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! :)


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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

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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!


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Friday, 16 January 2015

Fourth Lexember Month: Yet Again a Month of Moten Words

So, for the fourth time in a row, I've participated in Lexember (check the links for a reminder of what Lexember is). Once again, I've hunted semantic holes in the Moten vocabulary, and filled them with words. And while Moten's vocabulary is still relatively small, I feel that with each Lexember event I get closer to having a usable language :). This time, I really focussed on everyday words, and I think it shows :).

Naturally, things change with time, and I adapted my participation to Lexember to the new situation. And by new situation, I mean my joining Tumblr and Facebook. In the previous Lexember events, I manually posted my words to Twitter and Google+. This year, I did things somewhat differently.

I always felt cramped by the nature of Twitter, which prohibited the long word descriptions I felt I needed to make. So this year, I wrote all my Lexember posts on Tumblr, which allowed me the space I needed while still feeling informal, and allowing the social aspect that is so important to Lexember (Lexember is very much alive in the Tumblr conlanging community by the way). Moreover, posting my words on Tumblr allowed me to automatically share them on Twitter and Facebook too, which I naturally did :). The only manual sharing I had to do was on Google+, as well as on a thread of the Conlang Mailing List :P. And besides that, as you may have noticed if you follow this blog or the Conlang Aggregator, my Lexember posts were also shared here. Automation is a great thing when it works ;).

Because of this, I decided, this year, to handle my Lexember summary differently from other years. Rather than including and expanding the word descriptions here, I will just give the short definitions and link to the relevant posts. So, without further ado, here are all my new Moten words:

1st word: bale /bale̞/, noun:
salt water, seawater, brine, non-drinkable water.
2nd word: balebale /bale̞bale̞/, noun:
sea, ocean, salt lake.
3rd word: i|zipi /id͡zipi/, verb:
to boil, to bake, to cook.
4th word: ba|zip /bad͡zip/, noun:
(table) salt, sea salt, sodium chloride.
5th word: sej(f) /se̞j(f)/, noun:
steam, water vapour; smoke, fume; blur, also as adj. blurry, blurred.
6th word: joami /jo̞.ami/, verb:
to feel, to sense, to notice; to smell, to taste, to feel by touch.
7th word: om /o̞m/, noun:
tree, wood (material).
8th word: ugo /uɡo̞/, noun:
source, spring, fountainhead; origin.
9th word: omgo /o̞mɡo̞/, noun:
10th word: |labo /ʎabo̞/, |lemekel /ʎe̞me̞ke̞l/, noun:
11th word: bem /be̞m/, noun & ibemi /ibe̞mi/, verb:
light, glow, illumination & to light, to illuminate, to shine on.
12th word: bego /be̞ɡo̞/, noun:
light source, lamp, light.
13th word: buzi /buzi/, noun:
candle; spark plug.
14th word: ma|z /mad͡z/, noun:
(river)bank; edge, side (of a 2D figure).
15th word: imazdu|l /imazduʎ/, verb:
to cut (sthg).
16th word: funma|z /funmad͡z/, noun:
present, the current moment in time.
17th word: elbo /e̞lbo̞/, noun:
rib; flank, side (of a symmetric object); side (of an argument).
18th word: jelzdu|l /je̞lzduʎ/, verb:
to choose, to select, to pick out.
19th word: sili /sili/, noun:
exterior, outside.
20th word: itneboj /itne̞bo̞j/, verb:
to hurt, to injure, to damage.
21st word: tneban /tne̞ban/, noun:
war, warfare, conflict; bad health, also as adj. unhealthy.
22nd word: tneban /tne̞ban/, interjection:
damn, damn it.
23rd word: sfom /sfo̞m/, noun & isfomi /isfo̞mi/, verb:
flow, current; course (of a river), path; period, length (of time); (heavy) rain, downpour & to flow; to float; to change.
24th word: isfomstu|l /isfo̞mstuʎ/, verb:
to pour, to serve.
25th word: keli /ke̞li/, noun:
snow (when falling from the sky).
26th word: kelsin /ke̞lsin/, noun:
27th word: |no|som /ɲo̞t͡so̞m/, noun:
stability, presence, existence; also as adj. stable, present, existing.
28th word: duki /duki/, noun:
solidness, fullness, completeness; also as adj. solid, full, complete.
29th word: puza /puza/, noun:
hole, gap, lack, deficiency, emptiness; also as adj. empty.
30th word: dukpuza /dukpuza/, noun:
fullness, emptiness, level; contents.
31st word: idukstu|l /idukstuʎ/, verb & ipuzdu|l /ipuzduʎ/, verb:
to fill, to fill up & to pierce, to perforate, to empty.

I'm really happy with my performance in Lexember this year. Many of the words above are really basic, useful vocabulary that really needed to be covered. Naturally, the Moten lexicon is still as full of holes as Swiss cheese, but the items I created this year are a big step towards filling the gaps. And for those who want figures, after this iteration of Lexember, the Moten lexicon counts 649 lexical items, and 1843 glosses. After the previous iteration, it counted 586 items and 1572 glosses. That's a growth rate of 11% and 17% respectively, for which slightly less than half can be attributed to Lexember itself. Not bad for just a month's work!

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Lexember this month. I know I say that every time, but this iteration was special: it was the first one I did on Tumblr, and it just feels like the perfect platform for it, possessing the casual atmosphere of Twitter without the crippling restrictions (crippling for me at least). And the ability to schedule posts helped me meet every deadline ;). Finally, I had a great time reading fellow Tumblr users' Lexember entries! Some of them were amazing! In fact, I think everyone did really well this year, whether on Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Facebook or the Conlang Mailing List :P. Great job everyone!

So, all that's left for me to say is that I will happily participate again next time Lexember happens. So far it's only been a pleasant and useful experience, one I'm more than happy to repeat :). It's not often that I find it fun to create vocabulary after all, so such occasions must be cherished!