My native language is Korean, which has a featural script, namely Hangul. Though my conlang isn't going to adopt Hangul, I came up with one question of curiosity: "Can there be a featural grammar?" So here's my attempt to build one.

For suppose I had a phoneme inventory like this:

Labial Coronal Dorsal
Nasal M [m] N [n] G [ŋ]
Plosive P [p] T [t] K [k]
Fricative F [f] S [s] X [x]
Approximant V [ʋ] L [l] (null consonant)

My idea was to let the last coda of verbs indicate tense. Here's how each manners of articulation would render featural:

  • Approximant: These consonants are sonorants; the airflow is constricted most weakly. As such, verbs ending with such a consonant shouldn't offer much aspect. This is the gnomic aspect.

  • Fricative: These consonants have continuous airflow. As such, verbs ending with such a consonant have imperfective aspect.

  • Plosive: These consonants have the airflow stopped. As such, verbs ending with such a consonant have perfective aspect.

  • Nasal: These consonants let the airflow bypass through nostrils. As such, verbs ending with such a consonant are dedicated for the irrealis mood.

And as for places of articulation, the airflow hits the articulators at different times. As such, they shall correspond to tense. Dorsal for past, coronal for present, and labial for future.

As a consequence, if English were to incorporate these features, example sentences in the present tense would look like this:

  • "One plus one plus equals two." → "One plus one equalal two."

  • "I drink beer every day." → "I drinkis beer every day."

  • "I have become drunk." → "I becomeet drunk."

  • "I might love it." → "I loveen it."

  • "Please teach me." → "Please teachen me." (Imperative is a kind of the irrealis mood)

It becomes interesting in other tenses. Here are some examples:

  • "I was who in charge of it! Why did you do it instead?" → "I beex who in charge of it! Why you dook it instead?"

  • "This will explode soon. You shall let them escape!" → "This explodeep soon. You letep them escape!"

  • "If I were him, I would never do such thing." → "If I beeg him, I never doof such thing." (Counterfactual conditionals are indicated by the past tense because it refers to an alternate history. Here, the conclusion ends with -of because it's an evident future in the alternate history.)

  • "If such dream would become true..." → "If such dream becomeem true..."

Finally, when the gnomic aspect is given the past tense, it indicates that the truth became untrue, and when the gnomic aspect is given the future tense, it indicates that a false factoid will become a truth. I don't think such aspect has a direct English equivalent:

  • "The infinity bee a taboo to think about." (Nowadays, mathematicians have various ways of handling the infinity.)

  • "There existiv some nonempty sets whose cartesian product beel empty." (This indicates that, for some reasons, mathematicians will cease to believe in the Axiom of Choice.)

I don't think this "featural" grammar is natural, but I think I can incorporate this grammar in the purpose of an artlang anyway. But are there better options, especially for the aspects?

  • This makes me think of Celtic mutation! May 9 at 3:01


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