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CONLANG  June 2002, Week 1

CONLANG June 2002, Week 1

Subject:

chat: a conlang of my very own :) (was: Re: unsubscribing)

From:

Stephen DeGrace <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 1 Jun 2002 00:38:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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--- In conlang@y..., Christophe Grandsire
<christophe.grandsire@F...> wrote:
> En rponse  Stephen DeGrace <stevedegrace@Y...>:
[...]
> > interesting to see what people have to say. It's
just
> > my view, but I think a study of natural languages
is
> > essential in this art, and that conversely part of
the
> > point of this art is as a means to study natural
> > languages from a new perspective!
> >
>
> Isn't it? That's why I always read all the posts
from the list. Even the most
> off-topic ones can be enlightening, if only by the
very internationality of the
> list, which helps watching things with another point
of view. I find that very
> important both for my conlanging and my everyday
life.

I wish I could find the time and energy to read all
the posts! Maybe sometimes, it doesn't seem to exist
right now, I'm a little too dispersed :P. Anyway, even
just partially following something can be beneficial.

[...]
> > magnifying suffix, "an" as a stressed suffix means
> > "new", prefix "a-" indicates clan affiliation,
prefix
> > "vo-" means daughter-of followed by your mother's
> > given name, prefix "va-" means "son-of", also
followed
> > by your mother's given name, "das" means "to
rest",
> > "og" is a root with a meaning something like
> > "govern"... "ogar", emphasis on second syllable,
is
> > province, only I don't know _exactly_ what it's
> > component parts mean!! and on it goes like
that...).
> > It might start getting put together some day, but
I
> > won't start unless and until I _know_ it's ready
to
> > come out right.
> >
>
> You seem to be more the kind who "gives birth" to
conlangs rather than "make"
> them. I know the feeling, I'm of the same kind :)) .

<g> yeah, that could be :). It'll come put when it's
done gestating :P.

> > I got an idea tonight for a feature I _will_ try
and
> > build in and explore in my
> >
please-won't-you-let-me-play-with-you-huh-guys-can-I?!?
> > lang. That is I notice, or think I notice, that
people
> > seem to have a preference for sensible
orthographies.
>
> Unfortunately ;)) . I largely prefer dysfuctional
orthographies, they're much
> more fun to play with :)) .

True true... :P You know, for my English orthography,
I couldn't get one that satisfied me in enough
particulars _until_ I started adding deliberately
perverse or "non-sensible" features :).

> > I want to make a language that is not conducive to
a
> > sensible phonemic spelling system and is more
easily
> > represented by one that does funky irregular shit.
>
> That's a tough one. I'm a bit trying to do that with
Maggel, but it's difficult
> unless you create some really strange alternations.
I've managed to do that
> with vowels, but with consonants it's more
difficult, and I still want the
> language to be naturalistic (if in a dysfunctional
way :)) ).

Dysfunctionality is a very naturalistic feature <g>

> > Every other language I've worked on in one way or
> > another had phonemic-y alphabets.
>
> Same here. Except with Tj'a-ts'a~n, which is written
with ideograms, but those
> ideograms are also used as phonograms to represent
the affixes (a lot in this
> language, and subject to vowel *and* consonant
harmony, just to simplify
> matters ;))) ), creating a lot of problems of
representation :)) . I've
> actually never much worked on it. I suffered of the
"Oh! Shiny!" syndrome :)) .

Ah, yes... story of my entire life, one uncompleted
project after another as some new amusement(s) capture
my interest...

>  I have an idea that
> > some languages, say German, are well-ish suited to
> > those, but some, like Gaelic, or French (?) have a
> > natural affinity to crazed orthographies.
>
> I don't think there is much of an affinity per se. I
see both cases as the
> result of trying to represent a language with an
alphabet which is not suited
> to it :)) . French is written with the Roman
alphabet, and in a way that is
> supposed to make it look Romance. But the structure
of French itself has become
> so different that the result is not exactly easy :))
.

French is interesting to me, tho, in that at least the
way I was taught to speak it :P, some sounds, like
plural endings, may or may not be pronounced, but it
makes better sense to represent them in spelling with
a rule as to when you do and don't pronounce them than
to require you to represent them when you're supposed
to say them and pack them away when you're not, at
least _I_ think. Phonemic representation may have its
uses, and certainly most languages with older
orthographies and a history of major sound shifts
could have much more efficient orthographies, but even
using an alphabet that _could_ be twisted to be really
phonemic or close to it, I'd say phonemic
representation is not always totally the right choice,
or the most natural-seeming to the language's
speakers, who may have some funny ways of thinking
about the lang, both having to do with valid
historical and practical considerations. Some of these
considerations may be morphemic, like having the
English past tense and plural affixes always spelled
the same regardless of pronounciation... but there
might be more things than that you could design in.

I think there may be a real difference between
languages in how well suited they are for more
phonemic representation, and that a conlang could be
designed to try and explore the point (as no doubt
many do already, deliberately or otherwise). The
buggerdly thing about it is that I have the feeling
that you'd almost really need to have the language
_first_ and design the orthography _after_ to really
enjoy the full effect, which is kinda hard to do... :P

Anyway, just some speculations.

> As for Gaelic, well,
> just try to fit 50-odd phonemes to an 18-letter
alphabet :))) . Interestingly,
> both languages have contact phenomena of a pure
phonetic origin but which can
> nowadays only be explained by morphological rules
(liaisons in French,
> mutations in Gaelic). Maybe indeed this kind of
phenomenon makes languages
> difficult to represent with an alphabet anyway.

Ya, that's what I was thinking. There's nothing
_invalid_ about these features in a language at all,
and they don't seem to make people not able to speak
it :P, but they make, in my opinion, purely phonemic
representation possible (obviously!!) but less
desirable in some respects than a system that embodies
something about the language's "way of thinking about
itself". In spending years and years since I was a kid
tinkering on and off with different English spelling
systems, I have come somewhat to the conclusion that
orthographics is a related but very distinct art from
the science of phonemics :P. And maybe the best
orthographies are touched with a certain amount of
phonetic ignorance... :)

> For Maggel, I tried to take the worst of both worlds
:)) . Maggel tries to fit
> its 60-odd phonemes (tentative count, I didn't even
bother trying to count the
> real number of phonemes of Maggel, it's basically a
lost cause :)) ) in a 17-
> letter alphabet, using polygraphs (from digraphs to
tetragraphs) which are
> anything but straightforward :)) .
> Moreover, irregularity rules in Maggel, in
> all kinds of ways (especially in the funny way that
some words are written in a
> perfectly regular way, only if you accept to treat
one letter as pertaining to
> two polygraphs at the same time :))) . A partial
example is the word |gif|
> ['gaIv]: legs - unknown number -. Its pronunciation
is irregular: |f| is
> normally pronounced [f]. But the digraph |if| *is*
pronounced [v]. So the
> pronunciation of |gif| is perfectly regular only if
you admit that the |i| is
> used both as a letter in its own right - pronounced
[aI] - and as a part of the
> digraph [if] - where it's supposed to be silent -
:))) . And Maggel is full of
> those kinds of little tricks :)) ).

Niiiice ;)

>  Obviously
> > this is a flagrant and gross generalisation - I'm
not
> > sure about it, it's just a thought. I'm turing
over in
> > my head reviving a past experiment that took steps
> > down those lines...
> >
>
> I do find intriguing that both languages have
contact phenomena to be described
> morphologically. But then it may not be that
compelling, since Welsh also has
> mutations and AFAIK its orthography is not as bad as
the one of French or
> Gaelic. It's even pretty phonemic IIRC (can one of
our resident celtologists
> confirm or infirm my claim?).

Well, there's no question in my mind that Gaelic and
French have hideous orthographies that could be
improved ::ducks:: ;). But to some extent, their
non-phonemicness seem to *fit their character* very
well, too, I think. That make any sense? :)

[...]
>  This was
> > based on a couple prejudices of mine... one is
that I
> > figure it's a sin we don't have a more phonemic
> > alphabet, and another is that I think we need a
whole
> > pile of new letters.
> >
>
> Well, I like the idea of the pile of new letters.
English is boring in its
> insistance in not using any diacritic :)) .

Yeah, what's up with that, anyway? I like the Old
English orthography better than the one we're using
now. I think we should start a massive protest
movement to bring back thorn :P.

> > Hr A rt (not e Kndn vauwel rzing :) )
sm
> > tekst in ma prsnl oragrf... e coes v
letrs
> > mk no klms tu inhrent suprorit v en sort
nd
> > ar  kambinxn "artistik" ventyur nd ltimtl
> > _orogrfikl_ (if t emfsis mks sen - sm
> > dsizhns an speling wr md an hal flipnt
> > kratr...) reprzentxn v ma ntiv dalekt,
e
> > most prfekt form v Inglix t hz evr egzisted ;)
;).
> > I rot al ma prsnl lb nots is wy :).
> >
>
> Do you? Really? You want to keep them secret from
other people I guess (just
> like I write my lab notes in French because nobody
else can read it well enough
> where I work :)) ).

No, it's not a matter of keeping them secret, it's
more that they are something I write every day that
offered an opportunity to practise using the script in
an abundant, everyday context, and so were an obvious
place to introduce it. Although, interestingly enough,
most people in fact seem not to be able to read it...

>You make English look like a Scandinavian language, I
like
> it :)) .

Thank you ::bows:: ;) It's interesting you picked up
on that, because that was exactly what was in my mind
when I came up with this system. Its predecessor used
more "latinate"-looking diacriticed letter, and on the
whole didn't fit my artisitc sense of the language's
pseudo-logic the way I wanted it to :P. Plus, the
Scandinavian-lloking letters are cool :).

> > Aend hyr iz soem riten in dhe daygraefikael
vaariaent
> > oev dhe skript... :P
> >
>
> And now it looks like Old Dutch! I like it even more
:))) .

Ploes, it haez dhe aedvaentaej oev byying moec yzyyr
tu toeyp :P. Dhe tu skripts ar aektyuaely kloss
relaetivs, aldho dhe daygraefikael verzhoen myutaated
aewaay froem byying ae woen-tu-woen traenzlitoeraaxoen
oev dhe "manograefikael" vrzhoen :).

> > Anyway, I want to try swinging in a different
> > direction somehow, or maybe at the same time take
some
> > of the ideas in my crazed little spelling scheme
for
> > English farther... I want to know how the lang is
> > really pronounced but _write_ it to work with what
its
> > speakers _think_ about it as opposed to the way it
> > really behaves.
> >
>
> Hehe, Maggel's orthography is so twisted that I have
first to come up with the
> pronunciation of the word, and then only I can find
a suitable orthography.

...which, of course, is the perfect way to do it ;).

>How
> could I otherwise arrive at such atrocities as
|ueisbfi| ['eZvI]:
> beautiful?!! :)))) (and note that it is an example
of perfectly regular
> orthography!!!!! :)) Exercise: try to parse this
example and cut the written
> word into polygraphs - to help you, note that this
word is composed only of
> digraphs and single letters - that correspond to the
different spoken phones.
> Note that there is no letter belonging to two
digraphs at the same time. But
> there is another trick :)) )