Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kahtsaai: Intensives and Content Questions

Version 1.3 of the Conlanger's Thesaurus is out. It has a few more polysemy maps, a few more grammaticalizations, and an addition to the final section with some notes on the typology of content question words ("who, what, when," etc.). The semantic map I got from "thread" was suitably and ironically tangled.

Some of the work on the Thesaurus has motivated me to make a few refinements to Kahtsaai. The biggest change is that I made some changes to question words. In English and the rest of the Indo-European family, we're used to content question words being obviously related in some way. In English, they all start with wh-, and in the Romance languages with qu-/c-. But it turns out this pattern is very rare in the world's languages, which may have completely unrelated roots for their core set of question words. So, I irregularized Kahtsaai a bit, with *ye'wei where becoming táá, and *ye'pas why becoming łouh.

Related to the question words, I have started to fill out the range of indefinites a bit. In particular, there's now an affix on the question words to mark a free choice indefinite ("pick any one"),

Ye'énałso'ołípto.
ye'é-nałsou-n-líp-to
what-FREE.CHOICE2SG-3INAN-select-IMP
Pick anything.

Additionally, it struck me that I didn't yet have a way to indicate intensives, I myself did it. In quite a few languages, those are related to the word for body. I didn't feel like using the full noun for body, tsire. Instead, I took the inspiration from the morpheme used in noun incorporation for body, which is -s(i)-. I expanded that a bit, to -ssi', which must be possessed:

Mokeilaassi'yo'áhlektényolleile.
mokeilats-ssi'yo-'áh-lekté-nyolleile
SUBJsoldier3SG.AN-self3SG.AN-3PL-save-EVIDchildren
The soldier himself saved the children.

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