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Re: A spoken-only conlang

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  • Thomas Alexander
    ... A few comments... I am not convinced that it is true that word bountries are a product of a writing system. I think most of the time that we see word
    Message 1 of 47 , Aug 3, 2009
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      Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:
      > Before the writing system is devised there
      > should be no meta-discussions about what
      > constitutes a "word", or what parts of
      > speech are, or what the typology of the
      > language is. It should only be spoken, and
      > only in everyday-style discourse. Like an
      > immersion program where the experimenters
      > must work out how to discuss the price
      > of a cabbage, or the loan of a hammer.
      > And in that stage the language would be
      > nothing more than a sequence of audible
      > sounds without formal phonology or morphology,
      > and with unspecified syntax and grammar.

      A few comments...

      I am not convinced that it is true that word
      bountries are a product of a writing system.
      I think most of the time that we see word
      bountries in writing systems, we'll find that
      they correspond to something real in the spoken
      language. Spaces might not be pronounced in
      English, but they represent something real.

      Another thing which comes to mind is that
      (regardless of which creation story you
      subscribe to), languages were never made up
      in a vacuum -- or, at least they haven't been
      for tens, or hundreds of thousands of years.
      They were created by God in the Garden and
      at Babel, adapted from previous languages,
      or consisted of only a few words spoken by
      some kind of proto-human.

      So, although I think your ideas are interesting,
      I don't think they're any more "natural" than
      the alternatives.

      > So if a group of babies just learning their
      > L1, but who shared no common language among
      > them were put together in a play room for a
      > couple hours each day over the span of a
      > year or so, I wonder how long it would be
      > before they devised a shared language.

      No doubt they would devise a shared language
      just as soon as they needed one. For sure
      they would pick up on each other's babblings,
      but at the same time, kids are not overly
      hung up on the language barrier. Even older
      kids will gladly play with other kids even
      without knowing a word of the other's langauge.

      The trick here would be creating (or finding)
      a situation where kids with different L1s
      could get together on a regular basis, yet
      where there is no majority for any given
      langauge, and where the local language does
      not creep in as a dominating force.

      Brett Williams <mungojelly@...> wrote:
      > On the contrary, I believe it's our mode of
      > conlanging here that's impractical! Making up
      > languages by becoming amateur linguists,
      > speaking in strange jargon and symbols. Hardly
      > anyone is able to make it out here to these games.

      This touches on something which has been on my mind.
      As much as I like linguistics as a hobby, my approach
      could more accurately be described as "the department
      of foreign languages." I don't want to study about
      different languages, I want to be able to *use* them.
      No doubt it's necessary to learn something about
      languages to use them (like homorganic nasals in Pakuni),
      but how far does it have to go?

      It's funny to me that in order to have a conversation
      about something as simple as the letters S and Z
      (or rather, the sounds these letters generally
      represent), I've got to be directed to a complicated
      grid and learn the names for all sorts of parts of
      the inside of the mouth. (Note that the description
      of conlang X-sampa off the MYCONLANGLINKS page does
      not refer to any examples known to so-called "normal
      people" - even "normal people" who are familiar with
      17 national languages.)

      > Normal people could participate in constructing
      > spoken language much more easily in a medium where
      > sounds plainly represent themselves.

      I wouldn't go that far, but I will say that there
      seems to be a subculture here where people are so
      afraid of "YAEPT"(*) that they've constructed a
      barier of jargon around themselves that they don't
      even see.

      (*) I've forgotten whether the exact wording is
      "Yet Another English Pronunciation Thread", but
      you get the idea.

      Amike salutas,
      Thomas/Tomaso ALEXANDER.
      www.NightinGael.Net
      ---Anything below this line is not from Thomas ---
    • Richard Wordingham
      ... The special codepoint, ZWSP, is for line breaking when the writer doesn t know how wide the lines will be. It s in very few Thai 8-bit codes, and you very
      Message 47 of 47 , Aug 9, 2009
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        --- In conlang@yahoogroups.com, "<deinx nxtxr>" <deinx.nxtxr@...> wrote:
        >
        > Larry Sulky wrote:
        > > But it would be fair game to denote prosody, right? Which would sometimes
        > > mean de facto word-boundary marking, etc.
        > >
        > > And I wonder if doing something like Kalusa without spaces to mark word
        > > boundaries would lead to self-segregating morphotactics. Maybe not, if Thai,
        > > as pointed out by Dana, is an example.
        >
        > Written Thai doesn't show word boundaries. There is a special
        > codepoint used between words even though it doesn't display
        > anything. It may have something to do with how the script is displayed.

        The special codepoint, ZWSP, is for line breaking when the writer doesn't know how wide the lines will be. It's in very few Thai 8-bit codes, and you very rarely encounter it. Some (most?) software ignores ZWSP and WJ (word joiner), which is very annoying when the dictionary-based line-breaker gets it wrong.

        Educated written Thai doesn't show word boundaries, but I've seen a vacillation between marking syllable and marking word boundaries in less educated Thai, which is a hangover from when Thai children start to write. There's also a New Testament translation into Thai that (visibly) marks word boundaries - presumably because it's easier to read that way!
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