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 Post subject: Notes on Lkal sik
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:11 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 11:03 am
Posts: 472
Location: displaced from Helsinki
Motivated by Travis B. mentioning egophoricity in his Middle Tshyak thread, I thought that I should perhaps also post something on one of my side project languages that includes egophoricity in its evidential system. The language is called Lkal sik and is yet another one of these conlangs that draws inspiration from the Tibetosphere. I'm hoping, though, that as I develop the language, it'll pick up influences from a wider area. I'll, for example, probably give the language a defunct classifier system and watch how it erodes away, since I've recently found myself thinking a lot about the grammar of classification. The bits for that are already in place already since the prefix l- in the language's name can be found in many nouns related to sound or the mouth. The name of the language's native state is Skal, on the other hand, which uses the same root kal but with an areal prefix s-.

The language exists in its world as two versions. There's the classical literary language, that was standardised maybe 700 to 900 years before the present time, and the modern spoken variety. The reality is, of course, much more complicated than this since the literary language written on later times is always affected to a certain degree by the contemporary spoken language. There's probably also a variety of distinct dialects which I don't expect to have the time or motivation to flesh out. I'll also leave the description of the modern language to some later time since working out satisfying sound changes for large tables of consonant clusters is painfully tedious. What you'll get now are descriptions of Classical Lkal sik


The consonant and vowel phonemes of Classical Lkal sik and the orthography I'll use for them are

/p t k q/ <p t k q>
/b d dʑ g/ <b d dź g>
/f s χ/ <f s h>
/v r ʑ ʁ/ <v r ź ř>
/m n/ <m n>
/l j w/ <l j/i w/u>

/a e i o u (ə)/ <a e i o u (e)>
/ae ei ao ou/ <ae ei ao ou>

The glides /j w/ are written as j w at the start of the word or after vowels and as i u when they come after consonants. The off-glides on the low diphthongs /ae ao/ are something around [e̝ o̝] or [i̞ u̞]. They are lower than the off-glides on the high diphthongs but higher than /e o/ or the base vowels of /ei ou/. A big reason for deciding this was simply that when these diphthongs are preceded by glides, writing iae and uao instead of iai and uau looks much more pleasing. The vowel [ə] never appears on the main syllable and its phonemic status is up for debate. The word initial voiceless stops tend all to be aspirated when followed by a vowel or a glide.

The typical allowed word shapes are ((Cə)C(C))V(C(s)), ((Cə)C(C))VCV(s,n), and ((Cə)C(C))VCVCV(s,n). That's to say that a word may begin with a two consonant cluster and on top of that have a prefixed syllable of the form C[ə]-. Here the vowel [ə] is epenthetic and fully predictable and so I won't be writing it down. The allowed consonant clusters at the start of the main syllable are

/sp st sk sq/
/br dr gr/
/bʑ gʑ/
/Cj Cw/ (except for double glide clusters)

A prefix may end up forming an allowed cluster with the initial consonant of the main syllable. In these cases a true cluster is formed and no epenthetic [ə] is interted after the prefix consonant.

Words that have only one full syllable may end with the consonants /p t k s χ m n l/ or the clusters /ps ts ks ns/. In these places the nasal /n/ has the allophone [ŋ]. On longer words all consonants may appear between two vowels but no clusters are allowed and at the end of the word /s n/ are the only allowed consonants. The vocalism of the suffixal syllables following the main syllable is also reduced. Only /i u [ə]/ may appear there. I'll write the suffixal [ə] as e but it's probably better described as an allophone of /a/.

 Post subject: Re: Notes on Lkal sik
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 11:03 am
Posts: 472
Location: displaced from Helsinki
The evidential system

Before writing more about the more basic grammar features, I'll outline the evidential system of Classical Lkal sik. The language has a three way split between an egophoric (or personal experience) evidential -n, a direct evidence evidential , and an indirect evidence evidential -ke. The divide between the direct and indirect evidentials is quite straight forward. The direct evidential is used to indicate direct sensory evidence for the statement while the indirect evidential signals the lack of this. Thus, the direct evidential gets a lot of use when talking about visual evidence and the indirect evidential when reporting inference or hearsay. There's some fluidity between these two forms. If you are reporting some information based on a sound you have heard, you can use either the direct or the indirect evidential. The direct evidential is likewise some times used when talking about information contained in well known and trusted written sources. In both of these cases the choice of the direct evidential indicates a greater personal trust in the validity of the statement.

The egophoric evidential is used when the speaker has personal involvement in the action. This typically means that the speaker is either the subject or recipient in the clause or an affected object. I think I'll make control matter that much that unconscious actions by a first person subject don't trigger egophoric marking but conscious unintentional actions do. As a defining characteristic for the egophoric, it's used in an anticipatory way in questions. Thus a typical pattern for indicative sentences is that the first person gets egophoric marking and the other persons don't,

Dźun sne-i-n.
SG1 leave-PST-EGO
"I left."

Ho sne-is.
SG2 leave-PST
"You left."

Qel sne-is.
SG3 leave-PST
"He left."

while in questions it's the second person that gets the egophoric marking and the other persons don't,

No dźun sne-is?
Q SG1 leave-PST
"Did I leave?"

No ho sne-i-n?
Q SG2 leave-PST-EGO
"Did you leave?"

No qel sne-is?
Q SG3 leave-PST
"Did he leave?"

Polar questions can be formed either by the interrogative particle no or simply with rising intonation. In the written language second person questions may thus be implied merely by the use of the egophoric marking. On the other hand, rhetoric questions, where no personal involvement by the second person is expected, are regularly formed with the direct evidential in all persons.

The egophoric evidential also gets used with certain third person subjects without any first person involvement. This happens with complement clauses where the third person is reporting their own personal experience and the same subject carries over from the main clause. Thus the following sentence has egophoric marking in the complement clause since the information contained within it stems from the third person's own experience

Qel sak-is qel Teni be rne-n.
SG3 say-PST SG3 Tenni ABL come-EGO
"He said that he is from Tenni."

While in the next sentence there is a break in the subject between the two clauses and no personal involvement about the complement clause can be assigned to either the speaker or the third person originating this information.

Qel sak-is ho Teni be rne-ke.
SG3 say-PST SG2 Tenni ABL come-INDIR
"He said that you are from Tenni."

In the direct evidential it's further possible to show that the speaker expects the audience to already be familiar with the information. In the earliest records of the language, this was done with a separate particle da following the verb and it could also be used together with the egoporic. The particle quickly merged together with the verb into -de and became restricted to be used with only the direct evidential,

Qel Teni be rne-de.
SG3 Tenni ABL come-SHEARED
"He is from Tenni (as you surely know)."

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