gwalla (gwalla) wrote,

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The conlanger's dilemma

I'm a bit blocked with regards to Ílion, the conlang I've been giving the most attention recently. I've already established that the Ílion people (a humanoid alien race in a space-fantasy universe I hope to use in a comic someday) have a thing for threes, which is reflected in the language: three verb voices, three noun genders, three moods, three tenses, three cases. It's the three cases that are bothering me. My original idea was to have an objective case (subject and objects--differentiated by word order), locative (location and direction of action), and oblique (for pretty much everything else). Possession would be marked by deriving an adjective from the possessor, which would modify the possessed. There would be several different adjectival derivations, for different forms of possession: ownership, part-of, comitative ("with"), association, etc. Clauses and verb phrases could be nominalized and put in any case: the objective for verb complements, the locative to show simultaneity of action, and the oblique for manner (like Latin's ablative oblique) and various other subordinating constructions.

Lately, though, I've become a little dissatisfied with the locative. It's really not all that useful as a separate case. So I've been thinking of dumping the possessive adjectives and replacing the locative with a good old-fashioned genitive case. Directions and locations would be expressed by the oblique with prepositions. The genitive could take prepositions to show different kinds of possession. Some prepositions could take either an oblique or a genitive, depending on whether it applies to the verb or another noun (e.g. the Ílion for "at" could be used with an oblique noun to show the location of the action, or with a genitive to show where a certain participant is located)--here, the genitive would be more of a general "noun that modifies another noun" case rather than a possessive case. I really like this idea.

However, I can't think of what a nominalized verb phrase would do in the genitive. Here's where my preference for symmetry kicks in--I want it to be possible to put a nominalized clause in any case and have it be usable. It annoys me that I can't make this fit, especially since one of my goals with this language is for it to have a fairly small, regular grammar that can be summarized clearly in about a page or two. I don't want many exceptions and special cases. I'm already kind of fudging things with the verb voices and tenses.

Decisions, decisions.
Tags: conlangs

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