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Today we tackle a very interesting typology topic: head-marking and dependant-marking.  Turns out that whether your language leans one way or another affects (or depends on) a wide variety of grammatical features.  Be sure to check the links below for additional info.

Top of Show Greeting: Toki Pona (translated by Vadim Fomin)

Links and Resources:


Email from Caleb:

Hey guys, Great work with the podcast, informative and funny. I got a few questions I wish to bother you with. I was wondering if perhaps you could tell me why in iTunes I am only able to view/download only the most recent episodes? Also Is there any chance of Mark Rosenfelder getting on the podcast? And, Finally, Do you happen to know of a good resource for learning the majority of the IPA sounds ( pronunciation that is)? I have looked for quite a while and have no been able to find much. Perhaps you could direct me to something like videos or audio possibly? Thank you for your time.

(Some resources we came up with for you: Flash IPA chart, IPA for English)


10 Responses to “Conlangery #64: Head-marking vs Dependent-marking”

  1. MBR

    Great episode! I’ve listened to it twice already, but that’s because I’m still trying to wrap my brain around head-marking. I’m going to create a little test lang to test it, but I do have an extant sketch that I think will be perfect to practice with. I’m going to have to read that paper when I get a free moment, but sadly, I don’t have many of those recently.

  2. Joe Schelin

    The way I learned the majority of the ipa was with a book-A Practical Introduction to Phonetics by J.C. Catford. He takes you through the entire chart experimentally (so you read the book and if you’re doing it right, make bizzare sounds all the while). It really helped me figure out a lot of the ipa.


  3. Roman Rausch

    What causes an Indo-European like me anxiety is that head marking seems to cause ambiguity in the actually interesting case, where one human being does something to another. Maybe this is improved a bit by having genders, but I like those even less.
    And if there are beings of different animacy, I know that the more animate one will most likely be the subject anyway – in this case no marking at all would actually work just fine.
    So as an admirer of the elegance of Japanese I find head marking in clauses somehow.. um.. clumsy. *shrugs*

  4. Jai

    I’d just like to say that listening to the podcast while writing emails is not the best combination. I nearly sent an email with this sentence to my TA:

    “Anyway, most people tell me that ESL is only a temporarily ceiling fan.”

    Don’t think that would have gone over well. Cheers!


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