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Re: Daily exercise

From:Daniel Baisden <derelictdan@...>
Date:Sunday, August 8, 2004, 13:30
Just Curious, why Mammals and not a Short Story or something?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Herman Miller" <hmiller@...>
To: <CONLANG@...>
Sent: Saturday, August 07, 2004 10:44 PM
Subject: Daily exercise

> I've been busy at work lately and haven't had much time for conlanging; > what little time I have is quickly taken up by trying to figure out > notations for new musical temperaments and catching up on email. It's > been a while since I've done any real music or substantial conlanging. > So I've given myself a new project of translating one sentence each day, > and I'm creating a new language from scratch for the exercise. I don't > even have a name for it yet, but I'm informally calling it "Monvi" from > the title of what I'm translating (the introduction to the "Mammals" > chapter of the _Macmillan Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia_). The Monvi > word for "mammal" is "ma(w" (imagine the '(' is a Polish nasal hook), > pronounced [mQ~v], pl. "ma(wy" [mQ~v1]. > > I haven't quite been keeping up with translating a sentence every day, > but I've already got 5 sentences done. Things are starting to fall into > place. There's a danger in being too literal, running across a word like > "adaptability" and coming up with an equivalent by translating each > part, "adapt-abil-ity" = /lepS/-@m/-at/, but on the other hand it's not > something I want to spend a lot of time on taking it too seriously. The > language will probably end up being unnaturally simple and regular, > without some of the naturalistic elements like gender and long tables of > inflected verb forms, but it's not a goal of the project to be realistic. > > In any case, it can be an interesting exercise to decide how much of > English makes it through the translation and how much is original. I've > decided to let some words through in distorted but recognizable form: > "Monvi" might be related to a form of English or other familiar > languages that arose in an alternate universe. So there's "hl/egla" > [xwEGla] for "whale", "sia(gla" [SQ~Gla] for "seal", "nimla" [Jimla] for > "animal", and so on. But in general I try to come up with words that > aren't much like English, especially the idiomatic uses. > > Practically every sentence has these kinds of issues: take the title of > the chapter: "Mammals -- the peak of vertebrate adaptibility". Maybe > some other language can use "peak" in this sense, but would another way > of translating it be more appropriate? I settled on using "head" in the > sense of "front", or metaphorically as "leader". I could probably have > thought of something better, but I figured it was better to get on with > sketching the language; nothing at this stage is fixed and it's easy to > change things. > > I suppose I might as well give the translation of the title: > > Ma(wy, jaze( rast lepsie:matu wle:bron (e: is e with dieresis) > ["mQ~v1 jazE~ "rast lEpS@"maTu "vl@BrO~n] > > ma~v -1 jaz-e~ rast-0 lepS -@m -at -u wl@br -on > mammal-ABS:PL be -PART head-ABS adapt-abil-ity-GEN vertebrate-GEN:PL > > ABS: absolutive > PL: plural > PART: participle > GEN: genitive > > In Unicode for Unicode-enabled browsers: > > Mąwy, jazę rast lepsiëmatu wlëbron > [ˈmɒ̃vɨ jazɛ̃ ˈrast ˈlɛpʃəmaθu ˈvləβrɔ̃n] > > As you can see, the spelling makes it look a little bit like Polish, but > only at first glance: the frequent e-trema, the dots on c and g (as in > Maltese, pronounced [tS] and [dZ]), and occasional w-acute (representing > a palatalized w, pronounced [H]) give it away. Originally [v] was > spelled "v" and [w] as "w", but as it was starting to look a little like > Polish with the acute accents on s, z, and n, I changed "w" to the > Polish barred l and "v" to "w" to make it look even more like Polish. > > The full inventory of sounds thus far: > > p b t d tS dZ k g > m n J > v s z S Z x > r > H j w > l > > (Stops also have fricative allophones.) > > i i~ 1 u u~ > E E~ @ O > a Q~ > > Here's the sentences that I've translated so far: > > Zidia( ma(wy la ti(zion 4,008, jaze( ne:j we:bron tes'pa lepsie:mi ly > sie(wi panu( nia nieptu ruju jelu(. Jaza( hl/egly lelpy li sia(gly de > le(diy wi(zi( kunymu nimlon wa(l sia(zon, kui suza( myrgy sike c'l/ason > ga webron nej hewron hrusiu. Kl/a niomu zyrju, suza( kiusiy ma(won la > sie(wu goziu pa(l wu(ru, nia wu(ru niomu, ly te:l hrynon ly mepsienu > lukiu. Me:nzeka( giru( ma(wen sim la myrgu wespon, jaze( jedza(ky > wiekton luilo ty zielu. Kl/a kiusiy se nari(, bynuwyt wo ma(won hrawylat > ksius'te pielnic'on jedza(ku. > > Another thing you might notice that gives it away as being not Polish is > the "iy" combination: palatalized consonants followed by "y". I keep > telling myself that this shouldn't look weird if "y" is just another > vowel, but it does seem to look better with an acute accent on the > consonant instead of using "i" to mark the palatalization. And I can't > bring myself to write [w] as slashed l after l: "luilo" should really be > "ll/ilo", but that looks weird. Maybe I should go back to using "w" for > [w] and "v" for [v]. Here's what it looks like in Unicode. > > Zidią mąwy la tįzion 4,008, jazę nëj wëbron teśpa lepsiëmi ly sięwi panų > nia nieptu ruju jelų. Jazą hłegly lelpy ly siągly de lędiy wįzį kunymu > nimlon wąl siązon, kui suzą myrgy sike ċłason ga webron nej hewron > hrusiu. Kła niomu zyrju, suzą kiusiy mąwon la sięwu goziu pąl wųru, nia > wųru niomu, ly tël hrynon ly mepsienu lukiu. Mënzeką girų mąwen sim la > myrgu wespon, jazę jedząky wiekton luilo ty zielu. Kła kiusiy se narį, > bynuwyt wo mąwon hrawylat ksiuśtę pielniċon jedząku. >


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>