Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Diinlang 2.0 Participles

When creating a conlang a common strategy is to avoid inflecting verbs. This is a logical approach, since it makes a language much easier to learn. There are, of course, other approaches. Esperanto goes for lots of suffixes!
With Diinlang I aimed for uninflected verbs, but hit a bit of a wall. To be really useful most verbs need progressive and perfect tenses. Many conlangs neglect these.
In English the progressive and continuous forms are created by the suffix “-ing”, as in “running, hoping, laughing, singing”. Unusually for English, this is a rule that applies to all verbs, without exceptions. The “-ing” form is also the active/present participle: used as an adverb and adjective, and forms the gerund, a noun derived from a verb. The progressive form is commonly used instead of the simple present for many dynamic English verbs.
For regular English verbs the perfect is the same as the simple past tense form, and ends in “-ed” In many commonly used verbs it ends in “-en” or may take other forms, such as ending in “-t”. The perfect form is also used as the past/ passive participle for creating adverbs and adjectives, and may be used for nouns.
This gives us considerable nuance. Consider: “the open door”. “the opening door” and “the opened door!” or “We can help the falling, but not the fallen!”
This suggested that a verb in Diinlang needed a simple, continuous and perfect form.
The main way to express tense in Diinlang is using a short word before the verb. In another post I discussed that a distinct past form of some verbs would be useful. If “te” is to be used as the preverbal marker, it can also be added to the end of a verb, giving a final, past-sounding word. In many languages the perfect or continuous tense of a verb is not just signified by a particular verb form, but also by the use of an auxiliary verb. For many English verbs the word for the perfect and simple past are the same, and they are distinguished by the perfect using “to have” as an auxiliary. For Example: “I carry; I carried; I have carried”. Continuous use of English verbs always accompanies the -ing form with “to be” used as an auxiliary: “I am carrying” not “I carrying”.
The equivalent verbs in Diinlang are “bi/bite” and “av/avte”. Using a dummy verb for an example, we have a simple past of either ze te VERB or ze VERBte, a continuous tense of ze bi VERB and a perfect of ze av VERB. Potentially we could write ze av VERBte, but this is a redundancy. The tenses are distinct, without the need to worry about the verb form.
All this is very simple, but what about those other useful applications of the -ing and perfect forms? Unlike English, the present and past participles, gerunds etc will need a different form. Many languages do this already. Hogben argues that there is merit in having the amplifiers (adverbs, abstract nouns and adjectives) of a language as distinct, giving a reader a clearer idea of which are the nouns and verbs being modified. Having the participles as separate forms to the verbal is not as simple as English, but may contribute towards greater ease of use.
For the active/present participle I propose taking the bare infinitive of the root verb and adding the suffix “-in”. I actually adapted this from Molee’s proposal for past-participles, who suggested -en or -n. Some active participles may become VERBn rather than VERBin once I work out some simple rules. English uses “-ing” for this while many other languages use a variation of “-end(e)/-ant(e)”, so phonetically this is easy to remember.
For the past/passive participle I propose using the prefix “-ge”. We already have “ge/gete” as an auxiliary verb that makes a clause passive: “ze ge VERB”, so VERBge is logical.
When used with an article or other relevant determiner the VERBin/VERBn and VERBge forms can be used as nouns or part of a noun phrase.

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