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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:59 pm 
Smeric
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Many languages of Subumpam on the planet Teppala make use of classifier prefixes which indicate the semantic category of a noun, and sometimes extending to verbs. There is a small pool of very common words that have no prefixes, but the vast majority of nouns in the language belong to one of the many noun classes and take the corresponding prefix wherever they appear.

Subumpam is a fairly diverse empire. The climate ranges from subtropical and nearly tropical in the south to the cold and rugged mountains of the north, whose people are much poorer than those of the tropics but also much better protected from foreign invasions. In the mountains, most people speak Andanic languages, a family which is related to Subumpamese but much more conservative.

The richer natural environment of the south has led its people to prosper and bring cultural innovations into the north, as well as a more diverse cuisine flavored with tropical fruits such as pineapples and coconuts as well as large, deep-water fish such as tuna.

The peoples of the north borrowed the words for these concepts from the various Subumpamese peoples of the warmer climates, and in most cases, the words were borrowed with their classifier prefixes intact. Thus the already large classifier prefix inventory of the various Andanic languages became even further enlarged as new noun classes were created to mirror the noun classes of the various Subumpamese languages providing the loanwords. In many cases, the noun classes were already homophonous with an Andanic noun class of the same or similar meaning, simply due to the conservatism of both language families and their distant shared ancestry. However, in most cases the Subumpamese languages have diverged much further from the parent language.

For example, most Andanic languages distinguish between the noun class pe- for crustaceans, he- for most other sea life, and pi- for water and weather itself. But the Subumpamese language of Kava has merged all three of these into a single noun class pi- "water". Thus the Kava word pipùna "starfish" was loaned into the Andanic languages as part of the noun class for water and weather, rather than being incorporated into the noun class for most other sea life.

In other cases, a Subumpamese loanword would be borrowed into a noun class with an entirely different semantic meaning, or into a class that did not previously exist in the Andanic languages. For example, the names of many fruits in the eastern Subumpamese language of Pačēpus began with ŋu-. Most Andanese speakers realized that this noun class was cognate to their own nu-, which contained words for fruits and also words for buildings. This is because the parent language's /ŋ/ phoneme had changed unconditionally to /n/ in the early common Andanic language. But a new /ŋ/ had arisen from the sequence /nw/, and thus Andanic languages were able to loan foreign words with /ŋ/ without replacing the phoneme. And so new words for fruits introduced by the Subumpamese people were borrowed with the ŋu- prefix intact, and ŋu- came to specifically denote tropical fruits, even those introduced from other tropical nations.

Some borrowed prefixes were extended to native words. For thousands of years, Andanic and Subumpamese languages had been actively coining new words by shifting existing words from one noun class to another. For example, the words for body parts could also serve as words for edible animal parts, by changing the prefix from one of the human classes to i- "meat". The same root, hìqi, meant "arrow" with the tu- prefix and "key" with the yo- prefix.

But now some long-established Andanic words were given new prefixes of Subumpamese origin to denote that the objects they described were of foreign origin. An arrow produced in Andanic territory would be called tuhìqi as it had always been, but if produced in Subumpam or by Subumpamese people in Andanic territory it would be called kʷuhìqi, borrowing the Subumpamese classifier, but preserving the native root for the noun itself.

Rarely, words moved in the opposite direction. The Subumpamese people generally did not need heavy clothes, as their climate was fairly warm even in winter. Heavy clothes and long pants were most often used to protect their wearers from thorns and thistles, not from winter cold. Thus, some Subumpamese languages borrowed the Andanic classifier prefix ho- to denote heavy clothes or clothes made in the Andanic style. (The native Subumpamese cognate of this prefix varied from one Subumpamese language to another.)

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I'm definitely going to pursue this system, so I'm not really looking for natlang attestation the way many other threads like this are. I know that there's at least some natlang examples of this, such as Swahili borrowing its word for book, kitabu, from Arabic and treating it as an ordinary ki- noun, but I'm not aware of any language borrowing other languages' classifiers and using them in addition to their native ones.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:35 pm 
Smeric
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Actually, Im still curious if anyone knows. Information I can find about loans in Bantu languages seems to be about how they adopt words from English, not from other Bantu languages. I would assume that a Bantu language borrowing a word from an unfamiliar Bantu language would likely use tone contours to try to guess where the boundary between the classifier prefix and the root of the word is, and therefore in most cases the first syllable of the word would be assumed to be a classifier and thus be dropped and replaced with the native language's most appropriate classifier. But if for some reason they did not do this, there would be either a word whose prefix seems to be wrong or a word with two prefixes.

Since all but one of my conlangs that have classifier prefixes also have tones, I am planning to use this guess-the-root strategy for loaning words. I might even try to lop off the first syllable when performing loans into languages that don't have classifier prefixes, on the assumption that the speakers of each language would generally have an appreciation for the other, if they were loaning a word from it, and would drop anything not part of the root.

In English we've done something similar with a handful of words, like "cherry", "orange", and "pea".

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:46 am 
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Anecdotally, I seem to remember a story about Swahili (?) borrowing Arabic kitaab "book" as kitabu, plural vitabu, where ki-/vi- is one of their regular noun class markers.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am 
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nebula wind phone wrote:
Anecdotally, I seem to remember a story about Swahili (?) borrowing Arabic kitaab "book" as kitabu, plural vitabu, where ki-/vi- is one of their regular noun class markers.


This is correct.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:29 pm 
Smeric
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I had a really angry post written up, but I get that I have mental health problems, and Ive admitted that, so I scrubbed it.

But still, if you don't read the post, don't answer it.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:04 pm 
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There is Ma'a (Discussed in ALC, p81), which is (presumably) an originally cushitic language that acquired Bantu grammar (I'd assume it's difficult to borrow solely the prefix when dealing with such a pervasive feature as noun classes). The very fact that a word like "bantuisation" exists and is used indicates the phenomenon might not be isolated.

If you intend to mean "borrowing of noun class prefixes between different languages both of which present the feature", you'd need a specialist of Bantu/Niger-Congo linguistics to answer that. I'd wager it almost certainly happened. Formally I think what you describe is the apparition, bia borrowing, of a new noun class (or set of classes) meaning "of Subumpam origin".

To be quite honest I think your original write up is overdetailed and severely obscure what it is that you're asking to begin with.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:05 pm 
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Ma'a is arguably a mixed language, though, with Bantu morphology in general IIRC, not just noun class markers.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:49 am 
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Vijay wrote:
Ma'a is arguably a mixed language, though, with Bantu morphology in general IIRC, not just noun class markers.


Yeah, that's what I meant when I said "it's difficult to borrow solely the prefix when dealing with such a pervasive feature".

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