Learn Na'vi > Prefixes, Infixes and Suffixes

Why does lenition sometimes seem arbitrary?

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Tirea Aean:
At the end of the day, as a conlang, it pretty much just IS arbitrary. I've thought about exactly this same thing before, and there is still no real answer besides it's arbitrary.

And what Tìtstewan said.

archaic:

--- Quote from: Tirea Aean on October 26, 2014, 04:59:25 pm ---At the end of the day, as a conlang, it pretty much just IS arbitrary. I've thought about exactly this same thing before, and there is still no real answer besides it's arbitrary.

And what Tìtstewan said.

--- End quote ---
Hooey.

Natural languages evolve over time, younger languages much more quickly than mature languages, but they all develope and move forward.

Pawl knows about languages, and to be truthful, most natural languages (all?) start with people speaking.
Most languages develop first as a dialect and as it drifts away from it's root language it becomes a more distinct and eventually separate language. Much as new species evolve.

The thing here is that languages evolve organically, what sounds and feels right to it's speaker. The rules it fits are often the result of scholars trying to fit rules around the body of language, not the other way around.
(I understand some languages have a set of rules that fits well, but English is a messy collision of mostly Norse and Latin infused with a plethora of scraps from many other sources, resulting in a set of rules that is complicated and all too often plain wrong)

Why shouldn't you expect a few exceptions in the language of such complex, vibrant and so paradoxically primitive yet sophisticated people as the Na'vi.

Blue Elf:

--- Quote from: Kame Ayyo'koti on October 26, 2014, 12:14:27 pm ---If lenition is to ease pronunciation, why does it sometimes seem arbitrary?

--- End quote ---
As it was said: do not search for logic here, it's wrong way (I learned it hard :))
I wouldn't say lenition is here to ease pronunciation, but to confuse people not experienced enough. It allows us to create funny and hard to understand word (like fayfayfya). Even after three or four years I meet sometimes statement I do not understand well because of lenition.

Plumps:
I can only speak from experience with a language in which lenition occurs – Irish (Gaeilge).

What we also have to take into account is whether lenition occurs for the ease of speaking or whether it is a grammatical necessity (Wikipedia has a good overview). Although lenition occurs (or has occured) in many languages historically the Celtic language family is one where this has been grammaticalized … and I am inclined to count Na’vi in that group as well.

There are historical rules of sound changes why these have occured but only linguists and philologists know the exact rules/forms now. In school or in daily speaking you just learn how it is. That is how I would see Na’vi too. In Na’vi the change occurs only with the plural forms and adpositions – compared to Irish these are quite a few instances.

Just for comparison, in Irish lenition appears (list not extensive):
(Irish indicates lenition with an inserted h, so that you see what the original letter was (other than Na’vi), but the sounds change, e.g. b [ b ] > bh [v] or [w] depending on the following vowel, p [p] > ph [f], c [k] > ch [ç] or [ x ] depending on the following vowel sl.)

- after the definite article of feminine nouns: bean, “woman”, an bhean, “the woman”
- with attributive adjectives after feminine nouns: bocht, “poor”, bean bhocht, “(a) poor woman”
- in the vocative case: Cáit, “Kate”, a Cháit, “Kate!”
- after certain prepositions: ar, “on”, ar bhoird, “on tables”
- in genitive constructions: teach, “house”, Pádraig, “Patrick” > teach Phádraig, “Patrick’s house”
- after the possessive adjectives mo, “my”, do, “your”, a, “his”: mo theach, “my house”
- after the numbers 1–6: dhá bhord,“two tables”, sé charr, “six cars”
- after certain particles and conjunctions: má, “if” (conditional), ní, “not” (present; ní thuigim, “I don’t understand”), níor, “not” (past; níor thuig mé, “I didn’t understand”)





--- Quote from: Blue Elf on October 27, 2014, 07:01:47 am ---It allows us to create funny and hard to understand word (like fayfayfya). Even after three or four years I meet sometimes statement I do not understand well because of lenition.
--- End quote ---

That’s one of mine, isn’t it? ;D Oh, I loved that :P And that’s without further changes through case endings.
It allows you to play with the language! :D
Another one is tewti “limits” (patiens) ;)

Wllìm:
I agree with Plumps and Tìtstewan. Probably when viewed historically there would be a perfectly logical reason why some adpositions cause lenition and others don't.

The example of Irish is a really interesting insight in how complicated real-language lenition rules can be :o +1 for that :)


--- Quote from: Plumps on October 27, 2014, 07:06:20 am ---Another one is tewti “limits” (patiens) ;)

--- End quote ---
This is so evil :o ;D

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