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A very special guest host joins us for this episode, where we try to talk about correlatives as a thing, but as correlatives is actually many different things, we end up just talking about indefinites the whole time.  We have much more

Top of Show Greeting: pr̝̊ɛmɪsl

Links and Resources:

Featured Conlang: Gomain


Koppa Dasao (comment on #26): Good news. Was at my check up Tuesday, and my kidneys are patching up. Now I got more than half-a-kidney sustaining me


James Campbell: Enjoyed episode 26 a great deal – no offence, but the editing definitely
helps the “listener experience”. The whole thing flows so much better.And yes, it looks like Basque does have a vigesimal system, and a pretty
sane one to boot. For a truly twisted vigesimal counting system, see Danish
(a system that was borrowed into/influenced Faroese, with further
extraordinary phonetic mangling – although it looks like Faroese has largely
changed over to a decimal system now).Owen: Way back, William mentioned using LaTeX and LyX to create documents and lexicons. I responded at the time to say I was trying those out, but I am struggling to figure out how I would convert a spreadsheet lexicon into dictionary form and wondered if William has any insight/ideas of how I can do this.Right now, my lexicon is a GoogleDoc spreadsheet with several columns:  word–pronunciation–englishequiv—wordtype—notes etc.  I would love to be able to present this in “OED” format, with nicer, longer descriptions and a uniform style.Thanks again for the podcast and your shared insights into language in general.


28 Responses to “Conlangery #28: “Correlatives” (well, mostly indefinites)”

  1. Přemysl

    Old Iranian languages used repeated interrogatives having things like who-what for “anything” or who.DUAL-what for “any 2 things”.

  2. Dave

    “Anymore” in Midwestern American English is a back-formation from the negative:

    “I don’t go to the movies anymore” = “I used to go to the movies but I don’t now”
    “I go to the movies anymore” = “I didn’t used to go to the movies but I do now”

    In other words, “anymore” has been reinterpreted as an adverb which serves as a sort of combined inchoative/habitual marker, where if you use a negative you get a cessative instead.

    It’s weird, but it makes a kind of sense.

  3. hsr

    oh george, I pronounce cacophony like that too! I love all my idiosyncratic pronunciations and never change them even when I learn how the words are “actually” pronounced heheheh

  4. Anthony Docimo

    That detail about West Greenlandic (0:28:44), sounds like a feature I heard about Hawaiian: that direction is either “towards the sea/coast” and “towards the mountain(s)”.

    • Carsten

      It’s sad, though, that many comments on the article are very ignorant, basically going into the direction of “These people spend time inventing languages that should better be used to study, document and promote endangered languages, thus they’re responsible for the death of languages”, totally unaware of the fact that inventing a language also needs a lot of research into real ones, and even obscure ones just for the fun research can be.

      • Koppa Dasao

        More basically the error they make is that they think languages can exists without their culture. But in most cases endangered languages exist side by side with a dead culture. Which mean that saving the language is only a matter of preserving it as a vocal museum exhibit. If you really want to save a language you must save its culture first.

        In the end it’s easier to invent a new culture than saving a doomed one.

        • Ossicone

          Especially the comments about adopting an exist language for films/etc.
          I’d be pretty offended if someone took my native lang and used it in a show just because they thought it sounded ‘barbaric’ or some shit.

          • admin

            It is odd that they would suggest using a minority or endangered language. People have had trouble with language communities just for using the wrong writing system. I don’t know if a lot of them would like their language being used for a completely fictional culture. (And yes, we use English for a lot of them — but only because it is the main sympathetic culture for fantasy written for Anglophones).

          • Owen

            There is an apocryphal story about the character Nien Nunb in Star Wars “Return of the Jedi” who spoke “Sullustan”. The story goes that Ben Burtt, the sound/language guy on the movies, took a dialect from Tanzania as the character’s speech and when he’s telling Lando Calrissian about the Death Star Shields he is really saying something like “A hundred thousand elephants are standing on my toes!”. I don’t know how true this is, but it’s a great case of using a natlang in a film expecting it to go unnoticed. Burtt also used Javanese, Quechua and a host of other “Ethnic” languages in Star Wars, both mangled with other sounds and sometimes just played backwards. I think Dothraki and Na’avi will certainly change that idea going forward.

          • admin

            @Owen: No one believes me when I say this, but i swear that if you listen closely to Greedo’s Quechua you will hear the Spanish word “imperial” in there.

      • admin

        See so many people talked about the negative comments, but I saw as many or more positive and supportive comments.

        Of course, the oddest negative comment I saw was the one where they said they should have spent the rescources used on the language to hire minority actors. Of course, I agree that, the Dothraki being described as “copper skinned” and having epicanthic folds (at least, I infer that from “almond-shaped eyes”), some similarly-featured actors would have been good, but that is a completely different issue. For one, if they were to find unknown Mongolian actors (and I’m not sure there were many in the area where they film), I’m sure they would have been cheaper to hire than Jason Momoa.

        • Carsten

          Yeah, some people there are indeed doing a good job trying to put ignorant comments right to break prejudices. I wish people read them, though, instead of posting the same logic-fallacy ridden comments over and over again.

        • Anthony Docimo

          I wonder how many of the people who said they should have hired more minorities, did so because they figured that minorities are more likely to know (other/exotic) languages.

      • Jai

        That is really sad that people are trying to make that arguement. It’s almost like saying… why create a new style of artwork or a new genre of music when the other ones should be studied. It’s the same thing. :shrug:

  5. Anthony Docimo

    I found what I had mentioned in an earlier reply to #28:
    __In the islands there are only two useful directions, _makai_ – toward the ocean, and _mauka_ – toward the mountains._….from the book “Waking up in Eden: in pursuit of an impassioned life on an imperiled island” by Lucinda Fleeson; page 88, paperback edition.

      • Anthony Docimo

        it makes me wonder, though….if you’re walking, but neither towards the sea or mountaintop, do you leave the direction blank, or is there a “walking in a big circle” option?

    • admin

      Hmm, that’s very interesting, and possibly ominous, considering what you will hear in tomorrow’s episode.

  6. Okuno Zankoku

    Oh god, there’s a really simple way to convert a spreadsheet into LaTeX (it’s the one I use, but I haven’t tweaked the macro yet):

    Anyway, you define an appropriate macro (in my case \entry{}{}{}{}), and then you insert extra columns into the spreadsheet. (Column A is “\entry{“, column B is the word, column C is “}{“, column D is a part of speech or whatever; E is “}{” again, and so on…)

    When you want to export it all into LaTex, copy-paste all of your spreadsheet into a text document: columns should be separated by tabs, which means you can find-replace, removing the tabs.

    \entry{ garble }{ n. }{ word …

    Just remember to also find-replace any non-ascii characters into appropriate LaTeX commands (è into \`{e}, and whatever). Once you have the \entry macro working, everything else should take 15min tops; forget hand-porting or file-processing.

    Lesse, my entry macro is defined like:
    \newcommand{\entry}[4]{ \par\textbf{#1} \textit{#2} “#3”; {#4} }

    So, really simple: the important columns are B:word, D: grammar, F: gloss, H: extended definition, more stuff. You can check out the output if you download my Tayéin dictionary on my site (I think my name should link properly…)

    I actually really like developing in Excel, then converting to LaTeX for release. It wasn’t my intension when I started this method, but I think it’s a keeper anyway.

  7. pá mamūnám ontā́ bán

    In Russian “it’s raining” is “дождь идёт” which literally means “rain goes” (more specifically “walks”).

    The “top of the show greeting” sounds quite like the Czech for “to think over” or “to ponder” which is “přemýšlet” – [ˈpr̝̊ɛmiːʃlɛt].

  8. Irohuro

    Super late to the party, but the “might could” derives from “might be able to” to show that something could possibly be done, but not with complete certainty, and can imply conditionality. since “be able to” ->”can”, and “could” is used as conditional, the construction seems logical to those who use it.

    “i might could help you out.”->”i might be able to help you out, (possible implied if, or former agreed upon payment for such service).”


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