Monday, 29 February 2016

Fifth Lexember Month: for Something Completely Different, a Month of Haotyétpi Words

First, let me apologise for leaving this blog to languish for so long. It's not that I haven't been active (anyone who follows my Tumblr blog knows that's not the case). Rather, I haven't been very active with the things I usually share on this blog, in particular with the development of Moten. Basically, what has happened in 2015 is that I burned myself out on Moten. Don't take me wrong: I love my conlang, and I'm glad I've been able to work long enough on a single language that it is now at a near usable point. However, I have also been full of new ideas of linguistic features I'd like to implement in a conlang, and I couldn't implement them in Moten without breaking the language. Still, I was bursting at the seams with ideas. This combination of working on a language that was basically done, apart from the vocabulary, together with this ever present need to create something new, caused me to start resenting working on Moten!

That was, of course, an unacceptable situation! Conlanging is my main hobby, and one of the only activities I find true satisfaction in doing. There was no way I could let it become poisoned for me. So, after a period of self-reflection, and identifying exactly what it was that was bothering me and preventing me from enjoying my work on Moten, I made two decisions:

  1. To pause my work on Moten for a while. Clearly, working on a single conlang for an extended period of time doesn't sit well with me. I needed to take a break and refill my Moten batteries, so to speak;
  2. To start a new conlang to canalise all those creative juices that were flooding my brains (if you'll allow me to stretch this metaphor to the breaking point). Like I said, I had plenty of new linguistic ideas I was dying to try out, and no way to play with them, creating a situation where my brains basically got blocked. the only way I could unblock it was by letting my creative juices flow in a new language.

And that's basically what I did. I paused my work on Moten and started working on a new language. With so much creative energy just begging to be used, it wasn't long before I had a working language description, which I eventually presented to the CONLANG mailing list back in November 2015. The conlang itself is called Haotyétpi, which is actually a nominalised verb phrase meaning "that which we speak to each other" (it's an endonym. Unlike Moten which is spoken in the here and now and has no associated culture to speak of, Haotyétpi is a more traditional "fictional" language, with a conculture associated to it. Since I don't know whether the world where Haotyétpi is spoken actually contains any English speakers, I don't have an English exonym for it).

As for the language description itself, it is available here (warning: PDF hosted on Google Drive. Good news is that Google Drive's PDF preview feature works well). Since I was working on a new language, I decided to try my hand at new tools for the purpose of documenting it. This language description has been created using XeLaTeX and the Brill typeface via ShareLaTeX (basically an online TeXLive installation, very complete and up-to-date, and with a great in-browser LaTeX editor). Working on this new language has allowed me to test these tools, and I am very happy with the results so far!

So when Lexember came around again last year, I was neither ready to resume working on Moten, nor willing to miss such a fun event. So naturally, I decided to participate with Haotyétpi. Giving such a young language a nice vocabulary injection was too good to pass.

As with last year, I wrote all my Lexember posts on Tumblr, automatically shared them on Twitter and Facebook, and manually shared them on Google+ and the CONLANG mailing list. I hadn't set up an automatic link between Tumblr and this blog for Haotyétpi posts, so they unfortunately didn't appear here or on the Conlang Aggregator, but this post is my way of correcting this oversight. I have now set up that automatic link, so this problem shouldn't happen again.

As I did last year, I will give here the short definitions of the created words and link to the relevant (Tumblr) posts. Don't hesitate to follow these links: each Lexember Tumblr post contains extensive descriptions of Haotyétpi in general and the created words in particular, together with topical GIFs and in some cases even example sentences! Also, Haotyétpi is very different from Moten, with a very distinct phonology, grammar and even semantics, so you really need to read those posts (together with the grammar document I linked to) in order to make sense of these entries. So, without further ado, here are all my new words for a new language:

1st word: wakkú [ʋäˈkːuˑ], alienably possessed noun:
2nd word: repáta [ɾe̞ˈpäˑtə̆], intransitive verb:
to be/become slow, late.
3rd word: oméw [o̞ˈme̞͡ʊ], intransitive verb:
to be/become early, fast.
4th word: yosék [jo̞ˈʑe̞ˑk], nominalisation:
food, something to eat.
5th word: pusék [puˈʑe̞ˑk], nominalisation:
drink, something to drink.
6th word: eyró [e̞͡ɪ̆ˈɾo̞ˑ], intransitive verb:
to be/become pleasant, liked.
7th word: hekáw [çe̞ˈgä͡ʊ], intransitive verb:
to be/become unpleasant, hated.
8th word: ankése [änˈd͡ʑe̞ˑʑə̆], inalienably possessed noun:
face, look, appearance.
9th word: honé [fo̞ˈɲe̞ˑ], inalienably possessed noun:
10th word: =nekkon [ɲe̞̽kːo̞̽ŋ], nominalising clitic:
seems like, but is not.
11th word: [ˈɲe̞ˑ], transitive verb:
to wear (clothes).
12th word: més [ˈme̞ˑɕ], transitive verb:
to be/become attached to.
13th word: nesék [ɲe̞ˈʑe̞ˑk], nominalisation:
clothes, thing to wear.
14th word: tawít [täˈʋiˑt], alienably possessed noun:
15th word: cupí [t͡suˈbiˑ], intransitive verb:
to sleep.
16th word: [iˈäˑ], transitive verb:
to breathe; to smoke.
17th word: inwé [iˈnʋe̞ˑ], transitive verb:
to hold, to carry.
18th word: paró [päˈɾo̞ˑ], transitive verb:
to carry (sthg) on one’s back.
19th word: samar= [sɐmɐɾ], adnoun:
other, another, else.
20th word: meún [me̞ˈuˑŋ], intransitive verb:
to be/become different.
21st word: ricá [ɾiˈd͡zäˑ], transitive verb:
to see, to look at, to watch.
22nd word: cupiapásko [t͡subɪ.ɐˈbäˑɕkə̆], alienably possessed noun:
dream (images seen while asleep).
23rd word: kommés [ko̞ˈmːe̞ˑɕ], intransitive verb:
to see, to look, to observe.
24th word: [ˈɾiˑ], transitive verb:
to hear, to listen to.
25th word: sepáne [ɕe̞ˈbäˑɲə̆], inalienably possessed noun:
26th word: [ˈt͡ɕe̞ˑ], alienably possessed positional:
day (24-hour period).
27th word: -(a)p [(ɐ)p], verbal suffix:
to have the quality of.
28th word: -ye [je̞̽], verbal suffix:
to have the quality of.
29th word: ortáse [o̞ɾˈtäˑʑə̆], inalienably possessed noun:
soul, spirit, god.
30th word: ortáp [o̞ɾˈtäˑp], intransitive verb:
to be holy, to be sacred.
31st word: turá [tuˈɾäˑ], alienably possessed noun:
skill, ability; endurance, stamina.

Since Haotyétpi is a very new conlang, I am not going to do any statistics this time. That would be pointless. However, I just want to mention a few things:

  • By convention, I type every Haotyétpi word in italics (like I type Moten in bold);
  • The romanisation I chose for Haotyétpi is strictly phonemic, up to and including an acute accent to mark stress on the syllable of every word that carries one (including monosyllables). However, Haotyétpi also features plenty of allophony, so I included phonetic transcriptions of the words above in order to make it clearer how they are meant to sound like;
  • I cite clitics (independent words that lack their own stress) with a = sign, and affixes with a - sign. In both cases, the position of the sign indicates whether the clitic or affix attaches on the previous or the following word (for clitics, only in terms of prosody). Such signs are only used when citing these forms. In normal Haotyétpi texts, affixes are simply attached to the words they complete, while clitics are written as separate words (their status as clitics is still obvious, dus to the lack of accent mark).

This year's Lexember has cemented my opinion that Tumblr is just the perfect platform for it. It possesses all the social features needed for what is really a group event, the casual atmosphere needed to make it fun, without the restrictions of Twitter's limited post length. However, greatness is not limited to just one platform, and whether on Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Facebook or the Conlang Mailing List, I enjoyed reading everyone's Lexember entries. This event just keeps getting better with time. I'm looking forward to the next iteration!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Latest News about Moten

OK, so I’ve been very silent lately, and the Moten Word for the Day posts have been on involuntary hiatus for a while. I want to apologise for that, and to ask you all to bear with me for a while longer. Between my day job, my private life, and most of all my work for the LCS, I have little time for hobbies at the moment. In fact, I’m in the weird situation right now that conlanging is preventing me from conlanging!

This is not to say that I’ve done no work at all on Moten! Just nothing that I can show yet. Except for one little thing: I’ve updated the Moten dictionary again! :) It now stands at 706 entries (and a grand total of 1619 glosses!). Go ahead and click on the link to have a look at it! Still nowhere near enough words for normal daily use, but I’m slowly getting there :P.

In time, I’ll start the Moten Word for the Day posts again. But while you wait for them, don’t hesitate to have a look at the dictionary. I try to make each entry as informative as possible, but don’t hesitate to ask questions if you find some entry unclear! :)


from Tumblr

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sorry for the Empty Posts

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the last two empty posts. Somehow, the IFTTT recipe that I use to copy my Tumblr Moten Word for the Day posts to Blogger is not working correctly. I'm looking into it and hopefully I'll be able to solve the issue quickly (we'll see when the next Word for the Day post goes online...).

In the interim, I've gone back and updated the empty posts with the correct contents. You can view them here and here

Thank you all for your understanding. I'm doing my best to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Moten Word for the Day

itelmungi /ite̞lmunɡi/, verb: “to be strange, to be weird; to be interesting; to be amusing, to be funny“

And if you think that’s a rather tame meme for this word, that’s actually on purpose. This meme search has produced some results I’ll never be able to unsee again…

So, here we have a word that is (fittingly) rather strange from an English speaker’s point of view. First of all, it’s a verb, yet all its translations involve “to be” together with an adjective. In other words, Moten uses a verb in a place where English would normally use an adjective! That’s not so uncommon actually: words between different languages do not need to line up in terms of parts of speech (this is true even between closely related languages: in Dutch, the equivalent of the verb “to need” is actually an adjective: “nodig”: “necessary, required”. To say: “I need it”, you have to say “ik heb het nodig”: ”I have it necessary”). But how do you handle the attributive use then? (i.e. how do you say “an interesting person” for instance?) That’s actually easy: just use a relative clause: itelmungi itos fokez (literally “a person that is interesting”). Relative clauses are very light in Moten (you just need to put the verb in the dependent form), and are quite common where English prefers adjectives.

Second, the different senses of itelmungi look all over the place. But actually, they do make sense when you think about it for a minute. First, the etymology of this verb is quite simple: it’s a compound of tel: “other“ and imungi: “to be different“. In other words, itelmungi means literally: “to be other and different“, which is pretty much what “to be strange” means :P. Also, things that are strange and weird are usually uncommon, and since we tend to be curious animals, uncommon things are interesting for us. Finally, something that is strange and weird is usually unexpected, and unexpected things are often a source of humour, which makes them amusing or funny :).

So you see, that word’s not so weird after all ;).

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Moten Words for the Day

|notuk /ɲo̞tuk/, noun: “importance, noteworthiness; also as adj. important, noteworthy“

|notpuz /ɲo̞tpuz/, noun: “unimportance, insignificance; also as adj. unimportant, insignificant“

So… Once again, sorry for not keeping up with my Word for the Day series, but like the owl above, I’ve been swamped with important stuff to do, or maybe |notuk stuff to do ;). So please allow me to correct this by offering you two words today, both very important! :P

So, |notuk refers to the concept of being important or noteworthy, while |notpuz is its opposite, referring to lack of importance, insignificance.

As you may already know, Moten handles negation in a very idiosyncratic way, quite different from the way it’s handled in English. In particular, Moten has no productive way of forming opposites, i.e. it lacks something like the “un-” and “in-” prefixes in English. Opposites are usually just separate stems (like sezgo: “high speed” vs. bontu: “low speed”) that one just has to learn separately.

However, Moten also has a relatively productive way of forming concept nouns (which are commonly used as adjectives) that allows for what looks like a semi-productive opposite formation. This way is based on the opposite pair duki: “solidness, fullness, completeness“ and puza: “hole, gap, emptiness“. These nouns are commonly used in compounds (I often call them “pseudo-suffixes” as they behave a lot like suffixes in these compounds, although they still exist as independent nouns), to form concept nouns referring respectively to the presence or lack of a specific quality. When used in such compounds, they are both always reduced to their short compound forms -duk and -puz, and they tend to correspond respectively to the suffixes “-ful” and “-less” in English (in meaning, if not always in actual use). This means in particular that a compound in -puz will usually be the regular opposite of the same compound in -duk.

This is exactly what is happening with today’s words for the day. |Not in Moten is a noun meaning “(abstract) source, origin”, but also often used to mean “cornerstone, principal part”, or as an adjective meaning “essential, main, chief”. When compounded with duki, it forms |notuk (with the d disappearing due to phonotactic constraints), literally “full of essential things”, i.e. “important”, while with puza it forms |notpuz, literally “lacking in essential things“, i.e. “unimportant”.

And since it’s important to be able to say what’s important and what’s unimportant (at least if you think you’re important), it was important for Moten to have such important words, and it was important for me to share them with you. See the importance? :P

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Conlangery #107: Moten

Conlangery #107: Moten:

Hi everyone,

My conlang Moten was featured in the latest episode of the Conlangery podcast! Yeah me! Please go and listen to me in my full French-accented glory! :P

from Tumblr

Friday, 23 January 2015

Moten Word for the Day

izgeboj /izɡe̞boj/, verb: “to work on; to tire from; to suffer from”

In case you were wondering why I hadn’t resumed my Word for the Day feature yet. Anyway, today’s word is… let’s say relevant.

So, as you may already know, Moten has this strange feature I call “split-nominative”, in which subjects of transitive verbs are in the nominative case only when the subject is willingly acting. When the subject is more of an experiencer, or is undergoing the action, it will be put in the instrumental form instead. This is how a verb like ipe|laj, for instance, can mean both “to see” and “to watch”, depending on the form of the subject.

Now, izgeboj happens to be another one of those verbs which are translated differently depending on the form of the subject. When used with a nominative subject, it means “to work on (something)” (more exactly “to exert effort on something”). It’s a transitive verb, so an object is always implied, even if it’s not explicitly mentioned. If you just want to say “I’m working”, without referring to what you are working on, just put the verb in the middle voice :).

However, when used with an instrumental subject, the meaning of izgeboj shifts and is best translated as “to tire from (something)” or “to suffer from (something)”. Used in that way, it usually refers to physical tiredness or suffering. And the object, the cause of the tiredness or suffering, is usually an action or a physical item (in particular, it’s not used to refer to suffering from a disease).

If you’re wondering whether such a dramatic shift in meaning is realistic, just realise that French travail: “work, job” used to mean “suffering, torment” in Old French, and descends from the Latin word tripalium, which refers to one of the worst instruments of torture the Romans ever devised!


from Tumblr