> Historical depth is hard when you can't fake it!

Yes, but the moments when Everything Comes Together are worth it.

If histlanging is hard to you try to get Lyle Campbell's "Historical
Linguistics" textbook. Preferably the third edition.

As for growing long vowels:

- Lengthening in open (stressed) syllables.
- in stressed syllables
- in light syllables (VC > V:C. VC₁C₁ > VC. VC₁C₂ remains -- Germanic)
- VCV > VV > V: (a lot of that in Attic Greek)

Den 20 feb 2018 10:15 skrev "Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets" <
[log in to unmask]>:

On 17 February 2018 at 18:32, Alex Fink <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Happy St Mesrob's!  Seems a fine day to show something off.
> This isn't a script I've just now whipped up for the day, but one
> about a week old from the latest of the succession of sketches which
> happen to me on my commute.  One source of its inspiration was the
> "Conscript naturalism" thread, where I said this, rashly:
> Den 2018-01-26 kl. 13:28, skrev Alex Fink:
> > The alphabet has a nice feature which I see too little of in conscripts:
> it has digraphs!
> In response many folks pointed out conscripts _in the Roman alphabet_
> with digraphs, and I saw I should have made that proviso.  With the
> Roman alphabet we are used not only to digraphs but to other
> non-straightforward uses, other violations of the "one phoneme = one
> glyph" principle, so people emulate these features.  But outside Roman
> these complexities are much scarcer.  Benct's Sohlob example is the
> kind of thing I like here:
> So I decided to give my sketch a non-boring script by first inventing
> a script for a different phonology entirely and then trying to adapt
> it.  Works a treat!  Approach heartily recommended.
This is what I've been trying to do with Haotyétpi, but doing so has made
me fall into the proverbial rabbit hole!

Basically in internal history Haotyétpi was unwritten until about 3
generations ago (apart from adhoc orthographies used nearly exclusively by
non-Haotyétpi speakers to transcribe words). The Mountain Folk
traditionally mistrusted writing, seeing it as a symbol of decay of
humanity (if your memory was so bad that you needed to write your stories
down to remember them, you were a decaying human being, was the idea). It
only changed when their culture was on the verge of being wiped out by
forced assimilation (they'd been a minority folk within a larger state for
a long time), and they realised that just maybe, there might not be anyone
to remember their stories within a few generations.

So they started using the Mengazu writing system (Mengazu is the official
language of Mengo, the larger state I was talking about) to write down
Haotyétpi tales and stories in Haotyétpi (most Haotyétpi speakers were
bilingual in Mengazu by that time, so it was the natural thing to do). Of
course, Mengazu and Haotyétpi phonology are rather different, and they
started rather naively, without much understanding of their own language's
phonological structure (like the fact that voicing in Haotyétpi is present
but not phonemic, while it is phonemic in Mengazu), but after two
generations they managed to find a mode of the Mengazu writing system that
fit their language relatively well (in part thanks to a number of Haotyétpi
speakers who decided to learn linguistics and study their own language
using modern linguistic methods).

The rabbit hole comes from the fact that the way the Mengazu people write
their own language is itself not strictly phonemic. The Mengazu writing
system is an abugida derived from the older Barazu script, also an abugida.
Barazu, the ancestor of Mengazu, had rounding harmony in its vowels (and no
vowel length), and a relatively small inventory of consonants with no
voicing distinction on consonants other than stops (and the distinction in
stops was actually voiceless/prenasalised-voiced rather than
voiceless/plain-voiced). Because of the history of the Barazu script, the
way the rounding harmony was handled was through the shape of the
consonants, rather than the vowels. So, for instance, the way the syllables
/pi/ and /py/ were distinguished in the Barazu script was through the
consonant letter used. The vowel diacritic was the same in both syllables.
It was a great system for Barazu, which had strong, productive vowel
harmony. But as Barazu evolved into Mengazu, the consonant inventory
changed, grew, and the vowel system was completely reworked (the rounding
harmony ceased being productive, and was nearly destroyed as a set of long
vowels evolved). And as that happened, the writing system struggled to cope
with the changes. A few spelling reforms later, and the modern Mengazu
script was born, which uses single letters for some of the Mengazu
consonant phonemes but digraphs for others (mostly historically motivated
but not completely, as they regularised the system), but more importantly
still uses the distinction between unrounded and rounded consonants. The
reason? Mengazu still has a vestigial harmony system in its vowels, that is
reflected in the fact that some affixes with short vowels have two
different forms depending on whether a word was historically rounded or
unrounded (the suffix -u of Mengazu itself appears as -i in words that are
historically unrounded). It's not always easy just from the sound of a word
to know whether it was historically rounded or unrounded, so the Mengazu
have kept their unrounded and rounded consonants so that in writing at
least, there is no ambiguity.

As you can imagine, since Haotyétpi has never had vowel harmony, its
speakers ended up choosing consonants from both groups to write their own
words, mixing them in a single word in a way that would never happen in
Mengazu itself. And the rabbit hole itself comes from the fact that in
order to eventually design the Haotyétpi writing system, I need to:
- design the Barazu writing system;
- design enough of the evolution of Barazu into Mengazu to be able to
define how the Barazu script evolves into the Mengazu script (not easy.
I've got the short vowels done OK, but the way the long vowels arose, and
how the consonants changed -and how vowels and consonants interacted- is
still very much in limbo. And I am no historical conlanger);
- Once the Mengazu script is done, define how the Haotyétpi speakers would
have adopted it, then reformed their own adaptation.

Historical depth is hard when you can't fake it!

Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
President of the Language Creation Society (

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