Sunday, May 11, 2008

Second thoughts about the conative

So, yeah, thinking about it cross-linguistically, conative really isn't the term for what I'm talking about for the meaning of lu -- I think I'll have to go back to volitive. The conative would be focusing on the idea of the attempt, the effort, the trying; a useful semantic, but not what I'm going for here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A new modal particle

Ladies and gentlemen, meet lu, our new volitive/desiderative particle. Since halu = "want," I think the sound works rather well.

Lu will be helping us by translating some of the English future tense semantics, specifically when the notion of futurity involves intention or desire. According to current plans, there will be another particle (form TBD) used in making predictions and the like. Par example:

ni lu polo o ka talo la ka noni
1SG=VOL=run ABL=DEF=house ALL=DEF=mountain
"I'll run from the house to the mountain"
"I think I'll run from the house to the mountain"
"I'm planning to run from the house to the mountain"

There is a certain amount of semantic overlap with halu and a full complement clause, as in

ni halu ko polo o ka talo la ka noni
1SG=want COMP=run ABL=DEF=house ALL=DEF=mountain
"I want to run from the house to the mountain"

I guess the question is whether the focus is on the action and the futurity thereof, or on the wanting itself. Note that English blurs the lines as well sometimes -- the sentence "today I wanna run from the house to the mountain" could encode an expression of desire, but I feel like more often it would be showing intent for the future.

By the way, note that the following sentence would not mean "everyone will learn Koa" in the way we'd usually expect to interpret that phrase, but something more like "everyone's planning to learn Koa," "everyone's thinking about learning Koa," etc.:

poka i lu opi le Koa
everyone 3=VOL=learn NAME=Koa

A question for you linguists: is there a better term than volitive or desiderative for this mode? I want to highlight the intentionality more than the desire, but intentative...AHA! Conative, that's it, from cōnārī "to try". The ol' Latin's getting a bit rusty. The above interlinear, then, should read

everyone 3=CON=learn NAME=Koa

And now, how about all those other modes I need particles for?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Koa script

Here's a sort of pixellicious graphic of the Koa syllabary, as worked out at some point in the early 2000s:


I still feel like this has all kinds of potential, though now I have to dump the C column and invent characters for Y and W. Hm.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Frog and Turtle finally get their due representation

As of this moment, the Koa lexicon has 117 roots, up from 38 two days ago. Hopefully this means that the day is fast approaching when my example sentences will not contain any of the words man, dog, house, go, see, or eat.

For instance:

Ti loi yoki i na ma ese ni yuhu!
THIS=worm=river 3=NEG=IMPF=respect 1SG=bottom
"These leeches are not respecting my bottom!"

...or something.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Neither lambda nor nu

For the causative, I like mu.

O kea ta se si mu loha ni se?
ABL=what TOPIC 2SG=PERF=CAUS=love 1SG 2SG
"Why did you make me love you?"

or, periphrastically,

O kea ta se si mei ko ni loha se?
ABL=what TOPIC 2SG=PERF=cause COMP=1SG=love 2SG
"Why did you make me love you?"

(Not sure if o kea is going to be "why" -- just calquing from Polish for a sec for example sentence fodder.)

There could also be various other options for the periphrastic type of operation, along the lines of English make, let, help, force, compel, ask, &c.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Choosing a causative particle

Here are the remaining CV options:

he, hi, ho, ki, ku, lo, lu, mi, mu, no, pu, sa, so, su, te, to, tu

I find the distribution of vowels above extremely interesting, though not necessarily surprising. Just for the sake of interest and some dubiously necessary math, here's how they stack up in this list of remainders:

A = 1 (6%)
E = 2 (12%)
I = 3 (18%)
O = 5 (29%)
U = 6 (35%)

Apparently I like a and e much more than o and u, at least for particles. Perhaps its because they feel the most neutral to me; it's good for me to be aware of this bias.

In any event, to try to help myself decide on a causative marker, I'm going to try each of the above options in random order with three causative sentences from my previous post, "I put Ella to bed," "Mia fed Cocoa a cat" (neko is still provisional), and a new one, "Is it you who's forcing the dog to live in a hole?" Hopefully something will jump out at me...

ni si ku nuku le Ela
le Mia i si ku suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta ku asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si mu nuku le Ela
le Mia i si mu suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta mu asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si to nuku le Ela
le Mia i si to suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta to asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si te nuku le Ela
le Mia i si te suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta te asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si pu nuku le Ela
le Mia i si pu suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta pu asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si sa nuku le Ela
le Mia i si sa suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta sa asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si lo nuku le Ela
le Mia i si lo suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta lo asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si lu nuku le Ela
le Mia i si lu suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta lu asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si hi nuku le Ela
le Mia i si hi suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta hi asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si mi nuku le Ela
le Mia i si mi suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta mi asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si so nuku le Ela
le Mia i si so suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta so asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si ki nuku le Ela
le Mia i si ki suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta ki asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si he nuku le Ela
le Mia i si he suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta he asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si tu nuku le Ela
le Mia i si tu suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta tu asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si su nuku le Ela
le Mia i si su suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta su asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si no nuku le Ela
le Mia i si no suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta no asu ka keli ne a kosi?

ni si ho nuku le Ela
le Mia i si ho suo le Koko a neko
Ei se ta ho asu ka keli ne a kosi?

Any thoughts? Let's let it brew for a bit.

Ditransitive verbs and causativity

So what, definitively, do we do with multiple objects? The last time (here, section 9) we discussed this, it was either INDIR DIR or DIR la INDIR. The latter always seemed a bit more unwieldy to me, and I'm realizing I really haven't thought of the structure as working that way at all since then. So with our serial objects, a clause would look something like this:

ni si ana ka mama ka sihi

1SG=PERF=give DEF=mom DEF=vegetable
"I gave my mom the veggies" or "I gave the mother of the veggies (to someone)"

...where this could either be two objects, one direct and one indirect, or a single object consisting of a genitive phrase. The question is, is this ambiguity acceptable? I'm inclined to say "yes," as I have a hard time imagining a situation where this distinction would actually be pragmatically relevant. I think usually the alterate interpretation would be so semantically or pragmatically anomalous as to warrant no concern. Still, supposing we decided to overtly mark the indirect object:

ni si ana la ka mama ka sihi
1SG=PERF=give DAT=DEF=mom DEF=vegetable
"I gave my mom the veggies"

OR

ni si ana ka sihi la ka mama
1SG=PERF=give DEF=vegetable DAT=DEF=mom
"I gave my mom the veggies"

In longer phrases like these I actually don't at all mind the presence of la. I think it's with pronominal objects that la messes up the rhythm:

li si ana la ni ka hiu
3SG=PERF=give DAT=1SG DEF=knife
"she gave me the knife"

OR

li si ana ka hiu la ni
3SG=PERF=give DEF=knife DAT=1SG
"she gave me the knife"

This used to bother me with Esperanto al as well, but I've completely gotten used to it now; I'm afraid this decision is going to have to be made on typological and/or aesthetic grounds. Somehow, though, I do need to come to a decision, because I want to look into valence-increasing devices, like causatives. Taking ho* as a causative marker, then, we get into this kind of trouble:

le Ela i ma nuku
NAME=Ela 3=IMPF=sleep
"Ella is sleeping"

ni si ho nuku le Ela
1SG=PERF=CAUS=sleep NAME=Ela
"I put Ella to bed"

So far so good: an intransitive verb becomes transitive, and what was the subject gets demoted to object position. What if we start with a transitive verb?

le Koko i ma suo a neko*
NAME=Koko 3=IMPF=eat INDEF=cat
"Cocoa is eating a cat"

le Mia i si ho suo le Koko a neko*
NAME=Mia 3=PERF=CAUS=eat NAME=Koko INDEF=cat
"Mia fed Cocoa a cat"

I notice my example sentences are finally starting to get more interesting, albeit perhaps slightly macabre. Where's my cookie?

Anyway, what generally happens when a transitive verb gets causative morphology added is that the existing direct object stays a direct object, but the former subject gets demoted to an oblique position as the coerced agent. In the case of Koa, it seems natural that this would be the position of the indirect object, whence the syntax up there. But we do have two other possibilities: le Mia i si ho suo la le Koko a neko* or le Mia i si ho suo a neko* la le Koko.

I HATE the second of these two alternates -- I feel like the constituents are in COMPLETELY the wrong order for the emphasis of the clause. Maybe this will help me figure out how to make the ditransitive decision -- apparently I want the indirect object to precede the direct, however it's marked.

Okay, so what if we make an already ditransitive verb causative?

le Keosi i si ana le Mia a kita*

NAME=Keosi 3=PERF=give NAME=Mia INDEF=guitar
"Josh gave Mia a guitar"

Fine...but yikes, what am I going to do with three objects?

le Salatúsita i si ho ana le Keosi a kita* la le Mia
NAME=Salatúsita 3=PERF=CAUS=give NAME=Keosi INDEF=guitar DAT=NAME=Mia
"Zarathustra made Josh give Mia a guitar"

Huh. Interesting. No, no, I think this could actually make sense -- a verb can have two objects, but any additionals have to be oblique. The only question is which object gets demoted to prepositional status. I don't think it can be the coerced agent, because that's still very central to the semantics of the clause. And there's currently no particle that marks a definite object, though I suppose we could press one into use, maybe ablative:

le Salatúsita i si ho ana le Keosi le Mia o a kita*
NAME=Salatúsita 3=PERF=CAUS=give NAME=Keosi NAME=Mia ABL=INDEF=guitar
"Zarathustra made Josh give Mia a guitar"

That seems really weird to me -- let's forget about that option. I guess the one other possibility would be to make causatives analytical as in English: le Salatúsita i si mei* ko le Keosi i ana le Mia a kita, or something. Or we could make that option available with increased distance between cause and effect, in the way that iconicity generally works cross-linguistically.

Okay, so what have I figured out here? I think it's that we're sticking with INDIR DIR syntax for ditransitive verbs for the moment, and we'll figure out whether and where la can be used with the INDIR element later on. And that (I think) we're going to have two causative strategies, one analytical and one synthetic, to the extent that clitics constitute synthesis.

And also that I really don't like ho as the causative marker. I seem to be having trouble with the h-initial particles lately.

ABLATION, your country needs you

We've had the locative ne "in/at" and allative la "to" for years, but for some reason the ablative has always proved elusive. I think it's time to resolve this once and for all.

I would sort of like no for this function, a shout out to both Japanese and Latvian, but I think given the importance of this particle that for phonetic salience it should not contain any of the consonants or vowels of the other two spatial/directional markers. This leaves us the following options:

hi, ho, ki, ku, mi, mu, o, pu, so, su, to, tu

Well, now, what about o? It has a nice Gaelic feel, and would have the pleasing quality of occupying the same syntactic position as it did back in 2001 when I had it meaning something completely different. Note: this would be the end of our V morphemes.

Le Keoni i ma mene la ka talo.
NAME=John 3P=IMPF=go ALL=DEF=house
"John is going (in)to the house."

Le Keoni i ma nuku ne ka talo.
NAME=John 3P=IMPF=sleep LOC=DEF=house
"John is sleeping in the house."

Le Keoni i ma tule o ka talo.
NAME=John 3P=IMPF=come ABL=DEF=house
"John is coming from/out of the house."

It's unanimous (and I am apparently schizophrenic): I love it. I haven't been this happy with a particle choice in ages. Hooray!