André (n_true) wrote,
André
n_true

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The Average Language

I've been lurking around the WALS (The Word Atlas of Language Structures) and tried to figure out how the most average language of mankind would look like. So... if there's ever to be an international auxiliary language, then it would have the following features:

The Average Language...

Phonology:
...has an average sized consonant inventory.
...has 5 to 6 vowels.
...has an average consonant-vowel ratio.
...has voiced plosives, but no voiced fricatives.
...has the plosives /p t k b d g/.
...has no uvular consonants.
...has no glottalized consonants.
...has an /l/, but no obstruent laterals.
...has no velar nasal (/ŋ/).
...has no nasalized vowels.
...has no front rounded vowels.
...has a moderately complex syllable structure (CGVC, where G can be /r l w j/).
...has no tones.
...has no fixed stress location.
...has no weight-sensitivity in stress.
...has no weight factors in the stress system.
...has a trochaic rhythm type (left-hand syllable in the foot is strong).
...has bilabials, fricatives and nasals.
...has no 'uncommon' consonants (clicks, labiovelars, pharyngeals, 'th'-sounds).

Morphology:
...is exclusively concatenative.
...has no case marking.
...has 4 to 5 categories per verb.
...uses head-markes phrases.
...uses dependent-marked possessors in possessive NPs.
...has an inconsistent locus of marking in general.
...is strongly suffixing.
...uses partial and full productive reduplication.
...doesn't have syncretisms in verbal person/number marking.

Nominal Categories:
...has no gender.
...uses plural suffixes for nomina.
...has an obligatory pluralization for all nouns.
...marks person-number stem for independent personal pronouns.
...doesn't make a difference between associative and additive plural.
...has no articles, neither definite nor indefinite.
...doesn't distinguish between inclusive and exclusive in pronouns.
...doesn't distinguish between inclusive and exclusive in verbal inflections either.
...makes a 2-way distance contrast for demonstratives.
...has identical pronominal and adnominal demonstratives.
...shows no relation between 3rd person pronouns and demonstratives.
...has no gender distinction in independent personal pronouns.
...has no politeness distinction.
...has interrogative-based indefinite pronouns.
...has identical intensifiers and reflexive pronouns.
...has no person marking on adpositions.
...shows differentiation in comitatives and instrumentals.
...has an irregular word for "first", while all other ordinal numerals are regular.
...marks distributive numerals by reduplication.
...has no numeral classifiers.
...has conjunctions and universal quantifiers, which are formally similar, involving interrogative expressions.
...has possessive suffixes.

Nominal Syntax:
...doesn't have obligatory possessive inflection.
...has no possessive classification.
...has highly differentiated genitives, adjectives and relative clauses.
...can have noun-less adjectives, which occur without marking.
...has no action nominals.
...uses different words for the NP conjunctions "and" and "with".
...has identical nominal and verbal conjunctions.

Verbal Categories:
...has no grammatical marking for perfective/imperfective aspect.
...has a past/present-tense, but no remoteness distinction.
...has no inflectional future tense.
...has no perfect tense.
...uses tense-aspect suffixes.
...has a morphological imperative only in 2SG and 2PL.
...uses the normal imperative and a special negative for the prohibitive mood.
...has neither a maximal nor a minimal system for imperative & hortative.
...has no inflectional optative mood.
...shows the situational possibility ("can", "may") by means of verbal constructions.
...uses neither a verbal construction nor a verbal affix for the epistemic possibility ("might").
...has no overlap between the situational and epistemic possibility.
...doesn't have any grammatical evidentials.
...has no suppletion (irregularities) for tense and aspect.
...has no suppletion (irregularities) for verbal number.

Word Order:
...is SOV.
...is SV.
...is OV.
...uses postpositions in NPs.
...has the genitive before the noun.
...has the adjective after the noun.
...has the demonstrative before the noun.
...has the numeral after the noun.
...has the relative clause after the noun.
...has the degree word before the adjective.
...has no initial interrogative phrases.
...has adverbial subordinators which are seperate words at the beginning of the subordinate clause.

Simple Clauses:
...doesn't mark nominal subject or object.
...doesn't mark pronominal subject or object.
...marks the person in the verb according to an accusative alignment.
...shows pronominal subjects as affixes on the verb.
...marks agent (A) and patient (P) in verbs.
...marks 3SG on verbs.
...has agent (A) and patient (P) never occurring together in one verb.
...has an indirect-object construction for the verb "to give".
...has reciprocal constructions distinct from reflexives.
...cannot form passive constructions.
...doesn't have an antipassive.
...has no applicative constructions (e.g. benefactive).
...has purposive but not sequential periphrastic causatives.
...has morphological but not compound nonperiphrastic causative constructions.
...uses negative particle(s).
...has both symmetric and assymetric standard negation.
...can negate the predicate.
...uses question particle(s) for polar questions.
...has the verb "to have".
...uses verbal encoding for their predicative adjectives.
...has different nominal and locational predications.
...doesn't allow zero copulae for predicate nominals.
...has locational comparative constructions.

Complex Sentences:
...has a gap between subject and its relativization.
...has a gap between oblique and its relativization.
...has an implicit subject in "want"-complements.
...has deranked purpose clauses.
...has balanced "when"-clauses.
...has balanced reason clauses.
...has balanced utterance complement clauses.

Lexicon:
...has different words for "hand" and "arm".
...has different words for "finger" and "hand".
...has a decimal numeral system.
...has 5 non-derived basic color terms.
...has 6 to 7 basic color terms.
...does not distinguish between "green" and "blue" ('grue').
...does distinguish between "red" and "yellow".
...doesn't have /m/ for 1st and /t/ for 2nd person pronouns.
...doesn't have /n/ for 1st and /m/ for 2nd person pronouns.
...has derived its word for "tea" from Sinitic 'cha'.

Other:
...uses a writing system with Latin letters.
...uses clicks para-linguistically with affective meaning.

I wonder to which language most of these features do apply... that would automatically become the "Most Average Language on Earth". ;)
Tags: english
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