Gosh, I didn't expect any answer at all, much less this amount!
The egalitarian-to-matriarchal thing
I have some amount of conworlding done on this, but probably not as much historical/biological background for it as might be wished, owing in part to it having never been written down. This section is basically my first attempt to organise a lot of distinct ideas and concept into a coherent whole. Please with me!
The basic gender relation is that a woman, culturally and legally, is not treated any different from a man. This stem from childbirth being much less a health risk to Mfalen females than it is to human ones. Since Mfalen as a race (the Mfalen are mammalian but nonhuman, the basic concept is that they are humanoid that evolved from what we would describe as a mid- to small-sized feline) have less body strength difference between genders and youngs that are helpless for significantly shorter length than humans (I'm thinking it may not be possible for a female to become pregnant for a certain length of time after birth, similar to lions), the original tendency to treat women as a resource and not individuals was less present. Furthermore, the males are unusually susceptible to a form or early-onset dementia (i.e. basically Alzheimer), the first symptoms of which may appear as early as the equivalent of the mid-to-late thirties. As such, experienced leaders are more likely to be females.
Except for things like lactation and childbirth, a women genuinely can do anything a man can and there are virtually no profession that are gender dominated. In marriage, either spouse may join the other's lineage (family law is based off a ramage system). A servant hired to take care of a weaned child is just as likely to be male than female. Leadership is generally based off consensus: a leader is expected to express the will of their governed less they lose their "job", but they are
given the benefit of the doubt either way. Passing laws and setting policy is kinda similar with the presidential system in that regard: a leader has a limited amount of political capital to put forth ideas that requires the approval of others (i.e. unpopular or controversial ones), and they need to choose how to expend that capital.
To give a specific pragmatic example: while it is common for a man to use polite pronouns for their female relatives (especially the older ones), a woman that does so a lot is perceived as either sarcastically mocking, or exaggeratedly servile. A man will usually talk/refer to to his mother using female pronouns all his life, but most women stop doing so when they reach marriageable age, and they hardly ever do so when talking about siblings.
Women have a Sudanese-like kinship system. Men's relatives are closer to an Inuit system, with only nuclear family members being distinguished by gender. The parents and siblings of a married male are not part of that nucleus, and as such a married and unmarried male do not refer to these relatives the same way
(a married male refers to his parents/siblings with the same gender-neutral term as he does his aunts/uncles and cousins).
Frislander wrote:Interesting. Makes me think of Adyghe actually.
Actually, as you'll see, it's a lot closer to Russian, with a (C)(C)V(C) structure that generally disallows vowel hiatuses. I wanted something that was definitely a little out there compared to Standard Western European phonology, but which I could still read aloud with reasonable ease.
frislander wrote:Promising! I like to see people do interesting things with their "adjectives" (though I feel I should point out that adjectival affixes is a very Algonquian feature, since you bring that up as an example of what you're no going for).
Incorporated "affixes" was probably the wrong term. I'm really thinking of word incorporation/agglutination, here with the incorporated word being an otherwise nominal root that is a color word. The base root tlīlli in Nahuatl works that way, e.g. tlīlpa "paint black", tlīlpoyāhua "mark with black spots". Otherwise a language with no separate adjective class is not all that unusual, especially where polysynthesis is present (Nahuatl is one; its handful of adjectives are seemingly derived from lost verbs).
Frislander wrote:Now that's an interesting way to go about things. So how would your language distinguish, say, agent versus patient nominalisations? Just a zero-derivation of a root plus valence/voice affix?
I had not even noticed this issue! Now that I think of it, I may use an affix that would have been used for direct/inverse marking in Old Mfalen.
Frislander wrote:Again, if you mean on the lexical level then this is also very much an Algonquian feature. Not that's bad in th slightest, just again to contrast with what you said earlier.
Again, my short description may have been unclear. Animacy does not affect the conjugation. It affects which verbs can be used with a given subject. For example, in Mfalen, "to rain" is an animate verbs. So you do say "I rain", "you rain" (the meaning is actually "it rains on me") and "New York is raining" (locatives are animate), but you cannot say e.g. "my house rains" (i.e. "it rains at my house") because possessives cannot be made into locatives. Similarly, you falling from tripping and a branch falling on you require different verbs. Think of it (very awkward simile incoming!) as if a split-S language required different verbs instead of different cases.
Frislander wrote:Interesting! I'd love to see how this turns out. I'd guess this would manifest itself as overt transitivity marking such as that found in Munda and I think also Salishan?
That's the idea, although (as I mention) the transitive marker wouldn't be independent but part and parcel or another of the conjugation paradigms.
[*] A derivational morphology that is noun-based instead of verb based. That is, there are no verb-to-noun nominalizers other than zero-grade nouning of the verbal root.
[*] No cases, but nouns do bear several grammatical affixes (at least definiteness, pluralization—including a dual—and possession are possible).
I'm curious how those go together. If case isn't marked on the noun, and isn't marked on the verb either (since it's 'noun-based instead of verb-based'), do they just use strict word order instead? It's unusual, I'd have thought - not being an expert! - to see a heavy reliance on word order in a 'polysynthetic' language.
As I explicitly stated (or so I though. My Asperger and the simplicity of the description means I may well not have been clear at all!), I'm not looking for as heavy a level of polysynthesis as in Algonquian or Inuit languages, but rather something halfway between them and, say, Quechua or German, with a result close to Nahuatl (i.e. "oligosynthetic" as some have called it), which does have some rather complex verb and a high level of Germanic-type nominal agglutination, but also a lot of syntactic particles and no case markings.
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