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Questions tagged [morphology]

Questions concerning the study of the forms of words, their internal structure, and how they are formed from one another through processes like inflection, derivation, and compounding.

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1 vote
2 answers
30 views

Evolving tense from a tenseless proto-language

I'm trying to come up with a verb system as confusing as Georgian, where expressing TAM involves the combination of many affixes whose individual meaning has been lost to time. I want the daughter ...
2 votes
0 answers
17 views

Extending venitives/andatives

I'm in the middle of redesigning the verb paradigm for one of my languages, and I'm confronted with the dilemma of knowing that I want a prefix that looks like this, placed there for aesthetic reasons,...
5 votes
3 answers
194 views

Tips for making a conlang that uses an abjad?

I've been looking at Classical Hebrew a lot for inspiration on some features it has. Turns out, it wasn't what I expected (such as that its not actually a VSO language, it just looks like that due to ...
4 votes
1 answer
166 views

A conlang with a 'compressed' writing system?

I'm making this since now I think an 'abjad' isn't what I actually had in mind. I was thinking of a system where the vowels don't have to be written, because they're always obvious. Essentially, my ...
1 vote
1 answer
39 views

How do languages make lemmata from root words?

(Google tells me the plural of "lemma" could be "lemmas" or "lemmata", so i chose the latter. Please tell me if it's wrong.) From reading online and offline sources, I've ...
3 votes
1 answer
82 views

How to develop partial reduplication diachronically?

I want a daughter language of some proto-conlang to develop partial root reduplication for consonant initial roots as a productive and mostly regular morphological feature (the precise value it marks ...
5 votes
1 answer
77 views

Breaking out of the 'derive everything' trap?

Conlang guides often recommend you derive words wherever you can, only generating new roots when no form of compounding can work. Problem is, as the 'natural meta language' demonstrates, most words ...
1 vote
1 answer
49 views

Can the suffixes of an agglutinative language include morphemes which are also part of the base verb/noun word forms?

One thing that makes it hard to imagine how agglutinative languages could work is how they can handle when the suffix is also included in the base verb/noun word forms. So say we are translating "...
3 votes
1 answer
76 views

Question on if I am doing Split-Ergativity right

I am making a split ergative language, and I am struggling a lot on it. So, I am doing a Dyirbal-type pronominal split, where 1st and 2nd person are nominative-accusative and everything else is ...
2 votes
2 answers
72 views

Is There an Optimal Order for Addressing Phonetics, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, and Pragmatics?

I am about to create a constructed language. Is it acceptable if I follow the levels of language in the given order: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics? Or do I need to do ...
5 votes
2 answers
421 views

How could the future "Kesh" language from the book "Always Coming Home" by Ursula K. Le Guin develop from modern languages?

In the book Always Coming Home, by Ursula K. Le Guin, the author created the future Kesh language and Aiha alphabet. Does anyone with an anthropological or etymological background and experience with ...
4 votes
1 answer
66 views

Can core argument markers swap roles? If so, how?

I have been trying for some time to figure out how to smoosh a bunch of my originally-unrelated languages into a larger family. They have a fair amount of noun and verb morphology that was ...
4 votes
0 answers
93 views

Non-decomposable TAM strategies

The agglutinative language I'm most familiar with is Hungarian, and the way Hungarian handles TAM is, I think, incredibly boring: separate T-A-M markers with no allomorphs that just get concatenated ...
5 votes
1 answer
112 views

Strategies for marking boundaries between potentially discontinuous top-level clauses

What are some strategies for making boundaries between top-level clauses obvious? I think the most straightforward strategy is some kind of collection of sentence-final particles, but I'm curious ...
4 votes
1 answer
92 views

Term for common derivational suffixes which are also standalone words

I'm here trying to learn a better term for the type of suffix I seem to have made. I'm writing a grammar, so I'd like the term to seem right to folks like you. Compounds? Like compound word modifiers--...
2 votes
0 answers
38 views

Participles and types of verbs

I'm currently working on the verbal morphology of my language and was wondering the following : How are action verbs differentiated from state ones ? Is it even a necessity ? Could a verb be both ? ...
6 votes
1 answer
147 views

How to reanalyse collectives in High Valyrian?

Note: For the purposes of this question, please do not assume that the Tongues of Ice and Fire Wiki is correct1 unless it references somewhere else. The High Valyrian [grammatical] number page of the ...
2 votes
1 answer
68 views

How to reconcile the large number of similarities between my languages' morphemes

All of the languages I've made so far are placed on the same continent of my conworld, and it's a different continent from where humans evolved, so they would have had to migrate into it. For ...
6 votes
2 answers
95 views

Is placing the preposition before the verb natural?

Disclamer: I have a very limited knowledge about linguistics, so the things I'm talking might be completely nonsense. In German we can form new verbs by attaching prepositions (?) to it: schlagen → ...
3 votes
1 answer
81 views

From what could I derive a morpheme that explicitly marks a noun as being a phrase head?

I have a number of languages I want to combine into a macrofamily, and one thing they have in common is nouns that ending the the pattern *-(V)nVm, e.g. *-n-om in a PIE-esque language, -unum in an ...
4 votes
2 answers
93 views

What is a plausible lexical source for the remote past?

I've always had a huge focus on utter realism, so I require lexical sources for all of my morphology. In my most recent project, the Thakina ['tʰa.ki.na] family. The proto-language has four tenses: ...
11 votes
2 answers
189 views

Which categories of inalienable possession have conlangs expressed?

In many natlangs a grammatical distinction is made between alienable and inalienable possession. Inalienable possession is used for things which are in some way conceptualised as being inseparable ...
11 votes
3 answers
643 views

What verbs should be irregular in a naturalistic conlang?

I've read that the most commonly used verbs in a language are almost always irregular, and for the most part the irregular forms of verbs can be traced to an archaic form being preserved in the ...
3 votes
1 answer
116 views

What words would naturally evolve tri-consonantal roots?

I determined to create a conlang with tri-consonantal roots (I call them tri-cons for short). My question then arose, "what words would naturally have a tri-con?" Verbs and the nouns derived ...
4 votes
1 answer
119 views

The pros and cons of having the same word be a noun, verb, and/or adjective at the same time?

I have this burgeoning principle of "let all words be in a base form such that the base form means the abstraction behind a noun, verb, and adjective". Then you realize a word into one of ...
7 votes
1 answer
153 views

How large must my consonant inventory be in order for nonconcatenative morphology to work?

In my quest to create a language for some fictional characters of mine, I came across nonconcatenative morphology like triconsonantal roots. If I wanted to employ this in my conlang, how many ...
6 votes
0 answers
44 views

What are some different ways to use applicatives?

I'm most familiar with "applicative" meaning a specific way of rearranging the arguments of a verb. For example, the -el- suffix in Lingála adds a direct object to a verb, the person who ...
4 votes
2 answers
102 views

How to decide if you should create complex words, or multiple words?

I am thinking of examples like these (in English and Vietnamese from Google Translate): creationism: thuyết sáng tạo create: tạo creatable creatively When do you make it one word, and when do you ...
4 votes
4 answers
76 views

What are necessary elements to morphologies that rely upon syntax in 2D?

I've seen several approaches to non-linear 2D syntax for written languages. Circular arrangements of glyphs (ring, spiral and axial), clumping-assemblages (akin to Maya glyphs, etc). Are there ...
5 votes
1 answer
101 views

Evolution of irregular declensions and conjugations from reconstructed proto-languages

In designing an artificial dialect of the Greek Language, most words and inflections have predictable patterns with a well-guessed/documented evolution which show the origin of the word's roots and ...
4 votes
2 answers
345 views

How do conlangs/natlangs have prefixes suffixes and not get them jumbled up?

When thinking how to build a conlang system of prefixes/suffixes, I get stuck right at the beginning: how do you prevent clashes within the prefix/suffix/base system? By that I mean the following. Say ...
3 votes
1 answer
108 views

Is it possible to have consonant followed by Uvular sound

I am thinking of creating a language that has a sound system a little similar to Latin, with a guttural feel like German. The people who are going to speak this language are harsh and sound annoyed at ...
2 votes
1 answer
88 views

How important/useful is it to derive words from smaller parts in a conlang?

In a similar light to How do conlangs/natlangs have prefixes suffixes and not get them jumbled up? , what is the use or purpose of deriving words from smaller parts in a conlang, generally speaking? ...
2 votes
1 answer
123 views

Finding Sentence Structure in VSO

I'm making a Conlang, and this conlang uses a Verb-Subject-Object Sentence Structure. I'm trying to convert part of the poem "The New Colossus" into the Conlang, but I'm stuck trying to ...
5 votes
1 answer
235 views

Syllabic restriction/word boundaries set by IPA? Or it is decided by language creator

When creating syllables we basically require an onset, nucleus, and a coda. Now, usually, all language have an onset, and the coda is fairly optional. Before creating a phonetic system, we first ...
2 votes
1 answer
95 views

History of world language

If we look at world history—I am speaking a little vaguely, since it is not possible to be completely accurate. The human race began from a single region, as you can see in the bottom image. What ...
9 votes
3 answers
678 views

Are there any successful conlangs using information density as a design goal?

I'm interested in the idea of a conlang which could be used to create extremely information dense statements - such that, for example, a single word could be built up from morphemes to express a ...
5 votes
1 answer
94 views

What is a realistic *upper bound* on the complexity of nominals that can be incorporated into a verb?

Some languages feature noun incorporation. Here's an example from Lahkota from the Wikipedia article on incorporation. I suspect the difference in meaning is similar to the man chopped the wood vs the ...
2 votes
0 answers
52 views

How much ambiguity for argument roles is possible without sacrificing comprehensibility?

For the purposes of this question, I'm specifically interested in marking theta-roles of verb arguments and possessive constructs, i.e. the things prototypically marked by case in languages that have ...
6 votes
1 answer
169 views

What is reduplication used for in natural languages?

According to WALS Feature 27A, 278/368 languages surveyed have productive full and partial reduplication. Chapter 27 gives the following example of partial reduplication in Pangasinan: báley "town" -&...
9 votes
3 answers
206 views

How can I add irregularities to a morphological paradigm?

So, I'm trying to make something with a naturalistic feel, even though the current phonetic system distinguishes about 38 phonemes... Let's say I'll tackle this later. I have issues with grammar... I ...
9 votes
3 answers
99 views

State-based analogue to distributive case

I am developing conlang that has grammatical cases system for nominals that for each spatial case there is state-based case. In Finnic languages grammatical cases that denote states occur, examples ...
3 votes
5 answers
478 views

Is it possible to make a declension system that DOESN'T limit what nouns can end in?

This has always been a conundrum for me. I like how grammatical case frees up word order, but hate how it puts a limit on what nouns can end in. Years ago someone told me of a natlang that uses 6 ...
3 votes
1 answer
68 views

Are suffixes in Ido agglutinative?

I was thinking what is the correct way to say "Little princess" in Ido. (EN) Little princess - Little (indicates the "size") Princess (descendant of some royal crown and that descendant is female). (...
4 votes
1 answer
334 views

How to naturally evolve verbs into adverbs or dependent clauses?

Currently I have a very simple proto-language which I'm trying to evolve. For example: slishi hu ho shofli shofli pfufi tushi repair person tool fish.V fish.V succeed cause Person ...
6 votes
2 answers
126 views

By what means might the roots "let" and "ly" mean the same thing in a naturalistic conlang?

I apologize for how this question may be perceived. I am casually learning linguistics with no curriculum. I can understand that this question may have many possible answers, but I am not quite sure ...
5 votes
2 answers
303 views

Language with nominal TAM and no verbs: Ergative or tripartite?

I'm working on a language with nominal tense–aspect–mood (TAM), i.e. inflecting nouns instead of verbs. So, a sentence like "the woman sees the man", could be roughly translated to something like "the ...
6 votes
2 answers
211 views

How can I explain the origin of the dual number in my Slavic-influenced East Nordic conlang?

The language I am creating is derived from East Norse and heavily influenced by Slavic. It has a quite complex grammatical structure - for example, it has not only taken over the two additional cases ...
11 votes
1 answer
292 views

Is there a practical lower limit to the number of morphemes required in a language?

Many conlangers have tried (and occasionally succeeded in) creating oligomorphemic¹ languages. What are the most minimalistic successful attempts? From this, can we extrapolate a lower bound? ¹also ...
5 votes
1 answer
293 views

What language uses the most amount of phonemes?

I'm constructing an auxlang/artlang (temporarily named Syn). The Syn is (being) designed to interface with any known human language, with a wildly uniform set of simplistic, unambiguous symbols. I ...