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Re: Phonetic Transcription

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  • Jörg Rhiemeier
    Hallo conlangers! ... Obviously. If the Yemoran vocal tract is so different from ours (as would be expected from what little we know about their anatomy) and
    Message 1 of 42 , May 2 8:51 AM
      Hallo conlangers!

      On Thursday 02 May 2013 07:02:30 H. S. Teoh wrote:

      > On Wed, May 01, 2013 at 11:48:01PM -0700, Nicole Valicia Thompson-Andrews
      wrote:
      > > I'm not sure either. Yemorans have a complex vocal system, and there
      > > are speaking hairs and a vocal . Maybe they have a glottal stop. Given
      > > that Yemorans can't eat and talk at the same time, they have two
      > > mouths. The mouths don't open at the same time. The outer and inner
      > > mouths aren't visible at the same time. There are also three breathing
      > > forms, normal, conversational, and eating.
      >
      > Wow. Sounds like you may need to invent your own system, if the native
      > speakers of your language have such fundamental differences in their
      > vocal apparatus.

      Obviously. If the Yemoran vocal tract is so different from ours
      (as would be expected from what little we know about their anatomy)
      and produces a different set of sounds than humans, IPA is not
      really much of use - some homebrew transcription system will be
      necessary. But first Nicole must come up with a good idea of what
      the Yemoran vocal tract is like, lest she once again gets entangled
      in inconsistencies.

      Many science fiction authors goof their alien languages that way.
      When I read Alan Dean Foster's Humanx novels, I was perplexed by
      this: he described the language of the vaguely insect-like Thranx
      as consisting of "clicks and whistles", yet gave names of Thranx
      such as _Ryozenzuzex_ which did not at all sound like that. (The
      species name _Thranx_ itself is a case of this, too.)

      > Though you probably still want to use some kind of
      > adaptation of IPA for the sake of the rest of us, so that we have some
      > kind of reference point to go on.

      Depends on to which degree such an adaptation is practical; it
      may indeed rather be misleading than insightful. It makes no
      sense mapping alien sounds to IPA symbols that show no natural
      relationship to the alien sounds; I'd prefer an abstract
      transcription of the alien sounds over an attempt to squeeze
      them into an anthropocentric procrustean bed.

      --
      ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
      http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
      "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
    • Logan Kearsley
      ... Perhaps they come from a planet in a binary (or formerly binary) system around a pulsar, which puts out quite a but of radio energy. That would pretty
      Message 42 of 42 , May 4 2:08 PM
        On 4 May 2013 14:28, Dan Henry <rdanhenry@...> wrote:
        > The difficulty for bioradio communication is that communicative abilities
        > evolve to use existing sensory capabilities. Radio senses will only evolve
        > in an environment in which practically useful radio data exists fairly
        > consistently over long periods of time. It may well be that an environment
        > that would favor such senses would produce life too alien for us to
        > understand their psychology in any depth, much less imagine it from our
        > armchairs. Or not. It depends on how universal our own notions of
        > intelligence prove to be. One has a great deal of freedom in speculating on
        > alien biology/psychology, as we are extrapolating from a single reference
        > point of terrestrial evolution.

        Perhaps they come from a planet in a binary (or formerly binary)
        system around a pulsar, which puts out quite a but of radio energy.
        That would pretty alien. Or maybe there're just a lot of large storms,
        and being able to sense lightning flashes from far away is useful.

        I think we can get a bit more prosaic than that, though. Earthly
        lifeforms can produce pretty strong electrical charges, and can detect
        very faint electrical charges incidentally produced by the activity of
        other animal's nervous systems, but our nerves somewhat oddly don't
        actually work on electrical conduction. It's not too difficult to
        imagine alien life that *does* have electrically conductive nerves
        (electrically conductive biomolecules are not particularly hard to
        come by), in which case the starting and stopping of current in their
        nervous systems would produce faint incidental radio emissions which
        other animals could sense for hunting purposes.

        > If you wanted to actually work out such a system of natural radio language,
        > you'd do best to start by figuring out what the radio sense was originally
        > evolved for. Communication would probably use frequencies near those of the
        > sources of interest, but not the same frequencies, so that communications
        > and navigational (or whatever) radio did not interfere.

        I'm not sold on that. Human sonic language isn't distinguished from
        other natural sounds by being in an offset frequency range, but by
        having different frequency mixture characteristics.

        -l.
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