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

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Friday, May 31, 2002, 7:33
En réponse à Stephen DeGrace <stevedegrace@...>:

> > At the same time, the natlang and phonology > discussions are tremendously interesting and useful, > _I_ think. To _me_ they have direct bearing on > conlanging, critical bearing in many senses, because > they expand your horizons, and give you an idea of > what is reasonable for a human language, based on the > sort of things that exist and how frequent they are > and how they are usually instantiated, and also give > you ideas for where you might explore divergences. I > can and do get a fair bit from books, but it's walways > 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.
> > One project I thought of an rejected would be > code-named "Perversian". The idea would be to think > carefully on what features people find most risible > and offensive and unnatural in languages, what > attracts the most scorn and frustration directed at > natlangs (and con-IALs) and try to incorporate as many > as possible of them into the language, to create a > conlang designed to be universally offensive and grate > on people's nerves. It would need to be fairly > English, "English native-speaker bias" always seems to > get people's backs up somehow. One would have to be > careful to promote it using irritatingly chipper > superlatives and and tout its most hideous design > flaws as genius. For example, like when Esperantists > go on about "viro/virino", "patro/patrino" and the > supersigned letters, as _selling points_ of the > language, instead of the embarrassing and even grating > flaws that they are in terms of con-IALitude. > *shudder*... like fingernails on a chalk board. >
:))) I find it a nice project. Currently, you make me think of Chang, but without his typing mania ;)) (no offense meant Hanuman, rather the contrary :)) ).
> > So, anyway, that leads me back to square one. I'm not > going to try and instantiate Talíwàn (dammit, now how > would I do the subsigns for stress in ASCII anyway? :) > ), I still don't know enough to be able to do it, I > only know things _about_ the language, and a few vocab > items, mainly from place names ("kad" is forest, "sen" > is lake, "slár" is river, "baln" is sea, "at" is sun, > "dáká" is something like "salty", "um" unstresed is a > magnifying suffix, "an" as a stressed suffix means > "new", prefix "aí-" 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"... "ogaírà", 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 :)) .
> 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 :)) .
> 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 :)) ).
> 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 :)) . 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 :)) . 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. 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 :)) ). 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?).
> Like millions of others, I have my pet revised English > orthography, mine based on the most perfect dialect of > English, that spoken by educated speakers in the > Maritime provinces of Canada ::ducks:: ;).
Everybody knows the perfect dialect of English is the one spoken nearly natively by a French <runs for his life> ;))))) . 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 :)) .
> Hër Aë røët (not ðe Kænädëæn vauwel räzing :) ) søm > tekst in maë prsønæl orþagræfë... ðe coëßes øv letrs > mäk no kläms tu inhärent supërëoritë øv enë sort ænd > ar æ kambinäxøn "artistik" ventyur ænd øltimætlë > _orþogræfikæl_ (if ðæt emfæsis mäks senß - søm > dësizhøns an speling wr mäd an haëlë flipænt > kraëtërëæ...) reprëzentäxøn øv maë nätiv daëælekt, ðe > most prfekt form øv Inglix ðæt hæz evr egzisted ;) ;). > I rot al maë prsønæl læb nots ðis wäy :). >
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 :)) ). You make English look like a Scandinavian language, I like it :)) .
> 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 :))) .
> 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. 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 :)) )
> That may sound like a really superficial > consideration, but it's actually what I feel > intuitively is my "in" for a more comprehensive > project. >
I don't find it a superficial consideration. Actually I find that a good consideration when it's about a language associated with a conculture.
> If I ever start putting something concrete together, > I'll definitely get back to ye :). Thanks for putting > up with my musings :). >
They were interesting to read :)) . Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.