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telepaths, sound changes, age changes, v changes, and lexicon

From:Muke Tever <alrivera@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 4, 2001, 7:25
> From: "Tim Judge, Erion Telepalda" <judget@...> > Subject: illithid phonetics > > I am toying with the idea of a language for use in fantasy
> It will be spoken by Illithids or Mind Flayers, ot those not familiar with > them (I didn't just think them up) they are humanoid amphibian like > creatures with immense psionic (psychic) powers.
Ooh, they have those in Final Fantasy Tactics. Only but they wrote it 'Mindflare'. There's a lot of fun transliteration differences in that game... I set myself to find the sources for most of the monster names (names of individual monsters, not of species). Most of them are pretty transparently Greek, only transliterated without distinguishing aspirated/unaspirated stops, or long vowels, and l/r differences to be expected in a translation from the Japanese: Persepone for Persephonê, Garateia for Galateia... some are more difficult: Ribentina < Latin _Libentina_ 'Venus', Rukoprone < Lykophrôn? ...Sorry, this is way irrelevant ;)
> From: jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...> > Subject: Re: illithid phonetics > > Yoon Ha Lee sikayal: > > > On a not very related note, Piers Anthony suggests in _Omnivore_ (okay, > > it isn't the greatest SF, but it's better than a lot of his more recent > > stuff) that a telepathic species would actually have a *dis*incentive to > > "invent" (spoken) language. > > I've always thought that, myself. However, any real scientific theory of > telepathic species would actually imply a "mental language". The > telepathic signal would take the form of electromagnetic pulses, > presumably, and there would have to be some form of input/output protocol > within the species, which would ultimately be the same thing as a > language. The only difference is that it would be transmitted through a > different medium.
And there'd possibly be reasons for spoken language anyway, depending on the nature of the telepathy in question: it may have a short range, it may not be 'broadcastable' to more than one person at a time, or whatnot. (I know the first limitation my Terras people have, and I'm pretty sure but not entirely so about the second..) A related 'handicap' is that their telepathy is not recordable (at least, not currently; I don't know about later) and so a written language is useful..
> From: jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...> > Subject: Re: Digest 2 Apr > > Muke Tever sikayal: > > > I like phonology, but I don't know enough about historical phonology
> > > be entirely comfortable with the sound-changes I devise. > > > > Hehe. My langs tend to have regular but likely-implausible sound
> > I don't know. There's some pretty weird stuff out there, like s > r, > which is attested multiple times, but which I can't justify in my own > mind.
I believe that it passes through 'z' first usually (s > z > r), although I'm not sure that's much better ;) Hadwan has that change, itself, actually. What I meant though is that though they may be regular they're not all systematic, in the sense that you could make rules like "all voiced stops become voiced fricatives", or "all palatals become affricates" (for example). Although I do have a bunch of rules built that way, sometimes strange changes happen: for example, IE velar *gh becomes Proto-Hadwan *š (/S/), although a reflex like 'y' /G/ (or whatever the 'gamma' sign is) would be expected; or the various expansions of proto-hadwan syllabic sonorants in Hadwan (m=, n=, r=, l= > em, in, ur, ul)... It just doesn't seem 'neat' enough to me, but I amn't going to change them.
> From: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...> > Subject: Gendered Language (was Re: Digest 2 Apr) > > > Actually, I already had in mind that for one of my future planned
> > (what starts out conculturally as an invented "children's language")
that at
> > least two age statuses [...stata? statorides? states?] would be > > morphologically involved. > > That would be complicated. Would the child have to completely change > the way he talks when he reaches a certain age?
Possibly the child would 'grow out of' the language and move on to talking the regular language adults use. Or, if not that, he may speak in 'adult voice' when he doesn't wish to be regarded as a child any longer. The system might not in fact last very long... All I know now, anyway, is that the language will have been invented; I have not yet discovered what kind of destiny it has ;) It is in fact set too far in the future to tell from what I have now.
> From: Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...> > Subject: Re: Digest 2 Apr > > That reminds me--how/why, insofar as the question is answerable, did > Latin v [w] go to v [v] in the Romance languages (or most of them, I > think)? A friend of mine who sings (ecclesiastical) Latin sometimes and > has had Spanish was wondering and I don't know the answer.
Well, it went to [B] in Spanish, IIRC, which is basically simply changing the approximant [w] to the fricative [B]. But yeah, Latin v > Spanish v. In fact I think that etymology is the main way to tell which should be used in (what I guess is the majority of) dialects of Spanish that don't differentiate <v> and <b>. An example if you need one, L 'vita' > Sp 'vida', L 'ventus' > Sp 'viento'.
> From: Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...> > Subject: Re: Conlanging techniques > > Forgot to mention this--Rosenfelder's sound change program (it can be > found at is useful for brute-force application of > sound changes, though I find the fact that it can't handle digraphs > unless you write up special rules yourself annoying. If my programming > were any less rusty I would try to write a version that *could* handle > strings instead of just single letters.
Heh, you and me both ;) I had to use practically all the punctuation on my keyboard to convert all the digraphs and higher Unicode characters to monogr... (er, neither 'monogram' nor 'monograph' is the right word!!)... but it came out okay in the end, even if I have to end up with rules like K/>/_y (er, that is Proto-Hadwan <sy> <s,y> and <s'y> all become <s'>... the rule to delete the <y> is later). Yo hey, maybe anyone can help me. Proto-Hadwan has these three pure sibilants (i.e., non-affricates) <s> /s/, <s,> (s-cedilla), and <s'> (s-caron) /S/. As you can see I have reasonable phonetic values for <s> and <s'>, but not one for <s,>, anybody have any ideas? It develops from IE palatal *k, and results in Hadwan /s/ (...eventually).
> I keep conlang notes/files in notebooks or as WP files or in HTML. > (Hard-coding tons of line breaks is a pain, but my computer is a Mac and > the one I use that's internet-connected is a Win98 PC---not to mention my > next computer may be a PC--so the idea was the HTML would be platform > independent but more formattable than text/ASCII.) If I had any sense I > would write my own very basic Chevraqis-tailored database program > (perhaps one that could even handle vertical words...). Elsewhere, > Shoebox has been mentioned (I think you have to pay for it, though) and > someone on the list (sorry! don't remember who) wrote a conlang-database > program called Kura (?) though I don't remember what platform(s) it's for.
Kura's cross-platform, you can use it (presumably) on any computer with a Python installation (and qt, and a few other things it needs). I'm able to run it here on Windows 95. There's also the old LangMaker program (somewhere at which has a feature like zompist's sound program, although it does allow digraphs in sound changes (but not variables, unfortunately...).
> From: "Tim Judge, Erion Telepalda" <judget@...> > Subject: lexicon > > Hey does anyone know where I can find out the minimum of words I need for
> "complete" language. English Dictionarys are useless for this (and much to > big), and I don't know any other language well enough for me to determin > exactly how usefull the words are.
Here's a short list: I You [2nd person singular] Someone Something People [people in general] This Two Many Word Move There is Alive, living Big Small Now Here Can Not Very Maybe The same/the same as Another One/one of More Want Feel [undifferentiated between 'physical' and 'emotional'] See Hear Happen/happen to Good Bad When (at a time, etc)... Before After A long time A short time Where (in a place, etc)... Under Above Far from Close to/near Inside Part/part of Kind/kind of Like If Because If...would All Some/Some of Think Know Say Do This is apparently a functional list of Anna Wierzbicka's lexical universals (invariant, basically indefinable concepts represented in all languages researched). [Different languages don't necessarily have to treat the words the same way English does; they may use a noun where we use a verb, for example. They may possibly only express some by an affixed morpheme or somesuch.] She _says_ that any concept can be explained in terms of these words. This is an idea I'm not entirely sure of, but may be possible, even if it would be hideously complicated for some ideas. The list may not be 'current' or 'complete', it's just the copy I have on hand. I do know some of the terms have changed over time (ISTR in the past 'imagine' and 'world' were on this list). Hmm, I wonder if a conlang would be feasible with just those words in it. I don't know what the corresponding grammar for it (that is, based on the same principle) would look like, though.
> From: Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...> > Subject: Re: lexicon > > On Wed, 4 Apr 2001, Tim Judge, Erion Telepalda wrote: > > > Hey does anyone know where I can find out the minimum of words I need
for a
> > "complete" language. English Dictionarys are useless for this (and much
> > big), and I don't know any other language well enough for me to determin > > exactly how usefull the words are. > > You can find a claim to a composite 2000-word "minimum" at the Landau > Universal Vocabulary: > >
Hmm, do words 'marijuana' (1859), 'zebra' (1915), 'to call via phone' (921), and the like really have a claim to being universal?
> From: David Peterson <DigitalScream@...> > Subject: Re: Verb order in Montreiano > > In a message dated 4/3/01 4:30:50 PM, yl112@CORNELL.EDU writes: > > << (that's the IPA symbol I > can *never* remember, darnit! and my browser refuses to play the sounds > this time...) >> > > It looks like a lower-case "c" with a thingy on the bottom, like in the > French name "Francois". I'd write it out, but I hear those symbols don't > show up on everyone's screen, so "c" she remains.
'c' with cedilla. 'c' by itself, BTW, is the palatal stop. *Muke! --


Andrew Chaney <adchaney@...>telepaths, sound changes, & Final Fantasy
Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...>
Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Marcus Smith <smithma@...>