Lodeen

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Background

Inspiration

Lodeen is a joking attempt at an auxlang, intended as an experiment to see what would a simple language to learn and speak be like if everyone was like me. But it was quickly boring so I tried to complexify it a little bit.

Setting

Phonology

Lodeen's phonemic inventory is comprised of 15 phonemes :

Consonants

Consonantal phonemes
Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n
Stop p t k
Fricative f s
Approximant w l j

Vowels

Vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

The obstruents have two allophonic realizations : they are voiceless in word-initial and word-final positions, and voiced otherwise.

There is no phonological lengthening of vowels or gemination of consonants.

Phonotactics

The syllabic structure is (C)(C)V(V)(C)(C), where V and (V) can be any vowel ; any sole consonant can appear in the onset, and in the coda any sole consonant but /w/. But the constraints on consonants clusters, which can't exceed two consonants, differ depending on the position in the word :

• Word-initial consonants clusters can be comprised of :

– a plosive followed by /s/, /l/ or /j/ (except */t/ + /l/) ;
– /s/ followed by any plosive ;
– /f/ followed by /j/ or /l/ ;
– /l/ followed by /j/.
Thus, consonants clusters allowed in word-initial position are : /ps/, /pl/, /pj/, /ts/, /tj/, /ks/, /kl/, /kj/, /sp/, /st/, /sk/, /fl/, /fj/, /mj/, /nj/, /lj/.

• Word-final consonants clusters can be :

/kt/, /st/, /sk/, /lt/, /lk/.

• Finally, there are intra-word consonants clusters. They can be comprised of :

– /p/ or /k/ followed by any consonant except /w/ ;
– /t/ followed by /p/, a fricative, or /j/ ;
– /f/ followed by /l/ or /j/ ;
– /s/ followed by any consonant except /j/ or /w/ ;
– /m/ followed by any consonant except /n/ or /w/ ;
– /n/ followed by a fricative, /t/, /k/ or /j/ ;
– /l/ followed by any consonant except /w/ ;
– /j/ followed by any consonant except /w/.
Thus, consonants clusters allowed inside a word (in non-initial, non-final position) are : /pt/, /pk/, /pf/, /ps/, /pl/, /pj/ ; /kp/, /kt/, /kf/, /ks/, /kl/, /kj/ ; /tp/, /tf/, /ts/, /tj/ ; /fl/, /fj/ ; /sp/, /st/, /sk/, /sf/, /sm/, /sn/, /sl/ ; /mp/, /mt/, /mk/, /mf/, /ms/, /ml/, /mj/ ; /nt/, /nk/, /nf/, /ns/, /nj/ ; /lp/, /lt/, /lk/, /lf/, /ls/, /lm/, /ln/, /lj/ ; /jp/, /jt/, /jk/, /jf/, /js/, /jm/, /jn/, /jl/.

Phonetics

Ideally :

Plosives are not aspirated ; generally, the VOT occurs early in Lodeen, and voiced plosives are voiced all throughout due to their position in the word. The plosives [p] and [b] are bilabial. The plosives [t̪] and [d̪] are "dental" or more exactly pronounced with the blade of the tongue about the alveola and the apex slightly touching the teeth. They get slightly affricated before /i/ or /j/ but not in a very noticeable way, at least in the standard variety. The plosives [k] and [g] are velar, and slightly palatalized before /i/ and /j/ but not to the extent that they would become [c]/[ɟ]. The fricatives [f] and [v] are labio-dental, realized with the upper teeth touching the lower lip, slightly from behind. The fricatives [s] and [z] are realized with a similar configuration as /t/ and /d/, probably slightly more retracted. They are not noticeably palatalized before /i/, at least in the standard variety. The approximant [l] is realized in a rather apical and alveolar manner ; it is slightly velarized after/before back, rounded vowels. The approximant [j] is palatal, the approximant [w] is labio-velar. Concerning vowels, high vowels [i] and [u] tend to weaken a bit in atonic position. The open vowel [ä] is rather centralized. The mid vowels present an allophony between open and closed : they're realized [e] and [o] in an open syllable (no coda), but [ɛ] and [ɔ] in a closed syllable (ending with a consonant coda). This is more especially true when it's a word-final syllable. That allophony is never showed in current transcriptions. There is an assimilation of the nasal [n̪] (realized more or less like /t/ and /d/) in [ŋ] before /k/, but it keeps its place of articulation before other consonants. The nasal [m] is bilabial. If you are familiar with modern, standard French, the phonetic realizations are basically the same.

Orthography

Lodeen has its own script which is ideally phonemic, with one graph representing one phoneme of the language. However, here will be discussed its romanization, which similarly employs one letter of the Latin alphabet for one phoneme. There are three usual variants, depending on the phonemic analysis one makes.

Official Standard

As can be seen in the Phonology section, there are fifteen phonemes, including ten consonants, with voiceless segments chosen as representing the obstruent phonemes. Accordingly to that analysis, the romanization always employs the following graphs when writing these phonemes :

/p/ = < p >
/t/ = < t >
/k/ = < k >
/f/ = < f >
/s/ = < s >

The rest of the Latin alphabet for Lodeen in the official standard is :

/m/ = < m >
/n/ = < n >

/w/ = < w >
/l/ = < l >
/j/ = < y >

/a/ = < a >
/e/ = < e >
/i/ = < i >
/o/ = < o >
/u/ = < u >

Alphabet

The Lodeen alphabet in its own alphabetical order :

A E I O U M N P T K F S L Y W

Alternate Standard

Another analysis of Lodeen phonemic structure has proposed that, synchronically, it makes more sense to consider the underlying representation of the obstruents is that of voiced ones, and thus uses in the romanization the "voiced" counterparts of the official standard. Thus instead of < p >, < t >, < k >, < f >, < s >, we have < b >, < d >, < g >, < v >, < z >, respectively.

Mixed Standard

That last standard tries to give a more "phonetic" romanization of Lodeen, although only the allophony between voiced and voiceless obstruents is actually considered. That standard uses the letters p, t, k, f, s, in the beginning and the end of the words (where the obstruents are voiceless) and the letters b, d, g, v, z, inside a word (where they are voiced).

However, the official standard is the most widely used and will be the only one used on this page.

A few examples of Lodeen written in Latin alphabet (official standard) :

Lekuan (ne) pankim yemkoyol.
"The dog is eating a bone"

Kato tame niwamile.
"My cat is grey"

Grammar

Morphology

Lodeen can be said to be an agglutinative language, with both prefixes and suffixes.

Nouns

The noun is marked for number and definiteness. Concerning number, there is an opposition singular/plural, the plural being marked with the thematic vowel /i/, either as the suffix -i { -i/C_ ~ -j/V_ } if the word doesn't have a prefix, or inserted in the thematic vowel position of a prefix, if there's one. It will usually be in the definite prefix, or in the first prefix if there's no definite prefix. Also, if there's a thematic gender vowel /a/ or /u/, it combines with the plural vowel : -ja/-ju in a prefix, -aj/-uj as a suffix, -ja/-ju as a suffix after a vowel ending. As for definiteness, it is often marked by the prefix -le ; but it is usually unmarked when the speaker assumes it's given, part of the common ground, that the listener knows what particular instance object of the universe is referred to.

Gender is not considered a category of the noun proper, as it is never obligatory and usually restrained to animated beings whose sex or gender the speaker wants to precise. The thematic vowels /a/ (feminine) and /u/ (masculine) are then suffixed to the noun, or inserted in a prefix.

Examples :

PAN : "a person" → PANA : "a woman" ; PANUY : "(some) men"
KEPAN : "a child" → KYAPAN : "(some) girls"
LEPAN : "the person" → LEKIPAN : "the children"

Verbs

Verbs can be active or stative. Stative verbs will usually conjugate only for tense, but active verbs will usually be conjugated for aspect as well.

Tense

There are three temporal categories, past, present and future. They are marked with thematic vowels : /e/ for past, /o/ for present, and /i/ for future, which are inserted in the verbal suffix -Vl, where V is a thematic vowel.

Thus, we have the verb "to be" which presents the forms STOL (present), STEL (past) and STIL (future).

Aspect

Aspect describes the degree of progression of a process. There are three aspectual categories in Lodeen :

• Inchoative : the process is starting or just about to start ; it is marked by dropping the final -l of the verbal suffix and adding the suffix -yen. For instance, MUKOL "eat.PR" will become MUKOYEN "eat-PR-INCH", "begin to eat", "be about to eat" ;
• Progressive : the process is being realized ; it is marked similarly by dropping the final -l and adding the suffix -yol. For instance, MUKEYOL "eat-PAST-PROG" "was/were eating" ;
• Perfective : the process is achieved and it is marked by dropping the final -l and adding the suffix -yka. Thus we have MUKIYKA "eat-FUT-PERF" "will have eaten".

Aspect is not always marked though, even on active verbs. When there is no marking for aspect, it can mean different values : for instance, in the present, it will usually correspond to an habitual present, or a gnomic present.

Modalities

There are no verbal modes as morphological marks, but modal adverbs to indicate modalities. Other verbal categories such as evidentiality, polarity... are also indicated by adverbs. For instance, negation is indicated with such an adverb, the modal adverb NEWIN.

Negation

The modal adverb NEWIN is used for negation. It is placed before the subject and the conjugated verb.

Ex. : NEWIN SE AYEYOL, "he didn't agree".

Interrogation

On the other hand, questions are built with the interrogative particle KSA. For a yes/no question, it is simply placed at the beginning of the sentence, which is otherwise regular. For other types of questions, the particle is also placed at the beginning of the sentence, but a question word is added at the end.

Ex. : KSA MOT KAWOK LAOFOL ? "do you like chocolate ?" lit. question you chocolate like ? Ex. : KSA KATO TON ? "where is the cat ?" lit. question cat where ?

Adjectives

Most adjectives are derived from nouns by adding the suffix -le (-ele after a consonant). In the most standard dialect of Lodeen they must agree in number and "gender" with the noun they qualify. They can be used for adjectival predication, in which case there is no need for a copula, for they will carry the temporal information as well : in the present the usual form of the adjective is used, in the past an -l suffix is added, and in the future, an -i replaces the -e :

• KYUL ASELE : "(the) sky (is) blue"
• KYUL ASELEL : "(the) sky (was) blue"
• KYUL ASELI : "(the) sky (will be) blue"
Definiteness was not marked here as it would be considered obvious which sky the speaker is referring to.

To express intensity (very X), reduplication is used : generally, the first syllable or the first morpheme of the root is reduplicated. In the written language there would usually be only one such reduplication but in spoken language the speaker may repeat the same segment more than twice to express ever greater intensity. Reduplication is also used in positive comparison (more X than).

For example : "red" : LUTELE becomes LULUTELE "very red", "more red".

Adverbs

Adverbs are usually derived from noun or verb stems with the suffix -in (-win after a vowel). They are usually placed after the verb.

Derivational morphology

There is a rather important derivational morphology in Lodeen. Often, prefixes are used to create new lexical content, whereas suffixes will modify the grammatical category of a word.

List of prefixes

il- : pejorative
nye- : privative
pya- : meliorative
ke- : diminutive
sku- : causative
le- : indicates definiteness

List of suffixes

-a : indicates feminine
-ef : forms a noun from a verb
-i {-i ; -y} : indicates plural
-in {-in ; -win} : forms an adverb, usually from a noun
-il : agentive suffix
-Vl : forms a verb from a noun
-u : indicates masculine
-nta : under, into
-nka : akin to English “-less”
-mpule : akin to English “-ful(l)”
-le {-le ; -ele ; -e} : forms an adjective, usually from a noun
-lt {-lt ; -elt} : forms a noun, from an adjective

Syntax

Constituents order

The canonical order of complements is Subject-Complement-Object-Verb (SOV). This order is kept for example in negative and interrogative sentences.

Lodeen mostly uses postpositions.

Head and complement order

Adjectives usually appear after nouns and adverbs after verbs. They can appear in front for stylistic/pragmatic reasons, which sometimes lead to different shades of meaning depending on that placement.

Genitive construction

The genitive construction is comprised of a Possessor noun, a Possessed noun, and a genitive pronoun agreeing with the possessor and placed right after it. The unit Possessor noun + genitive pronoun can appear either before or after the Possessed noun.