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Tsuhon: tentative phonology

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 25, 2001, 2:34
Tsuhon is a blend of Japanese and German I've been thinking about for a
while.  It is *not* intended to look naturalistic (i.e. like something
that might result if you dumped a bunch of Japanese speakers and a bunch
of German speakers together on some one-way offplanet colony), just
evocative.  The idea is to take mostly-Japanese "grammar" (no matter how
vague a term it is) with a mostly-German lexis mutilated into
mostly-Japanese phonology.

I toyed with the idea of modifying the hiragana or something, then
concluded the Roman alphabet would just be easier (especially for typing
purposes), at least for now.  Japanese transliterates really nicely
compared to most languages I can think of anyway.

"Tsuhon" comes from a lame blend of "Doitsu" and "Nihongo."  If anyone
has any better suggestions I would happily rename it.

I apologize in advance to fluent speakers of Japanese and/or German, to
whom this will probably look Really Hideous (TM).

If anyone hasn't been scared off yet...


[i]     [u]
[e] [@] [o]

NOTE: Vowel length is phonemic.  I'm debating whether to represent long
vowels orthographically with macrons (don't know how to do this on this
computer), colon (e.g. "so:" vs. "so"), or doubled vowels ("soo" vs.
"so").  Or maybe even an acute accent.  I like macrons (after almost a
semester of Latin they've grown on me) but perhaps the acute accent is
more type-istically convenient.

i        u
e   @(*) o

[@] (so far) mostly occurs as word-final--when things like "Ritter" have
the final -er mutilated into simply [@]--and is written "e," e.g.
"Ritter" -> "rite" (amusingly enough).

How German maps onto this:
Rounded vowels shift to their non-rounded equivalent.
Long vowels go to doubled vowels, short vowels go to single vowels.
I'm going to have to work on glides and stuff (e.g. "Haus") on a case by
case basis when I have more time.  (Dirk, was it you who recommended _The
Structure of German_?  It's really helpful--I haven't had time to look at
it closely lately, but thank you.  Or if it wasn't you, I apologize
abjectly to the person whose name I forgot, and thank you again.)

[p] [b]  [t] [d]             [k] [g] [maybe glottal stop]
[m]      [n]                 [N]
                  [tS] [dZ]
[f] [v]  [s] [z]  [S]  [Z]?  [x]     [h]

Orthography (*very* tentative):
p b  t d            k g
m    n              ng
          ch   j
f v  s z  sz/s zz?  x    h

Syllable structure will probably end up looking a lot like that of
Japanese, but I am way too fond of the [St] (e.g. "stark"), [Sp] (e.g.
"Spiel"), [Sv] (e.g. "schwarz"), etc. consonant clusters that I'm
thinking of preserving them.  So "schwarz" -> (maybe) svarutsu, where "s"
orthographically before another consonant is understood to be [S], and
[s] otherwise; and [S] otherwise is "sz".

I would like to preserve at least some of the fun/ky consonant
distributions in Japanese, e.g. "ta chi tsu te to," so "Tier" -> (maybe)
"chi:re".  Or "du" -> (maybe) "zu:".

The syllable structure constraints will likely make lots of words longer,
and I will probably have to play around with word transfers until I see
what things work.  But man, it's way too much fun converting words in the
margins of my math notes.

For now I'm killing geminates (? the things that get transliterated as
doubled consonants in Japanese).

Samples of mutilated German/Japanese possible lexis later, when I have
more time.  :-)

YHL, who discovered just tonight that her take-home math prelim is due
Friday morning, not *tomorrow* morning


Patrick Dunn <tb0pwd1@...>Occult languages
Barry Garcia <barry_garcia@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>