Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Relative clauses

Relative clauses are formed much like normal sentences. You only leave out the topic, as that is the word preceeding it, and end with an "end relative clause"-conjunction, that I have yet to come up with.

, p V C1 C2...Cn c,

It will be surrounded by commas, and (if I haven't been clear enough on that) it follows the noun it modifies. This is the only way to describe nouns, but it is a very versatile and potentially simple way, as I intend to have a zero copula.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Phonology change and spelling reform

I thought my phonology was pretty much set in stone, but I can't bring myself to keep the distinction between glottal stop onset and zero onset. It's going out! And with it goes the grapheme <‘> - which I have also realized is the wrong codepoint; I've been using is U+2018 "Left single quotationmark", when I should have been using U+02BB "Modifier letter turned comma" (or ʻokina). Very embarrassing as I consider myself one to know better about such things.

But that is the past. I won't be using either. From now on the glottal stop is unmarked as it is the realization of zero onset. The name of the language will therefore be spelled Mhmmz, but the pronounciation is the same. Luckily I haven't much vocabulary, but the few words I have will no longer distinguish glottal stop and zero onset.

The spelling reform is somewhat related to this issue. As <f, k, x> can be both onset and coda of a syllable, in words of multiple syllables I wan't to be able to show when this is the case. I will use a simple apostrophe (not ʻokina, for ease of typing) where the sound is in the coda position. For example the words mxnnz will potentially be a different word from mx'nnz, and so will mkfqql and mk'fqql.

So the rule is: When you come across a intervocalic consonant cluster as many consonants as possible/allowed are read as the onset of the second syllable. Unless an apostrophe is used, in which case this is where the syllables break.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Sentence Structure

Let's look a bit into the sentence structure of the language. Again here is a bit of asian influence as sentences start with a topic (T), then comes a particle (p), then the verb (V) and the remaining complements and adverbials (C1 C2...Cn):

T p V C1 C2...Cn
For simplicity, so far all T's and C's consist of NP's (noun phrases) which I have talked a bit about in the post on reduplication. I haven't worked too much on the NP's yet, and there will probably also be a way to make complement clauses, but those are subjects of a different blogpost.

Back to sentence syntax. The particle is the fun part. It shows the tense, mood and voice of the verb. There are two tenses: future and non-future. And I still haven't decided on what moods to include, but maybe something like realis, irrealis, interrogative and imperative. That's as far as I will go into that for now.

The interesting part is the voicemarking. You can also think of it as marking the case of the topic, because it shows the topics role in the sentence. There are five voices in ‘Mhmmz:

Active (ACT)
Passive (PASS)
Dative (DAT)
Instrumental/genitive (INS)
Locative/temporative (LOC)

Active shows that the topic is the subject or agent of the sentence, as in "I run" or "He kicks the ball". And passive that the topic is the patient of the sentence, as in "It was given to me" or "This coffee, I like". Those are pretty conventional.

Now, dative is not normally a voice, but it is here. It shows that the topic is the indirect object of the sentence, for example "Peter was given a present". The next ones have multiple functions: The instrumental/genitive may mark the instrument of the sentence ("With the pencil he wrote a letter"), or that the topic is the possessor of one of the other complements ("The pencil has a dull tip" or "About the pencil, its tip is dull"). And finally the locative/temporative marks time and/or place, which I find pretty natural as they are often mixed up, as in "At the wedding he danced a lot" or "Now I am tired" or "There I will go next summer".

I'm sorry I haven't got any in-language examples, but it's simply not that developed yet, for which I have only myself to blame. I'm off to a party now, have a nice weekend guys (and gals).

Sunday, 27 May 2012


I've been working on the script for quite a while and now I have finally organised my scribbles and scanned them in. First a sample, so you can get a feel of it:

The name of the language (‘Mhmmz) in the ‘Mhmmz script
The asian inspiration should be obvious, and I think that goes well with the tonal nature of the language. I have tried to mimic, mix and match (and even shamelessly stolen a bit from) scripts such as tibetan, devanagari, chinese, katakana, hiragana, hangul, tamil, mongolian and possibly many more. It is written vertically - another very asian feature - from top to bottom in rows from right to left.

Now let's break down the word into its individual parts:

Analysis of the word ‘Mhmmz
The yellow things are punctuation: The first two circumflex-like things mean "begin paragraph", and the last vertical line means "end paragraph". I know. It's a very short paragraph.

Each syllable is enclosed in a 7-shaped bracket; the green ones in the image. Or if there is no onset simply a vertical line. This is from devanagari- and tibetan-influence.

The red characters are the vowels m and mm respectively. See how the shape of the long vowel symbol is derrived from the short vowel symbol? All long vowels of the script are, but each of them is derived somewhat randomly. But I guess this makes the script featural. At least a bit like hangul.

The bright blue character is the onset of the second syllable (h), and you may wonder where the onset of the first syllable () is. It is not written directly, but the horizontal line of the syllable-bracket alone stands in for it. And as mentioned no onset is marked otherwise.

The purple curl at the end marks the tone, and so does the absence of a curl in the first syllable. I think you get the point of how this script works. Now jump in to get the full alphabet.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I plan on handling most of the morphology by means of different types of reduplication.

First we have full reduplication: When used with nouns it indicates a sort of plurality or paucality. But either form can be used with any number with differences in accuracy. For example knz is the word for drop (of water). On its own it is transnumeral:

"(a) drop" or "(some) drops"

Used with a numeral it is a specific number of drops:

knz hmj
drop one
"one drop"

knz kxqj
drop seven
"seven drops"

Reduplicated and on its own it is plural:

"(many) drops" (althoug in fact lexicalized to "rain")

But when the reduplicated form is used with a numeral it means about [this many] or at least [this many].

knzknz hmj
drop-PL one
"some drops" or "few drops"

knzknz gnjf
drop-PL twelve
"a dozen drops"

More reduplication after the jump...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


‘Mhmmz used to have a duodecimal number system (base-12), but now they have changed over to a decimal system (base-10, like ours). This is by influence from some other language, that I have yet to come up with. There are still traces of the old duodecimal system: 11, 12 and some multiples of 12 have retained their old names.

Here are the numbers:
1 hmj
2 xnz
3 qz
4 ‘ml
5 kvn
6 fmj
7 kxqj
8 gmz
9 hnl
10 km
11 ‘mz
12 gnjf

These are the basic numbers, and also what they used in their duodecimal system, but from 13 it becomes decimal:

13 km-qz
14 km-‘ml
15 km-kvn
...and so on.

The tens are marked with a suffixed -k:

20 xnzk
30 qzk
40 ‘mlk
...and so forth.

Exceptions and bigger numbers after the jump...


Why invent such a language?
I was inspired by the words spelled uhuh and uh-uh and mean 'yes' and 'no' respectively. So I thought how would a language made up of solely nasal sounds be? And ‘Mhmmz is my answer to that question.

Why would people speak such a language?
I imagine it spoken by a sect, that wants to rid themselves of all opinion. They gave up speaking, because that way they avoid anyone quoting them for having an opinion. Some of the extremists even sew their mouths shut, leaving only enough room for a straw of bamboo, through which they could eat mashed foods.

But they couldn't keep it up, so eventually they started communicating in this language. Although if you asked them, they would deny that it is language (I'm going to make ‘Mhmmz mean 'non-language'). (And, yes, denying that what they speak is language, is opinion: I didn't say that they didn't have opinion, that's just their ideal, but most of them can't live up to it)