(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
Miar
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 13
Joined: 08 Jan 2020 19:31

(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Miar »

Edit: (Original description)

This thread is for quick questions related to the forum topic; Post your question and hopefully receive an answer here.

Examples of questions that should go here are e.g. "How should I romanize this sound?" and "What do you think about my phonology?"

How unusual is a language with very few voiced fricatives?

I think natural Spanish lacks any: no z, v, ð, and ʒ. But my personal project has Z [ʒ] (and in turn [dʒ]) as its only voiced fricative.

I'm not aiming for naturalism (in fact, it's artificial in-universe), but I want a little realism. OTOH, if I drop it I'd have to change the language's name.

Edit: Topic continued from the previous Q&A Thread. -Aevas, 2020-09-06
User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3933
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

Many languages have no voiced fricatives at all. Having no voiced fricatives and still having voiceless fricatives is very common.
Creyeditor
"Thoughts are free."
Produce, Analyze, Manipulate
1 :deu: 2 :eng: 3 :idn: 4 :fra: 4 :esp:
:con: Ook & Omlűt & Nautli languages & Sperenjas
[<3] Papuan languages, Morphophonology, Lexical Semantics [<3]
User avatar
sangi39
moderator
moderator
Posts: 2702
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 01:53
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

Miar wrote: 08 Jan 2020 20:35 How unusual is a language with very few voiced fricatives?

I think natural Spanish lacks any: no z, v, ð, and ʒ. But my personal project has Z [ʒ] (and in turn [dʒ]) as its only voiced fricative.

I'm not aiming for naturalism (in fact, it's artificial in-universe), but I want a little realism. OTOH, if I drop it I'd have to change the language's name.
Having a quick look, Dahalo has /z/ as its only voiced fricative (despite also having /f s ʃ ʜ h ɬ ɬʷ ʎ̥˔/), Saigon Vietnamese has /f s ʂ x h/ vs. /ɣ/ (Wikipedia suggest older /z/ has merged into /j/), and Modern Hebrew has /f s ʃ x h/ vs. /v z/. There's a fair bit of debate as to how to treat Icelandic, but under some analyses, /v/ is its sole voiced fricative, against /f θ s h/.

IIRC, the general trend is for language to have no more voiced fricatives than it has voiceless ones, and, I think, more often than not the number of voiced ones tends to be lower than the number of voiceless ones. There are, of course, a ton of languages that have no phonemic voiced fricatives at all.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
Nortaneous
greek
greek
Posts: 613
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 13:28

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nortaneous »

User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3933
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

This client should be in the resource section.
Creyeditor
"Thoughts are free."
Produce, Analyze, Manipulate
1 :deu: 2 :eng: 3 :idn: 4 :fra: 4 :esp:
:con: Ook & Omlűt & Nautli languages & Sperenjas
[<3] Papuan languages, Morphophonology, Lexical Semantics [<3]
yangfiretiger121
sinic
sinic
Posts: 324
Joined: 17 Jun 2018 03:04

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

In Galactic Standard, both palatalization and labialization pull the glottal stop forward before vowels, causing [ʔī ʔū → c pˠ]. The same is true of labialization and the velar nasal before vowels, which causes [ŋū → mˠ]. Is the allophony as written below fine, or should the distinct patterns for the aforementioned sounds be on separate lines from the main changes?

[c ɕ ʑ ç] of [ʔī tī dī kī] before vowels
[ʝ̃] of {gī ŋī} before vowels (included for full context)

[mˠ pˠ tw dw kw gw] of [ŋū ʔū tū dū kū gū] before vowels
Alien conlangs (Font may be needed for Vai symbols)
User avatar
Ser
sinic
sinic
Posts: 275
Joined: 30 Jun 2012 06:13

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

I just read that essay by Borges where he mentions a hilarious "Chinese" (read: exotic) classification of animals with 14 weird main categories like "those belonging to the Emperor", "embalmed ones", "stray dogs" and "those that tremble like mad". I had heard about this essay many times, and only because of this 14-item list. The English and Spanish Wikipedia pages also discuss the list and little else.

The essay was a response to John Wilkins' philosophical conlang, from the 17th century. Wikipedia mentions this, but I was surprised that the weird animal classification actually seems like a rhetorical device to criticize a (probably real!?) system used by a bibliographical institute in Belgium, which he finds chaotic and biased.

I also liked it when he mentions he thinks that in a language with a divine scheme of the universe, you wouldn't just get a classification of an object inside the universe, but the details of the object's "fate", namely its past and future. It reminded me of Tolkien's Ent language, which is supposedly long-winded because to be able to use a single concept in a sentnece the entire knowledge about that concept must be discussed. A named sword is not just a particular sword but its entire known history.

I added some of this to the English Wikipedia page, to see if it stays there... The essay is about more than the fun 14-item list anyway.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial ... _Knowledge
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.
wintiver
sinic
sinic
Posts: 214
Joined: 09 Oct 2012 03:37

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by wintiver »

I know Basque has laminal and apical sibilants. As I was tooling around with my current conlang's phonology I ended up pronouncing two different sibilants. A dental/interdental sibilant and a whistly, kind of Matthew McConaughey-esque, apical alveolar sibilant.

Is this ostensibly what Basque has? If there are other languages which present this sort of dental/alveolar sibilant pairing I'd love to know about it. I'm trying to justify this as a naturalistic language.

Andara has a dental series and an alveolar series. I was thinking it would be nice to have two sibilants instead of the non-sibilant (inter)dental fricative.

If anyone knows of having multiple sibilants like this please let me know. Much appreciated.
User avatar
VaptuantaDoi
sinic
sinic
Posts: 254
Joined: 18 Nov 2019 07:35

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by VaptuantaDoi »

wintiver wrote: 18 Jan 2020 18:07 I know Basque has laminal and apical sibilants. As I was tooling around with my current conlang's phonology I ended up pronouncing two different sibilants. A dental/interdental sibilant and a whistly, kind of Matthew McConaughey-esque, apical alveolar sibilant.

Is this ostensibly what Basque has? If there are other languages which present this sort of dental/alveolar sibilant pairing I'd love to know about it. I'm trying to justify this as a naturalistic language.

Andara has a dental series and an alveolar series. I was thinking it would be nice to have two sibilants instead of the non-sibilant (inter)dental fricative.

If anyone knows of having multiple sibilants like this please let me know. Much appreciated.
Mandarin and Polish have a similar apical / laminal distinction but in post-alveolars. Some Daly Languages such as Nganʼgityemerri have the same distinction with alveolars. A lot of Australian languages have the distinction in plosives and approximants but they generally don't have fricatives. It's not an unheard-of distinction.
wintiver
sinic
sinic
Posts: 214
Joined: 09 Oct 2012 03:37

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by wintiver »

I forgot about the Australian languages with their thorough dental/alveolar distinction. Thank you.
Nortaneous
greek
greek
Posts: 613
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 13:28

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nortaneous »

wintiver wrote: 18 Jan 2020 18:07 If anyone knows of having multiple sibilants like this please let me know. Much appreciated.
some Northwest Caucasian and Qiangic languages have four sibilant POAs - for example, Ubykh and Ersu
yangfiretiger121
sinic
sinic
Posts: 324
Joined: 17 Jun 2018 03:04

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

Common's verbal root for "ruin" is y-ö, with its past participle being pjyqökh [ˈfy.ʔɔkʰ]. Additionally, their word for Earth/World is Nqäuldê [ˈŋɑu̯l.ɖɜ]. One of the languages intricacies is transfixing adjectives into/around nouns they modify based upon syllable count. For example, the planet's colloquial name is pjyNqäuldêökh [fyˈŋɑu̯l.ɖɔkʰ], meaning The Ruined World—which it will remain after this question. Would you expect The Ruined World to be translated as pjyNqäuldêökh or pjyNqäuldêqökh [fy.ŋɑu̯lˈɖɜ.ʔɔkʰ] without knowing [ʔ] drops between [ɜ] and other vowels because [ɜ] drops before other vowels?
Alien conlangs (Font may be needed for Vai symbols)
User avatar
Vlürch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 322
Joined: 09 Mar 2016 21:19
Location: Finland
Contact:

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

Is it too unnaturalistic for a language to just straight up lose tone, creating tons of homophones? Especially if the same language has lots of mergers, like /pʰ/ and /kʰ/ both becoming /h/ word-initially and stuff like that?
User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3933
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

I think tons of homophones are unrealistic, but there are repair strategies like compounding to disambiguate. Losing tonal contrasts and consonantal contrasts must have happend in some more natlangs.
Creyeditor
"Thoughts are free."
Produce, Analyze, Manipulate
1 :deu: 2 :eng: 3 :idn: 4 :fra: 4 :esp:
:con: Ook & Omlűt & Nautli languages & Sperenjas
[<3] Papuan languages, Morphophonology, Lexical Semantics [<3]
Ælfwine
roman
roman
Posts: 877
Joined: 21 Sep 2015 01:28
Location: New Jersey

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine »

I forget who said this, but generally languages only deal with the mess afterwards caused by sound change. It's reasonable to assume that any loss of tone would create lots of homophones, which would be dealt with the speakers of the language (for example, compounding like in Chinese.)
My Blog
Current Projects:
Crimean Gothic — A Gothic language spoken in Crimea (duh)
Pelsodian — A Romance language spoken around Lake Balaton
Jezik Panoski — A Slavic language spoken in the same area
An unnamed Semitic language spoken in the Caucus.
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 2022
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Ælfwine wrote: 27 Jan 2020 00:10 I forget who said this, but generally languages only deal with the mess afterwards caused by sound change. It's reasonable to assume that any loss of tone would create lots of homophones, which would be dealt with the speakers of the language (for example, compounding like in Chinese.)
It seems that way, but we should also bear in mind that it has to seem that way.

I suspect, and I think studies of incipient changes support, that languages do resist changes that would cause too much 'damage'. But of course, we can't see that historically, because all the changes that don't happen are invisible...

That said, sometimes this 'preservation' mechanism fails (perhaps because compounding or other strategies are already underway?), and massively damaging changes do take place.
User avatar
LinguoFranco
greek
greek
Posts: 486
Joined: 20 Jul 2016 17:49
Location: U.S.

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco »

Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
User avatar
Jackk
roman
roman
Posts: 1305
Joined: 04 Aug 2012 13:08
Location: Damborn, Istr Boral

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Jackk »

LinguoFranco wrote: 29 Jan 2020 18:47 Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
- when you create a conlang word X, give it 3 or so different English translations
- when you want a word for some English word Y, create 3 or so conlang words for the differing uses of Y
- translate texts and create words as you need them; this can lead to conlang words with fun ranges of meaning
terram impūram incolāmus
hamteu n'un mont sug
let us live in a dirty world
User avatar
Dormouse559
moderator
moderator
Posts: 2680
Joined: 10 Nov 2012 20:52
Location: California

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 »

LinguoFranco wrote: 29 Jan 2020 18:47What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
A big thing is to look at how non-English languages have divided up the semantic space. A Conlanger's Thesaurus gives a lot of crosslinguistically common polysemies. With a quick scroll-through, I found a few listed as common that aren't found in English, like using the same word for "arm" and "wing"; "slow" and "cold"; or "bowl" and "gourd". (Note: The thesaurus has weird encoding, so it's not searchable unless you use the replacement scheme in the spoiler at the end of this post.)

In some cases, your language can also make more distinctions than English does. The first examples I think of are from Romance languages. Spanish distinguishes between ser and estar, which are both translated as "be" in English. Many Romance languages distinguish a reflex of Latin sapio from a reflex of cognosco (Fr. savoir vs. connaître; It. sapere vs. conoscere; etc.); in English, they can both be translated as "know".

Then, there are less binary changes one can make. Kinship terms are a great place for variance, since languages can make more distinctions, fewer, or just go off in different directions. English follows what's called the Eskimo kinship pattern with its terms (no distinction between maternal/paternal relatives; distinction between nuclear family and extended family). The Crow kinship pattern has about the same number of distinctions, but divvied up differently. For example, the same term refers to one's father, one's paternal uncle and the son of one's paternal aunt. Meanwhile, the same words are used for one's siblings, the children of one's maternal aunt, and the children of one's paternal uncle.

Spoiler:
plain letter → encoded letter (e.g. To search <a>, type <d> in the search bar.)
a→d
b→e
c→f
d→g
e→h
f→i
g→j
h→k
i→l
j→m
k→n
l→o
m→p
n→q
o→r
p→s
q→t
r→u
s→v
t→w
u→x
v→y
w→z
x→[
y→\
z→]
User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3933
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

LinguoFranco wrote: 29 Jan 2020 18:47 Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
Look up the words in wiktionary and check other languages beside English. Look up the words and see what other additional meanings they have in these languages.
Creyeditor
"Thoughts are free."
Produce, Analyze, Manipulate
1 :deu: 2 :eng: 3 :idn: 4 :fra: 4 :esp:
:con: Ook & Omlűt & Nautli languages & Sperenjas
[<3] Papuan languages, Morphophonology, Lexical Semantics [<3]
Post Reply