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

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

Post by Vlürch »

@Creyeditor, Ælfwine, Salmoneus and Pabappa: Thanks! I think I now have a realistic(?) justification for the loss of tone that allows a fair number of homophones:

Since the conlang in question originated in the Himalayas or somewhere in their vicinity but its speakers ended up migrating to some (fictional) island(s) somewhere in the East China Sea, and most likely they'd have had a bunch of different small states along the way, eventually pulling a Japan and becoming completely insular while the mainland varieties went extinct, and at some point coming in contact with the Japanese and at least the coastal dialect(s) being influenced by Japanese, there could be some degree of creolisation and the language could well have been at the brink of extinction.

The way I'm picturing the transition is that the (final) loss of tone happened only after the speakers had already moved to the island(s), with literacy in their original writing system dropping to something like 1%, and the elite retreated to the highest point(s) on the island(s). The masses would strive to have a connection to their ancestors, using transcriptions made by speakers of other languages to revitalise their language, which would've been made by speakers of non-tonal languages with the exception of Chinese, but they wouldn't be literate in Chinese so they couldn't re-acquire the tonality of the words that way. The elite would have switched to writing with Chinese characters except for ceremonial purposes, in everyday use substituting the language's original (similarly largely logographic) writing system character-for-character with Chinese ones, and while at least in theory they would maintain tone, the masses would have ignored it when they became literate; so, in the modern day they'd write in Chinese characters but have few Chinese loanwords. Some kind of tone or pitch accent might linger in super-formal highly educated speech, but in everyday speech it would be long gone.

Does that sound like something that could happen? I mean, I haven't thought too much about the timeline, but the mainland varieties would probably have gone extinct by like 100BCE at the latest as the speakers assimilated into the Chinese, while the speakers in their original homeland would've already entirely assimilated into another conpeople (the Nemin) by maybe like 300BCE or earlier. Real-world implications aren't that important since both their original homeland and the island(s) are in a pocket dimension or whatever, but obviously the restriction of the Chinese influence to just the elite for centuries would still have to be explained somehow...

...but I mean, would that be a realistic justification for the loss of tone and the large numbers of homophones?
Reyzadren wrote:
02 Feb 2020 23:03
Is anyone interested in trying another conlang magazine collab for 2020? (similar to this thread)
That'd be fun.

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

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

My roleplay setting's Elvish language has the six vowel system /ɐ ɑ ɪ ɨ ø̞ ɵ̞/. Is it more logical to Romanize it with unmarked central (/ɐ ɑ/ as <a ä>) or peripheral (/ɐ ɑ/ as <ä a>) vowels?

Additionally, I currently have a law that affects every nasal in the protolang named VViqàxùa’s [ˈʙí.ʔɐ̀.Xù.ɐ̀] Law (see below), after the fiendish linguist who discovered it. Should it be broken in half (nasal to voiced plosives; deglottalizations), or is it fine as one? [X] represents Greek lower case chi.

VViqàxùa’s Law: Unconditioned denasalization of original [*m *n *ŋ → b d g], deglottalization of [*mʔ → m], and deglottalization and merger of {*nʔ *ŋʔ → ŋ}
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by gestaltist »

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
08 Feb 2020 18:27
My roleplay setting's Elvish language has the six vowel system /ɐ ɑ ɪ ɨ ø̞ ɵ̞/. Is it more logical to Romanize it with unmarked central (/ɐ ɑ/ as <a ä>) or peripheral (/ɐ ɑ/ as <ä a>) vowels?
This vowel system isn’t particularly naturalistic anyway so I’d go with a romanization that works best for the intended use (ie, avoiding diacritics to not scare off players ;) )
Additionally, I currently have a law that affects every nasal in the protolang named VViqàxùa’s [ˈʙí.ʔɐ̀.Xù.ɐ̀] Law (see below), after the fiendish linguist who discovered it. Should it be broken in half (nasal to voiced plosives; deglottalizations), or is it fine as one? [X] represents Greek lower case chi.

VViqàxùa’s Law: Unconditioned denasalization of original [*m *n *ŋ → b d g], deglottalization of [*mʔ → m], and deglottalization and merger of {*nʔ *ŋʔ → ŋ}
It’s fine as one IMO

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

I've probably asked this before, but it's time to ask again. [:)] Do you include sounds in your conlang that you yourself can't pronounce? I see some of the phonological inventories here and wonder how pronounceable they really are. I make sure not to include any sounds I can't say myself (part of the reason why I'll probably never create a tonal language) and I love reading my conlang out loud to ensure that I'm pronouncing it correctly.

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

Post by sangi39 »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Feb 2020 19:53
I've probably asked this before, but it's time to ask again. [:)] Do you include sounds in your conlang that you yourself can't pronounce? I see some of the phonological inventories here and wonder how pronounceable they really are. I make sure not to include any sounds I can't say myself (part of the reason why I'll probably never create a tonal language) and I love reading my conlang out loud to ensure that I'm pronouncing it correctly.
I definitely do [:P] I can't pronounce implosives, I can't consistently produce a distinction between aspirated and non-aspirated voiceless stops, I can barely distinguish tones in slow careful speech, let alone fast speech, and I can't reliably pronounce anything between glottals and uvulars at all.

However, I don't think it's unreasonable to include those sounds within a conlang, but, for me personally, I try and do some reading about them first, see how they behave in languages that have them, e.g. how do they interact with other sounds (do they cause vowels to shift around), do they tend to occur only in certain environments (or, conversely, is there a restriction on what sounds can occur around them), and stuff like that. That way, when it starts to coming to word-building and describing allophony, those sounds (hopefully) seem to fit better.

But, basically, if it turns up as "pronounceable" somewhere in the real world, then there's nothing stopping you throwing it at your conlang (strictly speaking, there's nothing stopping you throwing anything you want at your conlang, but that's a wider discussion).

EDIT: I'm also attempting (rather slowly), to work on a conworld mainly centred around being a place for languages to go, but with the same sort of variety that you might find here on Earth. If I stuck to just what I could pronounce, every language would basically be pretty Englishy, which would just be boring.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

As I was just mentioning in another thread, I used ejective stops in my conlangs for four years before I figured out how to actually pronounce them myself. That was a problem with me understanding *how* to pronounce them, because this was 20 years ago and information wasnt that easy to get. As a result I thought that ejectives were clusters and decided to only allow them intervocalically even though I knew that some (and as I now realize, probably all) natlangs that have ejectives in fact allow them inword-initial position as well.

Most of my languages are phonologically simple, so there aren't many problems with pronunciation for me, but I also have tonal conlangs, and though I have no problem with tones in isolation, I don't think I could even get so much as a single sentence right if I had to pronounce the tones correctly on every single syllable in a language such as Leaper, where there are 6 tones on stressed syllables and a few sandhi effects that determine the tones of unstressed syllables.

It took me four years after creating Poswa to get comfortable with having plain and labialized consonants contrast in the syllable coda, like Russian does with palatalization. Until then, I really didnt have labialized consonants at all, just clusters of consonant + /w/. Realizing that coda labialization is a feasible contrast greatly changed the character of the language.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Reyzadren »

No, I only include things that I can pronounce, though my conlang has a simple phonological inventory anyway.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar »

sangi39 wrote:
26 Feb 2020 20:11
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Feb 2020 19:53
[…] Do you include sounds in your conlang that you yourself can't pronounce? […]
[…]

However, I don't think it's unreasonable to include those sounds within a conlang, but, for me personally, I try and do some reading about them first, see how they behave in languages that have them, e.g. how do they interact with other sounds (do they cause vowels to shift around), do they tend to occur only in certain environments (or, conversely, is there a restriction on what sounds can occur around them), and stuff like that. That way, when it starts to coming to word-building and describing allophony, those sounds (hopefully) seem to fit better.

But, basically, if it turns up as "pronounceable" somewhere in the real world, then there's nothing stopping you throwing it at your conlang (strictly speaking, there's nothing stopping you throwing anything you want at your conlang, but that's a wider discussion).

[…]
[+1]

Ideally, I intend for my conlangs to make sense as fictional languages spoken by fictional people, including in terms of phonology. I care about whether certain contrasts or distributions or whatever seem plausible for a theoretical human language far more than I care about whether or not I, myself, can pronounce the languages I create in a way that comes close to how their imaginary native speakers would pronounce them.

Although that hasn't always been my goal, I've never intended for any of my conlangs to be used in any way by any real people other than myself, but even then, I've never intended to speak any of them, or to use them for actual communication.
sangi39 wrote:
26 Feb 2020 20:11
EDIT: I'm also attempting (rather slowly), to work on a conworld mainly centred around being a place for languages to go, but with the same sort of variety that you might find here on Earth. If I stuck to just what I could pronounce, every language would basically be pretty Englishy, which would just be boring.
This sounds more or less like what I'd like to do as well.

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thank you all for your answers. [:D] I'm honestly a little disappointed to hear that some people don't even try and pronounce their own conlangs. But I guess the next time I see a conlang with a word like bnšxćelk’ih’xkuq, I'll take some solace in knowing that not even the creator knows how to pronounce it. [:P]
shimobaatar wrote:
27 Feb 2020 01:42
Although that hasn't always been my goal, I've never intended for any of my conlangs to be used in any way by any real people other than myself, but even then, I've never intended to speak any of them, or to use them for actual communication.
I don't intend for anyone else to use my conlangs either nor do I use them for actual communication, but I like to read sentences and paragraphs I've written in them out loud nonetheless. I love the sound of Lihmelinyan and have made a few recordings of me speaking it. I may share those here some time. [:)] My phonological inventories also tend to be a bit simpler and IE-like and that is partially because I've always been more interested in morphology than in phonology.
Last edited by KaiTheHomoSapien on 28 Feb 2020 19:16, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by lsd »

For myself, I conlang for here and now, that is why I need pronounceable sounds... by myself (it's an idiolect...)
For conlangers of other planets, are you planning new IPA with sounds that don't exist on earth...

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

Post by J_from_Holland »

Barmish has over 3000 words in the dictionary, but I didn't make an etymology for them. Now I'm trying to reverse-engineer a proto-lang for Barmish (Proto-Thyllic), but this is going painfully slow, especially with the naturalistic irregularities I'm adding (see example). Do you have any idea how to speed up this process?

Example:
The comparative of both uo (nice, fun) and uhng (pleasant, fine) is ůpůr, because in Old Barmish, both words were relatively neutral variations of the same adjective which would get the same comparative. Over the years, the comparative stayed the same but the neutral adjectives got their positive meanings and gained sound symbolism. "U" is pronounced /y/ and it's the "formal" vowel in Barmish: when addressing someone formally, the resulting words and endings tend to have a lot of /y/'s.
A few years, I posted about Bløjhvåtterskyll. That's Barmish nowadays, and it's quite different from back then.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

J_from_Holland wrote:
03 Mar 2020 20:11
Barmish has over 3000 words in the dictionary, but I didn't make an etymology for them. Now I'm trying to reverse-engineer a proto-lang for Barmish (Proto-Thyllic), but this is going painfully slow, especially with the naturalistic irregularities I'm adding (see example). Do you have any idea how to speed up this process?
Unfortunately I can only advise you that this is going to be a long slog. If you want to do etymologies and have them be naturalistic, you're going to have to handle each word individually and make sure the proto-language stands on its own. I spent years converting the 6000 words I had generated for Poswa and Pabappa into 6000 words that descended from a shared parent language. For the most part, I looked for roots in the parent language that were "close to" the ones that I got from the word generator both in meaning and in sound, but prioritizing meaning over sound. In some cases, I found no close matches on sound and just went with semantics, meaning I was creating a wholly new etymology. This was actually easier than trying to match both sound and meaning, but I tried to match the sound even so because I had become attached to some words that had been in the language for a long time.

This is very labor intensive, but one good thing is that sometimes new ideas show up on the way .... e.g. the words for "ribbon" and "to offer, propose" merged in Poswa, so now I have a single polysemic root with both meanings. Another word pair that merged is "line" and "smooth", so now I have it as "line; smooth boundary". Of course, not every potential merger is semantically feasible, which means that quite often I have to go back and generate yet another etymology, meaning it takes even longer. I should also add that in most cases, when two words merged, I said that they were originally one word all along and that the meanings split within the daughter language. This is more naturalistic than carrying down two homophonous roots for thousands of years, though both situations occur in the wild.

Depending on what your strategy is, you may or may not see opportunities for merging and splitting words like this. I got the mergers because the parent language was pure CV and because there were a lot of sound changes along the way, so two very different CVCV + CVCV compounds quite often would merge into the same result in the end. My evolution time from the parent language to the present day is 7,000 years, possibly more than what youre looking at. But if your proto-language was already highly differentiated in its lexicon ... i.e. not many similar roots to start with, you might not see quite as much of this going on. Polysemy by sound change collision is a fun diversion and not necessary to make a good language, but if you can find the time, polysemy in general is common in languages and you can play with semantic shifts once you've got your lexicon in the state you want it.

I should add that my languages lack loanwords by design....not *every* word in your language needs to come from its parent language, unless you are also striving for a perfectly pure language with no loanwords.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by J_from_Holland »

Thanks for the comprehensive reply!

Something that you seem to do differently is using a word generator. I specifically prohibit myself from using a word generator for Barmish. The only time I used it was to generate test vocabulary for the proto lang, to test the sound changes, but those words didn't come into the actual protolang unless they happened to result in actual Barmish words.

In terms of meaning, i choose everything manually, and the syntax of the protolang (Thyllic) is much more analytical than the syntax of Barmish itself.
A few years, I posted about Bløjhvåtterskyll. That's Barmish nowadays, and it's quite different from back then.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

I've never really been able to make naturalistic etymology. That seems beyond my abilities. I of course employ derivational affixes in regular patterns and I will sometimes derive words from each other that are related lexically, but I can't explain the deep etymology of every word I come up with, especially since I often come up with new words randomly. A sequence of sounds just comes to me when I think of the real-world object or feeling or action that I'm trying to name. And those can't possibly have a realistic etymology since they're more or less random. Kudos to anyone trying to do that, though. I think that's one of the hardest aspects of natural language to replicate.

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

Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
06 Mar 2020 19:29
I've never really been able to make naturalistic etymology. That seems beyond my abilities. I of course employ derivational affixes in regular patterns and I will sometimes derive words from each other that are related lexically, but I can't explain the deep etymology of every word I come up with, especially since I often come up with new words randomly. A sequence of sounds just comes to me when I think of the real-world object or feeling or action that I'm trying to name. And those can't possibly have a realistic etymology since they're more or less random. Kudos to anyone trying to do that, though. I think that's one of the hardest aspects of natural language to replicate.
As with anything else in conlanging, it's mostly a question of spending dozens upon dozens of hours creating complications with words... You'd need to at least create a proto-language, probably backwards in time, if not also a whole environment of languages around your language throughout time to borrow or calque words from, all while working out the origins of all your words one by one.

- Change all the meanings of this word, very drastically (Latin capere 'to grab sth' > Spanish caber 'to fit [inside a place]')...
- Change all the meanings of that word, less drastically (tenēre 'to hold sth' > tener 'to have sth; to have [to do sth]')...
- Switch which is the basic meaning of that other one (augurium 'the profession or act of bird divination; (sometimes) an omen obtained through bird divination' > agüero 'a (usually bad) omen; (rarely) the ancient and medieval practice of bird divination')...
- Retain yet that other word just as it was 2000 years ago even though it was a very colloquial word at the time (panticēs 'belly' > la panza 'belly')...
- Merge this other pair into one word while retaining both meanings (somnus 'sleep', somnium 'dream' > el sueño 'sleep; dream')...
- Borrow this one (dēdicāre 'to problaim sth, dedicate sth' > dedicar 'to dedicate sth')...
- Borrow that one but only use it very metaphorically (focum 'hearth' > el foco 'point of attention, focus; light bulb; epicentre of an earthquake')
- Borrow that other one but use it very specifically (albēdō 'whiteness' > albedo '(in physics) radiation reflected by a body, particularly light', conclāvem 'lockable room' > conclave 'the conclave i.e. the room in the Vatican where the Roman Catholic cardinals trap themselves until they choose the new Pope')
- Calque that one (suprā dīctus 'said above' > susodicho 'said above')...
- Keep that word but add an affix to reinforce its length (apem 'bee' > *ap-iculam > abeja, generāre 'to beget sb' > *in-generāre > semi-learned engendrar 'to beget sb; produce [a project]')...

...Besides other possibilities, like clipping and compounding.

I don't really think it's hard in terms of effort within one hour, but it does take many hours to get anywhere...
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

The reworked version of my roleplay setting's main language has three diphthongs, [ɐi̯ ɐʊ̯ oi̯], of which [ɐi̯ oi̯] become [ɐj oj] word-internally while prevocalic. Is word-internal, prevocalic [ɐʊ̯ → ɐw] plausible, even though its second component is [ʊ̯] rather than [u̯]?
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Post by sangi39 »

yangfiretiger121 wrote:
14 Mar 2020 14:05
The reworked version of my roleplay setting's main language has three diphthongs, [ɐi̯ ɐʊ̯ oi̯], of which [ɐi̯ oi̯] become [ɐj oj] word-internally while prevocalic. Is word-internal, prevocalic [ɐʊ̯ → ɐw] plausible, even though its second component is [ʊ̯] rather than [u̯]?
I would say it is.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

Thanks.

That same language once had whistled and labialvelarized sibilants (cover symbol S), such as [sᶲ sʷ], in complimentary distribution based on vowel backness (all back vowels are rounded). With a vowel system of /ɐ e i o ʊ/, are [Sʷo Sʷʊ → Sᶲo Sᶲʊ] plausible?
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Post by Omzinesý »

Omzinesý wrote:
10 Mar 2020 18:39

Code: Select all

	Control		Noncontrol 
Nonpast	SG1 tok-a-j	|	tokk-u-j
	SG2 tok-a-p	|	tokk-u-p
	SG3 tokk-a 	|	tok-u
	PL1 tokk-a-si	|	tok-u-si
	PL2 tok-a-psi	|	tok-u-psi
	PL3 tokk-a	|	tokk-u
	--------------------------------------------
Past	SG1 tokk-a-j	|	tok-u-j
	SG2 tokk-a-p	|	tok-u-p
	SG3 tok-a 	|	tokk-u
	PL1 tok-a-si	|	tokk-u-si
	PL2 tokk-a-psi	|	tokk-u-psi
	PL3 tok-a	|	tok-u
This is my verb paradigm in Ivka.
It is complex enough, but it is very regular. The only markers are Person suffix, Control marker vowel, and consonant gradation.
How could I make it less regular?

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Post by sangi39 »

Omzinesý wrote:
21 Mar 2020 10:43
Omzinesý wrote:
10 Mar 2020 18:39

Code: Select all

	Control		Noncontrol 
Nonpast	SG1 tok-a-j	|	tokk-u-j
	SG2 tok-a-p	|	tokk-u-p
	SG3 tokk-a 	|	tok-u
	PL1 tokk-a-si	|	tok-u-si
	PL2 tok-a-psi	|	tok-u-psi
	PL3 tokk-a	|	tokk-u
	--------------------------------------------
Past	SG1 tokk-a-j	|	tok-u-j
	SG2 tokk-a-p	|	tok-u-p
	SG3 tok-a 	|	tokk-u
	PL1 tok-a-si	|	tokk-u-si
	PL2 tokk-a-psi	|	tokk-u-psi
	PL3 tok-a	|	tok-u
This is my verb paradigm in Ivka.
It is complex enough, but it is very regular. The only markers are Person suffix, Control marker vowel, and consonant gradation.
How could I make it less regular?
The easiest option I can see is to drop word-final /p/, having it cause word-initial gemination of the following word. It would make the present SG2 form identical to the past SG3/PL3 form, and the present SG3/PL3 form identical to the past SG2 form in isolation, but the second person form might, for example, cause a following object noun or pronoun to have a geminate initial.

You could have /aj/ and /uj/ collapse go /e/ and /i/ respectively word-finally as well, which actually might be an even easier way [:P]
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That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.

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