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1  Signum

The signum markers in Talmit, a- and i-, were ultimately words meaning ’good’ and ’bad’ and belonged to the class of the so-called ’free morphemes’, meaning that they could freely appear as prefixes and suffixes to both verbs and nouns, or as independent words. However, in contrast to other free morphemes (like mi ’many’, jo ’few’) they were adverbs when standing alone, and received the ancient adverbial suffix -ru (surviving in Kymna in the adverbs koru ’home(wards)’, vëyru ’like this’, ðru ’like that’ and Talmit sound-symbolic adverbs); thus *aru ’well’, *iru ’badly’. Their most important role was in combination with the roots √pru ’up’ and √tru ’inwards’ (more than likely containing adverbial -ru themselves). The words *apru/*ipru and *atru/*itru were originally hunting terms, *apru could be translated as something like ’it’s good to get up’, meaning that it’s the right time to attack from a prepared ambush. It survives in the Kymna interjection ouru! ’come on! let’s go!’ Conversely, *ipru meant something like ’it’s bad to get up’ or ’stay down’. Similarly, *atru meant ’it’s good to go in for the kill’ and was used when a large animal was surrounded, while *itru meant ’stay clear, stay outside’.
At some point, metathesis *apru > *paru was quite natural under the influence of *aru, but further influence was needed to extend such an infix to other roots.

For one part, such influence came from the root √tle which referred to the bodily well-being, especially regarding temperature, *atlə meant both ’warm’ and comfortable’, *itlə both ’cold’ and ’uncomfortable’. But there was also an unrelated root √tal referring to speech. Its simplest derivative was just *tal meaning ’word, name, label’ and gave the language Talmit its name. Another derivative was *talə meaning ’answer, agreement’ (it still survives in Kymna tale ’yes’). In the course of time, *atlə and *talə approached each other as ’I agree’ started to mean ’I like it’, so that *talə was substituted for *atlə, creating an infix; and *itlə> *tile then followed.
Other roots referring to pleasure and comfort were √pla and √khlis. The former originally described visually pleasing and beautiful things (*apla ’it looks good, I like it’); the latter to what one could term ’mental comfort’, involving joy and laughter (*akhlis ’joy’). It seems that the root √tle was drifting away to describe just temperature, while √khlis became adopted for general happiness, and √pla for the liking of any particular thing. But there also was the root √khal meaning ’alive’ and it influenced √khlis much in the same way as √tal influenced √tle. The fossilized expression hélze-halís ’alive and well’ survives in Talmit, although the first word has no signum marker (the proper words are aχál ’alive’, iχál ’dead’). It clearly goes back to Proto-Tallic *khal-sə a-khlis, where *-sə ’and’ is a conjunctional suffix. Metathesis *akhlis > *khalis under such conditions was a natural development, and again the counterpart *ikhlis > *khilis ’unhappiness’ soon followed.

This was the situation when the languages separated: The roots √pru, √tru, √tle and √khlis had developed infixes a/i between the first consonant and the following sonorant. Their derivatives appear in Kymna as the preverbs poru- ’up’, pyru- ’down’, toru- ’inwards’, tyru- ’outwards’; and as talena ’warm’ and salis ’happiness’. But Kymna does not show other infixes, the main derivative of √pla is ālana ’good’ < *apla-na, where Talmit has palá. The prefix a- became intensive in meaning (so that atalena ’very warm, hot’ has the same marker twice), and i- began to express negation (e.g. dessena ’possible’, iðessena ’impossible’). The two markers thus became detatched from each other. In Talmit, however, they just exploded, being applied to all kinds of roots by analogy. So for example, from *plezne ’hand’ were derived: *palezne ’right hand’ (originally probably ’good hand’) and pilezne ’left hand’ (originally probably ’bad hand’)1.
A major factor in this development must have been Talmit’s very conservative phonology. But although the phonology remained conservative, changes in grammar were very profound.

I apologize to all the lefties in the name of the speakers of Talmit (the speakers of my language did it, not me — do not shoot the messenger!), but such an association is what happened in natural languages as well: English sinister comes from Latin ’left’, while dexterity comes from ’right’ and has positive connotations; also right as in ’the right to do something’ or ’it is the right thing to do’ is obviously the same word as in ’right side’, just like German Recht/rechts or Russian право.

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