the pattern greatly. This is an extremely heavily inflected language, so consonant mutation appears in many grammatical processes, but there is no single unifying trait that ties them together. For example, polaputa means cat, and polapufem means "because of your cat". But the mutation isnt simply a marker of all inflected forms; a further inflected form, polaputappiem, means "because of the cat you just got" and restores the original -t-.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:36 am 
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I feel like just a voiced/voiceless is unlikely to be the consonant mutation. Welsh for example has a radical (base) form (e.g. /p t k b d g/), a soft form (e.g. /b d g v ð ∅/), a nasal form (e.g. /m̥ n̥ ŋ̊ m n ŋ/) and an aspirate form (e.g. /f θ x/). Generally, I would say that for a consonant mutation to be anything more than allophonic, there would have to be more than 1 mutation.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:56 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:36 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:32 am 
Smeric
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Well, the way I normally have seen "consonant mutation" used is exactly for cases when it's not a phonological process anymore but has non-phonological triggers (e.g. in Celtic the word-final nasals that triggered the nasal mutation have gone, but their effect persists and is now tied to certain gramatical categories and trigger-words). What you describe looks just like sandhi.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:22 am 
Avisaru
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I guess in the conlanging world the most famous example of consonant mutations would be Tolkien's Sindarin, which according to David Salo are:

Soft mutation

t > d
p > b
k > g
d > ð
b > v
g > (disappears)
m > v
nd > n
mb > m
ɬ > l (Salo incorrectly analyses Sindarin 'lh' as /hl/ and not /ɬ/)
r̥ > r
s > h
h > x
hw > !xw

Nasal mutation

t > θ
p > f
k > x
d > n
b > m
g > ŋ
ɬ > !l
r̥ > !r
h > x
hw > !xw
Also /n/ becomes /ð/ when preceded by /r/ caran + ras = caradhras.

Stop mutation

t > !th
p > !ph
k > !x
ŋ > !n-g
ɬ > !l
r̥ > !r
h > !x
hw > !xw

Liquid mutation

t > !θ
p > !f
k > !x
d > !ð
b > !v
g > !(disappears)
m > !v
nd > !d
mb > !b
ng > !g
ɬ > !l
r̥ > !r
h > !x
hw > !xw

Mixed mutation

t > d
p > b
k > g
ɬ > l
r̥ > r
s > h
h > !x
hw > !xw

Seeing as there are no attested examples of the liquid mutation or stop mutation I'm not sure where Salo got them from.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:46 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:59 am 
Smeric
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Why are there !s everywhere?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:00 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:53 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:04 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:05 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:04 pm 
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Last edited by Jonlang on Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:04 pm 
Avisaru
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what typos

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:13 pm 
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