Lkal sik

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed 07 Aug 2013, 00:26
Location: displaced from Helsinki

Lkal sik

Post by gach » Sun 03 Apr 2016, 13:47

Here's a side project language, called Lkal sik, on which I've been writing some notes throughout the winter and spring. You can think of it as a way to get something presentable while at the same time developing ideas for Kišta behind the scene. Lkal sik is one of those conlangs that draws inspiration from the Tibetosphere. I'm exploring a bit more rarely used evidential strategies with it by including an egophoric evidential to the language and am also using quite a bit of consonantal prefixes in a way that gives a flavour of Old Tibetan to the aesthetic. On the other hand, I'm considering making these prefixes originally classifiers on nouns so they might actually more resemble the Austroasiatic sesquisyllabic prefixes. On verbs the prefixes can be either directionals or vaguely classificatory fused nominal adjuncts.

Lkal sik is spoken in the same world as Kišta and is the language of an influential state called Skal located some distance upriver from where Kišta and its related languages are spoken. There is trade between the two areas resulting in loan words and new technologies adopted by the Kišta speakers, but also a possibility for political tension since states like this tend to expand their influence over time. I'll be describing here the classical norm of the language which was spoken and got standardised maybe 700 to 900 years before the present time in the world. During this time the language was a regional administrative language in a border province of a larger empire. Later the empire disintegrated and after getting its act together the province of Skal formed its own independent state with Lkal sik as its main language. I should eventually also describe the later stages of the spoken language, but this has to wait until I work out satisfactory sound changes from the classical language. Not surprisingly, especially the modern written Lkal sik rarely follows exactly the grammar or vocabulary of the old classical language and it has always been more or less influenced by the contemporary spoken language. The normative classical language continues to exist as a grammatical ideal.

Both the name of the language and the state are based on the root kal with different prefixes. The prefix l- in the language's name is found in many nouns related to sound or the mouth while the prefix s- in the name of the state is an areal prefix. The second element sik in the language's name simply stands for "speech" or "language" and is derived from the verb si, "speak".


The consonant and vowel phonemes of Classical Lkal sik and the orthography I'll use for them are

/p t k q/ <p t k q>
/b d dʑ g/ <b d dź g>
/f s χ/ <f s h>
/v r ʑ ʁ/ <v r ź ř>
/m n/ <m n>
/l j w/ <l j/i w/u>

/a e i o u (ə)/ <a e i o u (e)>
/ae ei ao ou/ <ae ei ao ou>

The glides /j w/ are written as j w at the start of the word or after vowels and as i u when they come after consonants. The off-glides on the low diphthongs /ae ao/ are something around [e̝ o̝] or [i̞ u̞]. They are lower than the off-glides on the high diphthongs but higher than /e o/ or the base vowels of /ei ou/. A big reason for deciding this was simply that when these diphthongs are preceded by glides, writing iae and uao instead of iai and uau looks much more pleasing. The vowel [ə] never appears on the main syllable and its phonemic status is up for debate. The word initial voiceless stops tend all to be aspirated.

The typical allowed word shapes are ((Cə)C(C))V(C(s)), ((Cə)C(C))VCV(s,n), and ((Cə)C(C))VCVCV(s,n). That's to say that a word may begin with a two consonant cluster and on top of that have a prefixed syllable of the form C[ə]-. Here the vowel [ə] is epenthetic and fully predictable and so I won't be writing it down. The allowed consonant clusters at the start of the main syllable are

/sp st sk sq/
/br dr gr/
/bʑ gʑ/
/Cj Cw/ (except for double glide clusters)

A prefix may end up forming an allowed cluster with the initial consonant of the main syllable. In these cases a true cluster is formed and no epenthetic [ə] is interted after the prefix consonant.

Words that have only one full syllable may end with the consonants /p t k s χ m n l/ or the clusters /ps ts ks ns/. In these places the nasal /n/ has the allophone [ŋ]. On longer words all consonants may appear between two vowels but no clusters are allowed and at the end of the word /s n/ are the only allowed consonants. The vocalism of the suffixal syllables following the main syllable is also reduced. Only /i u [ə]/ may appear there. I'll write the suffixal [ə] as e but it's probably better described as an allophone of /a/.
User avatar
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed 07 Aug 2013, 00:26
Location: displaced from Helsinki

Re: Lkal sik

Post by gach » Sun 03 Apr 2016, 14:30

Tense and mood

There are two tenses in classical Lkal sik, an unmarked non-past and a past marked by the suffixes -is, -s, -i, -je. The basic form of the tense suffix is -is, which appears as the word final form after the main syllable vowels a (forming the diphthong ae) and e and all stem final consonants,

qel rne-is
SG3 come-PST
"he/she come"

qel buh-is
SG3 sleep-PST
"he/she slept"

The vowel of the past tense marker is merged with the high front vowel or glide and elided after the rest of the vowels, leading to the allomorph -s,

qel si-s
SG3 speak-PST
"he/she spoke"

If the the past tense marker isn't the last element in the word, it drops the sibilant and becomes typically becomes -i,

dźun rne-i-n
SG1 come-PST-EGO
"I come"

dźun buh-i-n
SG1 sleep-PST-EGO
"I slept"

Needless to say, there are cases leading the total elimination of the past tense suffix. In these cases there is a variant -je that's occasionally attested on some verbs,

dźun si-n ~ dźun si-je-n
SG1 speak-EGO(PST) ~ speak-PST-EGO
"I spoke"

There isn't a whole lot to say on the subject of morphological mood. The imperative is formed with a simple suffixless stem verb.

The evidential system

Classical Lkal sik has a three way split between an egophoric (or personal experience) evidential -n, a direct evidence evidential , and an indirect evidence evidential -ke. The divide between the direct and indirect evidentials is quite straight forward. The direct evidential is used to indicate direct sensory evidence for the statement while the indirect evidential signals the lack of this. Thus, the direct evidential gets a lot of use when talking about visual evidence and the indirect evidential when reporting inference or hearsay. There's some fluidity between these two forms. If you are reporting some information based on a sound you have heard, you can use either the direct or the indirect evidential. The direct evidential is likewise some times used when talking about information contained in well known and trusted written sources. In both of these cases the choice of the direct evidential indicates a greater personal trust in the validity of the statement.

The egophoric evidential is used when the speaker has personal involvement in the action. This typically means that the speaker is either the subject or recipient in the clause or an affected object. Control matter that much that unconscious actions by a first person subject don't trigger egophoric marking but conscious unintentional actions do. Non-realised action (future or hypothetical events) also never get egophoric marking. As a defining characteristic for the egophoric, it's used in an anticipatory way in questions. Thus a typical pattern for indicative sentences is that the first person gets egophoric marking and the other persons don't,

Dźun sne-i-n.
SG1 leave-PST-EGO
"I left."

Ho sne-is.
SG2 leave-PST
"You left."

Qel sne-is.
SG3 leave-PST
"He left."

while in questions it's the second person that gets the egophoric marking and the other persons don't,

No dźun sne-is?
Q SG1 leave-PST
"Did I leave?"

No ho sne-i-n?
Q SG2 leave-PST-EGO
"Did you leave?"

No qel sne-is?
Q SG3 leave-PST
"Did he leave?"

Polar questions can be formed either by the interrogative particle no or simply with rising intonation. In the written language second person questions may thus be implied merely by the use of the egophoric marking. On the other hand, rhetoric questions, where no personal involvement by the second person is expected, are regularly formed with the direct evidential in all persons.

The egophoric evidential also gets used with certain third person subjects without any first person involvement. This happens with complement clauses where the third person is reporting their own personal experience and the same subject carries over from the main clause. Thus the following sentence has egophoric marking in the complement clause since the information contained within it stems from the third person's own experience

Qel sak-is qel Teni be rne-n.
SG3 say-PST SG3 Tenni ABL come-EGO
"He said that he is from Tenni."

While in the next sentence there is a break in the subject between the two clauses and no personal involvement about the complement clause can be assigned to either the speaker or the third person originating this information.

Qel sak-is ho Teni be rne-ke.
SG3 say-PST SG2 Tenni ABL come-INDIR
"He said that you are from Tenni."

In the direct evidential it's further possible to show that the speaker expects the audience to already be familiar with the information. In the earliest records of the language, this was done with an independent particle da that could also be used together with the egoporic. The particle quickly merged together with the verb into -de and became restricted to be used with only the direct evidential,

Qel Teni be rne-de.
SG3 Tenni ABL come-SHEARED
"He is from Tenni (as you surely know)."
User avatar
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed 07 Aug 2013, 00:26
Location: displaced from Helsinki

Re: Lkal sik

Post by gach » Sun 03 Apr 2016, 17:57

Pronominal and nominal morphology

The personal pronouns of classical Lkal sik are dźun "I", ho "you.SG", qel "he/she" in the singular and nei "we.EXCL", ma "we.INCL", hei "you.PL", qele "they" in the plural.

Demonstratives include fa (proximal) and sie (distal) in singular and fao (proximal) and siou (distal) in plural. These are used both for deixis and anaphora but only the singular forms are used attributively,

sie nřu
DIST horse
"that horse"

sie nřu-gu
DIST horse-PL
"those horses"

The suffix -(g)u marks plurality but is only available for animate nouns. It's also not required for plural reference and never appears with plural quantifiers. The labial off-glide of the plural deictics is related to the -gu plural of nouns. The -e suffix on the PL3 pronoun qele could be so as well but is more likely related to a historical -i plural seen on the PL1.EXL and PL2 pronouns nei and hei. In the spoken language the -gu plural became defunct quite early on and got replaced by a new plural marker originating from kip, "many". The new plural is available for inanimates as well and in later times becomes the most common plural marker in the written language as well.

There are three morphological cases in classical Lkal sik: nominative , genitive -(i)s, and accusative -s. The genitive and accusative endings differ only by the vowel i in the genitive ending, and this gets often elided. The genitive ending has the form -is only after consonant final stems, where it contrasts either with an epenthetic e or no vowel at all in the accusative, and on stems where a final unstressed e is a part of the stem and gets replaces by the suffix vowel. In all other cases genitive and accusative are identical. As a result, the genitive and accusative endings also fall together on all animate plural nouns. Some noun paradigms for bźen, "woman", kame, "child", and nřu, "horse", are

Code: Select all

        SG      PL          SG      PL          SG     PL
NOM     bźen    bźen-u      kame    kam-u       nřu    nřu-gu
ACC     bzén-s  bźen-u-s    kame-s  kam-u-s     nřu-s  nřu-gu-s
GEN     bźen-is bźen-u-s    kam-is  kam-u-s     nřu-s  nřu-gu-s
Personal pronouns have some irregularities in their paradigms,

Code: Select all

      NOM             ACC              GEN
      SG     PL       SG     PL        SG     PL
1     dźun   nei      dźuns  neis      dźuns  neis
12     -     ma        -     mas        -     maes
2     ho     hei      hos    heis      hos    heis
3     qel    qele     qes    qeles     qeis   qelis
Post Reply