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DECAL - Scheduling, outline fleshing-out

From:Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Date:Monday, December 27, 2004, 23:53
Hello again.

So, the semester is over (yay, no more finals [for a few months]!).
Aside from meaning that now is the time I get to have my teeth drilled
and my car repaired (yay brakes that aren't metal-to-metal), that also
means that now's when I start preparing the practical stuff for my

First off: scheduling.

My class starts on the second Friday of the semester, Jan 28th. So I
have 40 1hr classes in this semester, plus one day for a "final".
That's including holidays, and assuming no problems.

In those 40 days, I need to cover (broadly speaking):
* Introduction to conlangs
* Conlang philosophies
* History of conlangs
* Typology
* Phonetics
* Phonology
* Word structure
* Orthography
* Vocab generation
* Syntax
* "Miscellaneous"

From what I've seen so far of signup - and I probably won't know
better until very near the beginning of class - the class will consist
primarily of non-linguists. Probably a fair amount of bilingual
speakers, and an occasional linguist, but it seems I'll have to
actually be teaching a large amount of beginning linguistics here
also. Of course, this will require teaching it in a different way than
in Ye Basic Intro Ling. - those mainly focus on "look at this sample,
figure out the patterns"-type work. Whereas I would have to go right
to "these are various examples of things you /could/ do; which
combinations would /work/ for you?" I don't know of any sources I can
use for *that* - other than trying to cull it myself from a basic
linguistics text.

So, the first question: How much time should I expect to spend on each
topic, just to teach the ideas of the core material? E.g., for
phonetics, to teach IPA/X-SAMPA, POA/MOA designation, etc.

A corollary question: How much time *should* I spend, overall, on the
various broad topics of the course?

One thing I was thinking recently was that I will probably want to
take at least few days to seriously discuss each of the various
possible "conlang ideologies" - e.g. auxlangs, artlangs, cryptlangs,
etc. It seems to me that without a solid idea of the *purpose* of your
language, it would be hard (and worse than arbitrary) to make any
design decisions. E.g., if you want to do an Elgin-style thing of
making a language to represent a particular worldview, then phonetics
probably won't be as important as morphology and vocab gen; if you're
more interested in making a language that sounds pretty and is
understandable only to you, then the opposite may well be true. So,
how many days to spend on this? How much is there to say, really,
about the overarching premises on which each conlang-ideology is
built? (E.g., for auxlangs, for all x, x should be common to the most
global speakers possible.)

Another is that the outline below is in serious need of fleshing-out.
My knowledge of some areas of linguistics is relatively limited -
e.g., typology and syntax - and I need to figure out what to cover.
The priority, of course, is to cover the broadest amount of accessible
material possible, in enough depth to make it plausible for a student
to implement that system or a spinoff thereof.

Suggestions? Comments? Flames?

 - Sai

--- Current Class Outline, for reference [... = incomplete] ---


- start lecture with Klingon, Quenya, Esperanto versions of opening remarks

- what
- who (G LH B Ls, of course)
- why: machine translation, IAL, filling out fictional worlds;
"fixing" natlangs; private language / cryptolang; artlang; Sapir-Whorf
testing; universals testing; proto-languages; communication w/ God;
political reasons; what-if scenarios; compaction / redundancy; new
modalities (telegraph, morse, etc); ideal language; game / play; learn
- kinds / categories
- scopes
- parts of development (phonetics, morphology, syntax, orthogrpahy, etc.)
- class backgrounds (poll): non-Eng L1; non-Eng L2; CL L2; ever heard
of; formal ling. b/g, etc
- intro self: who the hell is teaching this, anyway
- final project
-> Option 1: Language Creation!
--> Criteria: A) Human; B) not like L1 or English; C) not a code -
original - and full scope; D) IPA P.I., standard-form descriptions; E)
Babel text translation
-> Option 2: Modular, detailed sub-parts
-> Option 3: Research project or other proposal
- administrativa
-> class structure
--> lecture/discussion, examples, open format, not the be-all/end-all,
no Final Word
--> *options* for everything
-> HWK
-> LJ
--> course join entry
-> adding / CCNs (3rd week)
-> reader
-> text (?)
-> A/V recording

- Questions?

- browse LJ comm, sign up, post comment to sign-up-here post
- look at Conlang FAQ
- look at CONLANG m/l; maybe sign up
- browse resource websites (omniglot, langmaker, zompist, etc)


- timeline (langmaker stats, etc); growth of Internet; growth of
conlanging in 90s-00s
- Lingua Ignota, Bala-i-balan, Dalgarno's Universal Language, Solresol, Volapuk
- V. manuscript
- phil. langs
-> Loglan/Lojban, ...
- IALs
-> Esperanto, Ido, ...
- artlangs
-> Quenya, Klingon, ...
- "secret" conlangs
-> English, French (prescriptive)
-> Korean, Turkish, Amerindian (writing systems)
-> Hebrew, etc. (revived)
-> Morse, Semaphore, SEE, etc. (created)
-> Pig Latin, Thieves' Cant, Leonardo, etc. (codes)

- find 1 NON famous conlang, read up on it online

- start thinking about what type of language is personally attractive & why


Naturalness spectrum
- natlang
- a priori
- a posteriori

- relexification
- natlang -> code (phonemic/morphemic/lexical)
- naming language (e.g. Hobbit tongue)
- short phrases (e.g. Dune citations?)
- language addition (e.g. Nadsat, jargon, slang)
- working language (all parts; the CL project)
- "full" language (enough to write, talk, etc., about anything)
- modularity of part(s)

- artlang
- loglang
- auxlang
- ...

- strong vs. weak
- ...

Prototypes / Criteria
- what is "language" anyway
- how (if?) to "evaluate" language subj/obj
-> prototypes / "schools" of criteria
--> [list possible prototypes]

- SOV etc
-> commonness
- (poly)synthetic, isolating, inflectional, ...

- ?
- CL: Decide (tentaively!) on a type of language and the goals to work
towards - what prototype(s) / criteria would you judge your own
success by?

Sound & Writing Systems

* Phoentics
- phonetic (not phonemic/orthographic) inventory
- phonaesthetics (very subjective - various possible prototypes?)
-> Klingon: harsh / clipped / "alien"
-> Quenya: high, vowelly, "beautiful"
-> onomatopaeia - variation (e.g. Japanese); closeness to reality
-> "harsh" = fricatives, affricates?; gentle = sonorant?; etc.
-> cultural/linguistic bias - cross-cultural associations, etc
- iconicity of representation (subjective?)
-> direct, opposite, aribitrary? Hearing = feeling?
-> plosive = outward / exploding, unreleased/nasal = restrained, etc??
- articulatory descriptions
-> MOA, POA, IPA charts
- featural descriptions
- vowel length
- [] vs //
- borrowing assimilation
- ...?

- p.i. of Klingon, Quenya, English, Mandarin; maybe a click language also?

- read an IPA intro / tutorial online, listen to the online IPA sound inventory
- look up and understand CXS
- think about phonaesthetics; why do some words "sound" harsh, soft, etc.
- transliterate some samples from known language(s) to IPA & CXS
- CL: create a phonetic inventory for CL; describe what features it
considers "distinguishing"

* Phonemes

- allophones
-> rule-based variation: local context, vocalic context, front/back
assimilation, deletion, elision, lengthening, nasalization, etc.
- natural classes
-> commonness of various natural classes & various Cs/Vs; "universals"
of exist(a) -> exist(b); etc
- "lowest common denominator" sounds

- tone
-> register
-> contour

- small examples of English allophones
- Mandarin tones; register-tone lang?
- ex. of rules?


- phoneme analysis problem sets - figure out patterns, rules
- look up various possible phoneme rules, think of other possibilities
- invent //->//->[] rules to match given examples; build from one-step
to multi-step; require multiple possible derivations
- CL: build on p.i. from previous: create phoneme system, describe
allophonic variation & some potential rules governing them

* Word / syllable structure

- consonant clusters
-> "maximum"s (varies)
-> "universals" of intra-cluster rules (e.g. voicing)
-> other possible intra-cluster rules; allowable positions by natural
class / phoneme, etc
- Cs/Vs optional? (still need syllabics of some sort)
- syllabics = core (not just Vs)
- (C)CV syllabaries
- MTI - self-bounding S.S.?
- multiple, optional S.S.s
- (hint at morphology) S.S. -> meaning change?
- syllable boundaries - "greedy clusters" version to determine where
to split VCCCCV

- CL: choose syllable structure(s), cluster rules, etc.

* Orthography

- alphabets
-> 1:1 phonetic?
-> M:1 / 1:M / M:M
-> "spelling"
-> diacritics
- syllabary - CV, (C)CV, etc
- abjad (no V / short-V)
- logo/icono-graphic
-> has phonetic equiv.?
-> internal morphology?
- multiple orthographies
-> phonetic vs. iconic?
-> "script" / modal differences
--> used together? apart? when?
- contour-based ID
-> "caps" (multiple versions?)
- letter variation
-> placement in word
-> indicate something grammatical (gender, etc.)
- punctuation
-> ...?
- direction
-> L->R, R->L, boustrophedon, etc.

- Omniglot
- LaTeX / Metafont

* Bringing it together

- orthography / structure / phonology / phoneme interface
- ...



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