Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

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Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

Copied from the other other thread because I felt that it had good information for beginning conscripters.
If you are looking for Professor Mao's Conscription Pet Peeves, you are in the wrong forum. :D

Things Professor Mao dislikes in Conscripts:

1. Looking to sci-fi!

This can mean a range of things. But anything that is overly square, or with no consideration for how a letter might be handwritten. I don't care if your conpeople strictly use computers. There was a time when they didn't and their writing is likely from that time. If something is handwritten there is flow. Where you start, where you go, how you turn, where you finish. There are many futuristic fonts which would be difficult to write like, but they are derivations of an original easily written script.

2. Using too many tails!

Okay, so I like writing tails too. They're fun and fancy. But too much is too much! If every fecking letter has a tail it's not 'fancy fun time;' it's a mess. This includes upwards tails. You'll just end up in a tangled knot.

3. Being too uniform!

Gah. This drives me nuts. If all the letters differ only different by one tiny difference it is going to be very hard to read. I could call this dictatorial writing. Where in pursuit of perfection, all characters are forced to look the same, only smallest glimmer of personality is allowed. When writing a lot of features become reduced (just as phonemes in speech), that's why it's good to have more than one distinguishing feature.

I want to be able to look at a character at one glance be able to write it. Chinese writing is an exception. This is because of the use of radicals. If I know the radicals in a character, I can come pretty close to duplicating it.

4. Having too many mirror images!

This goes in hand with #3. If the characters are just transformations of each other it is going to be annoying. I'm looking at you Latin alphabet! <b p q d> have cause me enough grief. Just because it's present in a real script is no excuse for you to be lazy!

5. Using too many diacritics!

Diacritics can add foreign flare or make your script look like a jumble. Most of the time I see diacritics, they are unnecessary. It just looks like you couldn't be bother to complete it properly and tossed some junk on it.

Now there is a fine line to walk when making a script and if used in moderation, most of these things can be useful.

Professor Mao's final words of advice are to make sure your script:
1. can be duplicated on sight.
2. has at least 2 ways of distinguishing each character.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Rik »

Rik feels sad. His pretty scripties are going to annoy the great and munificent Professor Mao.

Professor Mao's final words of advice are to make sure your script:
1. can be duplicated on sight.
2. has at least 2 ways of distinguishing each character."


Rik's vicious little Ákat scripties will be a deep disappointment: look at the terrible uniformity of the letters in the alphabet script - those tails and ligatures are a disgrace. And as for that logographic script, well the diacritics are just terrible: how can anybody expect the little kiddies to be able to learn how to write it, huh?

Somebody ought to take that Rik outside into the snow and beat him hard with the Sensible Stick. That'll teach him not to disappoint Professor Mao again!
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by fiziwig »

So I guess this script is out:

******* ******* ******* ******* ******* ******* ******* *******
It uses the same symbol with four different colors of ink. Each group of seven consecutive marks makes up one of 16,384 possible words.

I thought it was rather elegant myself. :roll: :roll: :roll:

--gary
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

In reality, the only one you have to please is yourself.

As a cat though, Professor Mao is notoriously difficult to please. :roll:
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by jseamus »

These rules stomp on a lot of natlang orthographies. The Latin alphabet, Katakana, and the Lontara script come to mind. Doesn't the pursuit of naturalism give conlangers license to add some irregularity, inefficiency, or obscurity to their conscripts?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

jseamus wrote:These rules stomp on a lot of natlang orthographies. The Latin alphabet, Katakana, and the Lontara script come to mind. Doesn't the pursuit of naturalism give conlangers license to add some irregularity, inefficiency, or obscurity to their conscripts?
Like it says, 'too much is too much.' There are a good amount of diacritics/tails/uniformity, but there is also a point where it turns from a good thing to a bad thing. Like ice cream, I love ice cream but too much is a bad thing.

I never said these things made a script unusable. I believe the point is to find an optimal level of ease of reading, ease of writing and style.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by jseamus »

Ossicone wrote:I never said these things made a script unusable. I believe the point is to find an optimal level of ease of reading, ease of writing and style.
Are there circumstances where style can validly outweigh all other concerns? For example, Rik's Kalieda scripts are pretty regular, and in bulk they are (at least for me) hard to parse, but they are very stylish. How would Professor Mao judge them?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

jseamus wrote: Are there circumstances where style can validly outweigh all other concerns?
In many ways it is hard to answer this question because each person has their own priorities.
However, I think that there are times style can outweigh more practical concerns. Professor Mao would require it to be quite beautiful to overlook it's impracticality.

You ask about adding irregularity, but the problems I see stem more from excessive regularity. I will use my own script Amjati as an example of what I like. Firstly, I did decided to use a diacritical mark*. I use a horizontal slash to indicate palatalization. It is a very clear marker with high visual impact. For most letters it is applied regularly, but not all!
I introduced some naturalistic irregularity which also worked to create greater visual distinction.

Image
The exceptions are dʲ /ʥ/ and lʲ /ʎ/**.

For dʲ, I turned the slash and stem into a single stroke, which is quicker to write.
For lʲ, I made the horizontal slash a vertical line. This is also quicker to write (rather than an l with a line over or under) and more visually appealing.

I think one of the reasons why regularity bothers me is because, in my my opinion, it often does not add style or practicality. I think it just fulfills a desire for the patterns that we know as linguists to be expressed in our scripts.

You also say that these annoyances apply to natlang scripts, and that's true. I find plenty of real world writing systems to be ugly. I think I had this discussion with someone else, but I firmly believe that if you're going to take your time to make a script, you should try to improve upon what is available.

Now, I would never say my scripts are perfect. I also know that they don't appeal to everyone, but what I find is that they strike a good balance between style and practicality. They appear to be very natural and easy to use.

*I said never to avoid them completely, just to avoid over reliance.
** I was using the wrong symbol at the time, mi culpa.
EDIT: Typos. :(
Last edited by Ossicone on 02 Dec 2010 20:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by jseamus »

Thank you. That answers question very well.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

jseamus wrote:Thank you. That answers question very well.
Professor Mao is always happy to answer questions.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by SLiV »

But what about Armenian? That's a uniform lang if I've ever seen one. But I still find it attractive (though, admittedly, not something I'd like to use every day).
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

SLiV wrote:But what about Armenian? That's a uniform lang if I've ever seen one. But I still find it attractive (though, admittedly, not something I'd like to use every day).
You've already said it. You feel like style factor of Armenian outweighs and practical issues. Why does it matter what this Cat Professor thinks?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by SLiV »

Well, simply because I seem to like it (or do I?), doesn't mean I don't care whether prof. Mao thinks Armenian is a good example of how not to do things.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

SLiV wrote:Well, simply because I seem to like it (or do I?), doesn't mean I don't care whether prof. Mao thinks Armenian is a good example of how not to do things.
Professor Mao thinks there are good things about it and bad things about it. I'm not sure if I'd call it regular, but maybe repetitive.The style is nice and consistent, but there are some sections where the mɯmɯ can be a little eye-boggling though.

Professor Mao is mostly pleased with it.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

That reminds me though, there was another point I meant to mention.

Phoneme inventory! Obviously, if you have a lot of sounds to represent it is a lot more reasonable to use diacritics/transformations to represent different phonemes. This is especially true if one is looking to avoid complex characters. Armenian there has quite a few sounds represented, so it is not unreasonable that they use a lot of transformations.

There's always digraphs too. ;) But I know some people despise digraphs.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by jseamus »

>:(

Really, my hatred of digraphs stems mostly from how inefficient they are at representing large phonologies with complex phonotactics. If I have /p ɸ pʰ f h/ and consonant clusters and affricates are allowed, then <ph> isn't such a great idea.

Most of my conlangs have phonemes /ð θ ʃ ʒ ɣ ʔ/ that usually don't get their own single ASCII character, along with phonotactics that would make <dh th sh zh gh> impractical. Does <gh> represent /ɣ/, /gʱ/ or /gh/?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by dh3537 »

Ossicone wrote:some people despise digraphs.
"Some people" includes me!
Also, is it a coincidence that "Mao" means cat in Chinese?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by jseamus »

dh3537 wrote:
Ossicone wrote:some people despise digraphs.
"Some people" includes me!
Also, is it a coincidence that "Mao" means cat in Chinese?
Which language and what is it phonetically?
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by Ossicone »

dh3537 wrote:
Ossicone wrote:some people despise digraphs.
"Some people" includes me!
Also, is it a coincidence that "Mao" means cat in Chinese?
I don't know. I was not the one to coin the name, but given the community I'd say no.

I prefer ligatures to digraphs.
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Re: Professor Mao's Conscripting Pet Peeves

Post by SLiV »

I hate digraphs as well. I don't have any in my conscripts. Well, maybe except <αι> and <ευ> and the likes. And <нг>. Damn, nothing said.

And of course 'Mao' is cat in Chinese. It is only suprising it is not in English.
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