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Today we talk about nonconfigurationality, that is what languages do with word order when it’s not needed to show semantic roles.  William regales us with tales of Navajo animacy-based word order, Nahuatl shifting its numerals around, and Ancient Greek’s confounding tendency to separate adjectives from their noun phrases.  Also, we talk about Ayeri, a wonderfully well-developed conlang by Carsten Becker

Top of Show Greeting: South Eresian

Featured Conlang: Ayeri

Email from Dirk Elzinga about ep #8:

Hi guys.I just finished listening to the podcast, and I wanted to thank you for the kind words about Tepa. It’s the most feedback I’ve received on the language (or any of my projects, for that matter), and it was interesting to hear your take on some of its features. Just one correction: the name of the language is pronounced [tɨβa], with [ɨ] and not [e].I did borrow the person hierarchy and the notions of direct and inverse from Algonkian, as you rightly supposed. The number marking reduplications of various kinds were indirectly inspired by Austronesian languages, though I didn’t borrow directly from any of them. The noun morphology is more like Salish than anything else, particularly the Salishan “lexical suffixes” (you noted the suffix -ppi for ‘buzzing animal/insect’; this is sort of like Salishan lexical suffixes).

In fact, the only real Uto-Aztecan influences were in the phonology, which looks to Shoshoni rather than Hopi (though it too has limited consonant lenition, as William (?) noted). The practical orthography for Shoshoni that has been adopted by the Western Shoshonis in Duck Valley and by the Goshutes in Ibapah is also “radically phonemic” (to borrow your term). It doesn’t take too long to learn how to use and was the model for setting up my romanization of Tepa (including representing [ɨ] with <e>). Even so, I might have done things differently now had I to do it again. It wasn’t meant to be confusing–only efficient.

The whole project is now dormant. It has been superceded by Miapimoquitch, which uses the same lexis, but has altered the phonology slightly, and drastically altered the morphosyntax. I still have the person hierarchy and direct/inverse marking, and paucal/distributive/collective number marking, but it works differently now. I have abandoned the traditional division between Noun and Verb and have only one part of speech, Predicate. This was a move suggested by the grammatical notion of “phase” that cross-cut the noun/verb distinction in Tepa. Now there is no distinction, and all content words are inflected alike. I have yet to put any descriptions of Miapimoquitch online; I’m trying to write it in the style of the American Structuralists of the 1930s, and it’s slow going.

In the future, may I suggest that you contact the creator of the featured language before-hand to fill in some of the gaps surrounding the creation of the language. I would have been happy to answer questions about when/why/how I created Tepa that aren’t really given in the online materials if only to save you from trying to speculate on air (though it was fun to listen to you squirm :-).

Thanks again, and keep up the good work!



2 Responses to “Conlangery #11: Nonconfigurationality”

  1. prmysl

    I noticed you seemed to be talking about Ayeri as if it has only one script. There is the normal script, tahano nuhicamu, and then there is the ornamental script, tahano nuvenon. While I am a fan of the first, the second is quite beautiful if somewhat labor intensive. I too had found the scripts before the conlang.

    • Carsten

      Tahano Veno has never really been used to write the language because it was too impractical drawing all those elaborate leafy shapes, and “Nuhicamu” isn’t called that anymore either, it’s just been “Hikamu” for the past 4 or so years. The information on Omniglot is extremely outdated.


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