Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: new species - help!

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Sunday, February 24, 2002, 21:56

Before I could answer your question, I'd need more information than you've
given about the creatures' vocal apparatus.

In humans, the power for voice production is supplied by a stream of air
from the lungs.   If your aliens have no lungs, what supplies the power for
their vocal apparatus?   Maybe you could have an electrochemically activated
vocal membrane that vibrates like a loudspeaker and a enables the alien to
produce limitless varieties of sounds.  In that case, your vocal apparatus
could serve to produce both vowels and consonants;  your stops wouldn't have
to all sound alike.

Does this species live underwater?

If not, sound in a liquid-filled resonating chamber would be muffled or
inaudible to a listener moving about in the air, much as sound at the bottom
of a swimming pool would be muffled or inaudible to people with air-filled
middle ears and ear canals.   So, if your species lives in the air, you'd
better keep your resonating chamber air-filled.

Is the resonating chamber flexible, or does it have flexible structures
inside it?   If so, what shapes can the chamber assume?   In humans, the
tongue (with help from the velum and lips) changes the shape of the
resonating chamber to produce different vowel qualities.  I have no idea how
you would go about designing an alien vocal tract and predicting what vowel
sounds it would make, but maybe other listers can address this.

What kind of mouth does your plant-species have, and what function does it
serve?   In human beings, the tongue, jaw, teeth, velum, and uvula all serve
as articulators, but these organs
exist chiefly to help us animal-people to chew and swallow the body parts we
ingest.   The shape (and articulatory usefulness) of your plant-people's
articulators will depend on what their mouths were designed to do.

Perhaps your species' mouth has no articulators, and the mouth serves merely
to modulate the resonance & resulting vowel quality of your alien's speech.
For that matter, the consonants would be affected too.   If the alien's
articulators were in its "throat" rather than its mouth, this would give
rise to the "bad dubbing" effect you mentioned, which seems logical to me.

As things stand, you have some research ahead of you.  You could simplify
things by supposing, e.g., that your plant species could produce any sound a
loudspeaker could;   that they communicate in whistles with the aid of an
air-bladder, etc.

That's my opinion;   correct it at will,

Jim G.