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The difficulties of being more regular than Teonaht

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Saturday, May 29, 2004, 19:37
----- Original Message -----
From: "Christophe Grandsire" <christophe.grandsire@...>

En réponse à Sally Caves :

> > > Welcome back! You've been missed here. Anything new on the conlanging > > > front? :) > > > > Only that I've discovered another student at my university who invents > > languages and has never heard of CONLANG. > > Nice! Any plan to bring him up here? ;)
Yeah, if I could find his email address that I wrote down somewhere. :)
> > As for my own > > conlanging, I've been working on my Teonaht lexicon sporadically between > > teaching classes, and I've been toying with the concept of a Teonaht > > inventor of a philosophical language. :) > > Nice! I wonder how a Teonaht speaker would view the concept of > philosophical language, what categories he would make, what grammatical > features he would deem necessary or not, etc... :))
His name is Ardran Tisekify /'ardr@n tI'sEkfi/ and has been exposed (when Teonhea "emerges") to early eighteenth-century European language studies. He finds the Teonaht language to be overly polysyllabic and irregular, so he has reduced all words to a single set of syllables that include a vowel and two consonants. He is fixated, of course, on "threeness" (as so many Teonim are), but reluctant to copy the Semitic tripartite consonantal system (which of course he admires). He is working, currently, on perfect and imperfect word groups. He has reduced the vowel system to five perfect vowels, y, e, a, o, u, with imperfect vowel schwa (i). syt, tys, yst, tsy, sty, yts set, tes, est, tse, ste, ets sat, tas, ast, tsa, sta, ats sot, tos, ost, tso, sto, ots sut, tus, ust, tsu, stu, uts This is a perfect syllable group because the combination of "s" and "t" can be reversed without harming ease of articulation, thus producing a wide number of words with related meanings. Similarly: pyf, fyp, yfp, pfy, fpy, ypf. etc. And of higher status than syt, etc., because labial. But there are groups of syllables that are "imperfect" because their consonants cannot be reversed in all cases: lyr, ryl ylr (bad-- requires a schwa between "l" and "r" or afterwards), lry, rly (bad), yrl. They require a schwa, which disrupts the "threeness" of the word: ylr=ylir or ylri; rily Even worse is "m" and "p": myt, tym, ymt, tmy, mty (bad), ytm (bad). Now some Teonim argue that rl is a viable initial consonant cluster distinct from lr, but T'sekify objects. There are some Teonaht linguists who declare that consonant clusters are viable or not according to cultural acceptance, and that this is a weak system to begin with, and boringly regular and ugly and confusing to boot, but Tisekify insists that the best combinations are stops and fricatives; that stops and stops rarely produce ease of articulation in all combinations. What he intends to do with these groups is to apply levels of status to each phoneme (how close to or far away from the divine it is depending on its position in the mouth--labials are closer to God than velars, which are closer to the stomach) and consonant clusters themselves will have similar status. And then to assign status and general meaning to syllable groups. And within that syllable group, to decide which combinations make nouns, verbs, modifiers, and determiners. And then what related concepts are introduced by changing the vowels. He will probably revise the system of volitionality present in Teonaht, but eliminate gender, making distinctions that were earlier made between animate, inanimate, and deific. That's as far as he's gotten. He will toil at this, like John Wilkins, for most of his life (he hasn't developed a taxonomy of universals, yet), but to his horror the language will be given to the mechanical servants of Rrordaly (because of the ersatz logic of the system and its distinctions between animacy and inanimacy and between the perfect and the imperfect); these are the arch enemy of Teonhea, who will distort it, introducing rich weirdnesses that Tisekify never intended. He will go quite mad. This, of course, is a project I have no intention of pursuing in any detail, but I thought it funny!!! I'm also working on a longish story (that I wrote when I was a kid) about a Teonaht werewolf. I'm getting more and more interested in web publishing and hyper- and intertexts, which work well for my on-line conlang stuff. I don't know when I'll have time for any of this, but it excites me. :) I'm thinking of getting a domain name and a site. Any suggestions? :)
> It's good to have you back Sally! I hope you can stay here for good now!
:) Off and on, Christophe. I love this group, but it can be obsessive for me, and I have to bide my time. Sally Caves Al eskkoat ol ai sendran, rohsan nuehra celyil takrem bomai nakuo "My shadow follows me, putting strange new roses into the world."


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>