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Re: "Godless phonemes without complex voice modulation apparatus"

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 26, 2005, 5:49
On Monday, April 25, 2005, at 01:00 , B. Garcia wrote:

> On the Live Journal conlangs community one member posted a > transliteration of her conlang into Devanagari (she says she uses the > Bangla (Bengali) script to write it. She gave an English translation, but > when I asked her to do an IPA tranlisteration so we could see how  > "graceful and lilting" the language is, she said that "Terrestrial beings > are frustratingly incapable of synthesising its godless phonemes without > complex voice modulation apparatus". If it is impossible to convey how a > language that humans can't speak through IPA, then how would Bangla be > better?
Quite so - it wouldn't IMO. If the conlanger in question had devised her own symbols because the sounds were such that humans cannot produces its phonemes (what about the allophones?) "without complex voice modulation apparatus", one could sympathize with the view that IPA (or some other human script) was not practical. But she can, apparently, use an existing human script. The obvious thing, it seems to me, is to have someone familiar with the script to apply a standard transliteration into Roman script.
> My view is that she should at least give us an impression of how it is > into at least a description.
I agree. If the language _sounds_ lilting and graceful, then it should be possible to describe those sounds even if the description is very technical.
> I wonder what it must sound like if it's lilting and graceful?
"godless phonemes" does not suggest lilting & graceful to mean :)
> But mostly, is it impossible to give an impression of a conlang that is > presumably impossible for us mundane earthlings to simulate with out > speech?
It should not be. Language is meant to _communicate_ - it has to have some sort of "outward" form. Anyone who wanted to do so, should IMO be able to describe how the communication is effected.
> Is it reasonable to present it without some sort of way to give us an > impression of it? What other ways are there to represent a language which > humans cannot speak?
I could be difficult in the case of beings who communicated by telepathy. But Srikanth managed to overcome that in his description of Lin. IMO if a conlangers wants to describe the method of communication she/he will find a way of doing so.
> I know that the Rikchik use sign language, which is elegantly rendered in > a script of its own.
Yep - but it is presumably possible to give a description of the way its 'speakers' do their signing and to relate the symbols of the script to the system of signs.
> All I could really say to the person who posted, is that the Bangla or > Devanagari is pretty, but I could say the same about an ad written in > Hindi.
Yes, indeed. All I can suggest is that you keep copies of examples of her 'Bangla transliterations' and find someone who can read the Bangla script and transliterate it into Roman script.
> It gives me no impression of her statement that the language is lilting > and graceful.
I suspect that even such a transliteration as I have suggested above will not give much idea whether the language is "lilting and graceful". One would need to know about things like tone and stress - and these things need to be described. Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]