Derivational Morphology

Boá: Ku túhúmol. Today I am going to talk a bit about some derivational morphology, used to change the part of speech of a word or in building new words from previously existing lexemes.

We’ve already seen a and -ef, used to indicate the patient and agent in a verb-noun compound. Thus mutíkana eater of clams and mutíkanef stuff eaten by clams. Yesterday we saw the weird word í, used to make an abstract sort of noun by fulfilling the subject of an existential intransitive verb, of sorts. (Again, I’m not entirely sure that this works, or that my terminology is correct.) There’s a few other ones I want to go over, today.

One is making something a verb. This is actually fairly easy, and is done by adding –ún. I’ve been thinking about different sorts of –ún, but I am undecided. (Examples would be: for verbs of exchange, for inchoatives, for ditransitives, in different phonological environments.)

It’s generally much easier to go the other way. A good way to make a noun that’s related to another noun is to put an infix on it. For instance, yáü fire, yáop flame. This is pretty undproductive – but I don’t like using that word for conlangs, because, effectively, I can kind of do whatever I want. Unproductive is a word that is only useful when people are cut off from making their own words in a language: as in, all of you. Say rather that this is actually prety unpredictable, and it changes some things sometimes. Why did the ü go away, there? Let’s, at this junction, say ‘phonological reasons’. This has happened a lot, actually. I tend to be very guilty in Llárriésh of not following the same rules for compounding and derivation. That should probably be changed, but I like it because it gives more reality to my conlang, I feel. I’m not sure I like how incredibly analysable many of the conlangs I’ve studied have been. A bit of random variation never hurt anyone.

Another reason is that I didn’t lay out the derivational morphology earlier for fear of trying to derive every possible word from the word, say, sea otter. I wanted a lot of arbitrary morphemes to work with (terminology check?). A third reason is that this takes a lot of time, laying out rules, and a lot of assumptions about where you want the language to go, which I wasn’t ready to commit to. This may have been an error in my process.

However, there were a few things that I decided early on. One of them is that, as said, verbs can be made easily. (By the way, if a noun or word has an aspectual marker attached to it, that remains in the verbing. So: yáopún to flame, but yáún to burn (note: not yaún to swim.) Another was that a particle can often be made by isolating an aspectual marker by itself: thus oho, a resultative marker for clauses as well as the resultative prefix.

And then there’s some new ones. Like, =óth makes a word an adverb (as far as possible.) Thus moan safe moánóth safely. =dá can likewise be used to make a word an adjective (yes, that’s a clipping of dáo.) As in, bóshung tempest bóshúngdá tempestuous. Both of these are suffixes. Another is =nák, as in mutíkanánák small stone used to eat clams. This is used for highlighting the instrumental object which is used – here, it’s a stone used by sea otters to crack them open. This is the same word used for a, say, oyster shucker. (Although that would technically be mutlopaníánák, as that is the word for oyster – this word is avoided in decent conversation, however, due to another definition of oyster that probably shouldn’t be shared here, but can be guessed at.)

And I’ll leave it there for today. There’s some fun stuff going on I didn’t talk about (and no, I don’t mean the amount of ..uh… dirt words), in today’s vocabulary, by the way – I mean the elbow/armpit stuff. Worth the read through.



  • ántwún v. to smile
  • avér n. wrist
  • avérgorr n. the inside of the elbow
  • avéruro n. the outside of the elbow
  • behna n. the foot or base of a wave
  • byórk n. anchor
  • doshgorr n. wave trough
  • doshkon n. wave wall, the mid-section of a wave
  • doshop n. a whitecap, the breaker on a wave
  • ébllefa n. messenger
  • éboún v. to announce
  • eérwa n. hunger
  • éllaún v. to cruise
  • gádot adj. wicked
  • goína n. feast
  • goínaún v. to feast
  • gorr n. acute angle, inside
  • grángorr n. armpit
  • gránuro n. the outside of the shoulder
  • húop n. thought
  • hurr n. throat
  • íllún v. to pretend
  • ithonún v. to mail, send something
  • karrt n. mode, way
  • kash n. pole
  • kiçhhún v. to cause pain
  • kúmini n. anchovie
  • lip n. window-gap
  • llakash n. fishing pole
  • llamiáh n. freshwater fish
  • loaún v. to portion out, mete
  • murrn n. old men
  • mutíkanef n. detritus, nutrients
  • mutíkanánák n. stone used to break open clams
  • mutlopanínák n. oyster shucker, cock
  • nee adj. any
  • needú pn. anything
  • ngullún v. to swallow
  • nolwosh n. past
  • pát n. mouse
  • póllli n. sargasso seaweed
  • rrü n. larch
  • shíçú n. cheek, crest of a wave, ridge
  • shíçúlluch n. cheek bone
  • shost n. destruction
  • shostún v. to destroy
  • shúwa n. bench
  • sïdní n. pubic hair
  • sllo n. wake, trail (after)
  • sllodhún v. to follow
  • sweéún v. to bloom
  • tagósh n. counter-current
  • tára n. memory
  • tarhúi pp. outside
  • tluchgorr n. crotch of a tree, body
  • tluchuro n. fork, derivation
  • torósh n. current
  • úkti adj. final
  • úkti í n. finality
  • úktiún v. to finish
  • unuóï adj. long (temporal)
  • uroka n. obtuse angle, outside
  • útrí n. fox
  • yáopún v. to flame
  • yúçna n. pillar
  • ʔah adj. fresh

§ Rrí, I have three more days. That means I need to translate another 300 words of my story, translate/rewrite the poem I plan to use, and present a conversation. I also need to provide another 200+ lexemes. This is a tough order, but I think I can do it. Luckily, August has 31 days, so I can technically take 31 if I like (although I didn’t start on the first, I started on the 4th.) It means that my day off tomorrow will probably be entirely taken up by Llárriésh, for one. It also means that I will be done within the week, which is fantastic, as my sister is getting married this weekend and I won’t have any time to do this. I will be moving the content of this blog, comments and all, to when that occurs. I hope that you’ll stay with me: I’ll shift the aggregator over, too, don’t worry.

Today was a fun day to write. Should have done this ages ago. But now I have a really solid base to work on, when I go over and edit this thing. And now i know better what to do, and what not to do.

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  1. Posted August 31, 2010 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    It is useful to think in terms of the internal and external histories of a conlang. From an internal perspective, it makes perfect sense to speak of unproductive affixes. Vaior has at least one (maybe two) unproductive derivational suffixes, for when I wanted a derivation from a particular word, and nothing else quite matched. I think I may have used them a few times on new lexical items, leaving an obsolete (from the internal perspective) root.

    • Posted September 1, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      That’s a good point. Will work on that.

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