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 Post subject: Chavakani
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:14 pm 
Avisaru
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Location: Davis, CA
I've got a new conworld I'm a lot more interested in and I'm actually at least slightly interested in telling stories with it! I'm creating this conlang for possible use as a naming language and the language of some viewpoint characters' society.

Design Principles

Chavakani is designed to be non-Western in form but look approachable to people whose L1 is English or another Western language. It takes inspiration from many sources, chief among them Austronesian and Niger-Congo languages.

Typologically, Chavakani:
  • Relies primarily on analysis rather than synthesis
  • Is largely head-initial, with prepositions, adjectives after nouns, and typically VO word order
  • Makes extensive use of serial verb constructions
  • Is topic-prominent
  • Will have other features I will decide on as I go

Phonology

Chavakani's phonology is inspired by Fijian and Old/Middle Japanese, with a few novel elements. The consonant and vowel inventories are given below, with representations in the Roman alphabet:

Nasals: /m n ɲ ŋ/ <m n ny ng'>
Prenasalized: /ᵐb ⁿd ⁿdʒ ᵑɡ/ <mb nd nj ng>
Stops/Affricate: /p t tʃ k ʔ/ <p t ch k '>
Fricatives: /f s h/ <f s h>
Other: /β ɾ j/ <v/w r y>

Vowels: /i u e o a/ <i u e o a>

(/β/ is realized as [w] after consonants and in this context is written <w>; elsewhere it is realized [β] and written <v>.)

Only open syllables are allowed. Onsets may consist of any single consonant, most single consonants followed by /β/, or any non-palatal, non-glottal stop followed by /ɾ/. Long vowels can occur but can always reasonably be analyzed as a sequence of two of the same vowel. Similarly, all polyphthongs are transparently reducible to a sequence of vowels.

/n ⁿd t s ɾ/ are apico-alveolar. /e o/ are phonetically mid, not cardinal close-mid, and /a/ is central, not cardinal front [a].

/s/ is realized as [ʃ] after or before /i/.

I'm considering adding contrastive tone to this language. If I do, it most likely wouldn't be written in any person, place, or thing names using the language, although it might be in actual passages written in the language in supplementary materials. I'm not 100% decided on stress and timing yet, although I think it will be syllable-timed.

Preview of coming attractions: Pronouns and determiners! They'll be kind of Polynesian!

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:31 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:01 pm 
Avisaru
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Location: Davis, CA
Pronouns and other anaphora

Chavakani has a large number of personal pronouns, distinguishing singular, dual, and plural number, inclusive and exclusive first person pronouns, and politeness in the second person pronouns. Fortunately for the learner, this system is very regular.

1st person exclusive stem: te-
1st person inclusive stem: ya-
2nd person familiar stem: me-
2nd person polite stem: nderu-
3rd person stem: o-

The 3rd person stem is typically only used for people: Things take demonstratives instead.

Singular ending: null
Dual ending: -ra
Plural ending: -ngani

Thus we have a set of fourteen basic personal pronouns:

te "I"
tera "we two (exclusive)"
tengani "we (exclusive)"
yara "we two (inclusive)"
yangani "we (inclusive)"
me "you (familiar)"
mera "you two (familiar)"
mengani "you all (familiar)"
nderu "you (polite)"
ndera "you two (polite)" (Note the irregularity!)
nderungani "you all (polite)"
o "he/she"
ora "they two"
ongani "they"

These endings can also optionally be used with names or nouns referring to people. When used with a family name they typically refer to a family; when used with a personal name they are more likely to refer to that person plus their friends or associates. In the following examples, Matao is a woman's personal name, Mbechi is a family name, and penjutu is a profession, "herbalist".

Mataongani
"Matao and company"

Mbechira
"The Mbechis (a couple)"

Mbechingani
"The Mbechis (a family)"

penjutungani
"(a company of) herbalists"

Note that these are not true plural endings: penjutu can mean one or more herbalists, with -ngani serving more as a collectivizer.

The familiar second person pronouns are used with friends and family. The polite forms are used in professional contexts and with strangers. If greater than normal politeness is required, such as if one is addressing a superior, the addressee's title is used instead of a pronoun.

Aside from the personal pronouns, Chavakani has two other main groups of anaphora.

Who: twa
Indefinite person, one: swefu
Now: somwa
Here (speaker's immediate surroundings): pa'i

This first group can stand on their own as pronouns and do not normally take endings. Twa "who" can stand for any number of unknown people.

This: si-
That: kwe-
Which: vi-
Any: yo-
Each/every: pri-
No: fe-
Despective: mba-

This second group takes endings. Unlike the personal pronouns, with these the bare stem is a determiner, not a pronoun. To form pronouns these take -tu. Thus, for instance, si ngapa "this dog" but situ "this (one)". The word for "any" has the slight irregularity of being oyo rather than *yo when used as a standalone word.

These determiners can be combined with a range of other words. These are the most common:

vuka "person"
kre "way, direction"
mbi "location"
ru "time"
chi "day"
sero "manner, origin"
ndro "verbal anaphor"

Examples: si kre "this way", fe mbi "nowhere", oyo ru "any time", vi sero "how, where from", kwe sero "thus, thence", pri chi "every day", vi ndro "to do what", si ndro "to do this".

Mba is an interesting case. It is historically a third directional anaphor alongside si and kwe, but has evolved to single out entities that the speaker regards with contempt or wishes to insult. It can be used with a following noun, e.g. mba ngapa "that cur", but as mbatu it can also be used as a despective personal pronoun replacing one of the other personal pronouns, as appropriate to context. Mbara and mbangani are used analogously to dual and plural personal pronouns. Mbatu can be used to refer humbly to oneself, especially in contexts where one would address the listener with a title rather than a pronoun. It can also be used to refer negatively to parties in the third person. Use of mbatu to refer to the listener is rare unless one is trying to start a fight.

This area of the grammar is by no means complete. I'm still thinking it through in some respects.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:14 pm 
Avisaru
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I haven't continued just yet because I haven't reached a decision on a rather important question: Should Chavakani use counter words/classifiers? I'm uncertain because both of the main language groups inspiring this language, Austronesian and (coastal west African) Niger-Congo, have some members that use classifiers and some members that don't. I'm currently leaning toward not using them, but I welcome others' input.

"I welcome others' input" is applicable to this thread in general. This is in a very rough draft stage and I encourage people to suggest features to add in what follows or revisions to what's already been written.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:35 pm 
Smeric
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Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:25 pm
Posts: 2258
Location: Austin, TX, USA
How do you know when to use <v> vs. <w>?


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:39 pm 
Avisaru
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Vijay wrote:
How do you know when to use <v> vs. <w>?


I wrote:
/β/ is realized as [w] after consonants and in this context is written <w>; elsewhere it is realized [β] and written <v>.


Sorry, maybe I should have noted that earlier in my post. In fact, I think I'll move it so it's right under the inventory.

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[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:57 pm 
Smeric
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Posts: 2258
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Oh OK, I'm sorry. I didn't see that (before you moved it, of course :)).

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:44 am 
Lebom
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On counters/measure words, I would say don't use them. You said in the first post that you want this approachable from a Western L1, and while I don't consider measure words to be a major hurdle to western L1ers, they are at best inconvenient. There are still several features from that area that you have or seem ready to hit, like Topic-Prominence and, I'm guessing, honorific language (i.e. keigo et al.) along with the really Asutronesian looking pronouns (which I'm guessing is a closed class here). I think you will capture a good feel of the East for the West. The only reason I'd promote them is because they seem to have good staying power in that sprachbund, even making it into Bengali IIRC, but that seems a little north here.

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Formerly a vegetable


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:30 pm 
Avisaru
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Thanks for the input, Burke. I think I won't use obligatory counters, then, although one feature will show a trace of a counter system. I didn't really have plans for keigo-style extensive honorific language, but that's an interesting concept that I might keep in mind. And yes, at least for now the personal pronouns are a closed class, leaving aside Portuguese-style usage of titles as respectful second-person pronouns.

Determiners (continued) and number

We've seen a list of common determiners. To those I'd like to add the numbers as follows:

etu "one"
ai "two"
para "three"
chiko "four"
semi "five"
sendu "six"
semai "seven"
sembra "eight"
tono "nine"
pachi "ten"

You may note that there's a slightly obscured trace of a base five system in these first ten numbers. As a whole, though, the system is base ten.

The ones digit of larger numbers is formed by simply adding the numeral for one through nine at the end. Multiples of ten are formed by adding -vachi to the appropriate numeral:

pachi etu "eleven"
pachi ai "twelve"
pachi para "thirteen"
...
aivachi "twenty"
aivachi etu "twenty-one"
...
paravachi "thirty"
chikovachi "forty"
sembachi "fifty" (Note the irregularity!)
senduvachi "sixty"
semaivachi "seventy"
sembravachi "eighty"
tonovachi "ninety"

Powers of ten are formed as follows:

koru "hundred"
ndaku "thousand"
pira "ten thousand"
pachi pira "hundred thousand"
koru pira "million"
ndaku pira "ten million"
ma'imbru "hundred million"

I don't yet have a plan for powers beyond this. Multiples of these powers are simply formed by putting the numeral before the power, albeit with pachi contracting to -vachi as above: ai koru "two hundred", semi ndaku "five thousand", chikovachi pira "four hundred thousand". Unlike in English, the word for "one" is not used before any powers of ten: koru pira "one million".

Here's 71,385,914 as a fuller example of numeral formation:

semai ndaku koru paravachi sembra pira semi ndaku tono koru pachi chiko

Numbers are grammatically determiners and, like the determiners mentioned above, precede their associated noun: aivachi chiko ngarau "four and twenty blackbirds".

It can be seen from this example that nouns in Chavakani do not take plural marking when preceded by an indicator of quantity. A newly introduced plural quantity may be preceded by mai if the entities in question are things or animals, or suffix -ngani if they are people: mai swengi "some gourds"; nyaprutungani "some carpenters". If a non-quantity-related determiner is present, mai goes between the determiner and the noun: si mai swengi "these gourds". The same goes for numerals: si pachi swengi "these ten gourds". Mai can also be used after a determiner to form a plural demonstrative for inanimates: si mai "these (ones)", kwe mai "those (ones)".

It is ungrammatical to use these markers after a number: *pachi mai swengi. It is also optional to use these markers altogether; the bare noun case suffices for a plural meaning if its number is clear from context. Mai and -ngani are primarily used when introducing the entity in question to the discourse, and discarded when referring back to it later. Thus, it is typical to say (si/kwe) mai swengi if it is the first time gourds are being brought up and there isn't any indication of quantity, but simply swengi, si swengi, or kwe swengi after that point.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:46 am 
Lebom
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It's really tempting to steal that pseudo-base five thing. I really really like that.

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Formerly a vegetable


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:10 am 
Sumerul
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I have been lately doing the thing where I have roots for one, two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, hundred, thousand, and ten thousand and derive other numbers from these.

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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:50 am 
Avisaru
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Burke wrote:
It's really tempting to steal that pseudo-base five thing. I really really like that.


Go ahead! I certainly can't claim to have invented it. Pretty sure there are some natlangs that do that, although at the moment I have trouble remembering which. I must admit I especially like the similarity in sound between semi "five" and semai "seven"; it's just close enough that a learner might trip up once or twice, but still at least as acoustically distinct as some pairs in natlangs, e.g. девять "nine" and десять "ten" in Russian.

DECISION TIME: In the materials that follow I'm retaining the pre-nominal position for determiners and quantities for now, e.g. si chiko fui mbro "these four large horses", but I'm considering changing things so they follow the noun along with everything else adjective-like, e.g. fui mbro chiko si. What do you guys think I should do?

(Also, any recommendations for good online grammatical resources on coastal West African languages, e.g. Yoruba, Igbo, Ewe? I'm trying to become more familiar with them, and want to use some features from them in this project.)

Noun phrases

As has been noted, determiners and quantifiers precede the noun. All other components of the noun phrase follow the noun. This is the structure of a noun phrase:

DETERMINER QUANTITY NOUN ADJECTIVE POSSESSOR PREP.PHRASE SUBORDINATE.CLAUSE

Examples:

si chiko fui mbro
this four horse large
"these four large horses"

chiko fui mbro me
four horse large you
"your four large horses; four large horses of yours"

si chiko fui mbro me
this four horse large you
"these four large horses of yours"

indri chwi te-ra
girl little 1P-DU
"our little girl"

rwa uye ki hoi
fruit green LOC basket
"the green fruit in the basket"

indri ya puche tra njisu
girl GEN kick nest hornet
"the girl who kicked the hornets' nest"

(I may have not entirely decided how I want subordinate clauses to work yet. For now they'll just take the main adjective-making/genitive marker, as in Chinese.)

As you can see, possessors and other genitives come after the noun. A pronominal possessor is indicated by simple apposition, e.g. chocha me "your father". Appositive possession may also be used with names and other simple, single-word possessors if the possessive association is "expected" or "natural" for the possessor and possessee, e.g. ngu Matao "Matao's leg", tra nduri "hawk's nest". In other situations the particle ya is inserted between the possessee and the possessor, e.g. ve ya konu "the chief's cattle", ngrui ya konu "chiefs' meeting; meeting of chiefs". Ya can also be used with "natural"/"expected" possession where there might otherwise be ambiguity due to homophony or other factors.

Relatedly, because of the way genitives and other descriptors work in this language, most types of compound noun have the opposite order from their counterparts in English: Chavakani itself is etymologically chava "dialect; speech register" + kani (a somewhat archaic word for) "marketplace", thus "bazaar-speak".

Next: Prepositions! You may have already seen all two of them!

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:33 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:39 am 
Avisaru
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A brief phonological interlude

Originally, in the phonology section I said that nj was [ᶮɟ]. It was supposed to be [ⁿdʒ]. I have edited that post to reflect this. Also, I've decided to analyze v/w as underlying /w/ that fortites to [β] in some environments, since its phonological behavior is more like a glide than a fricative.

Also, I'd like to explicitly address something that was only implied earlier: The glottal stop absolutely contrasts with zero word-initially. This is aided by the lack of codas in the language. Adjacent vowels tend to run together, inserting weak allophonic glides or becoming diphthongs. Rwa uye /ɾwa uje/ "green fruit" is phonetically [ɾwau̯je]. The similar phrase rwa 'uye /ɾwaʔuje/ "cheap fruit" is [ɾwaʔuje]. The glottal stop isn't very acoustically salient utterance-initially, but if it's good enough for Hawaiian, it's good enough for Chavakani.

Also, I think I do want tone to be contrastive in this language. It will contrast a low tone, a high tone, and a falling tone. The high tone will be represented with an acute accent and the falling tone with a circumflex. Vowels without a diacritic have low tone. The falling tone is more marked than the low and high tones and is not found in grammatical particles or in affixes. I'll add tones to the words I've already established later. For now, some sample minimal pairs for tone:

kra "sing"
krâ "soul; life force" (also usable as "person")
sévú "tunnel"
sevú "paternal grandfather"
fúi "horse"
fûi "repulsive"

I should probably have slightly more monosyllabic morphemes in the language, since the information content per syllable is higher than it was in my original plan. Very common verbs should probably mostly be monosyllables, for instance.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:10 am 
Avisaru
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More on tone, since if I'm doing this I may as well do it right

There isn't a whole lot of tone allophony and morphophonology in Chavakani, but there is the following:
  • A sequence of two or more high tones (individually about a 4 or a 5 on the good old 1-5 pitch scale) tend to have a slight rising pitch (ranging from 34 to 45), as does a drawn-out high tone. This rising pitch resets at word boundaries, or at the start of a new lexical morpheme, so even in the event that there's a long continuous stretch of high-tone syllables you don't get a comically long gradual pitch rise.
  • The end of a falling tone (51) is lower than the default pitch of a low tone (2), and a low tone found immediately after a falling tone shares this extra-low pitch (1).
  • If a falling tone precedes another falling tone or a high tone, it doesn't fall quite as far, only falling to slightly above the default level of a low tone (53).
  • As noted above, vowels in hiatus tend to merge. When this happens their tones are merged as follows: low + low > low, high + high > high, low + high > high, high + low > falling. Falling tones absorb a preceding high tone or a following low tone, but otherwise do not merge with other tones.
  • While all content words have phonemic tone, some particles do not. The postclitics -ra and -ngani both take on the tone of the preceding syllable (or low tone if the preceding tone is falling), and the prepositions ya and ki assimilate to the tone of the following syllable (taking high tone if the following tone is falling), as does the copula ni/n'. Some derivational morphology might also do this, but as I haven't created said morphology yet I can't say for sure. I'll note it if it comes up.

Addendum: Shortly after I wrote this I realized this is very nearly the tonal system found in zompist's Cuêzi. I hope he doesn't mind. I will note that the falling tone I envisioned for Chavakani is more like Mandarin's high-to-low falling tone than the lowish falling tone Cuêzi appears to have, and as low vowels aren't as unmarked in Chavakani as they are in Cuêzi (they're still slightly less marked than high tones, I think) they're somewhat further from the overall phrasal pitch; they're probably better described as at a 2 than a 3 pitch.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


Last edited by Chengjiang on Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:02 pm 
Avisaru
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Prepositions

Chavakani has only two true prepositions: the genitive ya and the locative ki.

Ya is used in various ways, some of which parallel English usage and some of which do not:
  • To indicate literal possession: vé yá kónu "the chief's cattle"
  • To indicate other associations X ya Y where X is a feature of, product of, addition to, or subset of Y: mínjé ya fuka "the priest's proclamation", kovó ya ngapa "the runt among the dogs/of the litter", michû ya Ndriká "Ndrika's friend"
  • As an ablative/"from": Swinâ yá Yéng'u "Swina from (the town of) Yeng'u"
  • To convert other parts of speech, especially verbs, to adjectives: vé ya chukú "the laughing cow"
  • To subordinate clauses: indrí ya puché tra njîsú "the girl who kicked the hornets' nest"
Note that ya "anticipates" a following high or falling tone by changing its tone to high.

Despite the wide range of applications of ya, there are times when good, natural-sounding Chavakani does not use it. Ya is not normally used in nominal phrases where the first and second elements have a "natural" connection. These connections include:
  • A part-whole relationship, especially with body parts: ngu Mátao "Matao's leg"
  • A familial relation: chóchá Mátao "Matao's father"
  • Residence: kro Mátao "Matao's home"
  • An essential, enduring trait: ríng'ó Mátao "Matao's name"
  • Semi-lexicalized phrases, or expressions denoting a type of something: mbwiki panju "panju radish" (panju is a traditional type of vegetable broth that is the base of many recipes)
  • Expressions denoting a particular type of spatial relation, about which we'll hear more in a moment: 'omí mu "back of the head"
You may note that this somewhat resembles "inalienable" possession as defined in some languages. I'm still working out the details, though, and as yet I'm not sure I want to just call it an alienability distinction.

Subordinate clauses that modify nouns do not use relative pronouns. After ya, they take the form of a sentence about their head, minus the argument corresponding to their head. In the following examples, the word in brackets is not actually said, but is there to mark the omitted subject/object/other argument.

indrí ya {o} puché tra njîsú
girl GEN {he/she} kick nest hornet
"the girl who kicked the hornets' nest"

kro ya Túvi sâ {kwetu}
house GEN Tuvi build {it/that}
"the house that Tuvi built"

Ki is a general-purpose locative preposition, corresponding to the majority of uses of "at, in, on" in English. Generally, where English uses a simple locative expression, Chavakani uses an expression with ki followed by the location: rwa kí hói "fruit in a basket", vuká ki kro "people at home", 'au kí fúi "man on a horse", rwa kí ndê "fruit in a tree". (Like ya, ki changes its tone to high when the next syllable is high or falling.) The use of a simple X ki Y phrase denotes the "default" spatial relation X would have to Y, thus "in a tree", "in a basket", "on a horse", etc. It can also be used if it's already clear from context what the spatial relation would be. (Additionally, when used with people, ki carries the sense of "at X's place": ki Ndriká "at Ndrika's place/house". This might sound odd to English speakers, but French speakers will recall their own use of chez.) If one wishes to be more specific, or to refer to a less default spatial relation, one uses a spatial word, generally a noun, in between ki and Y: ndúrí ki saye me "the hawk above you", kevuru ki 'omí mu Swinâ "the lump on the back of Swina's head", chitáyá ki mboru kro Túvi "the cave under Tuvi's house". Locative words are not a closed class, but here are some of the more common ones:

saye "(space) above"
choko "top; upper surface"
mboru "(space) below"
ifé "bottom; lower surface"
yâvo "(space in) front"
njû "front surface" (historically related to njú "nose")
férú "(space in) back; behind"
'omí "back surface"
ndoi "right side (either vicinity or surface)"
fái "left side (either vicinity or surface)"
po "inside"
trî "outer surface"
yeu "(space) around; outside"

Ki can also be used with expressions of time; I don't have examples of these yet because I haven't decided on some aspects of how they work, especially the cognitive metaphors connecting them to the spatial expressions.

So you're probably wondering: What about all the other semantic areas in which adpositions are commonly used? While ki and ya are the only words fit all the characteristics of "preposition", other words can be employed to convey these meanings. As we've seen, words that are grammatically nouns can be used after ki to denote specific locations. Similarly, other nouns and verbs can be used after ki and ya for other purposes: eng'é ya chifú fúi "a book about horses", with chifú meaning "describe" in other contexts; fori yá 'úi Ndriká "a message for Ndrika", with 'úi meaning "intend (for)" in other contexts; yông'u ya swo ípre "game with dice", with swo meaning "use" in other contexts; ngêta ya somi 'au "matters concerning men", with somi meaning "hearth" in other contexts.

In addition, many of the situations that require a preposition in English and its kin simply don't in Chavakani. For instance, all verbs denoting motion toward a destination have the destination as a direct object and do not use a preposition: chú Ndândá "walk to Ndanda", fûa sótro "ride to market". Use of ki before the destination implies that you're already there: chú kí Ndândá means "walk in Ndanda". Many other types of verb whose main type of non-subject argument requires a preposition in English use no preposition in Chavakani: tru mbwímbô "think about mung beans", with tru meaning "think (about)". (Many of these verbs do have approximate synoyms that don't need a preposition, even in English, such as "consider" for "think (about)" or "inhabit" for "live (in)".) Chavakani also uses serial verb constructions in some situations where English uses a preposition. More on serial verbs later.

Next: I haven't decided yet! Possibly more about elements of noun phrases!

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:22 pm 
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Quick question about the romanization: Since there are no non-prenasalized voiced stops, I could represent them with letters for simple voiced stops if I wanted, as in Fijian: b d j g. Although this would be tidy and concise, I don't want to do this word-internally, as it would be unnecessarily misleading about the pronunciation to learners coming from most SAE languages. However, I'm considering writing word-initial prenasalized consonants this way in the toneless transcription used for referring to names/other Chavakani words in English, for the simple reason that it would probably look less intimidating or unusual to English speakers and would be less likely to prompt pronunciations with unnecessary vowels (e.g. [əmbeɪtʃi] for Mbechi) that might lead to confusion with actual vowel-initial words. On the other hand, this does have the disadvantage that readers don't "confront" the prenasalized nature of these sounds as immediately, and is of course less uniform. What do you guys think?

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:47 am 
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Use the <prenasalized> version because of the disadvantage of <non prenasalized> that you cite. I think hiding the fact of prenasalized stops works against your goal of being user friendly, and it's really not that weird or foreign a feature compared with, say, creaky voice or advanced tongue root or pharyngealization. Many laypeople are aware that that some African languages have word initial <mb> and <nd> and such.

The "pseudo base 5" thing (straight base 10 with 5 as an additive subbase) is attested in a gigantic number of natlangs.


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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 9:12 pm 
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cromulant wrote:
Use the <prenasalized> version because of the disadvantage of <non prenasalized> that you cite. I think hiding the fact of prenasalized stops works against your goal of being user friendly, and it's really not that weird or foreign a feature compared with, say, creaky voice or advanced tongue root or pharyngealization. Many laypeople are aware that that some African languages have word initial <mb> and <nd> and such.


OK. I admit that I was unsure because, while I certainly don't consider it that exotic of a feature, I'm not aware of any conlangs in popular fantasy literature that allow word-initial prenasalized consonants. I remember in particular that while voiced stops in Tolkien's Quenya are always prenasalized (except in the case of [d] when it follows a liquid, which I'd just call an allophone of /ⁿd/), they specifically can't begin words, I think largely to keep it from looking too exotic.* (Not that there aren't natlangs that disallow them in that position; IIRC Old Japanese didn't allow prenasalized consonants word-initially.) I'm probably just overthinking this, though. People happily jumped on and learned Klingon, after all.

Quote:
The "pseudo base 5" thing (straight base 10 with 5 as an additive subbase) is attested in a gigantic number of natlangs.


I was pretty sure it was, but I couldn't remember any specific examples at the time.

*I actually disagree with some of Tolkien's "user-friendly" choices anyway, such as <c> for /k/ in all positions. I don't object to it in and of itself (it looks fine in Verdurian, for instance), but I don't think it really jives with the stated goal of other aspects of the orthography, like the use of <ë> for word-final /e/ to remind English speakers that it isn't silent.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 12:46 am 
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Another phonological interlude, because I'm indecisive about the next bits of grammar

Peripheral phonology of Chavakani

While I've given the core phonology of Chavakani, there are some other sounds that are occasionally used.

[z] and [ⁿz], spelled z and nz, are found in some of Chavakani's relatives and some other nearby languages, and some Chavakani speakers pronounce them in loanwords from these languages, e.g. Inzóvu (a dense rainforest found at the periphery of the primary nation where Chavakani is spoken; reputedly a haunt of monsters and other supernatural phenomena). For less cosmopolitan speakers or in less recently borrowed vocabulary, [z] tends to become [s] and [ⁿz] tends to become [ⁿdʒ].

[ts], spelled ts, is similarly found in languages in contact with Chavakani and may appear in loanwords. Outside the usage of some educated speakers, it is merged with [s].

[ʃ], spelled sh, has phonemic status in some other languages of the region, and may sometimes be heard in loanwords into Chavakani outside of the normal environment where /s/ is realized as [ʃ]. In frontier dialects in direct contact with these languages, this is the typical pronunciation. In the standard dialect these tend to be pronounced with [s], or occasionally with [tʃ].

Non-allophonically conditioned [ʃ] can also be heard in affectionate or "cute" speech. In diminutive words and in affectionate speech registers (especially in motherese), it is common to convert alveolars to palatals/palatoalveolars as follows: /n ⁿd t s ɾ/ become [ɲ ⁿdʒ tʃ ʃ j]. Many of these affectionate diminutives have become standard words (e.g. chumi "buttocks" replacing now-archaic tumi), although examples in [ʃ] are uncommon and tend to revert to [s].

Chavakani stably has a nasal consonant not followed by a vowel in one context: The copula is ni when referred to in isolation or enunciated, but its normal form is n', pronounced [n] or as a nasal assimilated in point of articulation to a following consonant; before a prenasalized consonant this is realized as a longer duration of the nasal portion.

Like many languages without clicks as actual phonemes, Chavakani uses (generally alveolar) clicks as isolated phones in some contexts, mostly as a signal to animals or sometimes to other people.

As noted above, "cute" speech converts some alveolar consonants to palatals or postalveolars. (Doing it to every single alveolar consonant is mostly done to mock someone, not as genuine affectionate speech.) Chavakani also has a "macho"/"boasting" speech register, whose phonological traits include making the voiceless stops and affricate weakly ejective, substituting [x] for /h/, and substituting a full trill [r] for /ɾ/.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:42 pm 
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Vocab time: Languages and peoples

(I'm doing this now partly because getting down at least some information about the culture makes the language feel more "real" to me and I don't think I'm alone in this, and partly because it will make it easier to talk about the language and its dialects and registers in upcoming lessons.)

As I said before, Chavakani (chavákání in the language itself) is a name used to refer to the language, and derives from chavá "speech; dialect" and kání (archaic) "marketplace". It is also sometimes referred to as sîmá yángání "our language" (which sometimes includes Chavakani's immediate relatives as well; in opposition to fully "foreign" tongues spoken farther afield) or as chavá ndróyo "common dialect". In official or written contexts, it is typically referred to as chavá ndróyo or as chavá Kímâo "Kimao dialect", for the metropolitan center whose dialect is traditionally prestigious. (Literary standard Chavakani derives heavily from archetypal Kimao speech; actual spoken Chavakani is more of a muddle.)

You may note that none of these terms reference an ethnic group. This is because, as its speakers are well aware, the range of Chavakani doesn't quite line up with any one ethnic identity. Although the vast majority of Chavakani's speakers are Chondru (chondrú) peoples, Chondru is a very broad ethnic category on the scale of "Celt" or "Slav" and, although Chavakani and dialects mutually intellgible with it are far and away the most widely spoken, the majority of Chondru speak something else. As far as subdivisions of the Chondru are concerned, a plurality of native Chavakani speakers are ethnic Vauka (váuka) while plenty of other native speakers are other Chondru ethnicities. Many others learn Chavakani as a lingua franca to deal with other peoples.

The Chondru are a Bronze Age agricultural people that live in a network of tropical forest and grassland. I haven't decided very much about their culture yet, but they have a tradition of ancestor worship and a set of mores based around large, heavily interconnected extended families. They have developed writing, and although it still isn't a norm for common people to be fully literate or have formal education, literacy is rather high for a culture at this stage of technological development. Although the Chondru's traditional haunt is currently experiencing peace, they have fought each other at various times and have occasionally united against outside groups. Aside from intra-Chondru trade, the Vauka and other western Chondru groups trade extensively with nomadic pastoralists of the grasslands such as the Mvithizu. I might make a separate thread on the Mvithizu people and their language at some point in the future. A far-away people the Chondru know almost nothing about have started to make and shape iron, and iron tools are starting to arrive in Chondru territory through the relatively low-tech Mvithizu. Physically, the Chondru exhibit a wide range of appearances due to interbreeding with other racial groups, but on average their closest analogue on Earth is the "Negrito" peoples of Southeast Asia, with medium-dark to dark skin, frizzy hair, minimal body hair, epicanthic folds, and small stature.

Some phenomena that could be described as "magic" work in this setting, and so as a result there are some forms of technology that don't quite correspond to anything in our world. For example, although rapid transportation doesn't exist (the most advanced ride available is the ox-drawn cart), rapid long-distance communication does exist in the form of "entangled" echoing rocks that stay connected no matter how far apart they are. (This is still something mainly possessed by the well-off. The common people are less likely to have them.) Through some kind of supernatural overclocking of the body's functions achieved through rigorous physical and mental discipline, wizard-like sages can perform superhuman feats of physical and mental prowess and survive normally lethal injury, although they can't do anything qualitatively different from what humans can ordinarily do, except in folktales. Also, aside from other human groups, the Chondru interact with illusion-generating supernatural beings that for now I'm calling "fairies" (although they differ in some ways from the traditional Western conception). They are called many names in Chavakani, quite a few of them euphemistic, although the most common simple name is fwôna. More on them and on magic much later.

Chondru, Vauka, and other terms of identity in Chondru languages are all synchronically transparent lexical words as well as ethnonyms. Chondru cultures have traditionally named themselves and other peoples by a characteristic artifact or product associated with the group in question. Chondrú itself means "earring", in reference to the fact that the Chondru use an intricate system of ear piercings and other facial ornamentation to indicate social status, class, and in some cases occupation. All Chondru who have come of age wear some kind of ear piercing, and often other piercings besides. I haven't decided on any of the details of this system yet, but they do. Váuka refers to a bright silvery pigment tradtionally produced by that group and used extensively in bodily decoration and works of art. Names for other Chondru groups include kífa "ritual cup", yende "clay", mbêi "feather", and râkú "embroidery". Names in this style are also given by speakers of Chondru languages to non-Chondru groups, but these generally have little to nothing to do with what the groups call themselves. The Mvithizu, for example, are called kwênyú "horn", while their name for themselves means, roughly, "famed warriors". Artifact names are also given to peoples of bygone eras, some real and some probably not. Oral and written histories composed by the Chondru extensively reference the ndano fúi, the semi-mythologized Horse People who introduced horses to the area long ago.

Most of the time, using these artifact words by themselves is sufficient in context to refer to the group in question. However, if one fears confusion with the object itself, one can append vúká for present-day peoples or ndano for long-gone people or for the ancestors of the modern ones, e.g. vúká yende for Yende ("Clay") people if context alone would not make it clear that one wasn't talking about clay itself, or ndano yende if one is referring to the ancient Yende. Note that the Horse People are usually referred to with the full formulation ndano fúi and not just fúi to prevent funny images of horses doing human things that might interfere with the "Golden Age" reverence their distant era traditionally receives.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:11 am 
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This is coming together good, but I'm starting to feel psuedo-mimic shame. I've got a fair deal of notes for Nawi already that I'm typing out and honing as I go and slowly getting on here in that thread (I need to update). But I feel like Nawi and Chavakani almost fall into an accidental conlang sprachbund. The sounds are sort of similar (I'm very glad you added tone, since I never wanted to, and I think it will be nice here), one of my possesive schemes is like Chavakani's, and locatives are similar but different enough. I'm glad you're postposing the me for "your" and the like because I was starting to get spooked (I'm preposing it).

Maybe we should through these two on an imaginary archipelago or have them near to eachother in clawgrips game (that I've been slacking on).

I'll try to do an update at lunch for Nawi, but we're thinking in a scary similar way. Are you me?

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:55 pm 
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I'll look at Nawi later and see how similar it is. I remember seeing the phonology a while back and thinking it was kind of similar to Chavakani's, but beyond that I don't really know anything about it. I wouldn't worry too much about the languages being similar (I think a lot of it is just a matter of us having similar phonological tastes and, I"m guessing, picking grammatical features that tend to go together like SVO as the base word order and postposed adjectives), but if it's any comfort, I'm planning to have some features that are a bit less common by the time we get to verbs.

By any chance are you interested in Chinese? I'll admit that despite my original design goals I'm pretty sure my background in Chinese is influencing this project to some extent as the analytic language I know best other than English itself.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:56 pm 
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OK, I've looked at Nawi, and honestly I don't think they're really that similar. As I understand it, in what you've shown thus far, your language:

  • Is mostly head-final whereas mine is head-initial
  • Has a morphological alienability distinction that includes marking of the possessee for alienable possession (I'm not sure whether what's going on in Chavakani will end up falling into alienability or not, and possessee marking doesn't fit in this language at all)
  • Has extensive derivation through Semitic-style consonant root-based ablaut, whereas aside from compounding Chondru languages have traditionally used (semi-unpredictable) tone shifts and consonant mutations for derivation, most of which reflect prefixes and suffixes in proto-Chondru that were worn away
  • Has lots of lovely gaps in its set of allowed syllables whereas Chavakani's is kind of boringly regular and grid-like aside from the vowel mergers
  • Is strictly (C)V (and vowel-only syllables are uncommon) whereas mine allows consonant clusters and frequently has sequences of vowels (that merge together)

Just by way of comparison, here's "the teeth of John's mother's horse" in Chavakani:

(mái) mbae fúi yá mómó Yóhane (I made up an equivalent of "John" for the sake of this example, even though there's no reason for it to appear in this language's world)
(many) tooth horse GEN mother John

The plural marker would probably be there if the teeth were first being introduced in this statement. I realize that that kind of makes mái an indefinite non-human plural marker, although unlike some indefinite markers it can be used after demonstratives.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:31 am 
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I was probably looking too globally. I think the tone introduction into Chavakani was a big change too.

But I do want to say I love your phonology despite you thinking it's boring. I think that it shows how a simple idea can show really fun sounding results, and I think with the addition of tone you're going to have some really fun results when you start developing poetic traditions. Tone having some kind of force in poetry usually produces something really really addictive, but that might just be me.

I'm probably getting way far ahead, but will the earrings of the Chondru play a role in the development or adoption of writing?

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:29 pm 
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EDIT: Originally this section had adjective modifiers preceding adjectives, but I've since decided it works better with other features of the language for modifiers to follow adjectives. The relevant parts of this post have been rewritten.

Burke wrote:
But I do want to say I love your phonology despite you thinking it's boring.


Thank you.

Quote:
I think that it shows how a simple idea can show really fun sounding results, and I think with the addition of tone you're going to have some really fun results when you start developing poetic traditions. Tone having some kind of force in poetry usually produces something really really addictive, but that might just be me.


I don't actually know anything about how natlangs with tone use it in poetry, although I suppose it's time I learned. I'm mainly aware of the interaction between tone and (modern popular) music, which in my experience seems to be that the words' tone is simply ignored.

Quote:
I'm probably getting way far ahead, but will the earrings of the Chondru play a role in the development or adoption of writing?


I wasn't thinking of incorporating them into that, but that's an interesting concept. I haven't worked out much yet about the origins of writing in this region and what culture the Chondru adopted it from. (It didn't originate with them; I've decided that much.)

Adjectives

Adjectives in Chavakani are fairly uncomplicated, as there are no grammatical inflections on nouns for them to agree with. The most important rule to remember concerning adjectives is when to use ya:

Single words whose base usage is as an adjective do not use ya. Multi-word adjectival phrases and verbs or nouns being used as adjectives use ya. For example:
  • onji purú "long stalk"
  • mêmu mbíní "red lips"
  • yékrû vochû "thick sauce"
But:
  • onji yá nói purú onji ya purú nói "very long stalk"
  • mêmu ya ndwa njóavi "rosy lips" (literally "dragonfruit-colored* lips")
  • yékrû yá péché "tart sauce" (literally "biting sauce")

The following are common words expressing the degree of adjectives:
  • nói X X nói "very X"
  • mbrê X X mbrê "Xer, more X"
  • sôru X X sôru "Xest, most X"
  • chune X X chune "a little X, slightly X"
  • háro X X háro "less X"
  • sôru háro X X sôru háro "least X"
Note that there isn't a single word for "least", which instead combines sôru "most" and háro "less".

These words and some adjectives are grammatically verbs. For example:
  • Mátao nói ngári "Matao is very tall" Mátao hua nói "Matao is very good"
  • Té sôru kayí Té kayí sôru "I am the strongest"
  • Sí yékrû péché "This sauce is tart" (literally "this sauce bites")
If you like, you can think of mbrê as "exceed", sôru as "excel", and so on and so forth. As you can see, the verb-like modifiers adjectives do not take the copula n' when used predicatively. Other adjectives are noun-like and do take n':
  • Mêmu Ndriká n' mbíní "Ndrika's lips are red"
  • Onji n' purú "The stalk is long"
  • Kwe mái vé n' chôfu "Those cattle are fat"
Note that, as seen above, this copula disappears if the adjective is preceded by a modifier. These adjectives are also followed by a modifier if applicable, but retain the copula: Onji n' purú sôru "The stalk is the longest".

Verb-like adjectives make up the overwhelming majority of adjectives in the language. However, a disproportionate number of the very common adjectives are noun-like. Most of the noun-like adjectives denote lasting physical traits, such as color, size, and shape. Other adjectives are verb-like and tend to have some usage as verbs other than simply saying the object possesses that attribute, e.g. Túvi kayí 'Ifâ "Tuvi overpowers Ifa", using kayí which means "strong" when used as an adjective. One could argue that the Chondru tend to conceptualize more qualities as behaviors than Westerners do, or one could not, but at any rate the language treats most adjectives as verbs.

Next: The basics of verbs. Probably.

*The world this takes place in has most of the same species of flora and fauna as Earth, but they aren't all in the same places. They are, of course, found in environments to which they are adapted, but not always on the same continents (relative to other life) as on Earth. For example, both coffee and cocoa grow on the same landmass. This may be due either to an earlier age of sail (and presumably subsequent technological collapse) prior to the current era, or to a different pattern and history of land bridges in this seting; I haven't decided yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Chavakani
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:11 pm 
Avisaru
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Here's a shorter post because I happened to think of how this works just now. Also, note that some parts of the previous post on adjectives have been revised.

Clausal objects, reported speech, and logophoricity

Although some of the situations in which English would use a dependent clause as a primary constituent are covered by serial verbs in Chavakani (e.g. Té ovui ng'e mbíase "I wish I had money", with ovui "wish" directly followed by ng'e "have"), in the other cases dependent clausal objects are structured like independent clauses, without a relative pronoun or similar linking word:
  • Me mó Ndriká ng'e mbíase "You say Ndrika has the money"
  • Té háyu me ngichî "I think you're lying"
  • Té kô'e me fâ ngichî "I hope you're not lying"
In reported speech, Chavakani uses the logophoric pronoun cho to indicate the party who is speaking and distinguish them from other third-person parties:
  • Ndriká mó cho ng'e mbíase "Ndrika says she has the money"
But:
  • Ndriká mó o ng'e mbíase "Ndrika says he/she [someone else] has the money"
Basically, use cho where the party being quoted would use . Similarly, use chora and chongani for térá and téngání. As you can see, cho reduces the likelihood of situations where o's referent would be ambiguous by distinguishing the party whose speech is being reported from the party of which they spoke.

Cho is also used with reported thoughts, desires, fears, and anything else where someone else's perspective is reported.

_________________
[ʈʂʰɤŋtɕjɑŋ], or whatever you can comfortably pronounce that's close to that

Formerly known as Primordial Soup

Supporter of use of [ȶ ȡ ȵ ȴ] in transcription

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a 青.


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