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Today we talk about something we wish more conlangers would think about creating — isolating and analytic languages.  It seems that virtually everyone wants some polysynthetic madness or at least a complex verb paradigm, but there are ways to make isolation and analytic syntax interesting, we promise!  Also, Taila

Top of Show Greeting: Hra’anh

Links and Resources:

Featured Conlang: Taila

15 Responses to “Conlangery #47: Practicum — Isolating and Analytic Languages”

  1. AlucardNoir

    You guys seam not to like conscripts, shouldn’t you guy’s be a little more open minded about it?I mean Egyptian is thought of as a natural evolution from Egyptian pictograms based on Sumerian cuneiform phonology – which is why Sumerian historians and Egyptian historians don’t usually see eye to eye, Greek is based on Phoenicia which is based on Egyptian hieratic, Latin is based on Greek, north runes are based on a proto latin alphabet, and let’s not mention Cyrillic, Georgian, Armenian and Albanian; as for Asia, we have Devanagari, Tibetan, pangspa and Korean Hangul. And these are only the big ones.And now that i think about it simplified Chinese.

    • Anthony

      I don’t think Egyptologists have thought (for decades) that hieroglyps come from cuneiform…for one thing, that doesn’t explain the writings found with King Scorpion I. (26:00:00)

      though your examples aren’t conscripts, so I’m confused why you’re citing them right after saying “you guys seem not to like conscripts, shouldn’t you be more open-minded about it?”

      • AlucardNoir

        I never said they came from cuneiform, from what i understand they used egyptian pictograms but used syllables from Sanskrit in place of there own, this is why it’s said egyptian writing “comes” from cuneiform, no one said it was derived from it(last docu on the topic i saw was from 2010 so opinion might have changed on that one), also you should really look a little in the scripts i gave as examples, at least Armenian, Georgian, Tibetan, Pangspa, Hangul, Albanian and Cyrillic are actual conscripts, specifically constructed for a language or another. and this isn’t even considering the scripts made by christian missionaries in Africa and America.
        Conlanging may be new and mostly related to conwolrding but conscripting has several historical precedents, from pictograms to syllabaries to full alfabets, and while some may be based on others most are not simple codes for the Latin or Greek ones; not to mention that some like Georgian and Hangul have actually evolved over time, even losing certain symbols.

    • Wm Annis

      It’s really only me who doesn’t like conscripts. But that didn’t stop me from suggesting a script-related topic we’ll be doing soon. 🙂

  2. Dave

    FYI, in Japanese, particles can come after phrases, not just nouns. There are a number of cases where you can stack particles, or where you can put a particle after, for example, a verb phrase or subordinate clause. That’s why I would say they are absolutely particles and not affixes.

    Also, particles tend to come after each term of a conjunct, though which particle is used (there are a few conjunctive particles like ‘mo’) depends on what you are conjoining and whether you are implying “all of these” or “one/some of these”, etc.

    • Roman Rausch

      Interestingly though, if you look at the Japanese particles diachronically, then they take the sound changes of *medial* consonants, e.g. topic wa comes from pa. Compare OJ kapa → kawa ‘river’, but initially p → h: OJ pata → hata ‘field’.
      Also, in very slow speech, when you are looking for words, a noun and its particle are never separated by pauses, e.g. one would say watashi wa … usagi wo … koroshitai, but never **watashi … wa … usagi … wo … koroshitai.
      So yeah, I think there *are* some tests for independent words vs. affixes; and particles pass some and fail others – that’s why they’re called ‘particles’. 🙂

  3. Andrew J Smith

    Basically, there is only one particle per clause or chunk of Japanese: “Boku ha pan to kukkii wo tabeta (I-topic bread-and cookie-object ate).” Some specific instances, with nuances in meaning, do require the repetition of particles: Toto mo (Toto, too) vs. Doroshii mo Toto mo (both Dorothy and Toto). Furthermore, “Watashi ha sandowitchi to banana wo tabemashita” is one way to translate “I ate a sandwich and a banana” in Japanese.

    Vietnamese has a large set of pronouns, and most of them, especially the kinship terms, are actually just bare nouns. The most common word for “I,” tôi, literally means “servant.” This link has a better explanation. I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before. Hmm.

    As far as the non-case marking languages which tend to be SVO, could that phenomenon be yet another instance of an animacy hierarchy? I mean, whether the subject is an actually animate thing or not, the subject or agent, etc. is more animated than the object or patient, etc. So, whether “I strike the rabbit” or “the rabbit strikes me,” that which is actually doing the striking is more animate. Languages also tend to put more focus on animate things, and focus tends to be more toward the beginning of a sentence. Maybe that’s all it is.

  4. MBR

    I realize only after the fact that I used the wrong nominalization suffix in the show-top greeting on “chrekoit”. It should be “Benfet konlankari retta: e potkast anhe’chrekesi ih chrekenat fepoz stokanh.”

    The -ena suffix works like the Esperanto -ul, which derives a performer of the action, or a person who exhibits the quality indicated by the root, which is in this case the verb “kichrek”, to create. In contrast, the -oi suffix works like the Esperanto -ajx, which derives a tangible thing from the root. I essentially said “constructed languages and their creations.”

    If a Hra’vakh heard this, they would say, “She faila ze!” which is roughly equivalent to “What a moron!”

  5. Melvar

    In Lojban (you just had to mention it didn’t you), when there would be ambiguity whether something attaches to a given construct or some larger containing construct, it is the inner construct it attaches to, and to attach it to the outer construct one needs to close it using a so-called elidable terminator (which is otherwise optional (elidable), but always implicitly inserted somewhere). To look at it the other way around, the terminators are always there; if one leaves them implicit, they default to certain positions (namely as far to the end as possible). To change the structure of certain sentences one must move terminators, which one does by making some of them explicit in the desired positions. It is similar in principle to arithmetic expressions, where operations have a certain precedence (equivalent to default positions of parentheses) but the grouping can be overridden by explicit parentheses: “a + b ⋅ c” is structured as “a + (b ⋅ c)” but explicit parentheses allow one to say “(a + b) ⋅ c” instead.
    As an example, in le tunba be mi noi mikce, “the sibling of me who (incidentally) be a doctor” the relative clause noi mikce attaches to mi, “I”/“me”, which is incorporated using be as second argument into tunba, “is sibling of”. To attach it to “the sibling of me” instead, explicitly using be'o to balance the be is sufficient: le tunba be mi be'o noi mikce.

  6. R.

    I’m definitely glad you guys did a podcast on this subject, since it’s so easy to gravitate towards fusional, agglutinating, and polysynthetic conlangs given the limited inflection and fairly dull derivation of English.

    Long before I learned of your work, I began an isolating project principally inspired by West African tongues in January of this year, but haven’t made too much progress.

    What I’d find really helpful is to peruse lengthy descriptions of the syntax and semantics of, say, Yoruba*, Igbo, Fon, and their even more obscure neighbours, in order to avoid copying my isolating natlang L1 by default. If you have any relevant links, I’m all ears. 🙂

    *IIRC, one of the participants in Podcast #47 mentioned that Yoruba’s pronoun system is ‘synthetic’. I’d like to ask for clarification on this matter.

  7. Shemtov

    RE Mike’s question about non-concatanitive morphology in isolating languages, Cantonese uses change of tone with reduplication for a grammatical purposes- I forget exactly for what purpose


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