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Kickstarter I mentioned at the top of the show.

Today, we finally get to talk about why David hates morphemes, among other things.

Top of Show Greeting: Tslure Thujekatsoth

Links and Resources:

UPDATE: The Endangered Alphabets Kickstarter I mentioned at the top of the show and linked above has reached its goal.  I like to think some of you helped push it over the edge, and if so, thanks.  If you haven’t checked it out, yet, you can still donate until the 15th.

19 Responses to “Conlangery #70: Practicum — the Pitfalls of Frameworks”

  1. Anthony Docimo

    Of course, there’s also the danger of avoiding frameworks altogether…when I was reading up about the creole language Gullah, one article said – I kid you not – not only that glossing wasn’t possible, it was also not reccommended, because each sentence had too many possible meanings.
    ((I returned that book ASAP))

  2. Estonian Learner

    Great to hear Estonian being mentioned! Just wanted to say that Estonian isn’t as weird as David makes out. It’s true that the adjective agrees with the noun in the first 10 cases but in the final four cases (until, as, without, with) the adjective just takes the genitive and the noun takes the case endings. In the Wiki article that David mentions, ilus ‘beautiful’ is the adjective and raamat ‘book’ is the noun. It is true true though that someone learning Estonian needs to know a couple of stems which are nom sg, gen sg, part sg and part pl. From there we can make all the rest, so gen sg + -d = nom pl, part sg + -e = gen pl, gen sg + -l = add sg, gen pl + -l = add pl etc. Anyway, great show, love listening every week, keep up the good work!

    • David J. Peterson

      Oops! Guess I misread that on the page. Okay, that makes more sense that the noun takes the cases and the adjective just gets a default agreement. Ha. My interpretation would really have been wild! Anyway, thanks for the correction!

  3. David J. Peterson

    I don’t know why David put all his own stuff in the shownotes…

    Because those references were for you guys, you lunk! It was to give you and Michael background on where I was coming from, so that you knew what I was talking about. What’d you want me to put in there, a link to Redfin listings in Maine?

  4. Esploranto

    Great show you guys!
    Yes, we’ve seen the morpheme theory fail before, just think about how Mark Okrand’s Atlantean is sometimes described, “bernot-e-kik”, and then they analyse latin in the same way “via-tor”. While I agree this may be useful for some monosyllabic languages (Chinese as stated by George, or even Sumerian, one could argue) it is not very useful for other languages as David points out with his example of goose/geese. Even though many of the ablauts and umlauts do come from missing vowels (for example a final -i being lost but affecting the vowels), but that’s historical as was mentioned.
    It is interesting that this realization was prompted by such words as “goose” or “man/men” which are quite common in English. You would have had a harder time in languages like Spanish for this to become more clear as the plural with -s is incontrovertible.
    The use of paradigms in verbs is important and I think the best way to tackle it, just think of the mentioned future in Spanish, you do have cantar (inf.) > cantaré (fut.), but you have tener (inf.) > tendré (fut.). Of course, again, historically it was *teneré > *tenré > tendré, but the point is that the paradigm for the future is not always the same as the infinitive for all cases.
    So what I think I’m trying to say is… Go Paradigms! Haha, great job everybody! Keep up the good work!

    • David J. Peterson

      You would have had a harder time in languages like Spanish for this to become more clear as the plural with -s is incontrovertible.

      …or is it? Consider: sacapuntas.

      • admin

        This is true, and it is, in fact, one of my favorite features of Spanish (an one of my favorite derivational processes in general). Especially since VERB.PRES+NOUN+S compounds are nearly universally masculine, regardless of the gender of the noun element.

      • Esploranto

        Very good point! And you are right, although in fact this comes from “sacar puntas” meaning many “puntas”, so it was the verb plus a plural noun that afterwards was taken as a separate entity. You could also have used “caries” (dental cavities) which has no plural (or no singular?).

        Again as I said, great show! And great point. I did post something inspired by all this in one of my blogs (you can access it through the link in my name here), I would be excited to know you opinion about it.

        About the gender one, well, in Spanish “masculine” is the default gender, in fact you guys mentioned “nosotros” in the podcast and it’s not like it’s that weird to use “nosotros” even with a group of mixed genders, because Spanish always uses masculine even when we talk of a couple. You would use “nosotras” if they were only women, but if there is at least 1 male, then you go back to “nosotros” as a default. Also another funny word very agglutinative and that’s masculine “correveidile” which means “a person who’s a gossip” and is composed of “corre, ve y dile” (run, go and tell him/her)

        • admin

          I think the more important point is that you have yo <> nosotros (as well as tu <> vosotros), which by morphemic analysis all have to be taken as monomorphemic, though it seems that nosotros and vosotros have clear historical explanations.

  5. Daeiribu

    I’ve taken Italian for more than three years now (I’m actually in Italy at the time of writing this), and the voicing of s between vowels is the Standard way of pronouncing things. If you happened to hear a /kasa/ in Italian, my guess would be that the speaker has a Southern (which is to say, Spanish-influenced) regional dialect. But that might as well be completely off, since I know next to nothing about Italian Regional dialects (of which there are loads).
    Another thing, it’s actually [], the stressed vowel is long (and the intonation is falling, bet everything is falling in Italian)

  6. Sima Zhi

    I don’t understand what David’s crusade against morphology is all about.

    news = new + -s; -s being a morpheme that makes pluralia tantum, e.g. greens, veggies etc.
    emergency = emerge + -ency; -ency makes abstract nouns, e.g. urgency (as remarked very well by Mike), adjacency etc.

    Furthermore, I don’t get why using historical data would be a bad idea in understanding something. If you have the data, doesn’t that make your analysis even more rich, or make your conlang even better. However, it’s true that paradigms are just that: the most common groups of systematicity, which is why there are always exceptions in natlangs.

    • admin

      Not against morphology, against the concept of the morpheme. And there are models of inflectional morphology that don’t use morphemes.

      I agree that historical derivation is a very good way to build a conlang. In fact, it’s the best way to build a naturalistic conlang. In linguistics, though, we try to separate the historical/diachronic from the current/synchronic, since any theory of language has to account for the fact that speakers are able to learn a language without knowing anything about its history.


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