Conlang Relay 22/Idaltu
Text in Idaltu
Wærijaharamanongoharahamnetudxa. Zahejashoqefazafakochafaxahurxurabxa. Atanxanejashoqemorahantubxahurxuraxza.
Esmumarijamakokwanoxaharamanohi. Tukujamakoqecheha. Kajejashokozaso. Quxajashoqehalazabxa. Arawiltengujadbekamoqemakoxzakwanoqudungmekozaxza. Tinujadbestoqetkwanodxaqirupu. Kanustoqeshodiruzfewarulu.
Zahejaharamanoqeqechulufazakudahurxuraqqa. Etsekanujaljushoqeshi. Araqurdunijawareshodxa. Oh! Ækibajujashoqewareqirupu! Kamejashoqewarebajalu. Tunojashohingoware. Laxajaqarto. Shulejakwano. Bau! Bau! Bau! Zeqejashoharamanohi. Belejaharamanongo. Hafajashoqekwano. Xogujakwanongo. Ngukijashongo. Bawajashobuqilu. Iqnebelejamorangowolaluzalu. Iqeloqijasha. Iqezeqejasha. Tanojashaxangohurxura. Tanojaharamanoxawareqe. Kolejasho. Esmuwedajahurxuraqediru. Paxejashiqazefalufa. Herijashingo.
The story of the fall of the merchant
The merchant made ready for a trading journey. He put pots and baskets upon a wagon. He harnessed a mare before the wagon.
Meanwhile a boy walked towards the merchant. The boy seemed hungry. He went into a house. There, he looked for food. But the parents of the boy forbade the dog to enter the house. They ordered for the dog to sit beside the door. They tied it to the door with a rope.
Finally the merchant put the last pot on top of the wagon. He wanted to tie it down. But he had not enough rope. Oh! He found a rope by the door! He pulled the rope towards himself. The knot loosened. The dog was free. Bow! Wow! Wow! It ran towards the merchant. The merchant was afraid. He kicked the dog. The dog was hurt and surprised, barking wildly. This made the mare very afraid too. It started to jump and run. It pulled the wagon along. The merchant was pulled along by the rope. He fell over. At the same time the wagon hit the tree. It broke in many pieces and was destroyed.
Some grammar notes
Idaltu is designed to be a non-recursive language. It has been theorised that recursion is the only feature of language unique to humans (Hauser, M., Chomsky, N. & Fitch, W. T. 2002. The Language Faculty: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science, 298, 1569-1579.), which I interpret to mean that it was the last major innovation of human speech before we reached the condition we have today, a modern, flexible language with full freedom of expression. Recursion probably is hard-wired in us, because it is a reasonable guess that features that are universal or near universal in human language (or human characteristics in general) are hard-wired. Many of the other universals (or near-universals) that do not depend on recursion are present in Idaltu. However, it does not, by definition, have statements and clauses like normal human language. Instead, I will refer to them as calls. They are more structured than usual animal calls, and the structural elements are similar to the ones of modern language, thus I will mostly use commonplace terminology when referring to them. Each call has this structure:
<aspect>-VERB-<tense>-<mood>-<subject>-<voice>-<object>-<other arguments>, where only the VERB is mandatory.
Which looks pretty commonplace for a polysynthetic language at first glance. In my model of language history the languages were polysynthetic at first when they reached the recursive stage, and have been evolving towards more analytic structures since, though not necessarily in a linear fashion.
In place of a complex syntax, Idaltu has complex semantics. The things we can say just by adjusting the syntax a little, or a lot – in principle there's no limit – Idaltu has to invent new words for. It has been suggested that there is a correlation between the size of a language's phoneme inventory and its geographical distance from the site of the origin of the human species. This indicates that pre-human language had rich phoneme inventories, which is an advantage if you need such a large vocabulary. But the evolution of logical structures like the above probably reduced the need for huge inventories a bit, as before them you had to invent new words for each logical distinction. The phonetic ability of humans probably evolved to its full extent before this logical structure evolved. Then the need for it declined, and modern languages get by with just a small fraction of the sounds that it's actually possible for us to make. For Idaltu, I propose a comparatively rich inventory, which I will represent by the reasonably close Latin letters and digraphs to save me from too much work. I'm not a natural IPA typist.
Each of the subject, object or other arguments above are nominal items. They are declined for singular, dual and plural number and for a large number of cases, of which I will only bother you (or myself) with the relevant ones below. Pronouns are not in principle different from other nouns and work in the same way. Since the nominal arguments are marked, they can switch places for emphasis. The scheme above is the neutral one. All nouns as well as verbs have theme vowels, and attribute markers can be inserted between them and the roots. The structure of a nominal argument is as follows:
NOUN-<attribute>-<theme>-<number>-<case>, where only the NOUN is mandatory.
There is a large number of verbal aspects, plenty of moods and a number of voices, but only 3 tenses, past, present and future. I will only bother you, or myself for now, with the ones that are relevant for this text.
For the vocabulary below I have used Bengtson's and Ruhlen's 27 Proto-World reconstructions as my main inspiration. Not because I believe they have reached an accurate description of what language was like before it started to diverge, but because I like them and think they are a nice starting point for this experiment. I think however that the freedom of word invention, which amounts to the starting point for divergence, was evolved long before the invention of recursion, so Proto-World belongs to a much earlier stage than Idaltu. But the 27 of B & R have a moderately rich phoneme inventory which is suitable for my purpose. Sergei Starostin's online database has been useful for the rest.
Idaltu is currently very experimental and so far I have done away with all verbal and nominal class distinctions. But I can foresee that something will crystallise out of the theme vowel system if I ever have time to work further on it.
- (a) last
- (n) joy
- (v) find
- (interj.) dog’s bark
- (v) bark
- (v) fear
- (n) wildness, madness
- (n) hunger
- (n) tree
- (a) many
- (v) break
- (n) pot
- (v) kick
- (n) food
- (n) journey
- (n) front
- (v) see
- (v) trade, exchange, switch
- (n) trading journey
- (n) merchant
- (v) will
- (v) destroy
- (n) wagon
- (v) go
- (v) grasp
- (n) family, parents
- (v) tie
- (n) basket
- (v) fall
- (n) fall
- (n) house
- (n) male dog
- (v) loosen
- (v) jump
- (n) word
- (n) story
- (n) boy
- (n) man
- (v) walk
- (n) mare, female horse
- (v) be shocked, surprised
- (interj.) surprise
- (n) knot
- (n) piece
- (n) end
- (n) door
- (n) inside
- (v) be insufficient
- (v) look, look for
- (pron) 3s, fem.
- (pron) 3s, neut.
- (pron) 3s, masc.
- (v) liberate, get free
- (pron) 3p
- (v) pull, draw
- (v) harness (a draft animal) to something
- (v) sit
- (v) show, display
- (v) not will
- (n) rope
- (v) hit
- (n) greatness, bigness, muchness
- (v) make, prepare
- (v) be hurt, feel bad
- (pron) demonstrative
- (v) put, set
- (v) run
- unmarked - present tense, indicative mood, active voice, punctual-stative aspect, singular number, absolutive case
- (a) progressive - emphasising progress in action
- (a) contrary - indicating contrariness to the previous statement
- (c) locative - indicates place
- (m) jussive - indicates an order
- (c) dative - marks indirect object
- (a) simultaneous - indicates simultaneous action
- (a) terminative - marks finalising action
- (c) allative - indicates movement towards
- (a) inceptive - marks start of action
- (a) inchoative - marks start of state change
- (t) past
- (m) desiderative - indicates wish
- (c) instrumental - means, manner (adverbial) or time
- (c) ablative - movement away
- (v) middle - allows the subject of a transitive action to be marked other than by the ergative, for example to act upon itself.
- (n) plural
- (c) adessive - marks adjacent location
- (c) ergative - marks the subject in a transitive action
- (c) superessive - marks location on top of something
- (c) illative - movement into
- (c) pertingent - marks something that touches another thing
- (c) comitative - marks accompaniment, togetherness
- (c) genitive - possession
- (c) translative - marks turning from one state to another
- (a) delimitative - indicates finite extent
- aspect, or attribute
- verb, or voice
|Conlang Relay 22|
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