Questions tagged [syntax]

For questions about the structure and formation of sentences in languages.

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3 answers
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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 ...
user8600's user avatar
  • 277
3 votes
1 answer
72 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
2 votes
2 answers
49 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
4 votes
1 answer
62 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
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5 votes
1 answer
683 views

Does the grammatical and polysynthetic structure of my language preclude poetry?

My conlang, called Pandemonic for now, is a language with OSV word order, that uses synthetic prefixes and postfixes to both nouns and verbs. Only adjectives and adverbs, which always follow the word ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
27 views

Analyzing word order when the person-conjugation leads verb phrases

Suppose person-conjugation leads the verb phrase and (if the subject is clear or is not the focus) the verb phrase may often come before any lexical subject, too. Although this puts the subject ...
Vir's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
61 views

Specificities of VSO languages and common ones with SVO languages

I'm currently working on a VSO language and syntax is the next big step to tackle. However, I find it quite hard to find ressources on VSO languages and thought I could glean some informations quickly ...
Pouillaude Alexis's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
43 views

What is the relationship between order of object and verb and the position of adverbs?

I've been researching ways to make conlangs more naturalistic. So far, sources such as WALS and a linguist YouTuber Colin Gorrie have stated the relationship between object-verb order and adjective-...
Ylahris's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
93 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
5 votes
2 answers
138 views

How can I make complex relative clauses?

I can make simple relative clauses that share arguments just fine, but I struggle with certain clauses. Take the following English sentences: Someone killed* a person* I hated the killing*. You saw a ...
Mlvluu's user avatar
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6 votes
0 answers
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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
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2 votes
1 answer
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How to structure verb phrases (as opposed to noun phrases)?

In my question about formal vs. casual noun phrases, I got to the point of distinguishing between causal and formal nouns. Notice that the noun phrases all end with -a, the noun-creator affix. That ...
Lance's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
56 views

How to tell if having trailing noun/verb/adjective modifiers will work?

I have basically landed on the desire to create a conlang with the following features (for now): Only one syllable base words, which have the form cvc ccvc or cvcc (consonant and vowel). There are ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 1,688
2 votes
1 answer
196 views

For a strict SVO language, how do you handle complex sentences?

All of the SVO example sentences I see are very basic, such as this from Mini: [subject] i [verb] a [object] Tu i manja. You eat. Man i bibe a vasa. Someone drinks water. Bobi i ...
Lance's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
177 views

How to structure sentences to be able to distinguish between verbs, nouns, and adjectives etc.?

In my budding conlang called Tune, I have "base" words which start and end with a consonant, either 3, 4, 5, or 6 sounds, with 1 or 2 vowels. Examples: tun ("tune") tunan ("...
Lance's user avatar
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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
1 answer
104 views

How would a language of whistles work

The language consists of 3 different tones: high, medium, and low. There are trills (~), chords(=), neutral tones (-), rising tones (<), falling tones (>), and rising/falling tones (^). Would ...
Blue Skin and Glowing Red Eyes's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
194 views

Words for numbers in a language with bijective numeration

Bijective base-k numeration (or k-adic numeration) is a system of writing numerals such that the digits are 1 through k. Thus counting in bijective base-12 (such as my conlang Atili has) works as ...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
2 votes
0 answers
49 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 ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
212 views

How can I talk about weather without expletives?

In English, it is necessary to use a syntactic expletive ("it") when talking about weather: It is sun-ny. EXPL COP.3S sun-ADJ Pro-drop languages can easily avoid the explicit expletive by ...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
3 votes
2 answers
245 views

How typologically unusual is using postpositions in an otherwise head-initial language?

My conlang is predominately head-initial (SVO, n-adj, mostly suffixing), but has postpositions because I'd though that the noun was the head of an adpositional phrase. Wikipedia, however, says that ...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
3 votes
1 answer
141 views

Is it reasonable for numerals to behave like verbs?

I am aware that adjectives can pattern like verbs in some natural languages. Is it reasonable for numerals to do the same? Thus Some balls four. There are four balls. Fouring the balls were orange. ...
A. R.'s user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
128 views

Is num-det-n-adj-rel a reasonable order for a noun phrase?

In English, noun phrases are det-num-adj-n-rel (e.g. "The five orange balls that John saw"). In Spanish, noun phrases are (mostly) det-num-n-adj-rel (e.g. "Las cinco pelotas naranjas las que Juan vió,"...
A. R.'s user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
110 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
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3 votes
1 answer
64 views

Dealing with core argument loss from syntactic applicativization

If a language limits its relative clause heads to core arguments of a verb such that item 1 below is ungrammatical, it may become necessary within discourse to use an applicative to promote an ...
A. R.'s user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
1k views

Implications of secundative alignment

There are two different ways to handle ditransitive verbs like "give." For the purposes of this post, in the sentence "John gave Bill the ball," John is the donor (D), Bill is the recipient (R), and ...
A. R.'s user avatar
  • 1,443
5 votes
2 answers
299 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
3 answers
167 views

What are the places where I can attach an indication of tense in relation to a conjugated verb action?

Info My conlang uses verb conjugations only in the present tense. To indicate other tenses (preterite/past imperfect/subjunctive/future/etc) I use the combined phrase "sona," meaning "...
FoxElemental's user avatar
9 votes
5 answers
609 views

Syntactic word that carries no meaning - is there a name for that?

Is there a name for words that exist purely for syntactic reasons and carry no lexical meaning? Reason: Some forms of sentence in my language don't have verbs, but information such as tense and mood ...
qwertyu63's user avatar
  • 191
10 votes
3 answers
432 views

What tools exist for creating syntactically correct generated text in new languages?

Another way to put this is, what tools exist to generate sentences in the same way that some conlanging tools generate phonotactically valid words. I've heard people suggest using word generators to ...
MatthewMartin's user avatar
20 votes
2 answers
339 views

Is there any concept of "isomorphic" constructed languages?

What I'm thinking is: if two conlangs have the same syntactical structure and can be translated by simply exchanging words while maintaining the same (or very similar) structure, is there are specific ...
hyper-neutrino's user avatar