In my conlang, every consonant+y ("uh" sound) is a "reference". Which is basically like a dynamic pronoun that starts out meaning potentially anything. But then whose meaning refines down as it continues being used in the conversation. e.g. ("co" being like a question word that indicates that the speaker is asking for more information about the following word):

Me: let's eat co dy for dinner tonight
Spouse: dy isn't Mexican
Me: agreed. dy isn't spicy. Maybe dy is pizza?
Spouse: ehhhh, I'm not super hungry. dy is lighter than pizza

So, like a bunch of pronouns that conversation partners can use to synchronize with each other. Almost like single-consonant-labeled "placeholder" words that stand in for some value whose identity gets clearer the more it gets used.

ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

Ooo, that's really cool! If it's any consonant + y, how many of these references would there be? And are there some that tend to get used more than others (e.g., maybe "dy" is what speakers tend to use for the first reference, then using others if needed)?


There are 16 consonants but "ny" is a reserved one. So practically speaking, 15 pronoun-like things. And that's the fun part. Which one a speaker picks can kind of carry a hint about it (like using "dy" when talking about "dinner" (though obviously not the English word. Just demonstrating it)). So you could see, for instance:

Alice: my mom said if I get good grades she'll buy me that cool red bike with the streamers.
Billy: aww man. my is so cool. I wish my mom would buy me by

From context, anybody hearing this conversation would probably assume "my" refers to Alice's mom and "by" refers to the bike (without having to say out again "your mom" and "that cool red bike with streamers" respectively)

ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

That's a very creative system! What is "ny" reserved for?


It's the non-scoping reference. Positional arguments are all required, so for instance in English you could say either "I ate" or "I ate a burger". But in my conlang, if a word is defined with 3 arguments, then 3 arguments must be provided. "ny" is kind of the escape hatch for when you want to not provide an argument but the grammar requires you to. E.g. "I ate" would require you to say "ate me ny" (verb first followed by it's arguments). So if you think about filling out an expression, the audience should evaluate it like:

"ate" (ok. Somebody ate something)
"me" (ok. The eating was done by the speaker)
"ny" (ok. No value was provided so I'm left with exactly the understanding as if I had only been given the one first argument. But also, sentence complete)

It's like, filling out an expression narrows into more and more precise meaning. But "ny" gives you a way to say "I gotta provide a value here. But I don't want the scope of meaning to narrow or expand or change in shape" but while still being grammatically correct.

ThatOneKirbyMain2568, (edited )
ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

Something neat about my conlang, Hip'alŭk', is how it handles demonstratives (e.g., "this" & "that"). Demonstratives have both a three-way distinction between persons (speaker, addressee, and both) and a three-way distinction between distances (near, slightly far, and far).

This results in 9 different demonstratives (that I haven't nailed down words for yet):

meoproximal DEM.PROX.1 — “this near me”
tuoproximal DEM.PROX.2 — “that near you”
omniproximal DEM.PROX.1+2 — “that near us both”
meomesial DEM.MES.1 — “that slightly far from me”
tuomesial DEM.MES.1 — “that slightly far from you”
omnimesial DEM.MES.1+2 — “that slightly far from us both”
meodistal DEM.DIST.1 — “that far from me”
tuodistal DEM.DIST.2 — “that far from you”
omnidistal DEM.DIST.1+2 — “that far from us both”


Interesting. Could you combine them? As in, could you use this system to really simply say like "this far-me near-you book"?

ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

Hmm, I imagine you wouldn't need to. For your example, just using the tuoproximal demonstrative (i.e., that near-you book) would imply that the book is far away from the speaker — otherwise, they would've used the omniproximal. I could see two being used for emphasis though.

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