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Re: New toy conlang sketch

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  • Padraic Brown
    ... Sure. Kind of like I ll kill him! in English, right? ... Perhaps not wrong. Perhaps these folks think a little differently. In any event, I don t see how
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
      > From: George Corley <gacorley@...>

      >
      >>I might suggest that, when you find a few more words, that "eye-stalk-grabber"
      >>is a term of the severest abuse!
      >
      >
      >I would think it more likely that threats to rip out someone's eyestalk would be
      > common as expressions of anger.

      Sure. Kind of like "I'll kill him!" in English, right?


      > It seems to me that conventionalized insults are more likely to accuse someone
      > of being cowardly, a victim of violence, or a sexual deviant than to accuse them
      > of being violent towards others, though I could be wrong. 

      Perhaps not wrong. Perhaps these folks think a little differently. In any event, I
      don't see how an expression of anger like "I'll rip your eyestalk right off your back!"
      and a term of abuse like "eyestalk grabber!" are mutually exclusive...

      Padraic
    • BPJ
      ... I did say likely , not doubtless ! There *are* languages which have aspirated stops/affricates but no /h/ -- Lhasa Tibetan is another one, which BTW
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
        2013-06-27 15:14, George Corley skrev:
        > On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:04 AM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:
        >
        >>
        >>
        >> And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
        >> since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.
        >>
        >
        > Is that true. I'm just curious, since for many Mandarin dialects, pinyin
        > <h> is /x/ and there is no /h/ (there are dialects with /h/, though).
        >

        I did say "likely", not "doubtless"! There *are* languages
        which have aspirated stops/affricates but no /h/ -- Lhasa
        Tibetan is another one, which BTW also has /x/, and I don't
        know to what extent /ɦ/ in New IndoAryan languages comes out
        as [h], but I have seen many times stated that the vast majority
        of languages with aspirates have /h/. Even so if Teoh's lang has
        /x/ or /ɦ/ <h> would be a good choice for it, no?

        Praetereo censeo sibilantes et affricatae mandarinae modo
        Vasconice scribendae esse!

        /bpj
      • George Corley
        ... I was only citing a language I m familiar with. Of course it doesn t disprove you, we could come up with lots of single language examples, but we d need at
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
          On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:41 AM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:

          > 2013-06-27 15:14, George Corley skrev:
          >
          > On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:04 AM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:
          >>
          >>
          >>>
          >>> And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
          >>> since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.
          >>>
          >>>
          >> Is that true. I'm just curious, since for many Mandarin dialects, pinyin
          >> <h> is /x/ and there is no /h/ (there are dialects with /h/, though).
          >>
          >>
          > I did say "likely", not "doubtless"! There *are* languages
          > which have aspirated stops/affricates but no /h/ -- Lhasa
          > Tibetan is another one, which BTW also has /x/, and I don't
          > know to what extent /ɦ/ in New IndoAryan languages comes out
          > as [h], but I have seen many times stated that the vast majority
          > of languages with aspirates have /h/. Even so if Teoh's lang has
          > /x/ or /ɦ/ <h> would be a good choice for it, no?
          >

          I was only citing a language I'm familiar with. Of course it doesn't
          disprove you, we could come up with lots of single language examples, but
          we'd need at least several hundred with sampling controls for language
          family and geographic location to be conclusive. It would make sense for
          /h/ to be more likely with aspirated consonants. Surely someone out there
          has done a study of this.
        • David McCann
          On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:52:38 -0500 ... I can t resist playing devil s advocate here! Chinese is the most important language after English, and China will soon
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
            On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:52:38 -0500
            George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:

            > <q> for /ts)ʰ/? Is that Mandarin influence I see? Yeah, I can
            > understand the issue. I'd actually recommend against it if you want
            > your romanization to be accessible. Pinyin's use of <q c> is one of
            > it's most confusing aspects (<x> is odd too, but not entirely without
            > precedent in other languages), and I have a feeling it was just a
            > compromise that was reached because of the fact that they somehow had
            > to represent nine distinct sibilants in Roman script. Even then,
            > <ts'> might have been a better choice (I think it's been used in
            > other schemes).

            I can't resist playing devil's advocate here! Chinese is the most
            important language after English, and China will soon be the
            world's most important country. For those at school today, 'qin' will
            be no stranger than 'thin'. Come to think of it, it isn't for me.
          • George Corley
            ... I would not be so certain about the rise of Chinese. China will probably rise to be a fully competitive rival to the US within the next 50 years ( world s
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
              On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 10:42 AM, David McCann <david@...>wrote:

              > On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:52:38 -0500
              > George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:
              >
              > > <q> for /ts)ʰ/? Is that Mandarin influence I see? Yeah, I can
              > > understand the issue. I'd actually recommend against it if you want
              > > your romanization to be accessible. Pinyin's use of <q c> is one of
              > > it's most confusing aspects (<x> is odd too, but not entirely without
              > > precedent in other languages), and I have a feeling it was just a
              > > compromise that was reached because of the fact that they somehow had
              > > to represent nine distinct sibilants in Roman script. Even then,
              > > <ts'> might have been a better choice (I think it's been used in
              > > other schemes).
              >
              > I can't resist playing devil's advocate here! Chinese is the most
              > important language after English, and China will soon be the
              > world's most important country. For those at school today, 'qin' will
              > be no stranger than 'thin'. Come to think of it, it isn't for me.
              >

              I would not be so certain about the rise of Chinese. China will probably
              rise to be a fully competitive rival to the US within the next 50 years
              ("world's most important country" seems a bit too far for the near future,
              I think the US hegemony will last for a good bit yet), but even if China
              were to surpass us entirely in power, English is very heavily ingrained as
              a lingua franca. I suspect that long after the US falls from grace (perhaps
              a century from now, though when you get that far, any prediction is just a
              blind guess in politics) English will linger on as Latin did, slowly
              restricting itself to smaller and smaller spaces until it finally gives way
              to a new language. By that time, the native speaking populations will have
              fractured into new Anglic languages. In that environment, I don't think we
              could predict what the next lingua franca will be (or whether translation
              technologies will make the lingua franca obsolete, as Nicolas Ostler
              claims).

              I suppose coming down to Earth, in the near future, more non-Chinese will
              certainly be learning Mandarin, and they will probably get used to the
              odder pinyin conventions (as I have) -- it's really quite a good
              romanization, it was just forced to make a few difficult choices due to the
              fact that the Roman alphabet is so alien to it. But I don't really think
              there will be enough Chinese learners to make a dent in the general
              populous (outside Chinese speaking areas, of course -- sometimes in these
              discussions people do forget that Mandarin Chinese has around a billion
              native speakers, and that number may well rise, The thing is, those native
              speakers are largely concentrated in a few countries.)
            • H. S. Teoh
              ... [...] You guys are amazing. With all that feedback last night, the conlang bug bit, and I was up till midnight fleshing out this toylang. There has been
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
                On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 10:29:51PM -0700, H. S. Teoh wrote:
                > On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 10:44:47PM -0500, Aodhán Aannestad wrote:
                > > Is the -en suffix also 1st person subject on verbs?
                >
                > Unfortunately, I haven't got that far yet. :-P The current lexicon
                > (which is listed in full in my original post as quoted below) doesn't
                > have any verbs yet.
                >
                > I do have some vague preliminary ideas about how the grammar might work,
                > but it's still too early to say anything concrete about it. I'm kinda
                > experimenting with letting the grammar develop from the corpus, rather
                > than first setting out the grammar then inventing some words to fit into
                > the blanks, as I have done with my two other conlangs.
                [...]

                You guys are amazing. With all that feedback last night, the conlang bug
                bit, and I was up till midnight fleshing out this toylang. There has
                been some rather interesting developments, but first, let me make some
                replies...


                On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 02:32:52AM -0400, Alex Fink wrote:
                [...]
                > In fact the use of Pinyin <q> has nothing to do with its value as a
                > Roman letter; it's actually a trans-script borrowing of Cyrillic <ч>!
                > That might be innocuous from an internal perspective, but it's
                > certainly a poor choice in a world where Roman has other established
                > uses.

                No kidding! I would've just adopted Cyrillic instead of Latin... there
                are so many more options with the expanded palette of letters! But then
                that would defeat the purpose of *roman*ization. Oh well.


                [...]
                > On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 17:18:09 -0700, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:
                > [...]
                > >I would go for that, except that the apostrophe is already overused
                > >for too many things, so I'd like to avoid it if possible. But I'll
                > >keep <ts'> in mind; at least for now, it looks to be a far better
                > >alternative than <q>.
                >
                > Well, to me, the biggest (likely) problem with your use of <q>
                > [ts)_h], that no-one's made explicit yet, is its relation to <ts>
                > [ts)]. Having a letter for the aspirate when you just use a cluster
                > for the simplex is really strange, though slightly less so if
                > [+aspirated] is the unmarked member of the opposition, and
                > significantly less so if /ts)_h/ is somehow one-of-a-kind in the
                > inventory.

                Yeah, it *is* very strange, and that's why I commented that I'm not sure
                about using <q> yet. At any rate, I think BPJ has found a good solution
                (see below).


                > Are there other aspirate vs. plain contrasts, and if so
                > how do you romanise them?

                I haven't even worked out the entire phonetic inventory yet. I'm kinda
                leaving it open for revision until the corpus grows large enough.


                [...]
                > On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:54:48 -0700, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:
                > [...]
                > >From this very scant corpus, one may draw the following conclusions:
                > >- The language has a /pf/ consonant cluster.
                >
                > You sure it's not an affricate, i.e. unitary? Esp. given that you
                > trancribe /ts)/ as unitary.

                You're right, based on the new morphology I developed last night, it
                appears that /pf/ is probably a unitary affricate. It'd be awesome if
                there was a ligature for it somewhere, but I don't know of any writing
                system that has such a thing.


                > >- When _-en_ follows _ŋ_, a linking /g/ is inserted.
                >
                > Hah, somewhat like (most dialects of?) English, morphophonologically.
                > So, in reference to the thread about /N/, probably your aliens' /N/
                > was [Ng] not too long ago?

                Heh, you're way ahead of me. :) I haven't even fleshed out core aspects
                of the conlang yet, and you're already doing diachronic analysis.
                Presently, at least, there appear to be a number of linking consonants
                in various contexts (details below).


                > >_gruŋ_ [grUN] or [groUN]: arms.
                > >_voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
                >
                > Interesting that <u> can vary to [oU] in the first but not the second.
                >
                > >_mohipf_ [mo'?Ipf]: monster.
                > >_voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
                >
                > Also interesting that unstressed <o> has two different values here.

                To be honest, the orthography isn't settled on yet. I'm just making it
                up as I go in an attempt to represent the sounds. I know it sounds kinda
                weird, why don't just work directly with IPA, but I'm hoping to grapple
                with both the orthography and the IPA simultaneously with the hope that
                a reasonably naturalistic orthography would develop. I would probably do
                a major overhaul of the spelling system at some point, so the above
                spellings are only tentative.


                On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 03:04:33PM +0200, BPJ wrote:
                [...]
                > I always kind of liked the solution used in a book on Tibetan
                > pronunciation I have. The author, a Tibetan scholar, also has
                > qualms about <tsh> suggesting [tʃ] so he uses /ts/ = <tz> and
                > /tsʰ/ = <ts> even though he otherwise uses Wylie
                > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wylie_transliteration>.

                Now this, I *really* like!! <tz> for /ts)/ and <ts> for <ts)ʰ> totally
                makes sense for me. I think I'll adopt that convention. :) Thanks!


                > And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
                > since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.

                Yeah, I'm sorta rethinking using <h> to represent /?/, 'cos it turns out
                that /x/ is a rather common sound in this language. So the major
                spelling overhaul may be nearer in the future than I thought.


                On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 08:14:29AM -0500, George Corley wrote:
                > On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 8:04 AM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:
                > > And I'd definitely use <q> (Maltese!) or even <'> for /ʔ/
                > > since there likely is a /h/ in the lang if it has aspirates.
                > >
                >
                > Is that true. I'm just curious, since for many Mandarin dialects,
                > pinyin <h> is /x/ and there is no /h/ (there are dialects with /h/,
                > though).

                My dialect of Mandarin substitutes /h/ for /x/, and collapses several
                sibilants into /s/. It probably subconsciously contributed to my dislike
                of Pinyin ("why do they have to write /s/ in so many weird ways? they
                all sound the same to me!"). I remember first noticing that my
                ex-roommate, who is from the Mainland, used /x/ where I'd say /h/, which
                sounded really strange to me for quite a while.


                On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 04:27:07AM -0700, Padraic Brown wrote:
                > > From: H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
                > >
                > > While the storm in the capitalization teacup blows over, I thought I'd
                >
                > Interesting, the sort of weather we get around here...

                Well, one gets used to it. The only major inconvenience is the delaying
                of vowel shipments to Georgia, but the locals don't seem too concerned
                about that anyway. :-P


                [...]
                > > This isn't meant to be a "serious" conlang, so I'm purposely
                > > ignoring the unlikelihood of the fact that its speakers are
                > > whimsical stereotypical green alien beings that look like a ball
                > > with pincer-clawed arms and webbed feet with a single eye on a stalk
                > > that curves from their lower back above their body, and the fact
                > > that they ride in saucer-shaped spacecrafts with a hemispherical
                > > half-dome on top and retractable landing gear on the bottom.
                >
                > Ah, yes, the glass domed space ship. Popular with so many different
                > races of space farer one must think that somewhere *out there* there
                > must be some ultra rich, ultra shady glass-domed-used-spaceshipmongery
                > that has cornered the market on intrastellar transport.

                You must be referring to FTL Tech Inc., who first popularized the
                concept of personal iFTLVs (interstellar faster-than-light vehicles)
                after being inspired by reports that on a certain planet, the concept of
                personal computers caused a major technological revolution. I couldn't
                understand what the salespeople were trying to explain about why a
                saucer shape was chosen (they weren't very good at explaining technical
                details), but they did mention that the glass dome was for maximal
                viewing of one's surroundings, which was a major selling point to
                personal interstellar tourists.

                ;-)


                > > In any case, here's the currently very scant lexicon:
                > >
                > > _ipf_ [Ipf]: eye.
                > > _ipfen_ [Ipf@n]: my eye.
                > > _mohipf_ [mo'?Ipf]: monster.
                > > _gruŋ_ [grUN] or [groUN]: arms.
                > > _gruŋgen_ ['grUNg@n] or [groUNg@n]: my arms.
                > > _tsapjak_ [ts)a'pjak]: feet/legs.
                > > _voluŋ_ [vO'lUN]: spaceship.
                > > _voluŋgen_ [vO'lUNg@n]: my spaceship.
                > > _qeŋ_ [ts)ʰEN]: glass. (Not 100% sure about spelling /ts)ʰ/ as _q_ yet, though.)
                > > _iqeŋ_ [I'ts)ʰEN]: glass dome.
                [...]
                > Hmm. If ipf is eye and iqeng is made from glass and i- is a
                > derivational prefix, then I'd suggest that pf is vitreous (or their
                > planet's biological analogue) making "eye" actually "made from
                > vitreous".

                If that was a joke, I'm grateful for the vitreous humor! ;-)


                > Either that or "pf" is "eye" and "ipf" is "wonderful delicious
                > delicacy made from eye"!

                Well, that would be something served by the evil multi-eyed monstrous
                swamp-planet cultists, who prey on young children by grabbing their
                eye-stalks, and commit atrocities like growing more than one eye!


                [...]
                > > From: George Corley <gacorley@...>
                > >
                > >>I might suggest that, when you find a few more words, that
                > >>"eye-stalk-grabber" is a term of the severest abuse!
                > >
                > >I would think it more likely that threats to rip out someone's
                > >eyestalk would be common as expressions of anger.
                >
                > Sure. Kind of like "I'll kill him!" in English, right?

                In fact, I found a phrase: _gruŋgemi ipfteku_ "I'll kill you!" which
                literally means "I'll grab your eye!". Analysis below.


                > > Furthermore, I have in my notes that _mohipf_ is the plural of "eye"
                > > (to a 1-eyed species, anything with multiple eyes is monstrous!).
                >
                > Yep. I got that one right away! They might wonder what horrible things
                > the poly-eyed get up to with all those extra appendages...

                Why, they kidnap children, cut off their eye-stalks and eat their
                eyeballs, or attach them to their own head to gain even more eyes, of
                course!


                > The Ytuun of the World view things similarly, though from the opposite
                > side. They have two heads and it is the dual that is the presupposed
                > and unmarked normal. Plural is therefore three or five and above (four
                > is their dual) and they don't have a concept of "one". For them, what
                > is to us "one of something" is "half of a pair". So "one egg" becomes
                > "half a pair of eggs" just as the "single face" of a Daine or Man
                > comes out to "half a person".
                >
                > Their philosophical counting scheme is therefore: none, half, normal,
                > three, two, many.

                Ha, nice!


                > > Which implies that _mo(h)-_ is perhaps some kind of pluralizing
                > > prefix. Or maybe it's _mo-_ with a linking /?/ when preceding a
                > > vowel.
                >
                > I like the latter, but that's just me!

                Me too. This thing about linking consonants seems to be surfacing in
                other places as well, so perhaps it's a fundamental feature of this
                conlang's phonology!


                On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 06:12:25AM -0700, Padraic Brown wrote:
                > > It seems to me that conventionalized insults are more likely to
                > > accuse someone of being cowardly, a victim of violence, or a sexual
                > > deviant than to accuse them of being violent towards others, though
                > > I could be wrong. 
                >
                > Perhaps not wrong. Perhaps these folks think a little differently. In
                > any event, I don't see how an expression of anger like "I'll rip your
                > eyestalk right off your back!" and a term of abuse like "eyestalk
                > grabber!" are mutually exclusive...
                [...]

                I haven't discovered any nominal derivational processes yet, but I
                believe there should be a nominal analogue to the "I'll grab your eye!"
                threat. :)

                //

                Alright, so that's all the replies for the time being. Now for the fun
                stuff: new vocabulary, new grammar, and new phonology!

                1) Personal possessive suffixes.

                It turns out that -en (1SG.POSS) is a generative suffix, and has a
                counterpart in -tek (2SG.POSS) and -tai (2PL.POSS). So we have:

                ipf [Ipf] eye
                ipfen ['Ipf@n] my eye
                ipftek ['IpftEk] your(sg) eye
                ipftai ['Ipftaj] your(pl) eye

                gruŋ [grUN] arms
                gruŋgen [grUNg@n] my arms
                gruŋtek [grUNtEk] your(sg) arms
                gruŋtai [grUNtaj] your(pl) arms

                This last group seems to show a linking /g/ when the suffix begins with
                a vowel, but none when the suffix begins with a consonant. There's also
                some variance in the pronunciation of /e/, which may be related to which
                consonants surround it.

                The next group also introduces another phonological feature:

                tzapjak [ts)V'pjak] feet/legs
                tzapjaken [ts)V'pjak@n] my feet/legs
                tzapjaktek [ts)V'pjaxtEk] your(sg) feet/legs
                tzapjaktai [ts)V'pjaxtaj] your(pl) feet/legs

                There seems to be a fricativisation of /kt/ -> /xt/ here.

                Yet more phonological fun:

                aehrlu ['ExrlU] tongue (*)
                aehrlunen ['ExrlUn@n] my tongue
                aehrlutek ['ExrlUtEk] your(sg) tongue
                aehrlutai ['ExrlUtaj] your(pl) tongue

                (*) I'm not 100% sure about the IPA transcription of /hr/ as [xr]; it
                seems to be some kind of voiceless retroflex fricative / trill that I
                can't quite put my finger on. It sounds like gargling. :-P

                In any case, it seems that when -en comes up against a vowel, a linking
                /n/ is inserted.

                There are probably other personal possessive suffixes as well, but I
                haven't discovered them yet.


                2) Attributive -i.

                A new development last night was the discovery of the attributive
                suffix -i. It occurs in attributive clauses, for example:

                voluŋenu daugshti
                voluŋ-en-u daugsht-i
                spaceship-1SG.POSS-PAT trouble-ATTR
                My spaceship is broken (has trouble).

                The function of the -u suffix isn't fully clear yet, but for now, the
                simplest explanation seems to be a patientive marker of some kind. Or
                perhaps a dative marker.

                I'm not really happy with the spelling of _daugsht_; it's pronounced
                ['dAxSt]. I'll have to reconsider how to spell it when I overhaul the
                orthography.


                3) Verbalizing -mi

                The most fascinating development last night was the discovery of the
                verbalizing suffix -mi, and the interesting way it is used to make
                simple clauses. Here's an example:

                ipfemi bufteku.
                ipf-en-mi buf-tek-u.
                eye-1SG.POSS-V body-2SG.POSS-PAT
                I see you.

                From a phonological standpoint, we have the interesting phenomenon:

                -en + -mi -> -emi

                From a syntactic standpoint, it seems that the verb "to see" (if there
                is one -- I don't know yet) isn't being used here; instead, we have the
                periphrastic construction eye + my + [verb]. The object of the clause is
                also interesting: the 2SG possessive suffix -tek appears to be unable to
                stand on its own, so the noun "body" is used. So literally, the above
                clause seems to be saying "My eyeing your body!".

                Well, one clause is rather scant evidence to deduce anything, so let's
                look at a few more:

                aehrlunemi kuugteku.
                [,ExrlUn@'mi 'kuxtEkU]
                aehrlu-en-mi kuug-tek-u.
                tongue-1SG.POSS-V ear-2SG.POSS-PAT
                I speak to you.

                A literal translation might be "My tonguing [at] your ear". It seems
                that the verbalizing suffix -mi turns a noun into its most
                characteristic action. The object of the verbalized noun then seems to
                adopt the body part most relevant to said action.

                I haven't discovered what happens if a noun has more than one
                characteristic action, or if an atypical action of the noun is referred
                to. I also haven't ruled out the existence of verbs yet. It may be that
                these verbalized nouns only cover a subset of usages.

                On a phonological note, I'm not very happy with the spelling of _kuug_
                [kux]. The orthography definitely needs an overhaul. :-/

                Anyway, more clause examples:

                tzapjaktekmi voluŋtektu.
                [ts)V'pjaxtExmI vO'lUNtExtU]
                tzapjak-tek-mi voluŋ-tek-tu.
                feet-2SG.POSS-V spaceship-2SG.POSS-DAT
                You walk to your spaceship.

                tzapjakemi voluŋgendu.
                [ts)V'pjak@mI vO'lUNg@ndU]
                tzapjak-en-mi voluŋ-en-tu.
                feet-1SG.POSS-V spaceship-1SG.POSS-DAT
                I walk to my spaceship.

                Here we see a new suffix -tu/-du, which appears to be either a dative or
                directional marker.

                Phonologically, it appears that /k/ tends to fricativise before another
                consonant:

                Vkt -> Vxt
                Vkm -> Vxm

                And /nt/ appears to undergo lenition to /nd/ (if we assume a single
                underlying suffix -tu, which lenites to -du when preceded by /n/).

                Finally, the noun _gruŋ_ "arms" verbalizes to "handle" or "grab", so we
                have the threat I previously alluded to:

                gruŋgemi ipfteku!
                gruŋ-en-mi ipf-tek-u!
                arms-1SG.POSS-V eye-2SG.POSS-PAT
                I'll kill you! (My arms grab your eye!)

                (Keep in mind that these aliens have pincers for claws, so grabbing
                their tender eyestalk with these claws would amount to beheading, hence
                the graphic translation "I'll kill you!".)


                T

                --
                Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Use your hands...
              • Douglas Koller
                ... Regardless of future geopolitical top dogs, China s emergence onto the world stage, and hence the news, will mean that greater numbers of people will be
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 27, 2013
                  > Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2013 11:19:02 -0500
                  > From: gacorley@...
                  > Subject: Re: New toy conlang sketch
                  > To: CONLANG@...

                  > On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 10:42 AM, David McCann <david@...>wrote:

                  > > On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 18:52:38 -0500
                  > > George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:

                  > > > Pinyin's use of <q c> is one of
                  > > > it's most confusing aspects

                  > > I can't resist playing devil's advocate here! Chinese is the most
                  > > important language after English, and China will soon be the
                  > > world's most important country. For those at school today, 'qin' will
                  > > be no stranger than 'thin'. Come to think of it, it isn't for me.

                  > I would not be so certain about the rise of Chinese. China will probably
                  > rise to be a fully competitive rival to the US within the next 50 years

                  > I suppose coming down to Earth, in the near future, more non-Chinese will
                  > certainly be learning Mandarin, and they will probably get used to the
                  > odder pinyin conventions (as I have)

                  > But I don't really think there will be enough Chinese learners to make a dent in the general
                  > populace

                  Regardless of future geopolitical top dogs, China's emergence onto the world stage, and hence the news, will mean that greater numbers of people will be exposed to surnames like Qi, Qian, or Qin or trendy stuff like qigong, or just plain ol' qi. I daresay my friends and relatives, card-carrying members of the general populace all, have no problem navigating Xerxes, Xavier Cugat, and Deng Xiaoping, or Bach, Chanel, and Christ, and so I suspect with the passage of time, as David remarks, Qatar and the Qur'an, Don Quixote, and Qin Shihuang will not raise eyebrows. (At the very least, they'll know that something Chinese-y is going on.)

                  Doesn't mean hapless newscasters won't mangle it. Doesn't mean all high school teachers will speak as one on whether to say Nikita [kruSt͡ʃɛv] or [kruSt͡ʃɔf]. Doesn't mean the lion will lie down with the lamb. But as people have learned that Taoism is read with a [d] in English, I think, so too, more people will begin to internalize that Chinese "Qin" should be read like English "chin" (as meant for general consumption by English speakers). Increased exposure and the urge to not look like a total rube should nudge people in the right direction.
                  _______________ > Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2013 12:34:02 -0700
                  > From: hsteoh@...
                  > Subject: Re: New toy conlang sketch
                  > To: CONLANG@...

                  > On Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 08:14:29AM -0500, George Corley wrote:

                  > > Is that true. I'm just curious, since for many Mandarin dialects,
                  > > pinyin <h> is /x/ and there is no /h/ (there are dialects with /h/,
                  > > though).

                  > My dialect of Mandarin substitutes /h/ for /x/, and collapses several
                  > sibilants into /s/. It probably subconsciously contributed to my dislike
                  > of Pinyin ("why do they have to write /s/ in so many weird ways? they
                  > all sound the same to me!"). I remember first noticing that my
                  > ex-roommate, who is from the Mainland, used /x/ where I'd say /h/, which
                  > sounded really strange to me for quite a while.

                  My experience has been that pinyin <h> has [h] and [x] as allophones of /x/ (or /h/, if you want to play it *that* way) across the board. I do not think of it in the same way as "Oh, they collapse <sh> and <s> to /s/ in this dialect.", "Oh, <n> and <l> are up for grabs in this dialect.", or "Gee, <r> realized as [j] in this village? *That's* fun!". Perhaps there are places up north where people only use [x] *all* the time, but I'd like to think I'd've noticed. This feels to me more like a careful/allegro, delivering a speech to the Central Committee/knockin' 'em back at the local watering hole distinction than a regional variation (though maybe after your fifth shot, you get more [x]-prone). That said, I can certainly understand that out there in parts of the diaspora, /x/ may well have bitten the dust.

                  Kou
                • Roger Mills
                  Re your variation between e.g. [e] and [E] etc...... those old Dutchmen in Indonesia in the 19th C. came up with a pretty good way of indicating open [E,O,A]
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 28, 2013
                    Re your variation between e.g. [e] and [E] etc...... those old Dutchmen in Indonesia in the 19th C. came up with a pretty good way of indicating open [E,O,A] vs. close [e,o,a] variants-- a grave accent on the open ones, and a breve on "e" for schwa, if necessary. You might consider that, unless it turns out that the variation is predictable.
                  • H. S. Teoh
                    Strange new developments have happened on my new toylang. I didn t intend to do very much with it, it seems to be taking on a life of its own, and it may not
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 28, 2013
                      Strange new developments have happened on my new toylang. I didn't
                      intend to do very much with it, it seems to be taking on a life of its
                      own, and it may not remain a toylang for very long! Anyway, here's the
                      latest update:

                      1) Orthography cleanup: I've cleaned up the orthography to be a little
                      more sensible. Underlying this is the recognition, based on new data,
                      that certain sounds are actually different realizations of the same
                      underlying phonemes, depending on context. Anyway, the following is a
                      summary:

                      CONSONANTS:

                      Stops:
                      pj [pj]
                      b [b]
                      t [T] before another stop, [t] otherwise
                      d [d]
                      k [x] before another stop, [k] otherwise
                      g [g]

                      Nasals:
                      m [m]
                      n [n]
                      ŋ [N]

                      Fricatives:
                      f [f]
                      v [v], also seems to have [A] coloring on following vowel
                      s [s]
                      sh [S]
                      x [x], seems to velarize preceding vowel.

                      Liquids:
                      l [K] before a stop, [l] otherwise
                      r [r]

                      Affricates:
                      pf [pf]
                      tz [ts]
                      ts [tsʰ]

                      VOWELS:

                      /i/ [i], [I]
                      /u/ [u], [U]
                      /e/ [E] following /x/, /t/, /k/, and after /ts)ʰ/; elsewhere [e] if
                      stressed, [@] if unstressed.
                      /a/ [A] before /x/, else [a] if stressed, [V] if unstressed.
                      /o/ [O] after /v/ or before /r/, else [o]
                      /u/ [U] before /N/ or when unstressed, else [u]

                      Based on the above rules, the orthography has been greatly simplified
                      and made more consistent. So for example, what I previously spelt as
                      *_aehrlu_ is now _ehrlu_, and what I previously spelt as *_daugsht_ is
                      now spelt _dahsht_.

                      I'm still unsure about treating /l/ and /r/ separately, as the current
                      corpus only attests /rl/. But I'll leave them separate for now until
                      I've reason to decide otherwise.


                      2) Fricativisation rules: The astute reader may have noticed above that
                      /t/, /k/, and /l/ fricativise before another stop. This may turn out to
                      be a universal rule that stops fricativise the preceding consonant (if
                      we consider /rl/ as unitary). The current corpus just hasn't attested
                      other combinations of stops yet, so only /t/, /k/, /l/ are currently
                      known to be affected by this rule.

                      Due to this phenomenon, the consonant cluster [Tt] is written as <tt>,
                      and is attested in the word _apfattek_ ['apfVTtEk] "your mouth", from
                      _apfat_ "mouth" + -tek "your".


                      3) All of the above aren't *that* interesting... as I mentioned, some
                      strange new grammar has been uncovered:

                      Previously, I've described -mi as a verbalising suffix, such that given
                      a noun like _apfat_ "mouth", _apfatmi_ ['apfaTmI] means "to eat". When a
                      pronominal possessive suffix is inserted, e.g.:

                      apfat + -en + -mi -> *apfatenmi -> apfatemi

                      then the result is verb-like; _apfatemi_ means "I eat". The object of
                      the verb thus formed is then indicated with the -u suffix, for example:

                      apfatemi gorlu
                      ['apfVt@mI gOrlU]
                      apfat-en-mi gorl-u
                      mouth-1SG.POSS-V food-PAT
                      I eat food.

                      However, new data has shown that this analysis is inadequate. The
                      meaning of the -mi suffix seems to be not as simple as first thought:

                      gorltekmi gruŋgen apfatteku
                      ['gOrKtExmI 'grUNg@n 'apfVTtEkU]
                      gorl-tek-mi gruŋ-en apfat-tek-u
                      food-2SG.POSS-??? hands-1SG.POSS mouth-2SG.POSS-PAT
                      I feed you your food.

                      I glossed -mi as ???, because it's not clear what it means here. This
                      sentence seems to defy the previous analysis that -mi is a verbalizer;
                      here it seems to marking the object of the sentence instead. We also
                      have the noun _gruŋgen_ "my hands" in unmarked form, when one would
                      expect it to have the -mi verbalizer.

                      I found this very confusing, so I asked my alien informant for help, and
                      he gave me another example sentence:

                      gorlmi gruŋgen apfatteku
                      gorl-mi gruŋ-en apfat-tek-u
                      food-??? hands-1SG.POSS mouth-2SG.POSS-PAT
                      I feed you food.

                      Based on this new data, I'm now re-analysing -mi as an *instrumental*
                      suffix, such that the above two examples actually mean "food-INSTR
                      I-feed to-you", that is, "I feed you *with food*". What about the
                      original sentences where -mi appears to be a verbalizer, then? Well, it
                      appears as though those examples were instances where the subject of the
                      sentence coincided with the possessor of the instrumental NP, and so
                      they got elided. IOW, the sentence:

                      tzapjakemi voluŋdu
                      tzapjak-en-mi voluŋ-du
                      *feet-1SG.POSS-INSTR spaceship-DAT
                      I walk to the spaceship.

                      is actually an abbreviation of:

                      tzapjakemi bufen voluŋdu
                      tzapjak-en-mi bufen-0 voluŋ-du
                      *feet-1SG.POSS-INSTR body-1SG.POSS-NOM spaceship-DAT
                      I walk to the spaceship.

                      by eliding the subject _bufen_ "I", because it is coreferential with the
                      possessor in _tzapjakemi_ "*my* feet". (_bufen_ is idiomatic for "I",
                      because apparently there are no standalone pronouns, so the periphrasis
                      "my body" is used instead of "I".)

                      That is, what it really means is "with-my-feet I to-the-spaceship", but
                      since "with-my-feet" already implies "I", we can elide the "I", thus
                      obtaining "with-my-feet to-the-spaceship".

                      Previously, I said that verbs appear to be formed by verbalising a noun
                      + possessive, but couldn't say what happens when the subject and the
                      possessor are not coreferential. Well, with the above new analysis, we
                      can now understand how this is done:

                      Coreferential:
                      voluŋgemi aiherltu
                      voluŋ-en-mi aiherl-tu
                      spaceship-1SG.POSS-INSTR distant_skies-DAT
                      I fly *my* spaceship to the distant skies.

                      Non-coreferential:
                      voluŋtekmi gruŋgen aiherltu
                      voluŋ-tek-mi gruŋ-en-0 aiherl-tu
                      spaceship-2SG.POSS-INSTR hands-1SG.POSS-NOM distant_skies-DAT
                      I fly *your* spaceship to the distant skies.

                      The coreferential case can be seen as _voluŋgemi gruŋgen aiherltu_ with
                      _gruŋgen_ elided because it is coreferential with the possessor in
                      _voluŋgemi_.

                      Of course, not everything is fully explained yet. For example, why is
                      _gruŋ_ "hands" used in the subject _gruŋgen_, where one would expect the
                      usual periphrasis for "I", _bufen_ "my body"? It seems as though the
                      noun used for the bare pronoun periphrasis is chosen based on other
                      considerations, such as the fact that I use my hands to fly the
                      spaceship, rather than my body in general.

                      In any case, this "toylang" is turning out to be quite non-trivial, with
                      very interesting grammatical features indeed.


                      --T
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