Conlangery 106 logo

Posted by & filed under Podcast.

Suzette Haden Elgin passed away on January 27th. She will be missed.

You can now support Conlangery on Patreon!
William can now talk about conlanging he did for a videogame!

In this episode, George and William go over the wonderful diversity of auxiliary verb constructions! So much to think about!

Links and Resources:


12 Responses to “Conlangery #106: Auxiliary Verb Constructions”

  1. Douglas Koller

    What was the conlang at the top of the show and who was reading? Alurhsa (wild guess)?

  2. Melvar

    It occurs to me to ask: Is it usual for auxiliary and lexical verb to be adjacent? When they are not adjacent, which more usually goes in the place a single verb goes?

    • wm.annis

      In languages with a fairly strict word order you expect them to be adjacent most of the time, with allowances for personal marking clitics and the like which might intrude between them. In languages with freer word order, things are moved around according to pragmatic requirements, not any fixed rules.

  3. Miles

    Hi! It looks like the link to the article on auxiliary verb constructions in African languages is dead, but I believe I’ve found a fresh link:

    Auxiliary Verb Constructions in the Languages of Africa. (Link leads to a .pdf).

    In case it goes down again, the journal page with background info is here, and it is by Gregory D. S. Anderson with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

    Thank you guys for the recording the show, by the way! The information you share each month is amazing.

  4. Andy Nelson

    I’m really glad you did this episode. Honestly, for some reason I’d always have a hard time remembering even which way my NATIVE language does things when it comes to auxiliary verbs, considering that English tends to have defective auxiliary verbs – which I remember – yet puts the main verb in a non-finite form when auxiliaries are used – which I sometimes forget. And I find this weird, because I feel like the main verb should be, like, the MAIN VERB, and take all the inflection, while the auxiliary verbs, as “helper verbs” should just sit there like analytical inflections of the main verb. So actually doing it the opposite of my native language makes sense to me – at least when I consider these things in the abstract. Not necessarily my instincts when it comes to translating from English to my conlang, however. And so when I created a language with auxiliary verbs, I would get confused, and I would realize that my ideas when initially creating the auxiliary verbs were backwards from how my native language does things, I would find myself continuously getting turned around with these things.

    And I had no real idea if doing things one way or another would really matter, if only one way was genuinely intelligible or not. I even had the idea that maybe auxiliary verbs and main verbs could both take different inflections, but I backed away from that, not certain if that would be naturalistic or not. So pretty quickly I just avoided doing auxiliary verbs at all.

    Somehow, listening to the podcast has given me a bit more confidence to do whatever with my conlangs as far as auxiliary verbs go, and for some reason I don’t feel like I’m constantly spinning in circles trying to figure out which way is which. I’m even better at remembering what’s normal for European languages, now (which probably shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place).

    This podcast has been generally pretty helpful in bringing my knowledge level up from a novice conlanger to something closer to an intermediate (I like to think), but this was probably the biggest trouble area I’ve had with conlanging and this episode has probably done the most for helping me on any single topic that Conlangery has helped me with.

    • wm.annis

      Excellent! I’m glad to know the episode was helpful. I know the articles certainly helped me with some things I’d been vague about for, well, decades.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.