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NGL: Naming

From:Carlos Thompson <chlewey@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 21, 2002, 5:15
(Copy sent to Conlang-L in order to get feedback from the Conlang
Community: Nula is a speaker of Tokcir, aka NGL)


While it is common practice in the modern word that people with Latin
script like to keep their names unchanged orthographically into foreign
languages that use Latin scripts, there are several reasons a proper
name would or should be NGLized.  The main of the reasons is to provide
the monoglot Nulas a name they can mangle.

The main sources to have native Tokcir names or NGLized names is for
geographical references (physical accidents, countries, etc.),
historical references (name of historical characters, including
mythology), etc.  Common people that interact with other Tokcir speakers
might chose to have a Tokcir name or to NGLize their names, also.

A Tokcir or NGLized name should conform to the phonology and constrains
of Tokcir.  This includes that no word would begin or end in two or more
vowels or two or more consonants, and no word should have groupings of
more than two vowels in a row or more than two consonants in a row.
Where the vowels are: {i e a o u} and the consonants are {m p b f v w n
t d s r l c j x z y k g ' h}.

A name is a word that refers to one particular instance of a concept,
this include the given name of a person, a first name-last name
combination with a title, the short name of a country, the official name
of a country, certain acronyms, the name of a mountain or a river, the
title of a book or a movie, the names of months and languages, etc.

Certain names should always be capitalized, like names of Geographical
instances and personal names.  Style should determinate if other names
would be capitalized.  Some names would be plain Tokcir words taken as
names, like the title of a book or the regular names of the months
({olnasu}), other would be unique words.  Neither capitalization or the
use of unique words would determine a name.  A name would act as a
nominal phrase, and as such is susceptible to decline for case or to be
preceded by a preposition.

There is no requirement that a name will be univocal with the instance
it refers.  If {Carles} is a name, several people might share that name,
and any particular {Carles} might have another name.

1  The process of naming.

Naming is something a Nula does.  By Nula is meant either a native
Tokcir speaker, an L2 Tokcir speaker or any conlanger (or non-conlanger)
who is aware of the rules of Tokcir and the philosophy of the NGL
project.  A naming is complete when the name is accepted by the Nula
community as something they agree to refer to the named instance.  This
is basically made when a naming proposal is seconded, is not objected
and has some use in the language corpus.

A name may be changed if a better authority suggest a better name and
the Nula community accept the proposed change.

2  The philosophy of naming.

While the Nula community might decide to give an arbitrary name to a
particular instance, when naming something some people might have any
kind of attachment, some considerations should be taken to the will of
that people.  For example when naming a country, the person doing the
naming should not use something her nationals feel offensive.

When the named thing or their representatives express their desire this
desired should be taken.

2.1  Countries and Geographical instances.

The local name should be the first source of inspiration, by local is
meant the way most inhabitants refer to the given instance.  Either by
direct phonological borrowing or by etymological borrowing.

2.2  Historical characters

The language they used in their public life should be the first source
of inspiration.  If this is not available, the language of the people
who firstly place them in the history books.  Either by direct borrowing
or by etymological borrowing.

i.e. Kings of England would use their name borrowed from English or
Norman French.

Observation: the European culture has used to translate names as they
are recognized as the same name following different paths of derivation,
like Greek's Io'annen, Latin's Ioannem, English' John, French' Jean,
Italian's Giovanni, Spanish' Juan, etc.  If desired, a common standard
for such names might be used.

i.e. Kings of England would use an standardized form of their names.

2.3 Mythological characters

The name they were given in the languages they are firstly known should
be the first source of inspiration.  Either by direct borrowing or by
etymological borrowing.

i.e. Greek deities would use their name borrowed from Classical Greek.

2.4 Time references

When using time references from a particular calendar and the naming
Nula may not want to use a systematic way like {olnasu}.  The Nula would
then take as inspiration a language intimately related to such calendar
and then take a direct or etymological borrowing.

i.e.  The months of the Hebrew calendar would be phonemically borrowed
from Hebrew while the years of the Chinese calendar would translate the
name of the animal.

3  Naming by borrowing.

One of the ways to name someone or something is to borrow its/his/her
name from the original source, according to the criteria above.  The
preferred way to borrow is by phonological borrowing  (I can't find this
rules, but I will summarize them).  In certain circumstances, however,
an orthographic borrowing might be preferred, or an orthographic driven

The other

3.1  Phonological borrowing.

The name in the inspiring language is taken, i.e. New York.  The sound
in the inspiring language (English this time) is taken /nju: jO@*k/,
alternatively a local dialectal form might be preferred [nu: jO:k] (1).
Each sound is then mapped to the closest phoneme in Tokcir: /n/ > {n},
/j/ > {y}, /u:/ > {u}, /O/ > {o}, /@*/ > {r} (2), /k/ > {k}.  So the
variants {nyuyork} and {nuyok} arise.

(1) if /nju: jO@*k/ and [nu: jO:k] are not the correct pronunciations,
lets ignore them for sake of the example.  This is not a proposal to
name New York.

(2) Probably a Nula would listen /@*/ (r colored schwa) as {a}, however
the transcriptor might judge that the rhoticity is and important feature
that should be preserved.  Usually each source language would define the
exact rules on how a morpheme or morpheme group should be translated
into Tokcir phonology.

If the resulting word is illegal in Tokcir, the illegalities must be
broken.  In the {nyuyork} example {ny} is illegal in the beginning of a
word, as {rk} is illegal at the end.  For breaking illegal clusters:

First: eliminate any phoneme that might not be important.  For example,
the naming Nula might judge the {y} in {ny} is not meaningfull (after
all, New Yorkers do not pronounce it).  But if the naming Nula want to
conserve the "Standard American" feeling, this would not be suppressed.

Second: change a vowel for a consonant or a consonant for a vowel.  In
the example the {y} in {ny} might be changed to {i} and the {r} to {a}
given: {Niuyoak}, a legal word.  Note that this {i} should not be
stressed and the stress mark becomes obligatory {Niùyoak} or {Niuyòak}.

Third: insert and epenthetic sound.  This should break an illegal
consonant cluster by inserting a stressless vowel or an illegal vowel
cluster by inserting a glottal stop.  Word beginning double consonants
are made legal by either adding {e`} before or {u`} in the middle of the
cluster.  Word final double consonants are made legal by adding {a} (3)
at the end of a word.  Using this rules {nyuyork} becomes {Enyùyorka} or

(3) I am tempted to propose that, when transcribing names of people, a
final epenthetic {o} might be preferred for men rather than {a}.  /karl/
> {Karlo}. This would be used mainly when a _common_ female name might
conflict ({Karla}). The stress might be borrowed or not, according to the criteria of the Nula. If the stress is not borrowed this should fall in the first, non epenthetic vowel, and should be marked if there is an epenthetic vowel before. Otherwise the stress should fall in the place the primary stress falls in the inspiring language. i.e. Caracas might be borrowed as {Karakas} or as {Karàkas}. The first variant would sound more Tokcirish while the second would be closer to the Spanish original. When the original name is formed by more than one word in the inspiring language, the naming Nula should decide if the Tokcir name should become separate words {Nu Yorka} or one word {Nuyorka}. 3.2 Orthographical borrowing. Sometimes the Nula might not feel comfortable with a phonological borrowing, either because the naming Nula does not now the original pronunciation or because she/he has a strong feeling in preserving orthography. This orthographical borrowing has two main flavors: strict orthographical borrowing or loose. The strict orthographical borrowing would not attempt to break any illegal cluster, nor to change the value of any single letter: "New York" > {New York}. The loose orthographical borrowing will correct illegal clusters and might change a few letters: "New York" > {New Yorka} or {New Yoak}. Note that in an orthographical borrowing the monoglot Nulas will pronounce things as written, and if they find an illegal cluster they will suppress sounds or add epenthetic sounds as needed. A third variant from orthographical borrowings is used from languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, by defining a transcription schema from that language into Tokcir. i.e. alpha > {a}, beta > {b}, gamma > {g}, delta > {d}, etc. Note: A strict orthographical borrowing from a language like Chinese might use a transcribing schema like Pinyin, rather than using the original script like Hanyi. Using Pinyin would be actually the first variant. If there is a Tokcirized romanization of Chinese (i.e. using {p} for Pinyin <b>) this would become a third variant of orthographical borrowing. 3.3 Orthographical driven decision in an phonological borrowing. When borrowing a word using the standard phonological borrowing, some times approximating a sound might not be easy: should rhotic American English /@*/ be an {r} or an {a}? Some times while the sound is clear, the resulting transcription looks alien to a Nula used to the original orthography, and OTOH using a less accurate transcription does not sound too alien. In this cases, the original orthography might help decide for a variant like {Nu Yorka} over {Nu Yoak}, or {Venesuèla} over {Beneswèla}. Note that {Venesuèla} might be seen as a loose orthographical borrowing, rather than an orthographical driven phonological borrowing. While the result might be the same, there is a different in the process: ODPB: "Venezuela" >pronounced> /bene"swela/ >transcribed> {Beneswèla}
>corrected> {Venesuèla}.
LPB: "Venezuela" >strict> {Venezuela} >change /Z/ into /s/> {Venesuela} >stress> {Venesuèla}. Anyhow, once the name is coined, the way the Nula came to thad name is kind of irrelevant. 3.4 Calquing (Etymological Borrowing) Some times the name, or part of the name, means something in the inspiring language and the Nula naming the instance might decide that it is better to preserve the meaning than the sound. This way: "New York" > {Yorka Kai'}. This calquing might be complete (translating every single morpheme), or partial (translating a few morphemes and borrowing the rest), or even apply to morphemes into a word: "La Paz" (Capital of Bolivia) > {La Pas} (direct borrowing) "La Paz" (Capital of Bolivia) > {Ku Pas} (partial calquing) "La Paz" (Capital of Bolivia) > {Ku Mir} (complete calquing) "England" > {Angelset} "land of the Angles". 3.5 Non-borrowings. Close to the orthographical borrowing is not borrowing at all. This would be used when a Nula does not feel the need to have a name in Tokcir for a given instance (i.e. the name of a remote Canadian village with no Nula community for a Chinese Nula). Not borrowing will look like a strict orthographical transcription when written, or a phonological borrowing when spoken (or even sound as in the original language, if the speaker feels like ). When written, non-borrowed words should come into lazy marks. However some commonly used names might drop the lazy marks, like the measurement units derived from common names: i.e. {Coulomb}, pronounced as {kulòm}. By not using lazy marks in a scientific text in Tokcir this means that {Coulomb} is accepted as the standard name of the unit in Tokcir, rather than a concept not named in Tokcir. By written {Coulomb} and pronouncing as {kulòm}, it should be clear that this is the name of a measurement unit derived from a guy called Coulomb /ku"lom/, rather than a common Tokcir word /"tSoulomba/. 4 Naming by protocol. Sometimes instead of borrowing a systematic way might be use to name certain instances. For example, in a given calendar system, the name of the months might just be {olnasu}, {dunasu}, {ponasu}, {kanasu}, {finasu}, etc. which basically is a number followed by the suffix {-nasu} meaning "Month". This way of naming is handy in things like the western (Earth Standard) calendar system, where there is no reference language to derive the names from and the variants are many or too cultural specific (in this particular example Latin might work as inspiring language: {yanuari}, {februari} ... but when we come to the name of the days of the week...). A protocol has already been proposed for the name of the countries, which is heavily based on borrowing but adds some elements like native Tokcir suffixes, in an attempt to regularize things. 5 Changing names Names are susceptible to be changed by a community. In the Western world we used to call the capital of China as Peking, but when the Pinyin transcription became the official, pressure came to the community to begun to use Beijing instead. Beijing is an orthographic borrowing into English that people use to pronounce using English rules rather than Pinyin rules. In Tokcir names are susceptible to be changed as well, mainly due from pressure of the people that may have a claim over a name, as well as the Nula community accept the change. Given that Tokcir today is not a L1 language, but rather a conlang with barely a few years of created and still in development, with no native speaker, very few fluent speakers and a small bunch of enthusiasts that must still use dictionaries and write kits to write and read: we are all the Nula community and we are the ones naming things. It is important that we try to get a name that will not be foreseeably subject to be changed. That we are willing to change a name if the new name is better (as better reflects the wish of the people with claims over the named thing), and that we don't keep changing over opinions (like five Newyorkers discussing if the name for their city should be {Nuyòk}, {Yorka Kai'}, {Nu Yorka}, {Nu Yoak} or {Niuyòk}). -- Carlos Th