#3: Nouns and Nominal Morphology
Material to cover
- Noun Classes
- Nominal Negation
Now that you have a set of segments, it's time to make words.
This is easier than you might think. We'll begin with a list of nouns.
To get started, look at the list of assigned English words and just pick one. Then, consulting your list of segments,
make up a possible word in your language. Write it down next to the English word ... and you're done making your first word. From there, carry on making words until you begin to see how you might combine morphemes in novel ways that please you. This is one of the places where art, poetry, politics or whimsy slips into your language creation task. Make your language reflect something new, charming, alarming, startling or beautiful.
Think about how yu want the words to sound. are there lots of complicated consonant clusters around single vowels making short words like /skwap/, /ToiNk/, or /Stlorkspiltsk/?
Or, does your language have long words in simple syllables like /labilamana/, /kipapi/, or /amasakabu/?
Are you going to allow consonants at the ends of your words? Is it going to sound right to you to allow two vowels to come together in a word like /naial/ or /oie.luk/? How many consonants do you think you want to allow at the beginnings of words: english allowsthree in words like 'strike' and 'splat' but hawaiian allows only a single consonant before there has to be a vowel.
As you make your words, keep
the following in mind:
- Remember what you have learned about the arbitrariness of language. Words in your language should sound nothing like their English translations unless (in some cases) this is done for a particular cultural or esthetic reason that either amuses you or is coherent with the anthropological sketch of your speakers.
- You may use only the segments which you have described already in step 2.
- Remember that you are transcribing, not spelling your words. Do not use English-based orthographic conventions. If, for example, you write down that your word for "sky" is "shafe", you may intend this to be a one syllable word that rhymes more or less with "safe". However, it will be pronounced by your colleagues in two syllables as
/shafe/ rhyming more or less with "cafe". ((click here to hear the pronunciation of /shafe/,.) If you want your word for sky to rhyme with 'safe', you'll have to transcribe it as /Sejf/.
(See the help section on transcription).
- although your first words might be monomorphemic (containing only one morpheme such as 'joy' 'stone' 'table' or 'bad', yur goal is to combine morphemes in new ways.
- Keep careful notes as you work. Write down every morphological idea you decide to implement. The tedious field notes will pay off later when you can look up, rather than refigure out, what you intended in any case.
- Think about the culture you wish your language to reflect and the ways in which you want your language to differ from Earth norms.
If, for example, your culture believes that children should be seen and not heard, make that part of your language and make the word for 'child' be something like 'no-mouth-person'. (Keep track then of your morphemes for negation, mouth and person so you can employ them again later on). If you think that 'plant-egg' is a good word for 'seed' or if you have a particularly fiendish insult or poetic term of endearment you fancy, make it part of your language. If you think the moon is made of green cheese, string the morphemes 'great-night-cheese' together and say it translates into English as 'moon'. (You could then happily extend the metaphor as far as you like: call the planets 'little-cheese-balls', the stars 'sky-curds', and later claim in a footnote somewhere that English 'milkyway' is a calque from your language into English.)
- Make listings for bound as well as free morphemes and explain them.
- Note that you may "split" a concept using two or more words in your language to express different aspects of the same English word. You might wish, for example, to have one word for 'ashes' if the fire that created them was a merry bondfire, an entirely different, unrelated morpheme for ashes from a sacred fire, and others for fires started by accident or by nature or as acts of violence. (NOte, for examle, that english has a yriad words for water depending only on its temperature: ice, water, steam. A language could easily have only one word for these related concepts.
- You may also merge two concepts, using one form to express what is two separate morphemes in English. If your culture is patriarchal and neither women nor children have any power, you may have one word that refers to both. Less controversially, you may have a single word that refers to both 'egg' and 'seed'.
- Important: Be sure that you are awake and paying attention as you do this assignment since it sets the foundation for how the rest of your language will feel. You will be, in a sense, creating a sense of esthetics that will guide you for the rest of the semester. Spend time musing about the culture of the people who speak this language. If you are a poet, do not pass by this opportunity to use this assignment as a kind of experiment or poem that expresses ... whatever you feel like expressing.
- The final list of words you develop in this assignment will be nouns, but it is not necessary that all their constituent morphemes be nouns. For example, the English word birdwatcher is a noun, but it is composed of one noun (bird), one verb (watch) and one bound derivational suffix (-er).
Establishing Nominal Morphology
In addition to creating the list of nouns below, you should address these questions and submit them with your work: For each question, provide as many glossed examples as you need to be clear.
Do not simply make a list of the information required:
write a sentence or two explaining each.
You will use the