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This supercedes the previous Morphology post ... and is already somewhat out of date. Last edited: 2006.Feb.12 Sat
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project Gamma

2006-Feb-09, Thursday 19:05
qiihoskeh: myo: kanji (Default)
I've been working on project Gamma's inflectional morphology. It's changed quite a bit.

The Location Argument is now separate from the Inanimate Argument and can be "here" (where the participants are), "there" (some other definite location other than "here"), indefinite/deleted, or coreferential. The Animate and Inanimate Arguments each can be singular definite, plural definite, indefinite, deleted, or coreferential, although I'm thinking about merging indefinite with deleted; the difference would be made by the presence or absence of a corresponding phrase, as is done with Location.

How Location functions depends on Direction; this can be at the location (unmarked)or to or from or via the location.

Grammatical voice is the usual direct (unmarked), inverse, reciprocal, or reflexive, with argument deletion handled by the actants or the lack thereof. When both 1st and 2nd person arguments occur, the Personal slot is used for 2nd person and the Animate slot for 1st person. There's a distinct marker for 1st/2nd person inclusive, as usual.

At one point, the interpretation of the Tense/Aspect/Mood markers depended on how Location was marked, but it got too complicated. What I have now is:

(unmarked): past perfective factual
"c": past perfective contrafactual
"f": future perfective hypothetical
"m": future perfective imperative (i.e. "present" imperative)
"t": present imperfective factual
"s": present imperfective hypothetical
"x": present imperfective contrafactual

with additional marking for prospectives, retrospectives, and non-present imperfectives. I haven't thought about iterative, habitual, etc. and process phases yet.

The order of morphemes, when the maximum valence is allowed, is something like:


with some shuffling of the suffixes for euphony etc. The table of actant combinations is rather large.

The above covers lexical verbs. Lexical nouns are simpler: no TAM, Location, or Direction, and gender is implicit. Valence is 2 for words with inalienable possession (again as usual) and 1 otherwise.
qiihoskeh: myo: kanji (Default)
The morphology, in progress as usual. Last edited: 2006.Feb.05 Sun

Actant Morphology

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Tense, Mood, and Aspect

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  • to have a minimal difference between forms with coreference and forms without

  • to use gender for head-dependent agreement

  • to limit actants of a given type to a specific slot as much as possible

Syntax Notes

Word Classes

  • Lexical classes and syntactical classes are similar but distinct: syntactical classes apply to complete word forms and are relevent syntactically; lexical classes apply to word stems and are relevent morphologically. There are also valence classes.

  • The lexical classes are: verb, noun (subdivided according to gender), temporal words, instrument words, other inflected words, and particles.

  • Lexical adjectives are a subclass of lexical verbs.

  • The syntactical classes are: verb, noun (subdivided according to gender), temporal forms, instrument forms, other inflected forms, and particles. Also significant are whether or not the Auxiliary affix is present and whether Coreference is marked (or implied).

  • Forms with coreference are used for nouns, infinitives, and coverbs; forms without are used for main verbs, complement verbs, and adjunct(???) verbs.

  • Infinitives and complement verbs are words following auxiliary forms.
  • The genders are animate, inanimate, and location.

  • A location-gender phrase can be added to a clause if there's not already a possible location-gender argument.

  • A temporal-class argument can always be added.


  • New referent arguments are distinguished from old referent arguments; this is marked only on the dependent phrases.

  • Number (singular and plural) is marked both on the head and on dependent phrases, and is useful in determining which argument slot the phrase corresponds to.

  • The gender of a phrase is also used in determining which argument slot it corresponds to, since each slot, for a particular word stem, allows a subset of the genders.

  • The gender of a phrase is that of the lead noun; adjectives must agree with the lead noun in gender.

  • The gender of a lead noun may be overridden in order to match a particular argument slot; in this case the adjectives agree with the override gender, not the noun's original one.

  • If two 3rd person arguments are the same in both gender and number and there's both a new referent phrase and an old referent phrase, the new referent phrase corresponds to the normally less "animate" argument slot.

  • The normal "animacy" of the slots is: Personal > Animate > Inanimate; this means that the Personal slot must not allow a gender of lesser "animacy" then the Animate slot etcetera.

  • The "animacy" of the genders is animate > inanimate > location.

  • Focus and topicality may also be useful in matching phrases to argument slots.


  • When a phrase is an apposite of a 1st or 2nd person actant, it must be a (restrictive) relative clause following the appropriate personal pronoun.

  • Non-restrictive relative clauses must be (here at least) treated as separate sentences.

Word Order

  • The order of phrases within a clause is pragmatic, except where syntax requires that the head appear first.

  • Adjectives follow the lead noun, but strictly speaking both lead nouns and adjectives are syntactical nouns, even if lead nouns are usually lexical nouns.

  • Split phrases are occasionally possible.

  • Inalienable possessors are dependents, not adjectives, and immediately follow their heads.

  • A quantifier, if any, immediately precedes the lead noun.

  • A phrase containing a determiner is called a "determined" phrase. The determiner immediately precedes the quantifier, if any, or the lead noun.

  • The partitive construction consists of a quantifier immediately preceding a determined phrase.

  • The superlative construction consists of a lexical adjective immediately preceding a partitive construction.


  • Alienable possession makes use of various relationship words.

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ProtoLanguage Phonemes

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Sound Changes

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