On 9 May 2012 15:47, Eric Christopherson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Following up on the thread about English accents...
> Has anyone here worked out in any detail how native speakers of their
> conlangs would speak English, or any other nat- or conlang?

I've actually thought of it quite a bit, as Moten is (for all intents and
purposes) a language that exists in the *here and now*, that actually
borrows from other languages quite often (if only to name those languages).

The first issue would be with phonetics. The Moten phonology is quite
restricted, with no /h/, no /w/ and no rhotic. I expect a Moten speaker
would be able to eventually develop a good approximation of [w], although
it would often relapse into [uj] (the closest a Moten speaker could do
based on the phonotactics of the language), but [h] and [ɹ] would likely
stay inscrutable for a long time. The Moten speaker would just omit the
first one and replace the second one with [l], at least in pre-vocalic
positions. A Moten speaker would also pronounce /t/ and /d/ as dental
rather than alveolar, and would replace /θ/ and /ð/ respectively with /s/
and /z/. As for the affricates [tʃ] and [dʒ], they would be replaced with
[tj] and [dj], or with [ts] and [dz], possibly without any clear
distribution between the two.
The vowels would also likely be a problem. Moten has the five cardinal
vowels, and that's it. It doesn't have diphthongs (only a few vocalic
clusters are allowed, and they always have a syllable break in the middle),
nor does it have long vowels. It also completely lacks lax vowels or a
schwa. A Moten speaker would thus speak English with a heavy accent, not
totally unlike a French accent, with all lax vowels turned tense, central
vowels falling under [e], and diphthongs turned into vowel+[j] (an
acceptable sequence in Moten). Diphthongs with an [ʊ] component would be
turned into vowel+[ju], the closest Moten can manage with its phonotactics,
although with some time our Moten speaker might be able to overcome this
Finally, as I have hinted above, phonotactics would be a problem. Moten is
strictly (C(C))V(C), so most of the onset and coda clusters of English
would have to be broken (mostly by inserting [i] or [u]) or adapted. Also,
Moten phonotactics allow clusters that are disallowed in English, like
[pt], [gd] or [kn]. A Moten speaker learning English from a book might be
tempted to adopt reading pronunciations of words starting with those
clusters. Final [ŋ] would also be a problem. It would probably be converted
into [n] or strengthened into [ŋɡi], a feasible cluster in Moten.

In terms of grammar, going from an SOV, topic prominent, prefix and infix
heavy language with a complex verbal system and a strong pro-drop streak to
English would be quite a shock. A Moten speaker would probably use "the"
far too often, including with mass nouns and abstract concepts. They would
also tend to omit subjects or objects if they mentioned them already in a
previous sentence. The present perfect would confuse them endlessly, as
would the future tense and the passive voice (the perfect and prospective
aspect are close enough and yet different enough from the English
equivalents to create a lot of confusion, while the closest thing in Moten
to the passive voice, the middle voice, works completely differently,
dropping the object rather than the subject of the verb). They would have
trouble with the fluidity of use of English verbs, which can often be
transitive or intransitive as needed (in Moten transitivity is very strict:
a verb can never be used both transitively and intransitively), and would
overuse the causative construction to turn intransitives into transitives.
A Moten speaker would also use finite clauses where English would use
infinitives or gerunds.
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.