D. J. Scott D. J. Scott
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The Proto-Borean Language


Glossopœia
I. Phylogeny & Geographical Distribution
II. Phonology & Orthography
II.a. Phoneme Inventory
II.a-1.) Consoneme Inventory
II.a-1A.) Labial Group
II.a-1B.) Coronal Group
II.a-1C.) Dorsal Group
II.a-1D.) Glottal Group
II.a-2.) Voloneme Inventory
II.a-2A.) Monopthongs
II.a-2B.) Diphthongs
II.b. Phonotactic Summary
III. Morphology
III.a. Root Construction (Root system)
III.a-1.) Consonantal (C-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-1A.) Uniconsonantal (C1-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-1A.) Diconsonantal (C2-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-1A.) Triconsonantal (C3-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-1A.) Quadruconsonantal (C4-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2.) Syllabic (S-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2A.) Monosyllabic (S1-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2A.) Bisyllabic (S2-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2A.) Trisyllabic (S3-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2A.) Tetrasyllabic (S4-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-2A.) Pentasyllabic (S5-Type) Roots (Root system)
III.a-3.) Consonantal Versus Syllabic Roots
III.a-4.) Polytypical (P-Type) Roots
III.b. Variational Paradigms
III.b-1.) Root Variations (Root system)
III.b-1A.) Parenthetical Suppletion: Onset & Coda (Root system)
III.b-1B.) Nuclear Suppletion (Root system)
III.b-1C.) Primary Root Derivations: Class (Root system)
III.b-1D.) (Secondary Root Derivations: Intensity (Root system)
III.b-1E.) Primary & Secondary Root Derivation in Nouns (Root system)
III.b-2.) Primary Lexical Derivations
III.b-3.) Nominal vocality (Nouns)
III.b-4.) Nominal number (Nouns)
III.b-5.) Nominal derivations (Nouns)
III.b-6.) Nominal derivational vocality (Nouns)
III.b-7.) Nominal derivations & dual numerality (Nouns)
III.b-8.) Case (Nouns)
III.b-8A.) Central Declesions (Nouns)
III.b-8Aα.) Primary Central Declensions (Nouns)
III.b-8Aβ.) Secondary Central Declensions (Nouns)
III.b-8Aγ.) Tertiary Central Declensions (Nouns)
III.b-8Aδ.) Quaternary Central Declensions (Nouns)
III.b-8B.) Peripheral Declensions (Nouns)
III.b-8Bα.) Primary Peripheral Declensions: Postpositional case (Nouns)
III.b-8Bβ.) Secondary Peripheral Declensions: Conjunctive suffixes (Nouns)
III.b-9.) Verbal vocality (Verbs)
III.b-10.) Tense (Verbs)
III.b-10A.) Tensile Aspect (Verbs)
III.b-10B.) Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bα.) Narrative Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bβ.) Alethic & Non-Alethic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bγ.) Speculative Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bδ.) Epistemic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bδi.) Summative Epistemic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bδii.) Sensory-Evidential Epistemic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bε.) Deontic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bεi.) Volitive Deontic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bεii.) Directive Deontic Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bζ.) Interrogative Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10Bη.) Attributive Modality (Verbs)
III.b-10C.) Time (Verbs)
III.b-10D.) Perfectivity (Verbs)
III.b-10E.) Telicity (Verbs)
III.b-10F.) Predicative Aspect (Verbs)
III.c. Particular Conjunctions
III.d. Adverbial Subordinates
IV. Morphosyntactic Alignment
V. Semantics
VI. Vocabulary
VI.a. Common Phrases
VI.b. Lexicon

Introduction



Glossopœia

I began developing this language mainly to test several different linguistic hypotheses. The language is therefore first and foremost an experimental language, or Exlang. Firstly, since I am of the firm opinion that all natural languages ultimately share a common ancestor, the hypothetical, aptly-named “Proto-World” language, I wanted to demonstrate that all of the world's morphological types could descend from a single, ancestral type. While it’s already fairly well-established that languages can undergo typological changes in their morphology, as has happened in English and Mandarin, both having descended from more synthetic ancestors, or the Romance languages, all of which have grown more analytic since diverging from their fusional, Vulgar Latin ancestor, which, along with English, descended in-turn from the ancestral Proto-Indo-European tongue, the most ancient forms of which, so far as can be reconstructed via internal analysis of the already unattested PIE language, were likely root-inflecting and at least partly tonal, I needed to demonstrate that analytic languages, isolating languages, fusional languages, agglutinative languages, and polysynthetic languages could all have evolved from a common ancestor.

But what would this ancestral tongue look like?

To determine this I had to pay attention to the trends which have taken place in the recorded history of language. Perhapse the most obvious trend is that toward reducing inflectionality in favor of more analytic or isolating typologies.

In short, I needed a language of ambiguous morphological typology.

I soon realized that to accomplish this goal, I would need to have units of meaning more general than morphemes.

The difference between function morphemes and content morphemes would have to break down.

Phonaesthemes.

Every language has its own unique phonaestheme inventory, although the degree of internal phonaesthemic consistency varies from language to language. In general, highly conservative languages which resist borrowings seem to demonstrate a greater degree of internal phonaesthemic consistency.

This brings us to my second hypothesis: That phonemes aren’t truly arbitrary. Rather, the appearance of arbitrariness is an illusion created by comparing the phonemes which make up words of equivalent meaning from languages so distantly related to each other, whose phonaestheme inventories have been evolving and diverging for so long, that no common origin can presently be discerned, or by looking at phonaesthemic inconsistencies in “conquering” languages like English, Latin, and Mandarin, which have particularly long histories of particularly intensive contact with particularly large numbers of other languages. Deeming phonemes to be arbitrary, therefore, is somewhat like concluding that since we have numerous instances of convergent evolution among living organisms showing that vastly different nucleotide sequences can result in roughly the same sorts of adaptations in widely divergent lineages, genes must therefore be completely arbitrary. Yes, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but by the same token, a wing still provides lift whether it be made of skin as in bats and pterosaurs, feathers as in birds, or gossamer as in insects. To conclude from this that the genes which control limb-growth are arbitrary would be folly, just as it is folly to conclude from the English word tree and the Japanese word ki both referring to roughly the same group of organisms that the phonemes making up those words must be arbitrary. The semantics of a language are its phenotype, the phonemes its genotype.

What I ended up with was an oligosynthetic language, but far more information-dense than is typically predicted to be possible for an oligosynthetic language, and also requiring far fewer morphemes than the “perhaps only a hundred” predicted necessary for an oligosynthetic language to function. While I don’t have the language fully fleshed-out yet, I’ve derived enough widely divergent meanings and subtle nuances from the couple of single roots I created, which were in-turn built up from smaller morphemes (which I called “morphonemes”, but which were basically just phonaesthemes), that I have no doubts as to whether this language can be as expressive as any natural language.

Whether this or any oligosynthetic language, for that matter, can legitimately be considered a language, however, is a bit of a sticky subject. The arbitrariness of phonemes is dubious in polysynthetic languages, and moreso in oligosynthetic languages, since single phonemes often have morphemic functions. In Proto-Borean, the distinction between phonemes and morphemes is nonexistent (hence my term morphonemes), making the phonemes in this language completely and unambiguously non-arbitrary, a condition which was likely true of the common ancestor of all modern human languages (as stted above, the appearance of arbitrariness is an illusion created by millennia of linguistic divergence and reconvergence).

A secondary goal of mine for this language, something I feel I failed utterly at with earlier languages like Faenaril and Mal’naril in spite of it actually having been a primary goal for those languages, was to create something which was aesthetically beautiful. I wanted to see if I could turn this Exlang into the Artlang that I had intended Faenaril and Mal’naril to be. I’d heard some people describe certain Native North American languages as reminding of the rustling of leaves, and this so impressed me that I decided I wanted something that rolled smoothly off the tongue and reminded of the sounds of nature, particularly trickling water, cascading streams and babbling brooks, that I would toward this end employ frequent use of sibilants, approximants, and other liquid consonants with an phonetically elegant consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel sort of structure similar to that seen in Japanese (which sounds like rustling leaves) or Finnish (which sounds like falling rain), avoiding consonant clusters for the most part and ensuring that any consonant clusters I included would flow smoothly and be relatively easy to pronounce for speakers of most other languages. In other words, I wanted this to be a language that would be highly productive of “cellar doors”.

Another priority, somewhere between a primary and secondary goal, was to make this a philosophical language, or Philang. I wanted it to betray an underlying belief in duality, as seen in hermetic occult traditions, neopagan religions like Wicca, syncreto-pagan religions like Stregheria, and other religions like Zoroastrianism. Lots of complementary pairs of opposites. For example, the voiced denti-alveolar plosive morphoneme/phonaestheme d generally means something like “beginning, starting-point, origin” while the voiceless denti-alveolar plosive morphoneme t means something like “end-point, destination, target”. At first one might think this would cause confusion; if a listener didn’t hear the speaker clearly, the listener mightn’t know whether the speaker was talking about a beginning or an end. However, just as the English language can easily handle concepts like “terminal, bookend”, with constructions like “from one end to the other” being just as intelligible, albeit somewhat more vague, than, “from start to finish”, so too would mis-hearing a d for a t or vice versa in Proto-Borean result in a somewhat more vague yet still perfectly intelligible interpretation on the part of the listener. In cases where a mis-hearing could result in confusion, like *d-t- “from start to finish / from this terminal to that” being misheard for *t-d- “from finish to start / to this terminal from that”, the speaker always as the option of simply slowing down and enunciating more clearly, as in any language. What’s more, since the speakers of Proto-Borean would’ve had these sorts of relationships (such as an origin and destination both being types of terminal) constantly reinforced to them, nesting pairs of opposites within higher conceptual categories that render opposites the same, simply as a mechanical function of the language, native speakers of the Proto-Borean tongue would likely have less difficulty with ambiguity between opposites than the average English-speaker would. Thus, as a Philang, Proto-Borean is an example of linguistic relativity and can be considered something of a test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

What inspired me to arrange the language’s categoricality in this way was hearing sound-bytes like, “hate isn’t the opposite of love, apathy is,” when, in the context of our own, English-speaking culture, love and hate are actually two opposite forms of passion, and passion is the opposite of apathy. This makes both love and hate opposite kinds of the same thing (passion), and that same thing is in-turn the opposite of something else (apathy). Such distinctions between categorical levels aren’t really reflected in the European languages, and so confusion between levels of categorization (such as either love or hate, but not both, being referred to as the opposite of apathy) are all-too common. Consider the number of English-speakers who, for example, think that humans aren’t apes, that humans aren’t primates, or that humans aren’t animals, while contradictorilly admitting that humans are in fact a mammal (even though mammals are a type of animal), or who seem unaware that birds are a type of dinosaur or a type of reptile, even though they might be aware that birds are more similar to certain types of dinosaurs than those dinosaurs are to other types of dinosaur and that dinosaurs are a sort of reptile. This has the effect of making English-speakers seem utterly incompetent to speak their own language, and while I certainly didn’t want to reflect in this language the exact same conceptual categories we more educated speakers of the English language use, I wanted a language that would make it difficult for its speakers to make themselves sound stupid by demonstrating ignorance of their own language’s conceptual categories; a language which constantly reminds its speakers and listeners of the relationships between things and the categorical levels those relationships take place at.

Since Proto-Borean needed to obey a system of internal logic to accomplish this, it also serves as a sort of logical language, or Loglang. This was something I had in mind throughout the entire creation process, but it’s also an area in which I felt I needed to tread carefully. Refined, formal systems of logic are inherently culturally specific, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe that speakers of another language would be impressed by any of the formal systems of logic that English-speakers have created. Even when it comes to logical concepts that multiple different European languages more-or-less agree on, the European languages have been culturally influencing each other for thousands of years and there’s no reason to think the formal systems of logic that work across language barriers within the Indo-European language family would be seen as particularly meaningful or important outside of European-influenced societies. Languages like Loglan and its derivative, Lojban, essentially therefore do with logic what Esperanto does with phonology: endorsing the culturally-specific elements of the creator’s own native language and culture as though somehow objectively superior to (or objectively deserving of preferential treatment over) all others. It is in this way that Artlangs actually tend to be more logical than the Loglangs themselves; Artlangs attempt to create within them their own distinct philosophies and unique systems of logical relativity, whereas Loglangs tend to be deplorably ethnocentric cyphers for the Loglanger’s own native tongue. Loglangers rush in where Artlangers fear to tread.

And, lastly, of course, since this language was intended to be used in a fictional universe, it is a fictional language, or Ficlang.

Another inspiration was the Voynich manuscript.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awGN5NApDy4



I. Phylogeny & Geographical Distribution



I.a. Sound Changes

<p> /p/
<ph> /ɸ/, /f/_[j]
<b> /b/
<bh> /β/, /v/_[j]
<m> /m/
<mh> /w/
<t> /t/
<th> /θ/
<d> /d/
<dh> /ð/
<n> /n/
<nh> or <nhr> /ɹ/
<s> /s/
<sh> /ʃ/
<z> /z/
<zh> /ʒ/
<l> /l/
<lh> /lɣ/ or /j/
<c> /k/ or /c/
<ch> /kx/, /x/, /cç/ or /tʃ/
<g> /g/ or /ɟ/

<gh> /gɣ/, /ɣ/, /ɟʝ/ or /dʒ/
<ŋ> /ŋ/, /ɲj/[l]_V
<ŋh> /ɰ/ or /j/
<q> /ʔ/
<qh> /h/
<’> /./
<r> _V or <nhr> /ɹ/
<r> V_V or <lhr> /r/


II. Phonology & Orthography



II.a. Phoneme Inventory



II.a-1.) Consoneme Inventory



II.a-1A.) Labial Group
Voiceless Bilabial Plosive
<p> /p/
Voiceless Bilabial Fricative
<ph> /ɸ/, /f/_[j]
Voiced Bilabial Plosive
<b> /b/
Voiced Bilabial Fricative
<bh> /β/, /v/_[j]
Bilabial Nasal
<m> /m/
Bilabial Approximant
<mh> /w/


II.a-1B.) Coronal Group
Voiceless Denti-alveolar Plosive
<t> /t/
Voiceless Denti-alveolar Fricative
<th> /θ/
Voiced Denti-alveolar Plosive
<d> /d/
Voiced Denti-alveolar Fricative
<dh> /ð/
Denti-alveolar Nasal
<n> /n/
Alveolar Approximant
<nh> or <nhr> /ɹ/


II.a-1C.) Liquid Coronal Group
Voiceless Alveolar Sibilant Fricative
<s> /s/
Voiceless Palato-alveolar Sibilant Fricative
<sh> /ʃ/_[h] or <sh> /ʃ/
Voiced Alveolar Sibilant Fricative
<z> /z/
Voiced Palato-alveolar Sibilant Fricative
<zh> /ʒ/_[h] or <zh> /ʒ/
Voiced Denti-alveolar, Alveolar, or Post-alveolar Lateral Approximant
<l> /l/
Velaraized Voiced Denti-alveolar, Alveolar, or Post-alveolar Lateral Approximant
<lh> /lɣ/ or /j/ or /ɾ/


II.a-1D.) Dorsal Group
Voiceless Palatal or Velar Plosive
<c> /k/ or /c/
Voiceless Palatal or Velar Affricate or Fricative
<ch> /kx/, /x/, /cç/ or /tʃ/
Voiced Palatal or Velar Plosive
<g> /g/ or /ɟ/
Voiced Palatal or Velar Affricate or Fricative
<gh> /gɣ/, /ɣ/, /ɟʝ/ or /dʒ/
Velar or Palatized Palatal Nasal
<ŋ> /ŋ/, /ɲj/[l]_V
Palatalized Palatal Nasal or Velarized Palatal Approximant
<ŋh> /ɰ/ or /jɟ/


II.a-1E.) Glottal Group
<q> /ʔ/
<qh> /h/
<’> /./
<r> /r/_V, /ɹ/C_V, or /r/V_V


II.a-2.) Volonome Inventory



II.a-2A.) Monophthongs
Open Front Vowel
<a> /a/
Mid/Front-Mid Front Vowel
<e> /ɛ/
Close/Close-Mid Front Vowel
<i> /ɪ/
Close/Close-Mid Back Vowel
<u> /ʊ/
Open-Mid Back Vowel
<o> /ɔ/


II.a-2B.) Diphthongs


II.a-2Bα.) “A”-Diphthongs
Long
<aa> /a:/ or //
Closing
<ae> /aɛ/ or /æ/
Closing
<ai> /aɪ/ or //
Closing
<au> /aʊ/(C)_C or /œ:/C_
Closing
<ao> /æʊ/_C, /aɔ/C_ or /œ/C_C


II.a-2Bη.) “E”-Diphthongs
Opening
<ea> /ɛa/ or //
Long
<ee> /ɛ:/ or /e/
Closing
<ei> /ɛɪ/ or /ɛ/
Closing
<eu> /ɛʊ/(C)_C or /œ/C_
Height-Harmonic
<eo> /eʊ/_C, /ɛɔ/C_, or /ø/C_C


II.a-2Bι.) “I”-Diphthongs
Opening
<ia> /ɪa/ or //
Opening
<ie> /ɪɛ/ or /i/
Long
<ii> /ɪ:/(C)_C or /i:/C_
Height-Harmonic
<iu> /ɪʊ/_C, /ʏ/C_C, /y/C_
Opening
<io> /iʊ/_C, /ɪɔ/C_, or /y/C_C


II.a-2Bυ.) “U”-Diphthongs
Opening
<ua> /ʊa/ or //
Opening
<ue> /ʊɛ/ or //
Height-Harmonic
<ui> /ʊɪ/ or //
Long
<uu> /u/(C)_C or /u:/C_
Opening
<uo> /uʊ/_C, /ʊɔ/C_C or /ʊo/C_


II.a-2Bω.) “O”-Diphthongs
Opening
<oa> /ɔa/ or //
Height-Harmonic
<œ> /ɔɛ/ or /œ/
Closing
<oi> /ɔɪ/ or //
Closing
<ou> /ɔʊ/ or //
Long
<oo> /ɔ:/ or /oʊ/


II.b. Phonotactic Summary

<p> /p/
<ph> /ɸ/, /f/_[j]
<b> /b/
<bh> /β/, /v/_[j]
<m> /m/
<mh> /w/
<t> /t/
<th> /θ/
<d> /d/
<dh> /ð/
<n> /n/
<nh> or <nhr> /ɹ/
<s> /s/
<sh> /ʃ/
<z> /z/
<zh> /ʒ/
<l> /l/
<lh> /lɣ/ or /j/
<c> /k/ or /c/
<ch> /kx/, /x/, /cç/ or /tʃ/
<g> /g/ or /ɟ/
<gh> /gɣ/, /ɣ/, /ɟʝ/ or /dʒ/
<ŋ> /ŋ/, /ɲj/[l]_V
<ŋh> /ɰ/ or /j/
<q> /ʔ/
<qh> /h/
<’> /./
<r> /r/_V, /ɹ/C_V, or /r/V_V

When a consonant bridges two syllables (i.e. when positioned between two vowels), it is pronounced as being the onset of the next syllable. However, when a consonant cluster sits at the bridge of two syllables, the phonotactics are a bit more complicated:

When a consonant cluster begins with a plosive consonant, and the next consonant is neither an approximant, a lateral, nor a semi-vowel, there follows a very slight schwa [ ? ] preceeding that next consonant, unless the consonant cluster is itself preceeded by a vowel [even if said vowel appears at the end of the previous word], in which case the plosive is re-analyzed as the final consonant on the coda of the preceeding syllable. When a consonant cluster begins with a nasal consonant, however, said consonant is syllablized unless the nasal consonant is preceeded by another vowel [again, even if said vowel appears at the end of the preceeding word], which causes the nasal consonant to be pronounced as the final consonant of the previous syllable’s coda. When preceeding a liquid consonant or semi-vowel, the plosive digraphs ph, bh, th, and dh (/ ph, bh, th, dh /) are modified into fricative consonants (/ f, , ?, /) , whilst the fricative digraph sh (/ sj /) is modified into an affricative consonant (/ ? /); these digraphs may not be followed by any other type of consonant, except when bridging two syllables or at a syllable’s coda preceeding the nasal consonant n. When preceeding a liquid consonant or semi-vowel, or when following any other type of consonant, the plosive palatal digraphs ch and gh (/ ch, ?h /) become fricative consonants (/ , ? /). The digraph lh (/ l?? /) becomes a semi-vowel (/ j /) when preceeded by any type of consonant, but cannot itself preceed a consonant. When following any type of consonant, the aspirated nasal digraph mh becomes a semi-vowel (/ w /), but when preceeding the liquid consonant r or the digraph rh, merely rounds the following consonant; the digraph mh may not preceed any other consonant with the exception of the digraph lh, with the pronunciation of mhlh being uncertain (though the most likely pronunciation is simply / w / followed by / j / with a slight schwa buffering the two). The digraph nh may not be preceeded by any type of cons0nant at the coda, though otherwise its pronunciation remains largely unchanged from that given on the chart to the left, except when modified to / ? / preceeding any consonant, in any position (onset, bridge, or coda).

The standard formula for consonant clusters in the Proto-Borean language, therefore, is:

[Formula]

No consonant cluster may contain more than three distinct consonantal phonemes, allowing a maximum of six characters [if each phoneme is a digraph].

Vowels

IV. Morphosyntactic Alignment

Passive — Luctinlhessibaalnhei dhinlhessibaalnhai leneradalanemille
Intransitive — Minnussibaa radelanenille luctille


V. Semantics

S.



V.a. Predicative Logic

S.



VI. Vocabulary

S.



VI.a. Common Phrases

S.



VI.b. Lexicon

S.


Fiction
⚑ The Borean Cycle
Red the Blue Devil
The Nocturnals
The Spacebunnies
Metazoids
Solar Civil War
⚑ = You Are Here.