Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lexember 2019 Kickoff

For Lexember this year I’m hoping to continue working on my gradual translation of Le Petit Prince into Valthungian. A lot of things have changed since last year, though, and the grammar has gotten a lot more solidified. There’s also been a minor sound change that I’ve been fighting with for many months. Before we jump into the vocab, I wanted to outline a few of those changes.

Adjective Phrases (with a few exceptions) are now mainly N-A. Pretty self-explanatory. This may eventually end up changing the way I handle strong and weak adjectives (or get rid of them completely), but so far those are the same.

The one sound change is that the i-umlaut of ‹ō› ([au̯]) is now ‹œu› ([œy̑]) instead of ‹œ̄› ([ø̞ː]), which is now exclusively the umlaut of ‹ǭ› ([o̞ː]). This contrasts with ‹au› ([au̯]), the umlaut of which is (and has always been) ‹eu› ([ɛu̯]). This is largely the result of all the futzing I was doing last year trying to settle on a pronunciation for ‹ō› and ‹ē› in the first place, which have been troublesome ever since I decided to get rid of the Stressed Long Vowel Raising rule a year or so ago. Anyway, that’s irrelevant here. The practical result of this is that the spelling of many noun, verb, and adjective forms has changed slightly.  Some examples:
  • mōðra [mau̯.ðrɑ] ‘mother’; plural mœuðris [mœy̑.ðris]
  • dōms ‘doom’; sundradœumin ‘to decide’
  • sœučin ‘to seek’; sōfta ‘sought’

Along the lines of phonology, I also codified a rule that I had been applying subconsciously, but haphazardly – an extension of a rule already present in Gothic for creating compounds. In the simplest terms, when the first element is a u- or w-stem, ‹u› separates the words, e.g. alo ‘ale’ + katna ‘cup’ = alukatna ‘stein’. For an i- or j-stem, use ‹i›: e.g. hauge ‘hay’ + mēnaþs ‘month’ = haugimēnaþs ‘August’. Plain a-stems take no vowel unless the first word ends in a syllabic.

I hammered out a complex system of passive verbs in which different auxiliary verbs are used depending on whether the verb is intentional or unintentional by both the agent and the patient:

  • gečin: deliberate agent and patient. E.g. Ik gatiða fergilðiþs forðat work. ‘I was paid for the work.’
  • gitna: agent deliberate, patient inanimate or unintentional. E.g. Ik gat þis weris slaguns. ‘I was hit by the man.’
  • þiǧin: patient deliberate, agent inanimate or unintentional. E.g. Ik þagiða þižas fœuðinis nutriškiþs. ‘I was nourished by the food.’
  • werðan: inanimate or unintentional agent and patient. E.g. Ik warþ þis þljuðis angǣsiþs. ‘I was startled by the noise.’

On the subject of auxiliary verbs, I also decided to relegate skulna to the specific realm of obligation, while the contrived causative genǧin (from gangna) exclusively forms the future tense.

For Lexember this year I plan to place most of my entries into Contionary on Linguifex, and then link them here (probably with some additional explanation) and on Twitter and the FB Conlang groups and the usual places. I would encourage other Linguificers to do the same – especially if, like me, you’re bad at TeX formatting and just need something quick ‘n’ dirty. (If you’re a CWS person, they have their own unique Lexember format, but I still haven’t even figured out how to post my phonology on that monstrosity.) 

In case anyone is interested, I’ve also just completed work on the 2019 Valthungian calendar, which is brooding and complex, as you might expect.

Finally, I wanted to officially announce that there is a Facebook group for the Valthungian Language!  Actually, it’s been there for a while, but I wanted to wait a bit to make it public. So far it’s really mostly a place where I bounce around thoughts about things like changing the umlaut of ‹ō› to ‹œu›, but as the language becomes a little more stable and usable and the vocabulary grows, I hope that it will soon be a place where I can roll out lessons, texts, maybe even videos… we’ll see! Anyway, it’s here if you’re interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/greytongue/. (There are a few questions to answer in order to join. This is mostly because an extraordinary number of people seem to be under the impression that the Valthungian Language, a.k.a. Sō Grējutungiška Rasta, is a secret language spoken by Rastafarian priests, and somehow, therefore, the group must be full of people who can tell you where to get weed. To the best of my knowledge, neither of these things is correct. Anyway, if you’ve read this much, you probably know the answers to all of the questions, and even if you don’t, that’s usually okay too, as long as I can figure out from your answers that you know which tree you're upbarking.)