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