Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Moten Word for the Day

ipe|lastu|l /ipe̞ʎastuʎ/, verb: “to show; to reveal”

Yeah, couldn’t find anything better. Vepe|ne ! ;)

As promised, this one is slightly more interesting than the previous compound. First, it is a verb-verb compound, something that speakers of European languages won’t be very familiar with. It’s also a dvandva compound, i.e. a compound where both elements are at the same level and are connected with a notional “and”.

It is formed by adding ipe|laj: “to see, to watch” to istu|l. The resulting verb ipe|lastu|l literally means “to summon and see”, which is basically what “showing” or “revealing” is (calling someone so that they can see something :) ).

Verb-verb compounds are common in Moten, so don’t be surprised if you see a few more appearing in this series, or even afterwards ;).


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Monday, 1 September 2014

Moten Word for the Day

imikostu|l /imiko̞stuʎ/, verb: “to phone, to call on the phone”

I did warn you! Can’t get enough of the calling dog ;).

When looking at compounds of istu|l, imikostu|l is probably the most boring one. It’s formed by compounding istu|l with miko: “remoteness, long distance, far”, i.e. “to call from afar”.

The main reason why it’s so boring is that istu|l basically keeps its meaning in this compound, making imikostu|l just a subset of istu|l. And indeed, just like in English one can simply say that they “called” someone and people will understand that they meant “by phone”, in Moten it’s common to simply use the verb istu|l when one actually means imikostu|l.

Don’t worry though, I promise the next compounds will be more interesting to look at :).


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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

istu|l /istuʎ/, verb: “to summon, to call; to bring along”

I can’t get enough of the calling dog :P.

Here we have a very common Moten verb. On its own, it’s nothing special, and its two main meanings (“to call” and “to summon”) are rather standard. It also means “to bring (someone) along”, which sounds a bit weirder but is really just a straightforward extension of the “to summon” meaning.

However, istu|l is mostly common in Moten because of its very frequent use to form compound verbs based on nouns or other verbs. Used in this way, it’s nearly ubiquitous, similarly to how suru (“to do”) is used in Japanese. And to show the wide range of verbs that can be created using istu|l, I will devote the next few words for the day to it :). I hope you’ll enjoy them!


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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

badi /badi/, noun: “dog”

My desktop background (half of the year in any case. I’ve got an alternative for the winter months ;) ).

I can’t believe I haven’t done that word yet!

Anyway, it’s the generic word for “dog”. It doesn’t specify nor imply gender in any way.

And yes, this word comes from my dog’s name, Buddy :).

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

mejto /me̞jto̞/, interjection: “hello, hi”

Dogs and conlanging, the two main themes of this blog in one single post. My life is complete now ;).

Anyway, mejto is the most basic way to greet people in Moten. It’s neutral and can be used in all situations unless you want to be very polite, it’s symmetrical and you can just answer someone using it by repeating it back to them, and it’s usable in all situations, whether face to face, on the phone or through written text.

In terms of etymology, it seems pretty clear that it’s related to the verb imeti: “to greet (someone)” (especially when you remember that the root of this verb is met, with i-…-i being a circumfix marking the infinitive). The exact nature of the relationship is unclear though, or at least, there’s no productive derivational pattern in Moten that could explain the form mejto. There is, however, another interjection that seems to have arisen much the same way: the word davi|zo means “thank you” in Moten, and is obviously related to the verb idavi|zi: “to be happy with, to thank”. Both mejto and davi|zo seem to be derived from their respective verbs in the same way: an infix -i- after the last vowel of the stem (usual phonotactic rules in Moten easily explain why that infix ends up as -j- in mejto and disappears next to the i of the davi|z stem), along with a suffix -o (Moten productively marks case with the combination of an infix and a suffix, so it’s pretty much standard fare for the language). This probably used to be a productive pattern in Moten, but as the language changed it stopped being used and the two words mejto and davi|zo got fossilised as interjections.

As to the original meaning of the -i-…-o form, my bet is that it must have been some kind of hortative. It’s probable that in the past, verbs in Moten had more finite forms than they have now, and this might simply have been one of them. So the original meaning of mejto may have been “let (me) greet (you)”. An alternative explanation is that it may have been an optative (“(I) wish to greet (you)”). Both are possible, and without more evidence it’s impossible to rule one out.

One bit of evidence that both mejto and davi|zo probably started as finite verb forms is that even today they can take adverbial phrases, and when they do those always appear in front of them (i.e. they take the typical final position verbs normally always take). One can for instance say (using a benefactive): |laba mejto: “hello to you!” or |laba davi|zo: “thank you”. It’s not definitive evidence (in particular, since imeti is a transitive verb with the person being greeted as the object, one would expect the expression *bdan mejto, with the pronoun ba: “you” in the accusative case, to be licit. Yet it’s not, at least not in Moten as it is currently spoken), but it is tantalising.

In any case, what you can take away from this particular word as a language creator is that even if you don’t create your language according to the historical method (i.e. derive it from a proto-language), you can “fake” historical depth in your naturalistic conlang by peppering it with recognisable but non-productive derivation patterns, that hint at a previous stage where the language was somewhat different. Do not overuse it though: if a pattern is really common, why should it ever stop being productive? But used sparingly and with care, it can really add depth and naturalness to your language.


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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

|la /ʎa/, noun: “peace, good health; also as adj. peaceful, healthy”

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find good peace memes on Internet?!

|La seems to be a central concept in Moten culture (a bit like “aloha” in Hawaiian culture, although it seems somewhat less broad). Not only does it refer to good health (for a body) and peace (for a community), but it’s also used in various expressions and greetings. The informal expression |lag: “bye”, for instance, seems to be derived from ko|lea ag: “leave in peace” or “leave in good health”. The expression saj ko|lea, literally “definitely in peace/good health” is used as a polite form of both greeting and parting, and is also the usual expression used to mean “welcome” or “have a nice trip”.

Finally, there’s the expression |ledan, which is basically |la in the singular definite accusative case. It’s only used on its own as a reaction to someone sneezing (equivalent to “bless you” or “gesundheit”). Mostly, it’s used along with terms referring to a specific event as the equivalent of “happy…” or “merry…” in English. For instance, with adamla: “anniversary”, one forms adamla |ledan: “happy birthday, happy anniversary”. With Noel: “Christmas”, one forms Noel |ledan: “Merry Christmas”. And with Imonuj: “New Year celebrations”, one gets Imonuj |ledan: “happy new year”.

And that’s just looking at the surface. |La is used a lot in Moten.


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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

ivepe|nej /ive̞pe̞ɲe̞j/, verb: “to apologise”

vepe|ne /ve̞pe̞ɲe̞/, noun: “apology”

vepe|ne /ve̞pe̞ɲe̞/, interjection: “sorry, thank you”

I couldn’t feel like sharing some kind of interesting word, so I’m sorry…

But to be fair, vepe|ne is actually interesting, in that it’s one of the few stems that can be used in more than one part of speech.

Normally, in Moten stems are strictly limited to one part of speech, i.e. a stem can be used as a noun or as a verb, not as both. It’s very unlike English, which can both have “a dream” and “to dream” with the same root being used as a noun or a verb without a change, and which is so flexible in this that one can actually talk about “verbing nouns” and everyone will know what you mean! In Moten, if a stem is used as a verb, it cannot be used as a noun without some explicit derivation.

Yet there are a few exceptions, and some stems can be used as a noun or a verb without one being derived from the other explicitly (the circumfix i-…-i that marks the infinitive is not considered a derivation in this case, it’s the stem itself that is used nominally or verbally). Vepe|ne is one of those. It’s even at the peak of flexibility as it can not only be used as a verb ivepe|nej: “to apologise” and a noun vepe|ne: “apology”, but also as a particle (the third Moten part of speech), here an interjection vepe|ne meaning “sorry”.

Besides this grammatical quirk, vepe|ne also has a semantic quirk. Notice that I translated its interjection use as “sorry” or “thank you”. That’s because in Moten, vepe|ne is sometimes used when in English people would thank people rather than apologise to them. For instance, when receiving a present, English speakers will thank the gift giver, while Moten speakers would apologise instead. In the same way, if you ask someone a favour, and they do it, you wouldn’t thank them in Moten, but apologise instead. Basically, you would apologise in those cases as a way to acknowledge the person’s efforts towards you.

That’s not the only semantic quirk of vepe|ne, and indeed the entirety of the notion of politeness works somewhat differently in Moten than in English. But that’s a discussion for another time. Sorry :).


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