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The second in our TAM series, we spend a good deal of time on the basic perfective/imperfective distinction as well as talk a little about how you can go totally crazy with many, many more aspects.  Then we review the incredible Siwa.

Top of show greeting: Salthan

Featured Conlang: Siwa (CBB Thread)


(First of all, here’s a link to the Inyauk Grammar for you.)

Owen (email)
HelloI just discovered your podcast last weekend on iTunes and I’ve been listening to all the episodes this week. I really love what you’re doing! I’ve been interested in conlanging (and conworlding) for almost 30 years, mostly in a vacuum, so it has been wonderful to hear you talking about a topic close to my own heart.I was fascinated to hear that (like me), you tend to use Google Docs or Excel-style spreadsheets for laying out your lexicons and grammars. That’s pretty much the way I’ve been working on mine. The mention of LaTeX was quite interesting as it was something I had always known about but never looked into because it always seemed too complicated for my need. I have just tried LyX on Windows, a “wysiwyg” style editor that outputs to PDF using TeX — and I have to say, it’s very good and quite easy to produce a basic well laid out document, so thanks for that heads up!Do you have examples of your own personal conlangs in the public space? I hear you talking lots about “Nyauk” and “Yeltagh” (I don’t know the spellings, I’m just going on your pronunciations) but  I have not found any info on them by searching. I would be curious to see some of the techniques you talk about in action.I am not a linguist by any means and I tend to relate all my conglanging knowledge via English/French/German/Dutch and Esperanto as these are the languages I know. I would love some tips from you about how I can avoid making my attempts at conlangs all sound like German/Spanish/Latin :)Thanks for the great podcast. Keep up the work and I hope to hear plenty more from you as time goes on.

Maine USA.

Roman Rausch (Comment on #13)
Russian has retained both Indo-European roots for ‘fart’: bzdet’ < *pezd- (silently), perdet’ < *perd- (loudly), and the former is often used in the sense ‘to be scared’.

7 Responses to “Conlangery #17: Aspect”

  1. Okuno Zankoku

    Doesn’t Latin separate tense and aspect? I mean, that was the way I thought about it, but it’s not like I actually managed to speak with an L1 speaker of Latin, so take this for what it’s worth.

    You had to stretch it a little, but once I treated perfect as being a sort-of present tense and pluperfect as a past perfective, tense and aspect look perfectly distinct. I mean, obviously it’s not perfect separation, and it gets far weirder outside of indicative and subjunctive, but is there anything that’s perfect in language? Latin at least comes as close to perfectly separated as anyone would like (any real people anyway…).

    Oh, wait a minute, what am I thinking? Japanese has an even better separation:

    Non-Past Perfect: kuru
    Past Perfect: kita
    Non-Past Imperfect: kite iru
    Past Imperfect: kite ita

    Hmm, although wiki is making me doubt, but this is the way it was taught in my class (plus or minus technical terms), so I’m running with it.

  2. Rhamos Vhailejh

    How on Earth have I managed to be a conlanger for approximately ten years and have never heard of aspect? My conlang has always separated aspect (though I never knew that’s what it was) from the verb, but this has always felt very unnatural and difficult to cognate, so I’ve been trying to find a new way of doing this for like, ever. It seems so painfully obvious to just blend it into tense and make more verb endings. As it stands right now, I have aspect expressed through the noun. For example, the sentence “I left while you were speaking” would be re-worked and sort of nominalized to a form more akin to “at the time of your speech, I left” (puhutåöra (puhu+ta+øra (speech+2ndGen+TemporalCase))). Are there any natural languages that do this? Because it’s always felt very unnatural to me. I’m going to start considering the option of incorporating aspect into tense, but if you guys think that the way I have it now is actually viable and not completely retarded, then I might keep it. I dunno’. Some feedback for my feedback? lol

  3. Tor Heyerdal

    At 00:26:00, William mentions an aspect that means “to do something one more time”. It sounds like he’s saying “semil-iterative”, but that wouldn’t make any sense to me, so I figured that it might be “semi-iterative”, but Google can’t find anything on either. May I please bother someone to tell me in writing what this aspect (or ‘sub-aspect’, I think William said) is called and provide a citation? I ask because this is relevant for the documentation of my conlang, because it makes this distinction, and I’d like to be able to label it properly.

    • /sɑɪ̯f ɑsɑd ɑˈsːətjə/

      If you google semeliterative, you’ll find there are indeed some references to this mode. Whether it was ever a word prior to attempts to describe Southern Athabaskan grammar … probably not.

      “semel-” means “once” and “-iter-” means “repeat”, so semeliterative means “one-more-time-ative”. cf

  4. Tor Heyerdal

    Thank you, Saif. I really appreciate it. You’re right that “semeliterative” does yield some results on Google, but “semiliterative” did not. lol. But now I know how to properly spell it, which is what’s important. Thanks again. 🙂


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