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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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34 votes
2 answers
927 views

Are there any grammatical aspects which do not have parallels in natural languages?

In Describing Morphosyntax, Payne uses a number of diagrams for visually explaining aspects and what they say about actions relative to time. Payne outlines the following, all of which occur in ...
L. L. Blumire's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
282 views

Consider an isolated, close-knit community; which characteristics is their language likely to have?

For the sake of concreteness, let's say my low-tech conculture is living in a few villages on a smallish island in the middle of the ocean (Pitcairn Islands comes to mind). Basically, this would ...
caconyrn's user avatar
  • 453
12 votes
0 answers
113 views

How can we define words? [closed]

Even though the question seems trivial, it's still a hotly debated topic (as far as I'm aware). For example, in the Oxford Handbook for Polysynthesis, Fernando Zúñiga says: Recent literature (e.g. ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
  • 1,444
11 votes
3 answers
639 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 ...
Scriptifex's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
626 views

What are common origins of accusative case markers?

What are the primary way(s) accusative case markers can develop? The primary way of development of oblique case markers seems relatively straightforward, with attachment of adpositions (which can ...
Gufferdk's user avatar
  • 2,367
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 ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 3,710
11 votes
1 answer
291 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 ...
Sascha Baer's user avatar
  • 3,482
9 votes
3 answers
672 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 ...
Lou's user avatar
  • 328
9 votes
3 answers
203 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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Мікалас Кaрыбутоў's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
141 views

Use of string reversion in conlangs

I came across the Esperantido Universal where reversion of stems (e.g., mega "big" ⁒ gema "small", -a is the adjective ending) is used to denote antonymy. Are there other conlangs using this unusual ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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8 votes
0 answers
92 views

Free word building in Interlingua

There is even a Wikipedia article on Free word building in Interlingua stating that it is feasible to apply derivational affixes in Interlingua productively even when none of the so-called control ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
255 views

Is a naturalistic language without countable nouns possible?

Is a naturalistic language without count nouns possible, thus having only mass nouns? This would mean having many words for things with water: a sea, an ocean, a bottle of water, a puddle, etc. What ...
Duncan's user avatar
  • 1,743
7 votes
1 answer
151 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 ...
Ylahris's user avatar
  • 633
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 ...
user2738698's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
207 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 ...
MedwedianPresident's user avatar
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 → ...
atzlt's user avatar
  • 193
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" -&...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
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 ...
Mithrandir24601's user avatar
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 4,426
5 votes
1 answer
232 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 ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
5 votes
1 answer
100 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 ...
Oron61's user avatar
  • 53
5 votes
2 answers
411 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 ...
CorbinA's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
1 answer
290 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 ...
Kyle Zabala's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
188 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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,715
5 votes
1 answer
69 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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,715
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 ...
MoholyNagy's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
335 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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
4 votes
4 answers
75 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 ...
New Alexandria's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
267 views

Are Esperanto's part of speech endings actually beneficial?

I was wondering if they really serve any practical advantage. For one, what they mean depends on what the innate part of speech of the root is, which isn't marked except through the part of speech ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
101 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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
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: ...
nearsighted's user avatar
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--...
Vir's user avatar
  • 1,296
4 votes
1 answer
332 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 ...
Maja Piechotka's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
65 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 ...
Arcaeca's user avatar
  • 644
4 votes
1 answer
116 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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
4 votes
1 answer
161 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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
89 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 ...
Arcaeca's user avatar
  • 644
3 votes
5 answers
474 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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
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 ...
Erithacus Rubecula's user avatar
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 ...
Arcaeca's user avatar
  • 644
3 votes
1 answer
75 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 ...
DanceroftheStars's user avatar
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). (...
Pab TC's user avatar
  • 41
3 votes
1 answer
114 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 ...
Ylahris's user avatar
  • 633
2 votes
1 answer
86 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? ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,716
2 votes
1 answer
120 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 ...
A Can of Beans's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
62 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 ...
hikaru-k-bit's user avatar