Archive for the ‘Engadinese’ Category


February 18th, 2010
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So, I read that French même, Spanish mismo, and Italian medesimo, all meaning “same”, all derive from Latin metipsimum < metipsissimum < -met + ipse + -issimus.

Now, I hadn’t heard of -met, but Wiktionary has an article on it, saying:

meaning “self“, and it intensifies substantive and less frequently adjective personal pronouns, it is usually followed by “ipse

At roughly that point I recognised it from Temet nosce, the phrase used in The Matrix to translate “know thyself” (rather than the usual translation of the original Greek Γνώθι σαυτόν, Nosce te ipsum).

It stands to reason that Romansh medem/madem also comes from the same source, so I thought I might derive the Engadinese word for “same” similarly. (That’s only western and central Romansh, though; Ladin has listess, presumably from the same route as Italian stesso, i.e. st + ipsu < istum ipsum.)

So I thought, what would be the equivalent of -met ipsissimum?

I don’t know of a clitic for “self”, but ipse is presumably εμαυτόν σ(ε)αυτόν etc., or perhaps αυτός; and -issimus would be -(ό/-ώ)τατος (with the vowel belonging to the stem of the adjective).

So ipsissimum would be something like αυτότατον—though I’m not certain of the stress. For “Greek stressed like Latin”, I’d have to know the quality of the alpha in the ending, which I can’t find out right now, so I’ll assume it’s short, in which case the stress would go on the antepenult.

So perhaps the word for “same” could end up something like τόδατ todat? Not sure, but it’s an idea.

(While doing research for the vowel, I came across -γε as in έγωγε έμοιγε, but that clitic seems to be restricted to only three or four forms. Still, it might give -γε αυτότατος > γαυτόδατ gautodat?)

Eating verbs

January 18th, 2010
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Recently, I’ve been looking a bit at the development of Vulgar Latin into modern Romance languages, including how words changed meanings.

So, for example, the word for “head” in some languages derives from a word for “pot”; the word for “liver” from “figgy” or “fig-stuffed”; and so on.

One of those changes is “to eat”, which in some languages (e.g. French manger, Italian mangiare, Romansh mangiar) derives from manducare, which (I gather) originally meant something along the lines of “chew” or perhaps “gnaw”.

So I thought that for Engadinese, I might derive the basic “eating” verb from an Ancient Greek meaning “chew”.

So I turned to my trusty Langenscheidt German–Greek dictionary, looked up “kauen”, and found—τρώγω.

Imagine my disappointed when I saw that Modern Greek had beat me to the punch! (Because that’s the basic verb for “eat” nowadays, either in that form or, perhaps more commonly, in the shortened form τρώω. Its aorist stem is φαγ-, though, which harkens back to the suppletive aorist 2 stem  of the basic Ancient Greek verb εσθίω.)

Ah well 🙂

Stress in Engadinese

January 7th, 2010
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One of the things I was never really happy with in Engadinese was the fact that Greek has a fair number of words with stress on the final syllable—this resulted in a language with a rather different feel from Romansh since all the dropping-unstressed-final-syllable thing didn’t work as pervasively.

Most importantly, a word such as σοφός could not really give σοφ or the like, so I settled on something like σοφό—but then you have masculine/neuter words ending on consonant or stressed omicron, which seemed odd to me. Similarly, contract verbs with their final stress also didn’t act much like non-contract verbs.

So, perhaps something that I could do would be to do a wholesale stress change, to make Greek stress more Latinate, before going on to do sound changes.

That’s not unheard-of; after all, that’s what happened at some point in Proto-Germanic, where the PIE accent turned into a stem-initial stress. And, though I know less about such things, presumably also more or less what happened on the way from Proto-Slavic (with, presumably, variable stress) to Polish with its fixed penultimate stress.

It would also be interesting to see what changes to inflectional morphology (and indeed, to the entire feel of the language) such a stress change would bring about. (For instance, it might be easier to merge final -η with -α if the final syllable is never stressed.)

I think I’d have to study Latin stress a bit more carefully first, in order to get a bellyfeel for it.

Engadinese would, of course, not have no final stress; it would almost certainly acquire it through dropping of formerly-final syllables. (See e.g. Romansh -ziún from -TIÓNEM.)

Possessives in Engadinese

January 7th, 2010
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One of the problems in Engadinese is how to form the possessive.

In modern Romance languages, of course, this is typically accomplished with a preposition derived from Latin DE. The question then becomes, how to do this in Engadinese?

We can’t turn to Modern Greek for help, because the genitive is still alive and well there. And Ray called my first attempt, από, unsatisfactory, instead proposing εκ for TAKE. So that’s one possibility.

But a thought came through my mind: why not look at how other languages do this—specifically, non-Romance languages? And even more specifically, Maltese?

If I recall Bonġornu! Kif int? correctly, the Maltese possessive particle ta’ comes from a construction with an Arabic noun mata‘ or similar, meaning something along the lines of “possession”—so something like il-kiteb ta’ ommi “my mother’s book” comes from something like al-kitāb mata‘ ’ummi “the book, the possession of my mother”.

So perhaps that might be an idea worth following up. Though Greek does not, of course, have the construct state that inspired this construction in Maltese.

But perhaps it’ll lead to something more “organic” than just using εκ.

Engadine = Änzip

April 24th, 2009
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I think I may have a name for the Engadine in Engadinese itself: Änzip. (That’s the “Romansh” spelling; “Croatian” would be Æncip and the native spelling Αίντθηπ < Αίνος “Inn” + κήπος “garden”. Pronounced  /’Ents)ip/ or thereabouts.) That’s assuming that *ki- > tsi- (as in rm-rg “citad” < CIVITATEM, for example).

I’m still not sure how to derive language names, though, so I don’t have a good word for “Engadinese” yet. Two possibilities I’ve considered are -ιστί (> -ští?) and -ικός/-ικώς/-ική (> -ič? -ičó? -ičús? -ić-?). Though something parallel to “Romansh” is still appealing, i.e. derived from “Hellenic” or “Attic” or “Koine” or “Ionic” or “Byzantine” or whatever.

Hm. I wonder what would make a good language-name morpheme à la -ish or -ese in English.

Categories: Engadinese Tags:

Nominative and the -s

March 27th, 2009
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It seems that the “predicative -s” in Surselvan as well as the -i/-ai ending of masculine plural participles may derive from the old nominative ending.

Other relics of the nominative case are in nouns denoting humans, such as um/hom itself (< HOMO)

And -s is, in general, retained most where it has morphological function (as a verb or noun ending); less commonly in words such as prepositions or adverbs.

Romansh apparently typically drops all final vowels except -a, which accounts for the vowelless first person singular (chant < CANTO).

And there’s the *P T K > b d g intervocalically thing again that was mentioned in the email. And the palatalisation of word-initial ga- ca- (hardly in the west, in stressed position in the center, and commonly in the east).

And apparently impersonal i is from ILLI.

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Two ös?

March 27th, 2009
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If I’m going to have two es ([e] vs [ɛ]), I wonder whether I should also have two ös ([ø] vs [œ]).

And if so, how to represent them.

For the e sounds, I have e vs ä (ε and αι in “Greek”, e and æ in “Croatian”, and е and ӕ in “Serbian”, though I suppose э might also be a candidate).

For ö, I currently only have ö (οι in “Greek”, ø in “Croatian”, and ө in “Serbian”).

If I’m going to separate them, œ seems like the obvious character for the open sound in “Romansh” and “Croatian”, though I could simply go the “underspecified” route. I’m not sure sure about the other orthographies, though an οιωι opposition in “Greek” seems like a possibility. “Serbian” is perhaps the most problematic, in part since I don’t know how the sounds are typically represented in languages using the Cyrillic script. Perhaps one of ӧ ӫ ё ұ.

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Future, past, open and closed e

March 27th, 2009
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Synthetic future and past

So, after reading some more in Rätoromanisch, I see that Ladin *here* has a synthetic future and preterite… so maybe I should resurrect the Ancient Greek future and aorist, respectively, if I want to be like that.

On the other hand, Ricarda Liver notes that:

Das Altsurselvische besaß (wie heute noch das Ladin) synthetische Präteritalformen. Die Geschichte dieses Aspekts des Verbalsystems ist bis heute nicht geschrieben. Es stellt sich die Frage, ob die genannten Präteritalformen je in der gesprochenen Sprache geläufig waren oder ob sie lediglich ein Import (aus Italien?) auf der Ebene der Literatursprache waren.

Though it’s not clear to me whether she’s talking about the Old Surselvan preterite there or about all Romansh synthetic preterites.

Open and closed e

In her phonology of Surselvan, Liver notes that Surselvan has been described as having a vowel system of [i e ɛ a ɔ ʊ u], but that it’s not clear how many of those sounds are separate phonemes.

She says that it’s pretty clear that the “palatal side” is a “four-step system”, i.e. that there are four phonemic front vowels /i e ɛ a/ (with /a/ neutral wrt front/back), but that this is less clear on the “velar side”: there’s only one /o/ (phonetically [ɔ]), and the opposition of /u/ into [ʊ] and [u] is barely, if at all, phonemic: long /u/ tends to be [uː] while short /u/ tends to be [ʊ] (with the notable exception of cudisch [ˈkʊːdiʃ]).

For the opposition /e/ vs /ɛ/, she gives the following minimal pairs (quoting Spescha 1989:58):

pèr [pɛːr] ‚Paar‘ vs. pér [peːr] ‚Birne‘

pèz [pɛts] ‚Brust‘ vs. péz [pets] ‚(Berg)spitze‘

spert [ʃpɛrt] ‚rasch‘ vs. spért [ʃpert] ‚Geist‘

dètg [dɛc] ‚gehörig‘ vs. detg [dec] ‚gesagt‘.

Assuming I make a similar distinction, perhaps I could spell it with ä (open) vs. e (closed), since I more or less decided I’d have ä.

Prepositional accusative

In Ladin, it’s apparently common to use a preposition a, as in Spanish, before a direct object if it is [+animate], especially if it’s [+human].

Possibly consider doing something like that, too. (What’s a in Engadinese, anyway? Some reflex of eis, presumably?)

In summary

I think I could really do with a decent textbook on Vallader 🙂 Especially the phonology and morphology, ideally also the historical sound changes.

Book: Rätoromanisch

March 24th, 2009
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I bought the book Rätoromanisch on Sunday, and it arrived today.

Even from a brief look, I think it’s going to be useful in working on Engadinese.

Now what I need is a dictionary of Vallader (or, even better, a dictionary/dictionaries of all the idioms), together with a phonology of the various idioms. And, ideally, a sound change history and a grammar. (For example, apparently Ladin has a synthetic future, so Engadinese should maybe have one, too. I wouldn’t have known that since RG chucked it, together with other things that were not attested in all idioms.)

Rhaetian Latin

March 23rd, 2009
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The other day, someone posted in the “pub” of the Romansh Wikipedia asking about sound changes in Rhaetian Latin.

I asked him to email me about the information he had already since the topic interested me, and he gave me a quick dump of some information — very interesting! And I can imagine that it will influence Engadinese.

For example, he said that the umlauting of u to ü must have happened comparatively early, while vowel length was still phonemic, since only long us turned into ü. (Also, only long e merged with short i to i, and only short u with long o to u.)

Also, I’m beginning to think that my decision to introduce umlaut was probably wrong; that is, ö and ü should probably not derive from o and u that have a /j/ or /i/ in the next syllable (and ä not from a plus /j/ or /i/), but from other ways. For example, since /u/ is not overly common in Greek, perhaps I could make long υ into ü and short υ into u, and have ö derive only from οι. (Though length isn’t often marked for iota and upsilon, so I might have to do some more digging if I decide to split up upsilon by original length.) Perhaps having a straight αι οι υ -> ä ö ü mapping might be cleanest and easiest.

With ä being orthographical only, an etymological spelling; I don’t think the pronunciation will differ from e. Unless I introduce /æ/, or differentiate between /e/ and /ɛ/? But the latter would only make sense if I also differentiate between /ɔ/ and /o/, I think, which doesn’t seem likely just now. I think just having ä and e be the same is fine, whatever phonetic value (or range of values — apparently, both/e/ and /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ and /o/ are distinguished in Romansh in speech but not in writing) those symbols will have.

Eta (η) already goes to i, so I have the “long-e merges with short-i” part of Rhaetian Latin; perhaps now to move omega (ω) to u as well to match “long-o merges with short-u”? That would certainly have repercussions, I imagine.

-tio (and -ti- in general) was treated specially, it seems, but I’m not sure whether to take that into account, since that sequence of sounds doesn’t have the same wide distribution in Greek as it does in Latin.

He also mentioned lenition of p t c to v d g intervocalically.

There is also a v ~ b alternation where either sound can turn into the other. But Greek has no /v/, and I’m not sure whether to introduce a phonemic /v/ for Engadinese, so I’m not sure whether that will apply. (My current feeling is to have /b/ have allophones of [b] and [β], possibly even [v], but not as separate phonemes… perhaps something like [b]~[β] word-initially and before a consonant, and [β]~[v] intervocalically.)

(And a random thought from reading too much about Irish recently: introduce cool word-initial morphosyntactically-determined consonant mutations. But that would not be Romansh, so that’ll have to wait for another project.)

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,