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Re: Intro to Conlanging by John McWhorter

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  • Padraic Brown
    ... I m certainly not unhappy with the selection! After all, these are well known conlangs that are in the popular consciousness. Of course, I don t think he
    Message 1 of 33 , Sep 27, 2013
      >2013/9/27 Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>

      >>It's not a big deal, but if I had a quibble at all, it would be the rather
      >>narrow focus on the well known commercial languages (the Big Four).
      >>A segue into a short section that focuses on the bizarre and wonderful
      >>array of artistic, logical and auxiliary languages — not just E-o, but
      >>also Teonaht and Maggel and Rikchik and the like. Nohhsan!
      >I'm happy with the selection they had in the video. Even putting four target
      >languages into a five minute video might be pushing the limit a bit.

      I'm certainly not "unhappy" with the selection! After all, these are well known

      conlangs that are in the popular consciousness. Of course, I don't think he could

      have crammed any more in to a mere five minutes. If I had a quibble there, twould

      be the brevity of the presentation! :) This could easily be expanded into a longer
      presentation or even full lecture.

      >With more examples you'd quickly end up running from one language to another

      >having the time to say little more than their names.

      This is true. I wasn't advocating listing every known conlang by any means. Nor
      would I have advocated adding any more languages to a short video. A ten
      minute introduction would allow ample time for everything he actually did do,
      plus allow a véry brief exploration of the non-commercial aspects of conlanging.

      For all the awesomeness I thoroughly enjoyed, I came away with the perception
      that conlanging is something that happens only in Hollywood.

      >It's also more effective to select more or less familiar examples into outreach

      >productions than just random exotic ones.

      Of course. I'm not denying this at all! But it does give one the impression that
      conlanging is something that only happens in the familiar world of movies and
      books! I wasn't left with even an inkling that this is something normal people

      >That gives people something that they have already put into some category

      >and greatly increases the chances of them remembering something half an

      >hour later and maybe starting to explore the wonderful world of conlanging

      >by themselves.

      It might, I don't feel this way. I came away with the very clear understanding of
      this as something that enhances movie scripts and television shows, that it is
      something that "artistic types" in Hollywood engage in, not as something that
      anyone can do at their kitchen table.

      I can't deny that it is an admirable introduction, but there is something
      lacking. If it were a matter of a strict time limitation (possible, but really,
      quite unlikely), then I'd say "it's perfect as is". But in reality, there was no
      time limitation and this five minute intro was like being given a teaspoon
      of Guiness, while there's a whole bloody pint on the table going undrunk.


      >   -Jyri
    • BPJ
      ... Something similar happened in Scandinavian too -- the Great Quantity Shift which I described --, and Icelandic still has a system which is similar to
      Message 33 of 33 , Oct 15 6:27 AM
        2013-10-12 18:08, J. 'Mach' Wust skrev:
        > On Fri, 11 Oct 2013 19:38:02 +0200, BPJ wrote:
        >> Also my accent has little
        >> or no qualitative difference between short and long stressed vowels.
        > But you still have a quantitative difference? My accent keeps the
        > qualitative difference between what originally were high short and
        > long stressed vowels (for instance /ˈriːfː/ 'ripe' and /ˈɡ̊ɪb̥/
        > 'give!'), but through processes of vowel shortening and lengthening
        > it has developed a secondary quantitative difference (for instance
        > through shortening in /ʒ̊rib̥/ 'write!' and through lengthening in
        > /b̥eʒ̊rɪːb̥/ 'description'), so now there are long and short pairs
        > that do not differ in quality for every stressed vowel.

        Something similar happened in Scandinavian too -- the 'Great
        Quantity Shift' which I described --, and Icelandic still has a
        system which is similar to yours, but in mainland Scandinavia old
        high and mid short vowels tended to merge qualitatively with the
        old long vowel one level lower, so that /ı̆/ [ɪ] > [e] so that in
        the dialects of my area older _sı̆tt_ ([2sg.]imp. 'sit!') had
        merged with _sētt_ (neut.nom.sg. 'seen') as [set:] and came to
        be perceived as having the same vowel phoneme as [seː] < _sē_
        (imp. and inf. of 'see'), the quantity following automatically
        from syllable and morpheme structure as I described. As _sētt_ >
        /sett/ exemplifies old long vowels in shortening context kept
        their quality but became shortˌ so that these dialects ended up
        with long and short alternants of the same quality for most
        vowelsˌ and there were analogy processes, loss of voiced
        fricatives with concomitant contraction and a simultaneous chain
        shift in back vowels which muddied the picture additionally. When
        people speaking such dialects adopted/spoke Standard Swedish they
        substituted their [i], as in [vrit:] < /wriːðit/ ˈtwistedˈ (with
        inf. [vriː] < /wriːða/) in _sitt_ and other words where Central
        Swedish speakers (still) have [ɪ] and kept their [e] in words
        like _sett_ where C.Sw. speakers have [ɛ]. In fact C.Sw. speakers
        tend to perceive W.Sw. speakers as using long vowels in such
        words, so for them quality seems to be more important than
        quantity. Where I grew up high and high mid vowels tend to be
        *very* high so that /e(ː)/ is phonetically [ᵻ(ː)] and /i(ː)/ is
        phonetically a syllabic sibilant [z̩(ː)],[^i] but the
        phonological contrasts are as I described them.

        [^i]: I learned to switch that on and off at will, but even
        Gothenburg speakers have a syllabic alveopalatal fricative
        [ʑ̩(ː)] for some instances of /i/.

        > ...
        >>> Melin's way of using the connecting upstroke as real vowel letters
        >>> may well be more natural and practical than Faulmann's system. I will
        >>> not learn it, though, until after I have learnt Gregg's shorthand.
        >>> This system has always intrigued me as the most elegant of Western
        >>> shorthand systems.
        >> It certainly feels more natural once you've learned it, but has
        >> the downside that consonant signs other than the first in each
        >> word are written above or below the baseline depending on the
        >> height of the preceding vowel. The resulting _klättereffekter_
        >> ('climbing effects') can be bothersome, but are counterbalanced by
        >> breaking longer compounds (but with a smaller space than
        >> inter-word space between the parts!) The word _överläkarvikarie_
        >> 'stand-in chief physician' is proverbial, but in practice it's
        >> abbreviated to ÖverLKVIK.
        > You are speaking about Melin's shorthand there? The same effects
        > occur heavily in Faulmann-type vocalization, too. Except worse,
        > since compounds are often not broken up. And I think Gregg has also
        > some of this effect.

        Arends seems to avoid it quite well by allowing the height of
        vowel symbols to be variable -- compare how the words with A
        are written in the image you linked!

        > ...
        >>> The regular formation of the consonant+T clusters is a nice solution.
        >>> The German systems use a triple-height upwards stroke -- and drop the
        >>> +T in "Eilschrift".
        >> Final _-t_ is important in Swedish as it is the neuter singular
        >> adjective ending, adverb ending and supine ending. BTW many use
        >> special wide versions of D, T, St, J etc. for Nd Nt Nst, Nj etc.
        >> after E and Ä instead of the backwardsleaning signs.
        > So it may be more important than in German, where it mostly occurs
        > as third person verbal ending or as the weak verbs' past participle
        > ending. In both cases, it is often redundant, by the presence of a
        > third person pronoun or of the past past participle prefix ge-.

        Yes, Swedish has no such prefix, so that _-t_ is uually the only
        marker of the supine -- moreover the auxiliary can be omitted in
        subordinate clauses _Hon säger att han [har] skrivit_[^2] 'She
        says that he
        has written'.

        [^2]: By way of illustrating the effects of the vowel shifts etc.
        discussed above this is [hʊnː ˈsɛjː£ɻ ˌatʰː ˈhanː ˌhɑː
        as spoken on TV but [hun ˈseʑːɜɹ ˈɑtʰːɑn ˌhɒː ^skɹeːʋɜtʰ] in
        Gothenburgese, [... ^ʂkɹʑ̩ːʋetʰ] in formal Gothenburg speech
        and [hʉβ̞ ˈsz̩ːɾ ˌɑtʰːɜn hɑː ^ʂkɾeːʋɛtʰ] where/when I grew up!

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