Connic 2 - Nouns and Pronouns

Originally published on: 2021-09-12

Intro

Hello, everyone. Last time (which was just over two months ago, sorry about that), I've picked the phonology for my language. Of course, sounds are memerly one small part of a language, so now we're going to be moving to parts of speech, and, more specifically, nouns and pronouns.

General Information

But before that, it's important to introduce a bit more info on some of the features that will inform the way in which we'll approach the creation of our language.

First of all, the language is going to be agglutinative. This means that most morphemes will carry one only meaning. But wait, what is a morpheme, I can hear you ask? The answer is that a morpheme is a unit of language that carries meaning. For example, in English, dog is a morpheme that carries the meaning of "dog", knowledge is also a morpheme, which means "knowledge". But a lot of morphemes aren't words, but are something you add to words to change their meanings. For example, the prefix un- is a morpheme that transforms the meaning of the word into the opposite meaning. The suffix -able transforms a verb from its direct meaning to an adjective meaning that it's possible to carry out the action specified by the verb, while the suffix -ness transforms a given adjective to a noun. With this knowledge, we can analyse the word unbearableness and chop it into morphemes. It has four morphemes:

  1. un
  2. bear
  3. able
  4. ness

Each morpheme here carries one single clear meaning, which is what makes those morphemes agglutinative. However, English also has a few fusional morphemes. In here, fusional means that a morpheme fulfills multiple roles at the same time. An example of that in English is the suffix -s in verbs. It means Present Simple, 3rd person and singular at the same time. A lot of other Indo-European languages have a lot more such morphemes, which may carry a lot more meanings at the same time (number, case, gender, person for nouns or number, tense, gender, aspect, mood for verbs). I decided not to create such morphemes, as they will make all explanations and analysis of my language that more complex.

It'll also have an SOV (subject-object-verb) morphosyntactical alignment (although the word order will be more-or-less free, this will be the basic, default one you'd use for general phrases), which lends itself nicely to postpositions instead of prepositions.

Nouns

Number

I wanted a naturalistic number system for my language, which means I can't so something extremely crazy, but I also didn't want to do a basic singluar-plural distinction. This is why I decided to go with somethinbg well-attested, and yet not super-common in modern Indo-European languages:

Singular
Used for one singular item
Paucal
Used for groups of "a few" items (in Connic, we'll define "a few" as seven or fewer items), although we'll also use it in some metaphorical ways (but more on that later)
Plural
Used for groups of more than seven items, although, just as with Paucal, we'll use it for more than that.

This should be simple enough to be very flexible, while providing the language with a unique characteristic.

Fig 1. Number affixes
Number Affix
Singular
Paucal /-l/
Plural /-n/

Gender

As with number, I decided to use something extremely naturalistic. Unlike number, though, it's extremely common everywhere, both past and present, all over the world:

Animate
Used for animate nouns (humans and animals)
Inanimate
Used for inanimate nouns (rocks, plants, abstract concepts, bodies of water etc.)

These genders won't have specific affixes, you'll have to rely on word meaning instead.

Note: to most people, "gender" means biological and/or sociological gender. In linguistics, gender just means a way fo categorizing nouns based on some categories. It's mosly Indo-European languages that make grammatical gender somewhat correspond to natual gender, while a lot of other languages can have anywhere up to 10 gender classes, none of which can be classified as male or female.

Case

Unlike number and gender, case was the part I decided to play around with a bit. It's not too wacky or crazy, but I feel like it's interesting and distinct enough to give my language character. I decided to give animate nouns three cases: nominative, accusative and posessive (yes, like in English, deal with it) with nominative being the default and having a zero suffix. Howerer, I decided to give inanimate nouns only two cases: nominative and accusative (as inanimate things can't own stuff) and make accusative have a zero suffix. This means that an inanimate noun used in the object position will look as the base form of the noun, while if it's used as a subject, a suffix will be added to it.

Fig 2. Animate noun case affixes
Case Affix
Nominative
Accusative /-dʰi/
Posessive /-mon/
Fig 3. Innimate noun case affixes
Case Affix
Nominative /-si/
Accusative

Notes

The number suffix goes after the case suffix. If it would form a prohibited consonant cluster, then the vower /e/ is added before the suffix.

Pronouns

Pronouns, just like everything else, will be pretty simple. We'll have three persons and 3 numbers, an animate/inanimate distinction in the 3rd person, as well as inclusive and exlusive 1st person dual and plural pronouns, which comes out to 14 pronouns. We also have cases to consider which increase the total number of pronouns to 39.

Fig 4. Pronouns in the nominative case
Person Singular Paucal Plural
1st Exclusive /'mi/ /'tal/ /'ta/
Inclusive /'mi.sa/ /'mi.se/
2nd /'sa/ /'sel/ /'se/
3rd Animate /'lu/ /'fel/ /'fe/
Inanimate /'kʰoj.si/ /'kʰo.sil/ /'kʰo.sin/
Fig 5. Pronouns in the accusative case
Person Singular Paucal Plural
1st Exclusive /'dʰni/ /'ta.ɫi/ /'ta.dʰi/
Inclusive /'mi.so/ /'mi.ne/
2nd /'so/ /'sol/ /'sa.ne/
3rd Animate /'dʰlu/ /'fe.ɫi/ /'fe.dʰi/
Inanimate /'kʰoj/ /'kʰol/ /'kʰon/
Fig 6. Pronouns in the posessive case
Person Singular Dual Plural
1st Exclusive /'mon/ /'tom/ /'to/
Inclusive /'mi.smo/ /'mi.sni/
2nd /'sma/ /'smal/ /'sma.ni/
3rd Animate /'lun/ /'fe.lin/ /'fen/
Inanimate N/A N/A N/A

You might notice that pronouns might seem too irregular, but I assure you that they aren't. I went through five iterations until I finally settled on the current system. It's fairly naturalistic in that pronouns don't simply follow a bunch of systematic rules, but at the same time