First Language [snake/reptile based]

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NoVacantNames
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First Language [snake/reptile based]

Post by NoVacantNames »

I'm working on a comic where the antagonists are lizard folk. Instead of just doing random squiggles for their dialogue I thought giving it some actual backing would be cool. I'm new to this but found some guides and started picking sounds I thought they'd be capable of;

https://imgur.com/aLbnQrk (just the voiceless variants)

For the vowels I was thinking AEI would be sounds they could make as well.

My though process was more tongue, throat based, airy sounds. Nothing with the lips.

Was looking for some advice/guidance before I go further. I feel like trimming it down might help some, and also some advice on potentially 'romanizing' it so I can work with it more easily. An idea I had was using an apostrophe for where the sound is made in the mouth since they are pretty similar like ['th] for front [t'h] for middle, etc.

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Re: First Language [snake/reptile based]

Post by Tanni »

Welcome here on the CBB!
NoVacantNames wrote:
28 Jan 2020 00:26
I'm working on a comic where the antagonists are lizard folk.
Lizard folk can mean a lot, see e. g. Reptiloide in Perry Rhodan series. Check out the "Bekannte reptiloide Völker" (Known reptiloide people) part for how they look.
NoVacantNames wrote:
28 Jan 2020 00:26
Instead of just doing random squiggles for their dialogue I thought giving it some actual backing would be cool. I'm new to this but found some guides and started picking sounds I thought they'd be capable of;

https://imgur.com/aLbnQrk (just the voiceless variants)
As they are your invention, you can give them any abilities you like. They need not be restricted by the physis of actual lizards,
at least if it is a science fiction setting. Here is an example of a reptiloide race Motomuni using a melodic singsong (to control their symbiosis partners):
www.perrypedia.de/wiki/Motomuni wrote: Zur Kontrolle ihrer Symbiosepartner verwenden die Motomuni einen hohen, melodischen Singsang.
I've checked some of the other, more well known races, but there is not much about their languages. Maybe the Merakylan could also be interesting to you, due to how they look. They have some kind of lips, so also rounded vowels would be possible.
NoVacantNames wrote:
28 Jan 2020 00:26
For the vowels I was thinking AEI would be sounds they could make as well.

My though process was more tongue, throat based, airy sounds. Nothing with the lips.
Consider to add some unrounded back vowels, as the ones you already have are only front vowels. (Maybe A could be also back, depending on what actual sound you associate it to.) This would look more realistic.
NoVacantNames wrote:
28 Jan 2020 00:26
Was looking for some advice/guidance before I go further. I feel like trimming it down might help some, and also some advice on potentially 'romanizing' it so I can work with it more easily. An idea I had was using an apostrophe for where the sound is made in the mouth since they are pretty similar like ['th] for front [t'h] for middle, etc.
The apostroph is considered to be used a lot "too often" in fictious writing, so maybe some unusual letter combinations to denote unusual sounds would be better.
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Re: First Language [snake/reptile based]

Post by sangi39 »

How you romanise it will probably depend a lot on whether you care about the target audience (whether you want them to have at least a semi-reasonable approximation of the language, whether you think heavy use of diacritics or the apostrophe will cause them to just skip over it, etc.), and what sounds the speakers of your language, in-world, actually make.

On the second point, you've said that they're able to make those sounds, but how many of them are actually distinguished within the particular language you're dealing with, e.g. do they actually distinguish between the dental and alveolar non-sibilant fricatives, and, if they do, are the alveolar non-sibilant fricatives distinct from their sibilant counterparts within that particular language (as far as I'm aware, in human languages, there's none that distinguish /θ/, /θ̠/ and /s/ (I'm not 100% there's a language where a sibilant is distinct from a non-sibilant at the same POA, except for things like fricative trills /r̝/). Anyway, point is, if that's the possible range of sounds that the entire species is at least hypothetically able to produce, then you still have room to pick and choose which sounds you actually want to use.

As for the first point, well, there's certainly a ton of ways to romanise this, depending on how much you want to rely on things like digraphs (trigraphs, tetragraphs, etc.) and diacritics, which could be dependent on the syllable structure of the language (sometimes digraphs can be ambiguous if you want them to be, e.g. using <ng> for both /ŋ/ and /ŋ.g/). And, again, the romanisation you choose might be dependent on your intended audience and how much you care that they "read it correctly".

You could use, for example, <t> for /θ̠/, but most (English as a first language) people will probably pronounce that as /t/. Similarly, you could use <t'h> (with the apostrophe meaning "back version of X"), but then some people might pronounce that as /t.h/, assuming the apostrophe is a syllable break, or /təh/ if it's at the start or the end of a word, or as /θ/, just flat out ignoring the apostrophe completely.

And then your choice, as mentioned above, could depend on what sounds the language actually distinguishes. If they don't distinguish between the post-alveolar and retroflex sibilants then, sweet, you don't need to come up with a way of writing them all.

I suspect, though, that you are intending to use all of them, and since it's for a comic, might be easier to stay away from diacritics, so maybe:

/ts dz/ <ts dz>
/ʔh/ <'h>
/s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ɕ ʑ/ <s z sh zh x j sy zy>
/θ ð θ̠ ð̠ ɹ̠̊˔ ɹ̠˔ ç ʝ ħ h ɦ/ <th dh t d hr r hy y ch h hh>
/ɬ ɮ/ <hl (d)l>

/i e a/ <i e a>

But there's a) room for the reader to mispronounce stuff (they could ignore <hh> and just think /h/, <sy> might get read as /sj/, etc.), and b) there's room for ambiguity, e.g. /ɕ/ vs. /sj/ would both be <sy> without some way of disambiguating the two.
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Re: First Language [snake/reptile based]

Post by NoVacantNames »

Thank for the welcome and replies. Like I said I'm knew to language making so sorry if I'm a little slow on the pick up/explanations. I wasn't sure how much about them I should post, but some more specifics might help. So what I have so far;

- Medieval fantasy type setting
- They live in a desert
- They are dimorphic with the Males appearance based on a more bipedal komodo dragon and Females based on naga/snakes [my concepting sketches]
- Are large average 6' - 8' or more
- Most likely nomadic/small tribes

I envisioned it similar in sound to Parseltongue from the harry potter movies. If that gives a more helpful example. I was planning on making their own 'alphabet'/writing system to display when they speak, so the Romanization would mainly be used on something like this. So I don't think digraphs would be much of a problem? Not married to the apostrophe thing either, just the first idea I had.

Since they are based more on actual reptiles I figured they'd be more able to distinguish between the subtle variations in fricatives more easily. I wouldn't mind trimming things though if it would make it easier to work with/make more sense.

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Re: First Language [snake/reptile based]

Post by sangi39 »

Ooookay, so, the setting, where they live, presumably their biology, etc. will probably go on to affect things like their culture and their history (and, I assume, how they might interact with neighbouring peoples), but there's definitely someone much more knowledgeable than myself to go into that (and I guess it depends on how fleshed out you actually want them to be, which might depend on how often they might appear in your work, what roles they fill in the narrative, and so on and so on).

Anyway, as for "romanisation", to get back to that, might be worth covering terminology for a second. On the one hand, a "romanisation" is a way of writing a language, that isn't otherwise written in the Roman/Latin alphabet, using the Roman/Latin alphabet (or some modified form of it).

On the other hand, the image you linked to (which I think is a modified version of Cirth(?)) would be an example of a script (the native symbols/characters/letters/whatever, used in writing the language, shown in the top line in this example), and a romanisation of it (the way the language is written using Latin letters, in this example a transliteration, where each letter in the native script is swapped out for some corresponding Latin letter/digraph/trigraph, etc., shown in the second line in this example).

And then you get "orthography", which is the way in which the letters/character/whatever are actually used to write a language, covering things like spelling (what letters and combinations of letters indicate which sounds and when), punctuation, capitalisation, and all that fun stuff (my favourite examples are Irish Gaelic and Lhasa Tibetan because you get things like <eidheann> being /əi̯n/ because in Irish orthography, for various reasons, <eidhea> is pronounced /əi̯/ which is just awesome!).


So, when it comes to the native script, you really can do whatever you want with it, since, unless you provide a way for your audience to read it, it's just going to be another way for readers to understand that it's the antagonists speaking (you could have an alphabet, an abjad, a syllabary, anything really). As for a romanisation (which is where you'd be writing the language in Latin letters), that's where you'd need to make choices about audience, whether you care about people knowing what the creatures actually sound like, or if it's an approximation, etc.

There's actually nothing stopping you figuring that out in-world. Like, maybe the romanisation appears only in circumstances where the (presumably) human protagonists are trying to pass on what they heard, or maybe the speech bubbles are meant to convey what they protagonists are able to distinguish, so the romanisation ends up being really ad hoc and inaccurate, missing out distinctions that the antagonists actually are making, both in speech and in writing.


As for what distinctions they can and can't distinguish, again, that's up to you [:)]
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.

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