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

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
User avatar
Ser
sinic
sinic
Posts: 244
Joined: 30 Jun 2012 06:13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia / Colombie Britannique, Canada

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

Post by Ser »

Creyeditor wrote:
09 Apr 2020 13:46
(1) Ich kann nicht sprechen.
1SG can.1SG NEG speak-INF
"It is not the case that I can speak"

(2) Ich kann nicht sprechen.
1SG can.1SG NEG speak-INF
"It is the case that I can refrain from speaking."

These sentences sound the same (except maybe for intonation).
And stress too? 1) [ɪçˈkʰannɪçt ˈʃpʁɛçn], 2) [ɪçˈkʰan ˈnɪçt ˈʃpʁɛçn̩].

Kinda like English "I cannot speak" [aɪˈkʰænət ˈspik] vs. "I can (just) not speak" [ˈaɪ kʰn dʒʌst ˈnɑt ˈspik].
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.

User avatar
Vlürch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 300
Joined: 09 Mar 2016 21:19
Location: Finland
Contact:

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

Post by Vlürch »

How do you come up with a cool but simple name for your conlang and conpeople that has zero hits on Google and doesn't sound like any real-life language name or ethnonym or anything like that? EDIT: I mean, after thinking about it, what I want to ask is: can it be justifiable if a conlang's name is just one or two letters different from something that already exists? Because obviously it can't be identical to someone else's conlang's/concountry's/conwhatever's name or a real-life language's/people's/whatever's name... (at least unless it's meant to have a connection to them or something)

I was really satisfied with the name I came up with for the conlang I'm currently working on (still the vaguely Ural-Altaic one written with Chinese characters lol) and didn't mind it being somewhat similar to a certain real-life language and ethnonym and having 100-200 hits on Google, but then I noticed the name is both the name of someone else's concountry's city and apparently also an alternative name for a real-world place... and all of the subtle variations I've come up with also have hits on Google... [>_<]
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Feb 2020 19:53
Do you include sounds in your conlang that you yourself can't pronounce?
Sorry for replying so late, but I just saw this and figured I'd reply. I used to always include at least one sound I can't pronounce properly in every conlang, but nowadays I mostly stick to sounds I can pronounce somewhat reliably. Having only /m n ŋ p b t d k g ʔ t͡ʃ s ʃ f ʋ j h r l/ or similar sounds in every conlang would get pretty boring and repetitive quickly... on the other hand, including too many sounds that are too difficult to pronounce will end up having a negative effect on motivation. It's a delicate balance that has to be found case by case with each conlang, I think. So, nowadays I usually include sounds I can pronounce at least almost correctly at least most of the time, like /q d͡ʒ z x ɣ ɬ/ or whatever; I mean, I have trouble pronouncing [q] next to front vowels and [h] in contact with back vowels (especially /hu/, that just becomes [xu] like 93% of the time) and whatnot, but at least I know how they're supposed to sound and will only cringe at myself for failing to get them to come out. Something weird like /ʘ͡q͡ʙ̝̊ʼ/, on the other hand...

User avatar
lsd
greek
greek
Posts: 534
Joined: 11 Mar 2011 21:11
Contact:

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

Post by lsd »

use only an invented writing, in this case no chance to even type its name in google...
(what is the matter for a nonexistent country to have a same name country in real life parallel world ?)

Khemehekis
mayan
mayan
Posts: 2281
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 09:36
Location: California über alles

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

Post by Khemehekis »

When I google "Kankonian", I find stuff like this:

http://aboutlasmock.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... nians.html

and this:

https://ultradragonball.fandom.com/wiki/Kankonian_Race

I'm not going to change it, because I invented the word "Kankonian" since before I or most people had the Internet.





On the plus side, the word "Txabao" appears to be unique.
♂♥♂♀

Squirrels chase koi . . . chase squirrels

My Kankonian-English dictionary: 65,595 words and counting

31,416: The number of the conlanging beast!

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 »

IIRC, "yantas" (the name of my conworld) brings back results for car rim sales, especially in the Philippines.
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.

Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1892
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Vlürch wrote:
11 Apr 2020 03:35
How do you come up with a cool but simple name for your conlang and conpeople that has zero hits on Google and doesn't sound like any real-life language name or ethnonym or anything like that? EDIT: I mean, after thinking about it, what I want to ask is: can it be justifiable if a conlang's name is just one or two letters different from something that already exists? Because obviously it can't be identical to someone else's conlang's/concountry's/conwhatever's name or a real-life language's/people's/whatever's name... (at least unless it's meant to have a connection to them or something)
Why 'obviously'? I mean, really, who the hell cares?

I mean, sure, some caution may be needed. It's best not to use a really well-known real name, or a really contentious one. Calling your language "German" or "Muslim" might be unwise (although I know there's a conlang on this board called 'Austrian', so..). You may also want to take care not to use any ethnic or homophobic slurs, or swearwords. Although even that depends, particularly with shorter names that can easily be coincidental - once the initial giggling subsides and people can see that there's no ill intent, you could probably get away with talking about Fag or Jap - I mean, there might well be languages with those names already, who knows?

And I would avoid any famous fictional names too, so that there's no suspicion of copyright infringement. I'd stear clear of calling your language "Klingon", or "Quenya", or indeed "Hufflepuff". And among conlangers, people may raise eyebrows if you call it "Verdurian" or "Ithkuil".

But if your name just happens to have previously been used by one conlanger five years ago on their private website... who cares if you had the same idea? If after some study you notice that the name is the name of one imaginary city in one imaginary country described on one little-visited website, is that really a problem? Why?

There's only a finite number of letters to use, after all. Some repetition is inevitable!

[this goes double for a posteriori languages, of course. If you're setting a language in Britain, for example, then it's inevitable you're going to end up with languages with names like "Britainese", "Sassonais", "Engleska", "Hibergnol", etc...]
[/quote]

User avatar
Creyeditor
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3870
Joined: 14 Aug 2012 19:32

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

Post by Creyeditor »

Ser wrote:
10 Apr 2020 21:00
Creyeditor wrote:
09 Apr 2020 13:46
(1) Ich kann nicht sprechen.
1SG can.1SG NEG speak-INF
"It is not the case that I can speak"

(2) Ich kann nicht sprechen.
1SG can.1SG NEG speak-INF
"It is the case that I can refrain from speaking."

These sentences sound the same (except maybe for intonation).
And stress too? 1) [ɪçˈkʰannɪçt ˈʃpʁɛçn], 2) [ɪçˈkʰan ˈnɪçt ˈʃpʁɛçn̩].

Kinda like English "I cannot speak" [aɪˈkʰænət ˈspik] vs. "I can (just) not speak" [ˈaɪ kʰn dʒʌst ˈnɑt ˈspik].
That's what I meant. It's definitely phrasal or sentence prosody in German, but I don't know if it is stress or intonation. It is not as prominent as the English one, at least to my ears.
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
KaiTheHomoSapien
greek
greek
Posts: 529
Joined: 15 Feb 2016 06:10
Location: Northern California

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Vlürch wrote:
11 Apr 2020 03:35
How do you come up with a cool but simple name for your conlang and conpeople that has zero hits on Google and doesn't sound like any real-life language name or ethnonym or anything like that? EDIT: I mean, after thinking about it, what I want to ask is: can it be justifiable if a conlang's name is just one or two letters different from something that already exists? Because obviously it can't be identical to someone else's conlang's/concountry's/conwhatever's name or a real-life language's/people's/whatever's name... (at least unless it's meant to have a connection to them or something)
I type in "Lihmelinyan" and all I get is the CBB and ZBB. It's probably more likely you'll get no hits if the name is a bit longer. The name only bears a slight coincidental resemblance to the Finnish word for "wonderful", ihmeeliinen. That was completely unintentional on my part. ("Mantian", the term for my family of languages, brings up nothing other than a Chinese surname. Although the pronunciation is identical with the English "mansion").

In every case, I came up with the name of a place/city before coming up with the name of a language (e.g. "Arculy" came before "Arculese"). "Arculy" was something I created as a kid when I'd draw maps of made up countries. I wanted a name that sounded like "Italy" or "Hungary" and that's what I came up with. ("Arculese" kinda sounds like "Hercules", though). Other "Anglicized" dialect/language names I've come up with: Antic, Selbic, Ganian, Wandan, Thannicortian, Tuhian, Betelenyan, Vinyese (I have a trademark on all of these!) [xP]
Vlürch wrote:
11 Apr 2020 03:35
So, nowadays I usually include sounds I can pronounce at least almost correctly at least most of the time, like /q d͡ʒ z x ɣ ɬ/ or whatever; I mean, I have trouble pronouncing [q] next to front vowels and [h] in contact with back vowels (especially /hu/, that just becomes [xu] like 93% of the time) and whatnot, but at least I know how they're supposed to sound and will only cringe at myself for failing to get them to come out. Something weird like /ʘ͡q͡ʙ̝̊ʼ/, on the other hand...
Same here. I'll admit that my "r-rolling" is not perfect. I listen to native speakers of languages with the alveolar trill and they just say it flawlessly and effortlessly in a way that I just can't. But that won't prevent me from including it.

User avatar
Pabappa
sinic
sinic
Posts: 371
Joined: 18 Nov 2017 02:41
Contact:

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

Post by Pabappa »

As I said in the other thread, I use English words for all my conlangs now and they are based on tribal names. Play, Leaper, Soap, Bottom, Cupbearer, Oyster, Dolphin Rider, and Rusted Pearls are just a few of the names I use. Mostly I prefer short names which are far from unique .... but some of the longer names like Rusted Pearls have a story to tell.

For my earlier projects, I used traditional names that are taken from the language itself. Pabappa, Poswa, Khulls, Palli, Thaoa, Sakhi, and (half-translated) Andanese are example of this. I got attached to those names but I change my languages so much that theyre not actually valid anymore. The closest is Pabappa, which *could* still be a valid word in Pabappa but it would be like calling German "Germanic". But Pabappa isnt my main project anymore and hasnt been for a long time ... Poswa is much better made, and Pabappa is essentially a watered-down version of it, because I hadnt realized how to make things work just yet when I started finalizing the grammar and lexicon of Pabappa.

Even so, the name Pabappa stands out so much that I've decided to make it my identity, and it is nearly unique on the Internet, with only one other person as far as I know ever using that as their screen name, and I seem to have pushed him completely off the first few pages, at least, of Google. And its a good name for a conlang, too, because it sounds like what it is ... a language designed after baby talk.
I'll take the theses, and you can have the thoses.

User avatar
Vlürch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 300
Joined: 09 Mar 2016 21:19
Location: Finland
Contact:

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

Post by Vlürch »

lsd wrote:
11 Apr 2020 06:32
use only an invented writing, in this case no chance to even type its name in google...
Funnily enough, I actually use two of these in that conlang's name in large part because I want it to have a name that doesn't have any hits on Google, but romanisation and most importantly pronunciation is still an issue.
lsd wrote:
11 Apr 2020 06:32
(what is the matter for a nonexistent country to have a same name country in real life parallel world ?)
If I understand what you're saying correctly, well... nothing, I guess, but if it's not an a posteriori conlang set in a fictional version of the place with that coincidentally identical name... coincidences like that do happen in real life, too, but it's kind of similar to the issue of "responsibility" when it comes to vocabulary; you know, like how there are words that sound just like the N-word in various natlangs, but you probably wouldn't put a similar word in your conlang even if you could technically justify it as ANADEW, because it's not like you could pretend not to know it from English. Obviously it's not the same with a technically inoffensive placename, especially when it's the name of a geological formation rather than a city or country or whatever, but still...

If you mean two concountries/conwhatevers with the same name, eh. It can't be that big a deal if it's just one or two syllables, but three or more and plagiarism accusations would sound reasonable at least to lawyers. Of course, conlangers/althistorians/whatever aren't the most sue-happy people so it's unlikely to get sued for something like that, but I mean... I guess maybe I'm just worried about nothing.
Khemehekis wrote:
11 Apr 2020 07:16
When I google "Kankonian", I find stuff like this:
Apparently it's the name of at least two places, one in Nigeria and one in India?
sangi39 wrote:
11 Apr 2020 12:25
IIRC, "yantas" (the name of my conworld) brings back results for car rim sales, especially in the Philippines.
That's kinda funny.
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
Why 'obviously'? I mean, really, who the hell cares?
Well, maybe it's just paranoia (which, as you know, I tend to be prone to [:$] ) but I generally take the same approach to conlanging as I take to music (including song titles) because of worries about accusations of plagiarism. If it's something very simple, it's probably fine, but...
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
I mean, sure, some caution may be needed. It's best not to use a really well-known real name, or a really contentious one. Calling your language "German" or "Muslim" might be unwise (although I know there's a conlang on this board called 'Austrian', so..). You may also want to take care not to use any ethnic or homophobic slurs, or swearwords. Although even that depends, particularly with shorter names that can easily be coincidental - once the initial giggling subsides and people can see that there's no ill intent, you could probably get away with talking about Fag or Jap - I mean, there might well be languages with those names already, who knows?
Yeah, but practically everything can be offensive. The natlang whose name I realised it's coincidentally similar to (or maybe I was subconsciously remembering the name of the natlang and ripping it off, it's a pretty interesting natlang but I always forget its exact name) is practically extinct at this point, so its last handful of remaining speakers might find it offensive that a conlang has a similar name... as in, only two vowels are different and it has one additional consonant. To compare to your examples, settling for that name would be literally like calling a conlang "Girlmen" or "Marslem". They may not be immediately recognisable, but you'd still get the feeling that they're extremely familiar and would probably give you a suspicious feeling. Now, if it's similarly similar to an extremely critically endangered minority language whose speakers are arguably being literally genocided... well, it's probably best to change it as much as possible while keeping the "vibe" of the name that came about coincidentally.
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
But if your name just happens to have previously been used by one conlanger five years ago on their private website... who cares if you had the same idea? If after some study you notice that the name is the name of one imaginary city in one imaginary country described on one little-visited website, is that really a problem? Why?
You're probably right...
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
There's only a finite number of letters to use, after all. Some repetition is inevitable!
True, that's a good point and I tend to not care as much if it's two syllables, but when it's three it gets a bit muddier imho.
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
[this goes double for a posteriori languages, of course. If you're setting a language in Britain, for example, then it's inevitable you're going to end up with languages with names like "Britainese", "Sassonais", "Engleska", "Hibergnol", etc...]
The conlang in question is kind of a mix of a posteriori and a priori, and although the name I came up with was a priori, I did "discover" the perfect etymology for it from reconstructions of the proto-languages I'm mostly deriving vocabulary from. That was another reason I figured it wouldn't be a big deal even after remembering about the natlang with a similar name at first, but then I started to question it and now I'm pretty sure I have to at least change one letter or add one more syllable to it or something. I'm struggling with it tbh, but I'm sure I'll figure out some syllable to add to it that won't ruin the aesthetic of the name. Aaaaand I'm rambling again...
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
12 Apr 2020 07:20
I type in "Lihmelinyan" and all I get is the CBB and ZBB. It's probably more likely you'll get no hits if the name is a bit longer.
True, and that's why one of the things I'm considering is adding at least one more syllable to the name. The problem is that every syllable I've tried to tack onto it ruins the aesthetic and flow of the name... [>_<]
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
12 Apr 2020 07:20
In every case, I came up with the name of a place/city before coming up with the name of a language (e.g. "Arculy" came before "Arculese").
Unforuntately I absolutely suck at placenames, haha. Anyway, that kind of process makes more sense and I should give it a shot with the next conlang I start, whatever that will be.
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
12 Apr 2020 07:20
Same here. I'll admit that my "r-rolling" is not perfect. I listen to native speakers of languages with the alveolar trill and they just say it flawlessly and effortlessly in a way that I just can't. But that won't prevent me from including it.
Mine isn't perfect either and I speak a language with it natively, I mean sometimes I'll mispronounce it as [ɾ] even word-initially or as [ɹ] in consonant clusters. [>_<] Thankfully it's not really a problem and it doesn't happen all the time, considering I have other speech impediments (eg. /s/ being dental, which is considered a dialectal feature by some but usually it's perceived as a speech impediment even if it doesn't have any effect on being understood; if anything, I consider the standard pronunciation of Finnish /s/ to sound like a speech impediment lol). I think there are some sounds that are more likely to be unstable even among those (universally?) considered stable, trills being among those, but maybe that's crackpottery.
Pabappa wrote:
12 Apr 2020 07:40
And its a good name for a conlang, too, because it sounds like what it is ... a language designed after baby talk.
It does sound like that too but I've always thought it sounds more like the name of an insect or something for some reason. Probably because of pupa, papillon, etc.

Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1892
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Vlürch wrote:
13 Apr 2020 20:59
like how there are words that sound just like the N-word in various natlangs, but you probably wouldn't put a similar word in your conlang even if you could technically justify it as ANADEW, because it's not like you could pretend not to know it from English.
Why not? Sure, if a word sounds a bit like an offensive English word, I'm maybe not going to use it regularly in examples - that would detract from what I want the example to show. And similarly I'd probably not want it to be the most common word in the language. But when a language has hundreds or thousands of words, what benefit is there in going through every single one of them to make sure they don't sound anything like any offensive word in any real language?

That seems less like being conscienscious, and more like an excuse for obsessive compulsive behaviour.
If you mean two concountries/conwhatevers with the same name, eh. It can't be that big a deal if it's just one or two syllables, but three or more and plagiarism accusations would sound reasonable at least to lawyers.
Plagiarism is not a legal issue; there's no law against plagiarism, in general. There are laws against copyright infringement - but copyrighting names is pretty dodgy to begin with, and copyrighting restriction end once you've substantially transformed the material. If you're just using the same name for a totally different purpose, transformation is pretty much assured. [so: you can't write about Narnia, normally. But if you write about a city called "Narnia", that's fine, because it's clear that you have transformed what you have borrowed into a new form.] And again, copyright infringement cases usually kick in when you borrow entire paragraphs, not when you borrow a single word!

In some cases, laws around trademarking are also relevant. If you make a language called 'Klingon' (that is not in any other respect Klingon), you're probably more likely to be pursued for stealing a trademark than for copyright infringement on the name, as I understand it. But that restriction only applies to commercially active and recognisable brands.

So the law is not really an issue here.
Salmoneus wrote:
11 Apr 2020 14:16
Why 'obviously'? I mean, really, who the hell cares?
Well, maybe it's just paranoia (which, as you know, I tend to be prone to [:$] ) but I generally take the same approach to conlanging as I take to music (including song titles) because of worries about accusations of plagiarism.
As I saw, plagiarism isn't a legal issue. And if you're worried that people will think of you as a plagiarist, the solution is simple: stop worrying about that. Who cares what they think? It's not like you're actually trying to sell anything to us, after all, so you don't really need our high esteem.

Yeah, but practically everything can be offensive.
Which rather demonstrates why "avoid saying anything that could be offensive" is a terrible rule to try to follow!
The natlang whose name I realised it's coincidentally similar to (or maybe I was subconsciously remembering the name of the natlang and ripping it off, it's a pretty interesting natlang but I always forget its exact name) is practically extinct at this point, so its last handful of remaining speakers might find it offensive that a conlang has a similar name...
a) does that matter? They'd obviously be stupid and wrong, so who cares? [it would be different, I think, if everything else about the language or its speakers demonstrated that you were actually appropriating their culture. Rightly or wrongly, it's at least legitimate to get annoyed by that. But gettting angry with you for stumbling across a few syllables that sound like some syllables in the English name for the language they speak? That's just stupid.]

b) do you think it's likely that these people will hear about your conlang? You have a very high opinion of your level of fame, I think!

c) isn't it presumptious of you to treat these people like children by prejudging what they will find offensive? It's one thing if someone says that they find you conlang name offensive, please could you change it... but to just assume that they're idiots before they've even heard of it seems to be making problems for the sake of making problems for yourself...
as in, only two vowels are different and it has one additional consonant.
What? So, you mean, the two words are virtually entirely unrelated?

By this rule, you'd have to ban words like "Konglosh", "Jorkmin", "Utrulian" and so forth for being desparately offensive to speakers of western european languages...
To compare to your examples, settling for that name would be literally like calling a conlang "Girlmen" or "Marslem". They may not be immediately recognisable, but you'd still get the feeling that they're extremely familiar and would probably give you a suspicious feeling.
Huh? No, of course I wouldn't. It wouldn't even occur to me (in the abstract, assuming no further obvious parallels) thatt Girlmen was related to German, or that Marslem might be a commentary on Islam. How many hours do you spend staring at meaningless words trying to become offended by them!?

Backstroke_Italics
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 12
Joined: 27 Nov 2019 19:48

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

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

If I saw a language named "Girlmen," I would immediately assume I was reading a bawdy sex comedy.

But there's definitely a limit to how similar you can get, depending on what you're trying to avoid and who your audience is. If you're writing for a general audience, and you're merely trying to avoid distraction, then it doesn't take much for a name to get thrown out. "Peepee" would do it. Or "Haha."

If you're actually trying to avoid offending your audience, I think that would be hard to do, since no one reads conlangs who isn't prepared to give creators the benefit of the doubt. For me, it's more of a head-scratcher. I mean, when I read someone's conlanging work, I assume that there is some decision and thought behind most everything I'm reading. So when I come across a word like "towelhead" my first thought is: "You wrote this down, and thought 'yup. That's a great word for badger.' Why?" For most conlangers every word gets entered in a lexicon one at a time, so any coincidences feel weirdly deliberate. There's no reason why you need your word for soap to be pronounced [TivINp{kibAst3d]. It's not a matter of "going through to check the whole lexicon" like your conlang floated down the river when you weren't looking. You wrote it down in the first place. Just write "florp" instead.

That said, I would never actually judge someone morally, or get offended, simply for reading conlang material that coincidentally resembles hateful language. It's just something that is so easy to avoid that it would seem weird if it happened.

User avatar
Pabappa
sinic
sinic
Posts: 371
Joined: 18 Nov 2017 02:41
Contact:

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

Post by Pabappa »

With proper names, I would just use an exonym if I noticed that the diachronic reflex of a name I needed to use a lot was something offensive to the people I expect might stumble upon it, or otherwise inappropriate. As above, most of my exonyms are just straight English words nowadays, so the possibility of any of them being offensive is very remote.

Not everyone is going to what I do, and I suspect, actually very few will. You could still use an exonym derived from the internal name (i.e. the name they call themselves) if you're willing to do that .... e.g. if I ended up with a tribal name, just by random chance, that was, say, /bastardu/, and I for whatever reason felt I couldnt use an English name for the tribe, I would simply take the native name and knead it around a bit and attribute the change to random variation the way proper names like Hawwah have turned into Eve.
I'll take the theses, and you can have the thoses.

User avatar
qwed117
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3748
Joined: 20 Nov 2014 02:27

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

Post by qwed117 »

Pabappa wrote:
14 Apr 2020 01:00
With proper names, I would just use an exonym if I noticed that the diachronic reflex of a name I needed to use a lot was something offensive to the people I expect might stumble upon it, or otherwise inappropriate. As above, most of my exonyms are just straight English words nowadays, so the possibility of any of them being offensive is very remote.

Not everyone is going to what I do, and I suspect, actually very few will. You could still use an exonym derived from the internal name (i.e. the name they call themselves) if you're willing to do that .... e.g. if I ended up with a tribal name, just by random chance, that was, say, /bastardu/, and I for whatever reason felt I couldnt use an English name for the tribe, I would simply take the native name and knead it around a bit and attribute the change to random variation the way proper names like Hawwah have turned into Eve.
I mean a similar example is in Ecupriot, the word κόρη "maiden, girl" from Pre-Greek *korwā, becomes κόυρωα <kurwa> "girl", which is homophonous with the Slavic slur. I'm not changing that word. It means what it means and it's an unfortunate coincidence, but it doesn't mean anything
Spoiler:
My minicity is Zyphrazia and Novland
What is made of man will crumble away.

Khemehekis
mayan
mayan
Posts: 2281
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 09:36
Location: California über alles

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

Post by Khemehekis »

Vlürch wrote:
13 Apr 2020 20:59
Khemehekis wrote:
11 Apr 2020 07:16
When I google "Kankonian", I find stuff like this:
Apparently it's the name of at least two places, one in Nigeria and one in India?
A Kankonian is someone who goes to a school called Kankon, or an alumnus thereof. (I also find a reference to a place in Africa called Kankonia in a nineteenth-century book.) I'm not aware of a Kankonia in India, or at least I haven't found one when I googled the term.
Vlürch wrote:
13 Apr 2020 20:59
Yeah, but practically everything can be offensive. The natlang whose name I realised it's coincidentally similar to (or maybe I was subconsciously remembering the name of the natlang and ripping it off, it's a pretty interesting natlang but I always forget its exact name) is practically extinct at this point, so its last handful of remaining speakers might find it offensive that a conlang has a similar name... as in, only two vowels are different and it has one additional consonant. To compare to your examples, settling for that name would be literally like calling a conlang "Girlmen" or "Marslem". They may not be immediately recognisable, but you'd still get the feeling that they're extremely familiar and would probably give you a suspicious feeling. Now, if it's similarly similar to an extremely critically endangered minority language whose speakers are arguably being literally genocided... well, it's probably best to change it as much as possible while keeping the "vibe" of the name that came about coincidentally.
Frankly, if I heard a language called Girlmen, I wouldn't even think of German. I'd think of this sexist remark by onetime California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
♂♥♂♀

Squirrels chase koi . . . chase squirrels

My Kankonian-English dictionary: 65,595 words and counting

31,416: The number of the conlanging beast!

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 »

Might be worth pointing out this thread over on the ZBB if we're talking about languages with names in English that are the same as other words in English (Dong, Dung, Beaver (sort of), Slavey, Anal, Bum, etc.).

As others have said, there are only so many combinations of sounds that English speakers will be comfortable pronouncing (same goes for any other language) so there's always a chance that somewhere along the line there's going to be a coincidence.

Whether that means anything to anyone, well, that's down to them. If the name of your conlang happens to end up being the same as the name of a natlang, and there'll always be someone who might find a particular name offensive, but then that's wider context is for (if you come up with a name that, for example, happens to pronounced the same as a homophobic slur, then someone might find that offensive, but are the speakers of it all gay? Are they written in a way that demeans those in homosexual relationships?).

I feel like we've been down this path before, though, on the Board, with regards to the topic of "what if I offend someone?" and I just have to say... be careful with the topic. It's a complicated one to deal with, seemingly, with no right or wrong answer, and at the end of the day, there are bigger things in the world to worry about than whether your conlangs name sounds too much like "German" or "arsehole". If you don't like it, or you think it might be a problem, just change it?
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.

User avatar
DesEsseintes
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4165
Joined: 31 Mar 2013 13:16

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

Post by DesEsseintes »

Vlürch wrote:
13 Apr 2020 20:59

like how there are words that sound just like the N-word in various natlangs, but you probably wouldn't put a similar word in your conlang even if you could technically justify it as ANADEW, because it's not like you could pretend not to know it from English.
This reminds me of the time when I came up with the 2nd person feminine agreement marker -veji in Enello and then added the SAP plural -na. To this day, I swear I didn’t see it!

User avatar
Vlürch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 300
Joined: 09 Mar 2016 21:19
Location: Finland
Contact:

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

Post by Vlürch »

Apologies in advance for the insanely long post... looks like it wasn't a quick question, after all. [>_<]
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
Why not? Sure, if a word sounds a bit like an offensive English word, I'm maybe not going to use it regularly in examples - that would detract from what I want the example to show. And similarly I'd probably not want it to be the most common word in the language. But when a language has hundreds or thousands of words, what benefit is there in going through every single one of them to make sure they don't sound anything like any offensive word in any real language?
I get that that's a good point (as usual) and that at least one word is probably going to end up sounding at least somewhat offensive or whatever when applying sound changes from a proto-language, but even in those cases irregular sound changes could be used to make them sound less offensive. If they're completely a priori, then what Backstroke_Italics said applies.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
So the law is not really an issue here.
Maybe, but there's still something similar to a "court of public opinion" that could even be called "court of individual opinion". If you come up with something you think is totally unique and then google it only to find out you weren't the first to come up with it, imho it's almost a responsibility to change it unless you just don't care about what people think of you or your work.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
And if you're worried that people will think of you as a plagiarist, the solution is simple: stop worrying about that. Who cares what they think? It's not like you're actually trying to sell anything to us, after all, so you don't really need our high esteem.
That's a comforting thought, that it doesn't really matter, but changing a mindset isn't as simple as flicking a switch.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
Which rather demonstrates why "avoid saying anything that could be offensive" is a terrible rule to try to follow!
That's what I used to hold as a key principle, but just like the absence of an authority isn't an excuse to descend into anarchy, there's a vast grey area. Nowadays I'd rather not offend people if possible, if for no other reason than to maybe make up for the years I spent offending people both intentionally and unintentionally.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
a) does that matter? They'd obviously be stupid and wrong, so who cares? [it would be different, I think, if everything else about the language or its speakers demonstrated that you were actually appropriating their culture. Rightly or wrongly, it's at least legitimate to get annoyed by that. But gettting angry with you for stumbling across a few syllables that sound like some syllables in the English name for the language they speak? That's just stupid.]
Well, there's the question of where the line is drawn. It could be argued that making an Ural-Altaic conlang is inherently cultural appropriation, that making a conlang written in Chinese characters is inherently cultural appropriation, etc. That's something I disagree with strongly, but similar arguments have been made before regarding the inclusion of "exotic" things in conlangs (and I argued against them, which I now regret because my arguments came from a place of negativity and outright racism). I still think languages and cultures can't be owned and I can admit that I'm a cultural appropriator myself, but I can also admit that I'm wrong even if I lack the conviction to stop. The same can apply to a thousand different things in everyone's lives, I'm sure, knowing you'd have a lot of personal growth to do but just being unable to go through with said growth for one reason or another.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
b) do you think it's likely that these people will hear about your conlang? You have a very high opinion of your level of fame, I think!

c) isn't it presumptious of you to treat these people like children by prejudging what they will find offensive? It's one thing if someone says that they find you conlang name offensive, please could you change it... but to just assume that they're idiots before they've even heard of it seems to be making problems for the sake of making problems for yourself...
Of course they wouldn't even hear about it and it's probably as likely that they wouldn't be collectively offended as it is that they would be offended, but something isn't inoffensive just because people aren't offended by it. Just like murder is still wrong even if there are no witnesses. It's also comparable to vaporwave, a genre of music built around sampling; no one in the community thinks it's wrong, but they know it's wrong legally and that there are enough precedents to assume the artists whose music is being sampled also disapprove of it. The difference is that at least AFAIK speakers of endangered/indigenous languages haven't protested against conlangers, but some have protested against the use of their languages by others.

Now, myself I still am too blinded by prejudice and privilege to accept that as reasonable. That doesn't mean I don't understand that it may well be reasonable for the speakers of endangered/indigenous languages. That's why I assume it to be the default, and not just in this case but every case, that someone is going to be offended. So, I want to minimise the offensiveness as much as possible or at least have an explanation for why I seemingly don't care.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
What? So, you mean, the two words are virtually entirely unrelated?
Well, no, I mean there's one additional coda consonant and the vowels are similar... fuck it, I'll post the conlang's working name at the risk of getting torn a new asshole once again: Ulduga. It's way too similar to Udege, there's probably no way I wasn't subsconsciously ripping it off. It's also similar to Urdu but I'm not as concerned about that since it has an additional syllable and Urdu isn't an endangered language spoken by a marginalised minority, and Urdu is an Indo-European language so for the average conlanger it's less "exotic" anyway. Meanwhile, Udege is a Tungusic language (so Altaic) and it has even been influenced by Chinese. I didn't even remember Udege exists until after I'd come up with at least a hundred words for the conlang and came up with the name, and although I don't really know anything specifically about Udege so I couldn't directly rip it off and wouldn't have a problem drawing influence from it intentionally since it could even make sense, but the conlang's name being so similar... [>_<]

When googling "Ulduga", I also found a post on Facebook where it's used as apparently somehow an alternative name for Uludağ (which tbh could just be a misspelling?), and like I already said a city in someone else's concountry. There are other results, too, but those are the ones that make me want to change it somehow. At this point I'd mostly feel like adding one more syllable to the end, but I'll have to figure out which syllable is the most fitting.
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
Huh? No, of course I wouldn't. It wouldn't even occur to me (in the abstract, assuming no further obvious parallels) thatt Girlmen was related to German, or that Marslem might be a commentary on Islam.
[:O]
Salmoneus wrote:
13 Apr 2020 23:09
How many hours do you spend staring at meaningless words trying to become offended by them!?
None per se, but I do sometimes go over my conlangs to see if I have things that might be offensive that I didn't realise could be offensive earlier.
Backstroke_Italics wrote:
14 Apr 2020 00:37
If I saw a language named "Girlmen," I would immediately assume I was reading a bawdy sex comedy.
I just thought it was the best analogue to the actual names in question and also had the similar potential of being perceived as a derogatory deformation.
Backstroke_Italics wrote:
14 Apr 2020 00:37
It's not a matter of "going through to check the whole lexicon" like your conlang floated down the river when you weren't looking. You wrote it down in the first place. Just write "florp" instead.
True, but with a posteriori etymologies things like that do arise completely unintentionally and you might not even catch them the first time if you're not on the lookout. That led to me having one word undergo an irregular sound change in Nemin-uguu, for example, when it turned out phonetically identical to an ethnic slur with the regular sound changes. The "uguu" in the name is intentionally like the weeby exclamation, which might also be offensive to some people but that's one of the cases where I really didn't care because it'd be such a weird thing to be offended by. I sometimes semi-unironically use the word "uguu" myself (online, with an implication of cuteness overload or whatever) and thought it would be funny for it to mean "language"; I also didn't care that there are tons of results for "Nemin" on Google because there are so many, none of them seem to "dominate" and it's a really simple word.
Backstroke_Italics wrote:
14 Apr 2020 00:37
It's just something that is so easy to avoid that it would seem weird if it happened.
That's kind of what my point was, and asking for ways to avoid it without having to change much.
qwed117 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 01:18
I mean a similar example is in Ecupriot, the word κόρη "maiden, girl" from Pre-Greek *korwā, becomes κόυρωα <kurwa> "girl", which is homophonous with the Slavic slur. I'm not changing that word. It means what it means and it's an unfortunate coincidence, but it doesn't mean anything
But that can at least be funny.
Khemehekis wrote:
14 Apr 2020 02:40
I'm not aware of a Kankonia in India, or at least I haven't found one when I googled the term.
I meant Kankon.
Khemehekis wrote:
14 Apr 2020 02:40
Frankly, if I heard a language called Girlmen, I wouldn't even think of German. I'd think of this sexist remark by onetime California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Huh, I didn't know Schwarzenegger was an asshole like that... but then again, the only thing I know about him is his films, the same way I remember learning about Jackie Chan's political views and some of his personal beliefs and being like "wait what?", but for better or worse that hasn't changed the fact that Jackie Chan is still one of my favourite actors and this won't change the fact that I fucking love the Terminator films too. [>_<]
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 03:12
If you don't like it, or you think it might be a problem, just change it?
That's what my initial question was about, ways to change it without changing it entirely and how to avoid it happening in the future. I realise there's no clear-cut straightforward answer since there are so many variables, but there could be some rules of thumb that I'm not thinking of? I mean, of course there are ways like using exonyms like Pabappa said or whatnot, which can be helpful sometimes but if the conpeople's endonym also has to sound cool... well, maybe I'm thinking way too hard on it and being too worried for no reason, anyway.
DesEsseintes wrote:
14 Apr 2020 04:20
This reminds me of the time when I came up with the 2nd person feminine agreement marker -veji in Enello and then added the SAP plural -na. To this day, I swear I didn’t see it!
[xD]

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 »

Vlürch wrote:
14 Apr 2020 16:56
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 03:12
If you don't like it, or you think it might be a problem, just change it?
That's what my initial question was about, ways to change it without changing it entirely and how to avoid it happening in the future. I realise there's no clear-cut straightforward answer since there are so many variables, but there could be some rules of thumb that I'm not thinking of? I mean, of course there are ways like using exonyms like Pabappa said or whatnot, which can be helpful sometimes but if the conpeople's endonym also has to sound cool... well, maybe I'm thinking way too hard on it and being too worried for no reason, anyway.
You're right, there isn't a hard and fast rule to this sort of "problem", nor a clear-cut answer to whether it's even a problem at all.

"Ulduga", let's face it, isn't really close enough to either "Urdu" or "Udege" that most people will notice it (I wouldn't have at least), and for the most part, it looks like you're looking too much into it. Your fear of offending people, or desire not to offend people, is likely where the problem lies, and honestly it looks like that's just making you worry too much about something that for the vast majority of people isn't going to register as a problem.

When it comes to this sort of thing, the best bet is to just not worry about it. If you end up offending someone, you can always apologise, sincerely, knowing that it was an accident, and make whatever changes you want from there.

Otherwise, I guess just change the name now, and hope you don't start worrying that name's going to be potentially offensive.



Other fun real-world example, the Toyota Laputa, IIRC, it was named after the floating island in Gulliver's Travels, but la puta means "the whore" in Spanish. Another relatively well known car example (popularised by Top Gear here in the UK), is the Toyota MR2, which when spoken in French sounds like est merdeux (occasionally translated as "it is shit"), and from what I've been told that has meant that it gets sold in France as the Toyota MR instead.

And then of course there are utterly hilarious place names in the UK like Penistone, Wetwang, Twatt, Cockermouth, and a street called Bell End, which all have perfectly reasonable etymologies, unconnected to any offensive word they might resemble, but they still go on existing (I mean, we all still have a laugh about it, but still).
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.

User avatar
Vlürch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 300
Joined: 09 Mar 2016 21:19
Location: Finland
Contact:

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

Post by Vlürch »

WELP, I have another question already... this one probably actually has a straightforward answer: is it realistic to keep two synonyms from a proto-language if one of them is a homophone with another word, when they're all common words, and in the process have the other one to be influenced by its homophone in meaning?

Specifically, since the words are from Proto-Uralic, one of the words for "fire" being influenced by the homophonous word for "wind" to come to mean something like "fire spread by wind" or "fire that spreads like wind", etc? I assume the reconstructed *tule (fire) and *tule (wind) were probably not homophones since their descendants differ, but even if they may not have actually been homophones in real-life Proto-Uralic, in any case they likely would have become homophones with the sound changes I have for the conlang.

I know there are a lot of homophones in Sinitic languages and also Japanese, and the conlang is written with Chinese characters as well, so could that have some effect on it being more tolerant of homophones?
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 21:39
"Ulduga", let's face it, isn't really close enough to either "Urdu" or "Udege" that most people will notice it (I wouldn't have at least), and for the most part, it looks like you're looking too much into it. Your fear of offending people, or desire not to offend people, is likely where the problem lies, and honestly it looks like that's just making you worry too much about something that for the vast majority of people isn't going to register as a problem.
Ah, ok. I guess that's probably true, although I tend to assume everyone's "etymology radar" (which could also function as a "rip-off radar") or whatever is much more fine-tuned than mine. I mean, I used to spend hours every day on what Wikipedia calls pseudoscientific language comparison, but stopped doing it years ago except for conlanging purposes so nowadays I assume similar words in different languages are unconnected (so as to not get my hopes up) or expect them to be loanwords from different completely unrelated languages (as is the case with some Finnish words that seem to have cognates in other Uralic or otherwise non-IE languages of Eurasia, but turn out to be Indo-European loanwords), and half of the time won't even notice obvious similarities even with actual cognates anymore. [>_<]
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 21:39
When it comes to this sort of thing, the best bet is to just not worry about it. If you end up offending someone, you can always apologise, sincerely, knowing that it was an accident, and make whatever changes you want from there.
Not to question what you're saying, but I feel like accusations of plagiarism or offensiveness and similar stuff are probably the easiest accusations to make without even an argument while at the same time being some of the hardest to prove wrong, so imho it makes sense to worry about it to some degree. But yeah, I get that I'm being paranoid once again.
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 21:39
Otherwise, I guess just change the name now, and hope you don't start worrying that name's going to be potentially offensive.
Mmh, I've been thinking of different syllables to add to the end and have a couple of candidates but will have to figure out some expansion to the pseudo-etymology that makes sense.
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 21:39
Other fun real-world example, the Toyota Laputa, IIRC, it was named after the floating island in Gulliver's Travels, but la puta means "the whore" in Spanish. Another relatively well known car example (popularised by Top Gear here in the UK), is the Toyota MR2, which when spoken in French sounds like est merdeux (occasionally translated as "it is shit"), and from what I've been told that has meant that it gets sold in France as the Toyota MR instead.
Hahahaha. Strangely enough the Laputa one would've never hit me, even though it's so obvious... well, it almost certainly would have if I'd heard it said out loud, but not in writing. The word just makes me think of rabbits, since they're leporids.
sangi39 wrote:
14 Apr 2020 21:39
And then of course there are utterly hilarious place names in the UK like Penistone, Wetwang, Twatt, Cockermouth, and a street called Bell End, which all have perfectly reasonable etymologies, unconnected to any offensive word they might resemble, but they still go on existing (I mean, we all still have a laugh about it, but still).
I knew about Penistone from Top Gear, at least, it made me chuckle for a pretty long time; kind of a shame it's not pronounced "penis-tone", though. We have a lot of similar placenames in Finland, too, one famous example being Vittulampi ("cunt pond"), but pretty much all of them are in the middle of nowhere.

Post Reply