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LotM - Mar 18: Proto-Dingirmeš
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Merry March, and congratulations to Arcaeca for his amazing language Proto-Dingirmeš! Inspired by extinct language families of the ancient Near East, Proto-Dingirmeš has a fantastic cuneiform script and a load of weird and cool grammatical features to boot.
This public article was written by Admin Sheep, and last updated on 5 Mar 2018, 01:01.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Phonology 2. Orthography 3. Morphology 4. Syntax 5. More on Proto-Dingirmeš 6. A Note on LOTM Merry March, and congratulations to @Arcaeca for his amazing language  Proto-Dingirmeš! Inspired by extinct language families of the ancient Near East, Proto-Dingirmeš has a fantastic cuneiform script and a load of weird and cool grammatical features to boot. Much like the Egyptian family of languages in our world, today the Dingirmeš languages survive with a single extant member used by a small and persecuted minority. This conlang shows plenty of cool Sumerian and Elamite influences, and you can read all about it below!

[top]Phonology

Proto-Dingirmeš has an an unusual and very stop-heavy phonology. There are two dental stops, /t d/, and a whopping four each labial and velar stops, /p pʷ pʰ pʰʷ k kʷ kʰ kʰʷ/. The romanization scheme is interesting to match, with rounded /pʷ kʷ/ being written as < b g >, and aspirates receiving an under- or over-bar. The nasal inventory sticks to more common sounds, /m n ŋ/, each romanized as their IPA symbols. There are two fricatives, /s ʃ/, romanized as < s š >. Finally, the language has two liquids /l ɾ/, romanized as < l r >. The vowels are much simpler: /i u ɛ ɑ/, romanized < i u e a >, with each of the high vowels being allophonically nasalized before a nasal consonant. Proto-Dingirmeš phonotactics allow CVC syllables, but the sounds /ŋ ɾ/ cannot appear in the onset.

[top]Orthography

The Proto-Dingirmeš script is probably the most detailed and fantastic aspect of the language. One could write a whole article about it, and in fact, Arcaeca has. The script is cuneiform in look, and mostly functions as an abugida or alphasyllabary, where base consonant letters combine with vowel diacritics to form CV sequences. These diacritics typically resemble the standalone letter for the same vowel, but take different forms depending on the shape of the consonant. For instance, in the box-like glyphs for /kʷ/ and /m/, the vowel diacritic appears inside the box, whereas for the CV /k/ and /ʃ/ glyphs, the vowel is attached to the left of the glyph. There are two different glyphs for each of /n k s ʃ/: one denotes CV sequences and the other denotes VC sequences. Because /ŋ ɾ/ are not permitted in the onsets, their glyphs are always pronounced VC rather than CV. Finally, there are twenty special logographs, some of which have special grammatical functions such as the agentive suffix or the copula, and others which denote basic concepts like "person", "house", or "water".

[top]Morphology

The Proto-Dingirmeš alignment system is based on the rarely-seen tripartite morphosyntactic alignment. On top of the regular cases for transitive subject and intransitive object, there are two separate absolutive cases, one used for the active voice and the other for the passive. The result is a cool mix of fluid-S and tripartite alignment. In addition to those four cases, we also have a dative, locative, and prepositional case. Nouns decline not just for case, but also have a feminine or masculine gender, and can show plural via reduplication, similar to Sumerian.

Proto-Dingirmeš verbs don't mark the subject or object, but they do show a variety of agglutinative affixes, including imperative mood, negative polarity, and a wide variety of non-finite forms, including infinitives and verbal nouns.

[top]Syntax

Let's wrap it all up with Proto-Dingirmeš syntax. The basic clause syntax is SOV and strongly head-final, with adjectives preceding nouns, possessors preceding possessed nouns, and degree words preceding the modified adjectives. Finally, one of the coolest aspects of Proto-Dingirmeš is the syntax of possession: instead of using a genitive case, construct state, preposition, postposition, or pronominal case, Proto-Dingirmeš only uses compounding.

[top]More on Proto-Dingirmeš

If you want more on Proto-Dingirmeš, check out its articles, LexiBuild sets, or translations. Make sure to listen to the recorded translations as well!

[top]A Note on LOTM

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Proto-Dingirmeš that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (phi2dao, argyle, protondonor, or Avlönskt) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!

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