Adjectives Group One.

Version 1.1

Adjectives continue to be a challenge. Probably the most logical approach is to break them into smaller bites. If lists of things such as suffixes must be memorized then it seems prudent to break them into “chunks” of seven or less.

Many constructed languages choose to mark adjectives and adverbs with distinct affixes. In fact, some of these only mark descriptive adjectives, using different systems or none at all for other types. Similarly, marked adverbs tend to be adverbs of manner.

In most natural and many constructed languages there are many adjective words that have no distinctive marking. Some of these words also serve as verbs or nouns. Function is indicated by position and context. If the role of a word can be determined in this fashion also marking the word seems redundant and an unnecessary source of errors.

Many adjectives are formed by compounding words.

A large number of adjectives or words that serve as adjectives in English are derived from the active, perfect or passive forms of verbs. Examples include “opening, running, wooden, winged” and many others. For Diinlang I feel it is easier to use these in a single form rather than switching suffix depending on whether the word is serving as a verb, gerund, adverb, adjective etc. In Diinlang these verb-derived “adjectivoids” will end in “-ing/ -ying” or “-d/ -id”. The progressive/ active forms might be termed “adjectives of doing” while the perfect/ passive are probably “adjectives of having/ being”.

The above suggests that it is unlikely that a single suffix can be used for all adjectives, even if it is limited to only descriptive adjectives. More logical is to use affixes only when it is necessary to indicate that an adjective is a particular variant or when adjectival nature needs to be emphasised.

Several conlangs opt to use “-al” as a generic adjective suffix since this is also used by a number of natlangs. In English this suffix is more specific and indicates adjectives “of or pertaining to the root”. The suffix “-ic” has an identical use in English, and some adjectives even have “-ical” as a suffix, although the “ic” may have a non-adjective origin. It is worth noting that the “-al” suffix also produces nouns in English.

For Diinlang I am going to propose that an equivalent of the English “-y/ -ie/ -e/ -ey/ -i-” be used as the generic adjectival marker. This is a very useful and productive suffix in English. Wiktionary notes that this ending or its homophones can be added to nearly any English word to create an “adjectivey” meaning. (Soon after I had made the decision to use “-y” I overheard my girlfriend jokingly use the term “wettie” to describe a rain-soaked friend.)

When used with a noun root “-y” has the meaning of “having the quality of” while with a verb it has the meaning of “inclined to”. Examples being “messy, hairy, sticky, runny, clayey, doggy etc”. This suffix also forms abbreviated/ diminutive/ affectionate nouns without any confusion with it adjective role. The same word often does both duties. Consider “I love granny” vs “you wear granny boots”.

In a previous post I suggested the Diinlang equivalent of “-y” be “-yi”. Both are phonetically very similar to “-i” endings of Diinlang words. Possibly words with an “-i” ending can be treated as having an optional adjectival (or adverbial) use. If so, adding “-i” to the end of a word that lacks an “-i” or “-yi/ -hi” to one that has one creates an adjective. See here for vowel clash rules.

Adjectives equivalent to “-al” or “-ic” in English are formed with “-ali/ -yali/ -hali”.

Adverbs of manner are created by adding “-ili” as a suffix. Many such adverbs will be formed from adjectives that already end in “-i” in which case just “-li” may be added. This gives the phonetic equivalent of the adverbial “-ly” ending in English. “Li”  is already used in Diinlang for constructions such as “ke li?” meaning “what manner/ how?” This needs some fine tuning. Were a root ends in an “-i”, “-u” or non-vowel just “-li” may acceptable. Should “-a”, “-e” and “-o” take “-hli” or “-hili”?

Adjectives specifying time intervals (daily, monthly, etc) are formed in Diinlang using “-re” or perhaps “-ire”. This is obviously related to “-adre”, the verbal suffix for a repetitive action.

Many “adjectives of similarity” in Diinlang are likely to be compounds; the equivalents of English suffixes such as “-like”, “-ish”, “-oid”, “-ful”, “-esque”, “-ous”. “-osi” is an adjective of similarity that is grouped here since it resembles –i/ -yi, -ali, -ili. “oso/ osa” is used in a number of languages to mean “-ous/ -ose”. Therefore Diinlang has “-osi” meaning “having an abundance or characterised by the root”. “-osi” also means “-ful” in the adjective sense. “-osi” can therefore be used to create the Diinlang equivalents of “hateful”, “bulbous”, “golden”, “wooden”. Nouns of measurement such as “handful” or “bowlful” are made in Diinlang by compounding with “-fu” (full).

“-able/ ible” is a very productive suffix in English and a number of other languages use it or a direct equivalent. As previously noted, it has a wide range of uses and a decision needed to be made as whether to embrace this fuzziness for Diinlang, or how much to. My original idea was that such adjectives be created by compounding with “zhan”; “to be able”. Most of the uses of “-able/ ible” appear to be passive, however. In the definitions on the wiktionary page “to be” can be replaced with “to get” with no change of meaning. For Diinlang I am going to suggest “-ibel” as an equivalent suffix. Note that the “-i” at the start has a short sound.
This group of adjective/ adverb suffixes are therefore:
  • -i/ -yi Generic adjective suffix: “inclined to” or “having the quality of”.
  • -ali “of or pertaining to the root”.
  • -ili/ -li Adverbial suffix meaing “in the manner of”.
  • -osi Forms adjectives which mean “having or possessing, especially in great quantity, apparently made of”.
  • -ibel Denotes “what is susceptible to the root”.

New Thoughts on Progressive and Perfect Aspects

Version 1.1

I have had some further thoughts on how progressive/ continuous (PROG/ CONT) and perfect (PERF) aspects are marked in Diinlang. I have been looking into adjectives and realize many of the active and passive adjectives will be formed from progressive or perfect aspects of verbs. Currently the prefixes “is-” and “ha-” are used, when necessary used in combination. If the passive prefix “ge-” is used the aspect prefixes are placed before. The euphony of “ha-” in particular may be problematic.
In English the progressive/ continuous aspect of a verb is formed with an “-ing” suffix. Rather unusually for English, this seems a consistent rule. I cannot think of any English verb that does not use this form. A three letter suffix for this seems a little long, unless “ŋ” is available as a character, but obviously this is not in practice a problem. Diinlang will have many words that end in “-ing” that will not be PROG/ CONT as has English. Again, this does not seem to be a problem in practice. Most root words in Diinlang will be relatively short so the length of a word should make it obvious it has been suffixed. Since Diinlang does not drop terminal vowels-ing” will become “-hing” or possibly “-ying”. It may therefore be more managable to use “-in/-hin” for PROG/ CONT, verbal nouns and present participles.
In English the PERF aspect of a regular verb takes an “-ed” ending, as does the simple past. Their use is distinguished by one or more auxiliary verbs. For Diinlang it would be desirable for the two forms to be distinct without resorting to auxiliaries.
In a previous post I proposed that a simpler way of marking past tense verbs might be useful. My initial draft proposes “-d/ -id”, the phonetic equivalent of the English system. In an update I propose simple past be marked by “-t” as had already been proposed for the duoverbs. Logically this frees up “-d/ -id” for the marking of perfect aspect forms, although -nd/ -ind” may be more workable. The use of “-ing” and “-d/ -id (-nd/ -ind)” in Diinlang results in active and passive adjectives very similar to those of English. This is useful since many users of Diinlang will have English as a first or second language. These adjectives can, of course, produce nouns.
Perfect Progressive/ Continuous aspects may be constructed using the suffix “-ind/ -hind”. Past tense of such a construction is probably best marked with “wen”.

Suffixes Creating Verbs : Part Two

I have been thinking further on the affix system for Diinlang. I decided to start with the verb suffixes since these were likely to be the smallest category. Many Diinlang words become verbs simply by using them as verbs, as in English. The verbal suffixes create particular meanings.

The first two suffixes are “-ika” and “-ija”. Both of these convert attributes (adjectives or adverbs) into verbs.

-ika creates a verb meaning the action of making, causing or rendering into the root or causing an object to gain the characteristic of the root. –ika verbs are causative. For example, “redika”, from “red” means “to cause to turn red” and “duika” from “du” means “to have something done”. In the latter case the verb is formed from another verb. “ika” (or possibly “ka”) on their own mean “to cause, make or render”.

-ija means to become or begin to be in the state described by the root. It forms inchoative/ inceptive verbs. Using the same examples “redija” means “to become red” (“to blush” perhaps?) and “duija” “to start doing”. “Ija” means “to become”, “to begin”. Note that -ija verbs are likely to be intransitive. For more complex statements “ija” can be used as an auxiliary verb with other verbs. For example, the English construction “I began to cause something to be red” is simply “Mi ija redika je”.

-ika and –ija may be considered equivalents to Esperanto’s “-ig-/ -igi” and “-iĝ/ –iĝi”. In Esperanto these affixes also have the function of converting intransitive verbs into transitive (igi) and transitive into intransitive (-iĝi). Consideration of this mechanism for Diinlang needs to be made.

The next verb suffix for Diinlang is “-iza”. This creates verbs from nouns.  –iza forms a transitive verb meaning: to “cover with, add to, supply with or ornament with”. Some of its applications may overlap with –ika, as was noted for Novial’s “-isa” and “-ifika”. “to fletch” something is to add feathers, so the Diinlang verb would be created from the word for feather with an “-iza” ending. Likewise, salting something would be an “-iza” verb.

-ifa” also creates verbs from nouns. “-ifa” means to generate or produce the root or produce as the root. For example, the Diinlang verb for “to bleed” would be created from the word for blood (“blud”, “sang”?) with an “-ifa” ending. Ifa on its own can be taken to mean construct, fabricate, generate etc. The word for blood with an -ika ending would mean “to wound drawing blood”.

-imu” creates verbs from nouns with the meaning of turning something into the root. “mu” or “imu” have the meaning of changing or transforming. In many cases nouns can be turned into verbs without the need of a suffix. For example “the heat” becomes “to heat”. -imu can be used when clarity or emphasis is needed. Some uses of -imu may overlap that of -ika or -ija.

To create a verb that indicates something is repetitive the earlier suggestion of “-ada” is replaced by “-adre”, formed by combining “ad” (to) and “re” (repeat). For some verbs this suffix may be used before the other suffixes listed above. For example, a verb meaning to produce a constant hammering would end in “-adreifa”.

For an equivalent to Novial’s “-ira” I am going to suggest “-adu”, created from “ad” and “du” (do).