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Re: How do you get started?

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  • Virginia Keys
    This is in tandem with playing around with sounds and grammar, but I really like to mess around with the orthography and try different looks for the written
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 29, 2013
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      This is in tandem with playing around with sounds and grammar, but I really like to mess around with the orthography and try different "looks" for the written language.
    • H. S. Teoh
      ... [...] I m an artlanger, and I always have a conculture to go with the conlang. Having a conculture (even if it s just a crude sketch of who the speakers
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 29, 2013
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        On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:09:50PM +0200, Billy J.B. wrote:
        > Hi everyone! I'm re-writing a small introduction on a small website (
        > http://linguifex.com/index.php?title=Linguifex:Getting_started)
        > devoted to the vice dealing with the whole "getting started" process
        > for prospective conlangers.
        >
        > So far, I've mentioned playing around with sounds (what I've termed
        > the phonology/phonotactics/euphony approach), starting by
        > experimenting with grammatical ideas, and last but not least, what
        > I've termed the "Shannon" approach: writing sentences, translating a
        > text, working off subtle subconscious influences and then afterwards
        > glossing it.
        >
        > And now to my actual question, I was wondering if you have any other
        > preferred method(s) and/or *fonts d'inspiration; *I'd be delighted to
        > hear them (and include them in the introduction)!
        [...]

        I'm an artlanger, and I always have a conculture to go with the conlang.
        Having a conculture (even if it's just a crude sketch of who the
        speakers are and where they live) can help a lot when making linguistic
        decisions.

        For example, are the speakers of your conlang a highly-literate people
        who love composing elaborate utterances on obscure philosophical topics?
        Or are they a more practical people given to stating actions directly?
        Or perhaps a reclusive people who like to make opaque references to
        things only the inner circle would understand? While this alone does not
        dictate linguistic structure, it surely influences it; said
        highly-literate people would tend to preserve (or invent, via analogy,
        etc.) convoluted sentence structures in order to express their
        sophisticated sentiments, while a more practical people would tend to
        favor (and thus better preserve) more simplistic constructions that gets
        straight to the point. And a culture bent on exclusion would tend to
        preserve / invent obscure idioms and references to specific events or
        people that only a native speaker would understand.

        (This doesn't mean, of course, that every idiom-heavy language comes from
        a desire to be exclusive -- idioms arise in many other ways too. But
        having some vague idea in this direction helps impart a unique flavor to
        your conlang instead of just producing yet another cookie-cutter
        language. And having a conculture to draw from makes a wonderful source
        for coining idiomatic expressions. A culture in which horse-riding is a
        major activity, for example, would have many horse-related idioms.)

        And what kind of environment do they live in? A people who live in
        arctic regions, for example, might have many more words for "snow" that
        English does; a people who live in a volcanically-active region, like
        the speakers of my conlang Tatari Faran, may have many words for various
        volcanic phenomenon but only two for snow (e.g., just ice and frost in
        TF). An advanced technological society would tend to have many words
        devoted to technical terminology, as well as grammatical constructions
        that allow very precise utterances, whereas a culture in which art is an
        outstanding trait would tend to favor more poetic ways of expression.

        Then there are the linguistic details to be decided on, like sound
        inventory, phonotactics, grammatical constructions. Having a conculture
        helps you to put yourself "in the native speakers' shoes" -- imagine
        yourself in the speakers' environment, and imagine yourself interacting
        with other speakers -- how would the language sound like? What kind of
        greeting/farewell customs would they have? You may even "catch wind" of
        the first real words in the conlang here -- words of greeting, perhaps,
        customs of self-introduction, and so forth. Perhaps an opaque string of
        sounds at first, which later may be reanalysed as some kind of calcified
        archaic sentence structure. Here, you may "hear" an overall sound or
        feel to the conlang (e.g. they speak in a highly-inflected tone of
        voice; or they speak in a monotonous drone of staccato syllables, etc.),
        that you can refer to from time-to-time to decide on various aspects of
        the conlang. You can settle some phonological questions this way, and
        perhaps even what grammatical constructions might be present. This
        helps prevent "kitchen sink" conlangs which are just a haphazard
        collection of arbitrarily-chosen features, with no mind paid to how the
        different pieces fit together.

        In Tatari Faran, for example, I wanted the language to have a vaguely
        Austronesian-style phonetic inventory, so I chose a rather small set of
        consonants and a relatively small set of vowels, and made sure to
        include the glottal stop (ala Hawaiian). I also envisioned the speakers
        as having a penchant for onomapoiea, so I coined a lot of words using
        onomapoiea (e.g., _boha au'au_ ["bOha ?ao?ao] for a dog barking).
        Recently, when I needed a way to express intensified adjectives (e.g.
        big -> very big) I remembered the Austronesian feel that I was aiming
        for, and decided to use reduplication (a frequent Austronesian trait)
        instead of the more IE-style solution of having a word meaning "very"
        that modifies the adjective. Tatari Faran also has a certain prosody
        that basically was derived from the first few sentences I "heard" when
        imagining myself interacting with the natives in their homeland. That
        initial "impression" eventually led me to decide that TF should be
        pitch-accented rather than stress-accented -- as that better accounts
        for the prosody I envisioned.

        So, in the end, I would just say that, at least as far as how *I*
        conlang, it's ultimately all based on a conculture. I use the conculture
        (and its various derived implications thereof) as a source of
        inspiration when fleshing out the details of the conlang.


        T

        --
        To provoke is to call someone stupid; to argue is to call each other stupid.
      • Gary Shannon
        I m most interested in syntax and grammar so I keep phonology and orthography very simple. A lot of times I will start out the sketch of a new grammar using an
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 29, 2013
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          I'm most interested in syntax and grammar so I keep phonology and
          orthography very simple. A lot of times I will start out the sketch of a
          new grammar using an existing lexicon, either English, or
          Spanish/Italian/Latin, or one of my older conlangs, just so I can focus on
          the experimenting with the grammar and not get overwhelmed by the
          non-grammar details.

          --gary


          On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM, Billy J.B. <admin@...> wrote:

          > Hi everyone! I'm re-writing a small introduction on a small website (
          > http://linguifex.com/index.php?title=Linguifex:Getting_started) devoted to
          > the vice dealing with the whole "getting started" process for prospective
          > conlangers.
          >
          > So far, I've mentioned playing around with sounds (what I've termed the
          > phonology/phonotactics/euphony approach), starting by experimenting with
          > grammatical ideas, and last but not least, what I've termed the "Shannon"
          > approach: writing sentences, translating a text, working off subtle
          > subconscious influences and then afterwards glossing it.
          >
          > And now to my actual question, I was wondering if you have any other
          > preferred method(s) and/or *fonts d'inspiration; *I'd be delighted to hear
          > them (and include them in the introduction)!
          >
          > Gratias vobis,
          >
          > Billy
          >
        • Padraic Brown
          ...and it ain t the garum factory down the block! http://news.yahoo.com/fish-sign-language-help-hunting-buddies-152909150.html Padraic
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 29, 2013
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            ...and it ain't the garum factory down the block!

            http://news.yahoo.com/fish-sign-language-help-hunting-buddies-152909150.html

            Padraic
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