LotM - Mar 19: Pava'pana
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Welcome to March and congratulations to our latest Language of the Month winner, jhstudios9's Pava'pana! Inspired by Hawai'ian and Japanese, Pava'pana ties together a cool conlang with an elaborate and unique culture expressed throughout the language. Read all about it in our Language of the Month article!
This public article was written by Admin Sheep on 1 Mar 2019, 03:59.
[comments] pawlotm mar 19lotm Pava'pana! Spoken in the world of Pa'oko, Pava'pana combines a Polynesian-inspired phonology and Japanese-inspired orthography with a gender system rooted in some very deep worldbuilding. Let's take a tour of Pava'pana!
[top]Phonology and orthography
Pava'pana presents a pleasingly Polynesianesque phonology. Its consonant inventory is small, with only 10 consonants, /m n p t k ʔ v h l w/. With the exception of /v/ <w̄> and /ʔ/ <ʻ >, they are written as in IPA. Only /ʔ/ can appear in the coda of a syllable, and typically only as part of a prefix, such as the diminutive kōʻ .
The vowels of Pava'pana are also a minimalist inventory, with only /a e o u/, which are transcribed <a ā o ō>. Outside the native vocabulary, /ɨ i/ also appear, and are transcribed <æ ǣ>.
While the romanization of Pava'pana is fairly simple yet quirky, it has a very interesting conscript based on Chinese logographs. Since each syllable in Pava'pana can stand for a specific meaning, they can each be assigned a logograph based on semantics. Many of these characters are assigned based on the meaning of the actual Chinese character, but some such as 彳 w̄ǣ /vi/ "theory, uncertain, to hypothesize" are assigned based solely on the visual form of the character (in this case resembling a lightbulb over a person's head). Around 8 bisyllabic words, mostly grammatical particles, also have single characters, assigned through similar means.
The morphology of Pava'pana mixes grammatical particles with a wide variety of word prefixes. Particles are used for certain core features, such as tense and possession. Most of Pava'pana's prefixes are derivational in nature, such as hāmaʻ "phobia", but the number of nouns is also shown via a prefix. There are prefixes for unspecified plural, paucal, and specific plural forms (e.g. "two stars"). In formal speech and written documents, words acting as verbs take the suffix -ʻona, while nouns, adjectives, adverbs and adpositions take -ʻana (although only the first element of an NP is marked as such). These suffixes are often dropped during casual speech, especially by younger speakers.
Pronouns are obligatory, and have separate possessive and reflexive forms, in addition to inflecting for person and in the third person, gender (more about that below). Pava'pana syntax is usually SVO and head-initial, but inversion to VOS word order is used to form questions. The copula is dropped in the present tense, but retained in all other tenses. Declarative sentences end with one of many evidential particles, ranging from direct witnessing an event to speaking without any evidence whatsoever.
[top]Sociolinguistics and culture
Where the Pava'pana language truly shines is in its elaborate link between culture and language. The society of Pa'oka does not put much importance on conventional gender categories like male and female, but considers social class to be paramount. There are 8 specific social classes in Pa'oka, and each one of them corresponds to a Pava'pana grammatical gender. In addition to a fascinating gender and class system, Pa'okan society also has its own lunar calendar, mythic origins, and Pava'pana even has a set of words and particles used to form URLs and describe websites. Unfortunately there's just too much about Pa'okan culture to describe it all here, so you'll have to read the articles!
[top]More on Pava'pana
That wraps up our tour of Pava'pana! There's loads more to read, so check out Pava'pana's LexiBuild sets, grammar tables, translations, and many articles!
[top]A Note on Pava'pana
Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Pava'pana that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (protondonor, Hastrica) 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! As March begins, let us celebrate our new language of the month,