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How to evaluate a conlang (was: Re: How to present a conlang?)

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  • emil
    There has recently been a bit of discussion on this list of presenting one s language to others. Some remarks of Padraic s and Dirk s have gotten me wondering:
    Message 1 of 19 , Oct 25, 2013
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      There has recently been a bit of discussion on this list of presenting
      one's language to others. Some remarks of Padraic's and Dirk's have
      gotten me wondering: how does one evaluate a conlang?


      My own thoughts to follow.

      ;------------------------------------------------------------------
      Padraic wrote: "This is like saying to a budding engineer, we'll expect
      you to be able to digest all this mathematics -- but God forbid if we
      ever catch you tinkering with model bridges or miniature
      engines! We can't have engineers who "tinker"! ...Theory + applicational
      aptitude = a superior linguist."
      ;------------------------------------------------------------------
      Dirk wrote: "The analogy with engineering is a seductive one, but
      ultimately misleading,I think. A model bridge or engine will work or it
      won't; there are physical properties of the construction that determine
      success. However, you don't know if a language works or not until you
      have a community of speakers that uses it, and that's harder to
      find. Unless you have a community of speakers all you have is a
      description of a language, and the description is not the language (to
      paraphrase Korzybski)."
      ;------------------------------------------------------------------
      Padraic wrote: "Perhaps, though we've all experienced conlangs that "work" and those that "fail".
      Whether or not we have a community of speakers. And more than one of us do
      actually have communities of speakers, even if that community consists of a long
      running diary or perhaps one or two members of a family."

      "And let's not forget, a lot of people in the business are dealing in languages
      that haven't had communities of speakers in millennia! All those Indoeuropeanists
      and Nostraticists and so forth out there."
      ;------------------------------------------------------------------

      Padraic and Dirk seem to have different rubrics for evaluating
      languages. Both agree that some languages work, and some don't--but the
      analogy with engineering that resonates with Padraic doesn't do the same
      thing for Dirk.

      Padraic's remarks suggest to me that a language as an artistic product can be
      judged independently of real-world considerations.
      "Can you present a description of the Last Supper or The Planets in one or
      two paragraphs that conveys the work in question is not just finger painting
      or random banging on a piano? All this without actual recourse to an image
      or a recording?"

      It seems to me that there are two routes to appreciating such an
      art-form. Both require a significant investment of time and
      effort up-front. First, one might attempt to learn the language
      fluently, which would give one a much deeper insight into it, but would
      be largely a one-shot deal. Second, one might attempt to learn about
      linguistics, and through that study, combined with exercises like
      translations, come to a general appreciation of languages as art-form.

      Dirk says that testing a language, if it is to be like testing a
      bridge, is a practical impossibility. A language works if it can be used
      by a community of speakers. This raises many further questions: used by
      a community of speakers to do what? how
      extensively must it be used, and in what domains? must it be used
      exclusively, or can it coexist with other languages?

      But we might still look at any number of historical examples. Leibniz's
      notation for the calculus (more than a constructed script, in view of
      its semantic and syntactic components,
      but maybe something less than a full language) was superior to Newton's. Why? Because it
      helped people do something. Could Leibniz' calculus have been judged
      without another 'tool' in the running for the 'job'? An individual who
      has mastered the calculus can accomplish things that they could not
      without it. Does such an individual constitute 'a community of language users'?

      So, how do you evaluate conlangs? Do you think there are some ways of
      evaluation that are better than others?

      --
      Sent with Gnus on Emacs.
    • R A Brown
      ... [snip] ... As conlangs cover quite a variety, I m not sure they can all be evaluated the same way. Of course, if it is a language then it ought to be
      Message 2 of 19 , Oct 26, 2013
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        On 25/10/2013 21:37, emil wrote:
        > There has recently been a bit of discussion on this list
        > of presenting one's language to others. Some remarks of
        > Padraic's and Dirk's have gotten me wondering: how does
        > one evaluate a conlang?
        [snip]

        > So, how do you evaluate conlangs? Do you think there are
        > some ways of evaluation that are better than others?

        As conlangs cover quite a variety, I'm not sure they can all
        be evaluated the same way. Of course, if it is a language
        then it ought to be usable for communication between humans;
        this can, if one gets other interested people involved, be
        tested.

        But apart from that, it surely depends on _why_ a particular
        language was developed. Does it meet the aims and
        objectives of its designer? To evaluate, for example,
        Tolkien's Quenya and Srikant's Lin (to achieve maximum
        spatial compactness, e.g. ki Q#4f = "The child fears to be
        asked") by the same criteria would IMO be silly.

        I set out the Objectives & Design Principles of Bax (Piashi) on:
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com/Briefscript/ObjAndDesign.html

        It was because I was failing to meet these satisfactorily
        that I eventually abandoned the project.

        TAKE was an experiment to produce an ancient Greek based
        language that has no grammatical inflexions. Well, it uses
        ancient Greek roots and it has no inflexions, so it meets
        those objectives. But how one further evaluates it, I don't
        know.

        How does one evaluate Outidic? We'd probably not rate it as
        an auxlang now. But it was supposed to the product of a
        fictional 17th century Dr Outis? Is it something that a guy
        in the 17th century might produce?

        I recall during my few years on Auxlang, some people were
        quite certain what criteria an auxlang should meet. The
        trouble was that they not always agree with one another, and
        arguing over the criteria could itself lead to flames (I'm
        told Auxlang is more civilized now). Interestingly, the
        current de_facto global auxlang, i.e. English, failed nearly
        all the different sets of criteria :)

        To recap: it seems to me the important questions are "Why
        was the conlang constructed? What were the aims and
        objectives of its designer? How well does it meet those
        aims and objectives?

        --
        Ray
        ==================================
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
        ==================================
        If /ni/ can change into /ɑ/, then practically
        anything can change into anything.
        [YUEN REN CHAO]
      • Jörg Rhiemeier
        Hallo conlangers! ... Indeed, they cannot; it depends on what they have been designed for. ... Yep. This, of course, is not only relevant for auxlangs or
        Message 3 of 19 , Oct 26, 2013
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          Hallo conlangers!

          On Saturday 26 October 2013 09:12:38 R A Brown wrote:

          > On 25/10/2013 21:37, emil wrote:
          > > There has recently been a bit of discussion on this list
          > > of presenting one's language to others. Some remarks of
          > > Padraic's and Dirk's have gotten me wondering: how does
          > > one evaluate a conlang?
          >
          > [snip]
          >
          > > So, how do you evaluate conlangs? Do you think there are
          > > some ways of evaluation that are better than others?
          >
          > As conlangs cover quite a variety, I'm not sure they can all
          > be evaluated the same way.

          Indeed, they cannot; it depends on what they have been designed
          for.

          > Of course, if it is a language
          > then it ought to be usable for communication between humans
          > this can, if one gets other interested people involved, be
          > tested.

          Yep. This, of course, is not only relevant for auxlangs or
          other languages designed to be practically used in this world;
          it also matters for fictional human languages, as they wouldn't
          be realistic if human beings could not use them. Of course,
          languages of fictional non-human beings may have features that
          would render them unusable for humans (i.e., use of ultrasonic
          sounds), if the fictional beings can cope with them.

          > But apart from that, it surely depends on _why_ a particular
          > language was developed. Does it meet the aims and
          > objectives of its designer? To evaluate, for example,
          > Tolkien's Quenya and Srikant's Lin (to achieve maximum
          > spatial compactness, e.g. ki Q#4f = "The child fears to be
          > asked") by the same criteria would IMO be silly.

          This would indeed be utterly silly. The design criteria are
          very different. Both are successful with regard to their
          respective design criteria; both would be considered failures
          if one was to flip the design criteria between the two
          languages, but that kind of criticism would be *meaningless*.

          > I set out the Objectives & Design Principles of Bax (Piashi) on:
          > http://www.carolandray.plus.com/Briefscript/ObjAndDesign.html
          >
          > It was because I was failing to meet these satisfactorily
          > that I eventually abandoned the project.

          Piashi is in my opinion not a complete failure; it was worth
          trying out, even if the result was disappointing.

          > TAKE was an experiment to produce an ancient Greek based
          > language that has no grammatical inflexions. Well, it uses
          > ancient Greek roots and it has no inflexions, so it meets
          > those objectives. But how one further evaluates it, I don't
          > know.

          One could question TAKE on the ground of: "Why should one
          want to have a language based on ancient Greek but without
          inflections? What is to be gained from such a project?"
          But as an experiment, it is just fine.

          > How does one evaluate Outidic? We'd probably not rate it as
          > an auxlang now. But it was supposed to the product of a
          > fictional 17th century Dr Outis? Is it something that a guy
          > in the 17th century might produce?

          These are indeed the right questions to ask about it. Would
          a 17th-century scholar come up with a language like this, or
          does it involve concepts that weren't current at that time?
          We know that most 17th-century auxlang attempts were either
          polygraphies (i.e., mechanical word-by-word translation
          schemes, which of course turned out not to work at all), or
          "philosophical" (i.e. taxonomic) languages (which turned out
          not to work particularly well), or combinations of both;
          but there have been schemes like Labbé's, too.

          > I recall during my few years on Auxlang, some people were
          > quite certain what criteria an auxlang should meet. The
          > trouble was that they not always agree with one another, and
          > arguing over the criteria could itself lead to flames (I'm
          > told Auxlang is more civilized now).

          It is indeed more civilized now than it is said that it once
          has been; as far as I can tell from my brief looks at it (I
          am not on AUXLANG right now), people still discuss design
          criteria of auxlangs, but in a more polite way.

          > Interestingly, the
          > current de_facto global auxlang, i.e. English, failed nearly
          > all the different sets of criteria :)

          Yep. Which shows how much such criteria matter in practice:
          not very much!

          > To recap: it seems to me the important questions are "Why
          > was the conlang constructed? What were the aims and
          > objectives of its designer? How well does it meet those
          > aims and objectives?

          Just that.

          --
          ... 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
        • Padraic Brown
          ... To a certain extent, I d certainly agree with that. As a piece of art, a conlang does not háve to be fully functional in order to be a good piece of art.
          Message 4 of 19 , Oct 26, 2013
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            Emil wrote:

            >Padraic's remarks suggest to me that a language as an artistic product can be
            >judged independently of real-world considerations.
            To a certain extent, I'd certainly agree with that. As a piece of art, a conlang
            does not háve to be fully functional in order to be a good piece of art. Any
            more than Dali's pocket watch has to be fully functional in order for Persistence
            of Memory to be a good piece of art.

            Conlangs, especially the artistic ones, the ones that are part of some larger
            work of art, need not be judged according to primary world considerations.

            >It seems to me that there are two routes to appreciating such an
            >art-form. Both require a significant investment of time and
            >effort up-front. First, one might attempt to learn the language
            >fluently, which would give one a much deeper insight into it, but would
            >be largely a one-shot deal.

            Significant investment, yes. But one that some people are in fact willing to make.
            I think some folks here in the past have discussed their relationships with others
            who decided to experience the art in just this way.

            For what it's worth, I think this is probably about the best way to properly
            experience conlang as art. As we all know, languages are integral parts of their
            cultures, their speakers' mindsets and worldviews. The keen experiencer of this
            art will be someone so curious about a language that he will learn it, internalise
            the culture that goes with it and become intimately familiar with its turns of
            phrase and modes of thinking. This kind of art experiencer would, in reality, expend
            no more energy than someone who plans on living in another country and is undergoing
            cultural and linguistic immersion.

            There are people who do this on a regular basis (Foreign Service workers, e.g.), and
            so I don't think it must necessarily be a one time shot! I think the only draw back
            to this kind of art experience is that, chances are good, the artwork itself -- the
            conlang -- is probably not well enough developed for the experiencer to get much out
            of the experience!

            That said, I think for móst people, just letting
            it roll through their unconscious is enough -- hear it when it's spoken (or sung),
            read it when it's on a page. Intuitively integrate it within your overall experience
            of the whole work.

            >Second, one might attempt to learn about
            >linguistics, and through that study, combined with exercises like
            >translations, come to a general appreciation of languages as art-form.

            This is certainly a valid (though I think, in some ways, far more sterile) way of
            going about it. This is like the person who has heard of the Brandenburg Concertos
            and decides, rather than just buying a CD, goes and takes a masters in classical
            music and composition in order to appreciate the music from the inside out. To me,
            this is a more clinical approach: more of a "brain approach" rather than a "heart
            approach".

            > Dirk says that testing a language, if it is to be like testing a
            >bridge, is a practical impossibility.

            Well, a bridge is really only tested on opening day when you allow zillions of cars
            and trucks to drive over it. Likewise, a language is only tested when people learn
            it and use it. For practical purposes, yes, I think it is very unlikely that a
            conlang will be so tested. But on the other hand, this kind of testing really doesn't
            tell us anything. It would certainly tell us whether the conlanger did a good job of
            creating a usable language. Ho-hum. Unless his góal was to produce a usable language,
            the testing is pointless. It might be marginally interesting to an artistic conlanger
            to know that he's created something useful; but I think he'd be more interested in
            learning how others reacted to its artistry. Were they moved by its beauty or turned
            away by its harshness? Did it add to or take away from their experience of his broader
            work (a novel, a play, a song)? How did fit into that work, in the perception of the
            experiencer? I.e., did he hit his mark, or did he shoot himself in the foot?

            R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:

            >> So, how do you evaluate conlangs? Do you think there are some ways of evaluation that are better than others?
            >
            >As conlangs cover quite a variety, I'm not sure they can all
            >be evaluated the same way. 

            >

            >But apart from that, it surely depends on _why_ a particular
            >language was developed.  Does it meet the aims and
            >objectives of its designer?  


            I think, for most of our purposes here, this hits closer to the mark of good evaluation than looking into questions of
            usability and in vivo mechanics. If I invent a conlang and intend for it to be a pretty sounding and visually engaging
            enhancement for a friend's band's songs, then what difference does it make how usable it is? And even if I dó make
            it usable and grammatically sound to boot, why would that matter? That is not its purpose.

            For me, and I know not everyone here will agree, and in some quarters it might be a sacrelige to say, but the
            creation of languages is become a secondary consideration to the understanding of the cultures that underlie them.
            I'm certainly drawing on the understanding of the interrelation & interplay between language and culture in order to
            discover the culture first and formost. Any language that gets conlanged is, in some respects, a byproduct. So for
            me, a conlang is entirely successful if it opens doors into its own culture and the lives and histories of that people.
            The language itself may or may not be usable: I'd argue that one could probably úse Avantimannish (but only
            because I've written out so many stories in it in order to gain an appreciation for the culture that could come up
            with those stories) to some extent; but for every conlang I've made that might could be usable, there are probably
            half a dozen that exist only in theory or only in very rough form. Sketches that serve to illuminate the culture more

            than the language itself.

            Some might say such languages are impossible to "test" and also that we can't even begin to know what could
            be tested because we don't even know the overall shape of the language. Others might say the language fails
            because it couldn't be used to say more than one or two specific sentences. Still others might fail it because
            they can't even gauge its full aesthetics (for me, generally speaking, far more important than any actual usability).

            I'd only ask: did it truly fail, if its very purpose in life was to throw back the sundering veil that separated our
            vision out *here* from the vistas of a new and unexplored culture beyond *there*?


            >I recall during my few years on Auxlang, some people were
            >quite certain what criteria an auxlang should meet.  The
            >trouble was that they not always agree with one another, and
            >arguing over the criteria could itself lead to flames (I'm
            >told Auxlang is more civilized now).  Interestingly, the
            >current de_facto global auxlang, i.e. English, failed nearly
            >all the different sets of criteria     :)


            Well, to be honest, English fails utterly based solely on every auxlanger's (private or public) criterion, namely

            "I didn't invent the thing, therefore it is a stupid language, unworkable and an utter failure."


            >To recap: it seems to me the important questions are "Why
            >was the conlang constructed?  What were the aims and
            >objectives of its designer?  How well does it meet those
            >aims and objectives?>
            >Ray


            Padraic
          • Daniel Bowman
            It is subjective, of course, but I think it is possible to have a fair *impression* of the quality simply on the thoughtfulness of the creator. How rich was
            Message 5 of 19 , Oct 26, 2013
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              It is subjective, of course, but I think it is possible to have a fair
              *impression* of the quality simply on the thoughtfulness of the creator.
              How rich was the creative process behind the conlang? Did she sit down one
              day, relex English, then post to the list claiming to have an a priori
              language? Or did she spend time contemplating the purpose, the essence,
              really what made the thing tick? That's what makes being on the list so
              interesting for me - not so much individual languages, their structure,
              their idiosyncrasies, etc - but the minds behind them. What matters to the
              creator of the conlang? How deeply have they thought about it, and how is
              it expressed in their language(s)? How is this reflected in their
              presentation of the grammar, vocabulary, phonology, and writing system?

              For example, I am not fluent in Old Albic, but I am very interested every
              time Jörg discusses it, because it is clear that he has thought long and
              carefully in its construction - and it is very interesting to see his
              creativity at work. Likewise with John Quijada's Ithkuil. Other peoples'
              minds are fascinating, and what better way to understand the workings of
              really interesting minds than to learn about the languages that spring from
              them?

              On the other hand: We are all of us, to a greater or lesser extent,
              amateurs at this, and it is not right to judge anyone's language harshly,
              even when it does seem simplistic or hastily done. As a small and
              relatively unknown group, it behoves us to keep open and accepting minds.
              So in the end, I think that we can all agree that judging a conlang is
              difficult and subjective, and that is probably the right attitude for our
              community.

              On a different subject, I find emil's description of the calculus very apt
              in my own language creation endeavours. My conlang, Angosey, is not really
              an attempt to explore certain linguistic structures or shed light on
              possible cultures. Rather it is akin to a notation, in the sense that I
              felt like I needed to say things that did not translate well into English.
              The essence existed, but the available notation was not ideal. So rather
              than search for methods that seemed always imperfect, I instead created a
              notation that fit the subject matter exactly. The irony is, of course,
              that the more specific something is, the less useful or comprehensible it
              is to the world beyond the user.

              Thus I feel that the stated goals of notation (and encryption) are met in
              Angosey. The hoped-for euphony is harder for me to judge, since I've never
              heard the language spoken! (I am putting together a YouTube video of the
              alphabet and example words, so this may change soon). My initial goal of
              concision is hopelessly squandered, since Angosey takes more morphemes and
              more graphemes to say something than English does. It is hard for me to
              say what others thing of Angosey, particularly since I am pretty
              lackadaisical at putting information about it on the Internet.

              Off the soap box, and perhaps to bed-

              Danny

              Padraic's remarks suggest to me that a language as an artistic product can
              > be
              > judged independently of real-world considerations.
              > "Can you present a description of the Last Supper or The Planets in one or
              > two paragraphs that conveys the work in question is not just finger
              > painting
              > or random banging on a piano? All this without actual recourse to an image
              > or a recording?"
              >



              >
              >
              > But we might still look at any number of historical examples. Leibniz's
              > notation for the calculus (more than a constructed script, in view of
              > its semantic and syntactic components,
              > but maybe something less than a full language) was superior to Newton's.
              > Why? Because it
              > helped people do something. Could Leibniz' calculus have been judged
              > without another 'tool' in the running for the 'job'? An individual who
              > has mastered the calculus can accomplish things that they could not
              > without it. Does such an individual constitute 'a community of language
              > users'?
              >
              > So, how do you evaluate conlangs? Do you think there are some ways of
              > evaluation that are better than others?
              >
              > --
              > Sent with Gnus on Emacs.
              >
            • Padraic Brown
              Daniel Bowman wrote:   ... Agreed. I guess the only thing to watch for here would be the vagaries of individual processes:
              Message 6 of 19 , Oct 27, 2013
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                Daniel Bowman <danny.c.bowman@...> wrote:


                 
                > It is subjective, of course, but I think it is possible to have a fair
                > *impression* of the quality simply on the thoughtfulness of the creator.
                > How rich was the creative process behind the conlang?  Did she sit down one
                > day, relex English, then post to the list claiming to have an a priori
                > language?  Or did she spend time contemplating the purpose, the essence,
                > really what made the thing tick? 

                Agreed. I guess the only thing to watch for here would be the vagaries of
                individual processes: sometimes we have bad days or presented ill conceived
                languages.

                > That's what makes being on the list so
                > interesting for me - not so much individual languages, their structure,
                > their idiosyncrasies, etc - but the minds behind them.  What matters to the
                > creator of the conlang?  How deeply have they thought about it, and how is
                > it expressed in their language(s)?  How is this reflected in their
                > presentation of the grammar, vocabulary, phonology, and writing system?
                >
                > For example, I am not fluent in Old Albic, but I am very interested every
                > time Jörg discusses it, because it is clear that he has thought long and
                > carefully in its construction - and it is very interesting to see his
                > creativity at work.  Likewise with John Quijada's Ithkuil.  Other
                > peoples'
                > minds are fascinating, and what better way to understand the workings of
                > really interesting minds than to learn about the languages that spring from
                > them?

                Yes. I've long enjoyed hearing about Joerg's works. ( He còuld talk more
                about them, mind! ;))) )

                For me, Sally's Teonaht is all-time favorite; but I've also highly enjoyed
                hearing from Chrysaor Jordan and Puey McCleary and of course Ray
                Brown.
                 
                > On the other hand: We are all of us, to a greater or lesser extent,
                > amateurs at this, and it is not right to judge anyone's language harshly,
                > even when it does seem simplistic or hastily done.  As a small and
                > relatively unknown group, it behoves us to keep open and accepting minds.
                > So in the end, I think that we can all agree that judging a conlang is
                > difficult and subjective, and that is probably the right attitude for our
                > community.

                Right. I don't think anyone has suggested that we ought to judge harshly.
                There's a place for that (e.g., whoever is hiring for a conlang job at LCS's
                jobs board has the right to judge harshly, just as the conlanger has the
                obligation to put best work and fullest effort forward), but this place isn't
                it. Some people have asked in the past for strong criticism, and I don't
                think we need to avoid asking for it or fear giving it when asked. When
                it's given in a dispassionate, rational and well thought out manner, I don't
                think that would count as needless harshness anyway.

                > On a different subject, I find emil's description of the calculus very apt
                > in my own language creation endeavours.  My conlang, Angosey, is not really
                > an attempt to explore certain linguistic structures or shed light on
                > possible cultures.  Rather it is akin to a notation, in the sense that I
                > felt like I needed to say things that did not translate well into English.
                > The essence existed, but the available notation was not ideal.  So rather
                > than search for methods that seemed always imperfect, I instead created a
                > notation that fit the subject matter exactly.  The irony is, of course,
                > that the more specific something is, the less useful or comprehensible it
                > is to the world beyond the user.

                In a sense, it ìs an attempt to shed light on your own inner culture! You clearly
                have ideas that need expressing but want for a means of expression. A fits that
                bill.

                > Thus I feel that the stated goals of notation (and encryption) are met in
                > Angosey.  The hoped-for euphony is harder for me to judge, since I've never
                > heard the language spoken!  (I am putting together a YouTube video of the
                > alphabet and example words, so this may change soon).  My initial goal of
                > concision is hopelessly squandered, since Angosey takes more morphemes and
                > more graphemes to say something than English does.  It is hard for me to
                > say what others thing of Angosey, particularly since I am pretty
                > lackadaisical at putting information about it on the Internet.

                Padraic
                 
                > Off the soap box, and perhaps to bed-
                >
                > Danny
              • Herman Miller
                ... I think to some extent that depends on how you re defining fully functional . Klingon is functional enough for the needs of Star Trek writers to write
                Message 7 of 19 , Oct 27, 2013
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                  On 10/26/2013 10:57 PM, Padraic Brown wrote:
                  > Emil wrote:
                  >
                  >> Padraic's remarks suggest to me that a language as an artistic product can be
                  >> judged independently of real-world considerations.
                  > To a certain extent, I'd certainly agree with that. As a piece of art, a conlang
                  > does not háve to be fully functional in order to be a good piece of art. Any
                  > more than Dali's pocket watch has to be fully functional in order for Persistence
                  > of Memory to be a good piece of art.

                  I think to some extent that depends on how you're defining "fully
                  functional". Klingon is functional enough for the needs of Star Trek
                  writers to write dialogue for Klingons. (Maybe they get Marc Okrand to
                  translate all the Klingon lines, I don't know. But in principle they
                  have what they need to do it on their own.) Tirelat and Jarda are
                  functional enough for me to use in translation relays, but the
                  documentation isn't good enough for someone else to translate something
                  into one of those languages.

                  > Conlangs, especially the artistic ones, the ones that are part of some larger
                  > work of art, need not be judged according to primary world considerations.
                  >
                  >> It seems to me that there are two routes to appreciating such an
                  >> art-form. Both require a significant investment of time and
                  >> effort up-front. First, one might attempt to learn the language
                  >> fluently, which would give one a much deeper insight into it, but would
                  >> be largely a one-shot deal.
                  >
                  > Significant investment, yes. But one that some people are in fact willing to make.
                  > I think some folks here in the past have discussed their relationships with others
                  > who decided to experience the art in just this way.
                  >
                  > For what it's worth, I think this is probably about the best way to properly
                  > experience conlang as art. As we all know, languages are integral parts of their
                  > cultures, their speakers' mindsets and worldviews. The keen experiencer of this
                  > art will be someone so curious about a language that he will learn it, internalise
                  > the culture that goes with it and become intimately familiar with its turns of
                  > phrase and modes of thinking. This kind of art experiencer would, in reality, expend
                  > no more energy than someone who plans on living in another country and is undergoing
                  > cultural and linguistic immersion.
                  >
                  > There are people who do this on a regular basis (Foreign Service workers, e.g.), and
                  > so I don't think it must necessarily be a one time shot! I think the only draw back
                  > to this kind of art experience is that, chances are good, the artwork itself -- the
                  > conlang -- is probably not well enough developed for the experiencer to get much out
                  > of the experience!

                  Well, a background for the conculture is certainly important for many
                  conlangs, but I don't think you need that to evaluate the conlang itself
                  as a conlang. I haven't been fluent in any conlangs (even my own).
                  Actually, if I'm trying to avoid too much influence from English, I
                  don't even try to approach fluency. I take more time to try the various
                  options and pick the best word or expression for the language.

                  > That said, I think for móst people, just letting
                  > it roll through their unconscious is enough -- hear it when it's spoken (or sung),
                  > read it when it's on a page. Intuitively integrate it within your overall experience
                  > of the whole work.
                  >
                  >> Second, one might attempt to learn about
                  >> linguistics, and through that study, combined with exercises like
                  >> translations, come to a general appreciation of languages as art-form.
                  >
                  > This is certainly a valid (though I think, in some ways, far more sterile) way of
                  > going about it. This is like the person who has heard of the Brandenburg Concertos
                  > and decides, rather than just buying a CD, goes and takes a masters in classical
                  > music and composition in order to appreciate the music from the inside out. To me,
                  > this is a more clinical approach: more of a "brain approach" rather than a "heart
                  > approach".

                  I think you need both, especially with something as complex as a
                  language. You miss the details if you don't understand how languages are
                  put together. Even if you think of conlangs as a kind of music, just
                  sounds strung together, it helps to understand how they work. Conlangers
                  need linguistics in the same way that artists need to know anatomy. (Not
                  to the extent that physicians need to know anatomy!)

                  But you don't need theory to know that this is one of the best solos
                  ever in the history of music:

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxzY3tFTz9k

                  >> Dirk says that testing a language, if it is to be like testing a
                  >> bridge, is a practical impossibility.
                  >
                  > Well, a bridge is really only tested on opening day when you allow zillions of cars
                  > and trucks to drive over it. Likewise, a language is only tested when people learn
                  > it and use it. For practical purposes, yes, I think it is very unlikely that a
                  > conlang will be so tested. But on the other hand, this kind of testing really doesn't
                  > tell us anything. It would certainly tell us whether the conlanger did a good job of
                  > creating a usable language. Ho-hum. Unless his góal was to produce a usable language,
                  > the testing is pointless. It might be marginally interesting to an artistic conlanger
                  > to know that he's created something useful; but I think he'd be more interested in
                  > learning how others reacted to its artistry. Were they moved by its beauty or turned
                  > away by its harshness? Did it add to or take away from their experience of his broader
                  > work (a novel, a play, a song)? How did fit into that work, in the perception of the
                  > experiencer? I.e., did he hit his mark, or did he shoot himself in the foot?

                  Well, it might be useful information if a language passes such a test,
                  but if it fails, all you know is that the language isn't suited for the
                  users who tried to use it. That doesn't tell you whether the fault is
                  with the language, the learners, or the instruction method.
                • Padraic Brown
                  ... Largely that. Functional enough . It doesn t necessarily have to express every possible nuance of meaning or usage that a native speaker might need --- it
                  Message 8 of 19 , Oct 27, 2013
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                    Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:


                    > I think to some extent that depends on how you're defining "fully
                    > functional". Klingon is functional enough for the needs of Star Trek
                    > writers to write dialogue for Klingons.

                    Largely that. "Functional enough". It doesn't necessarily have to express every
                    possible nuance of meaning or usage that a native speaker might need --- it
                    just has to be "functional enough" for the characters in the story to get through
                    to the end of the narrative without them having to turn to the Author, complaining
                    of an insufficiency of tenses.

                    If I were making a conlang for a movie that involved some p.o.w. scenes, I
                    think, for the language of the captors, I'd focus on second person imperatives,
                    interrogatives, basic camp slang and terms of abuse. I'd not have to worry
                    about how the distant court poets distinguish devotion the Queen and devotion
                    to the High Goddess by a subtle shift in the now archaic mood-honorifics in
                    the old aorist. Just not appropriate to the task at hand. Not having to do all
                    that doesn't diminish the conlang as it is. I wouldn't claim it is a "complete
                    conlang" by any stretch. But if it does its task and it gets its artistic point across,
                    then I'd happily call it a "success" rather than a "failure", even though it might
                    fail by other criteria.

                    > (Maybe they get Marc Okrand to translate all the Klingon lines, I don't know. But
                    > in principle they have what they need to do it on their own.) Tirelat and Jarda are
                    > functional enough for me to use in translation relays, but the
                    > documentation isn't good enough for someone else to translate something
                    > into one of those languages.

                    That's okay. This is largely what I was getting at. I think one could form an
                    impression even with all those things lacking.

                    [snip]
                    >> This is certainly a valid (though I think, in some ways, far more sterile)
                    > way of
                    >> going about it. This is like the person who has heard of the Brandenburg
                    > Concertos
                    >> and decides, rather than just buying a CD, goes and takes a masters in
                    > classical
                    >> music and composition in order to appreciate the music from the inside out.
                    > To me,
                    >> this is a more clinical approach: more of a "brain approach"
                    > rather than a "heart
                    >> approach".
                    >
                    > I think you need both, especially with something as complex as a
                    > language. You miss the details if you don't understand how languages are
                    > put together. Even if you think of conlangs as a kind of music, just
                    > sounds strung together, it helps to understand how they work. Conlangers
                    > need linguistics in the same way that artists need to know anatomy. (Not
                    > to the extent that physicians need to know anatomy!)

                    Fair enough. And I certainly don't disagree that some knowledge of how language
                    works improves one's appreciation of a conlang as a piece of art (just as this is so
                    for paintings or music or old buildings or needlework). Though, like music, in my
                    opinion, we really don't néed to know much about how to string the sounds together
                    in order to "feel" the language, or the music or whatever else. I certainly don't know
                    how to put a concerto together. (And I found it quite interesting that, while writing
                    this sentence, I had the Brandenburgs in mind! -- though I had No. 2 in mind in
                    particular: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJbkvmwUMkw) And while my
                    "brain" appreciation for a concerto might indeed be deepened and improved by
                    learning, I don't think my "heart" appreciation suffers in the least from my relative
                    ignorance.

                    I of course am not 100% certain, but I'd be willing to wager that most people who
                    enjoy art or music or architecture or just about anything else are nòt very aware,
                    even on anything more than a very elementary level, how those things really work!

                    > But you don't need theory to know that this is one of the best solos
                    > ever in the history of music:
                    >
                    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxzY3tFTz9k

                    My point exactly.

                    >>> Dirk says that testing a language, if it is to be like testing a
                    >>> bridge, is a practical impossibility.
                    >>
                    >> Well, a bridge is really only tested on opening day when you allow zillions
                    > of cars
                    >> and trucks to drive over it. Likewise, a language is only tested when
                    > people learn
                    >> it and use it. For practical purposes, yes, I think it is very unlikely
                    > that a
                    >> conlang will be so tested. But on the other hand, this kind of testing
                    > really doesn't
                    >> tell us anything. It would certainly tell us whether the conlanger did a
                    > good job of
                    >> creating a usable language. Ho-hum. Unless his góal was to produce a usable
                    > language,
                    >> the testing is pointless. It might be marginally interesting to an artistic
                    > conlanger
                    >> to know that he's created something useful; but I think he'd be
                    > more interested in
                    >> learning how others reacted to its artistry. Were they moved by its beauty
                    > or turned
                    >> away by its harshness? Did it add to or take away from their experience of
                    > his broader
                    >> work (a novel, a play, a song)? How did fit into that work, in the
                    > perception of the
                    >> experiencer? I.e., did he hit his mark, or did he shoot himself in the
                    > foot?
                    >
                    > Well, it might be useful information if a language passes such a test,
                    > but if it fails, all you know is that the language isn't suited for the
                    > users who tried to use it. That doesn't tell you whether the fault is
                    > with the language, the learners, or the instruction method.

                    Well, I wasn't aiming these questions at "learners" so much as at "experiencers". I
                    guess maybe I wasn't entirely clear: I wasn't terribly interested in conlang as
                    "performance art" so much as the more passively "experienced art" such as one
                    might find in a book or movie or something. Learning a conlang in and of itself is a
                    quite a bit different from being immersed in it as part of a larger work. The
                    questions of whether the conlang works "in the wild" and whether the students are
                    or are not up to the task and whether the teaching method was well or poorly done
                    are a little different, and more technical in nature. Valid line of questioning, just not
                    where I was heading! In other words, whether Quenya works as a usable human
                    language is quite a different consideration from whether this works in its given place:
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TU0hE47hS0

                    Padraic
                  • carolandray+ray
                    ... [snip] ... [snip] ... Yes, I d remembered that after I sent my email. It is, e.g., IMO a valid criticism of Lin that its phonology is unrealistic or that
                    Message 9 of 19 , Oct 28, 2013
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                      On 26.10.2013 14:33, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                      > Hallo conlangers!
                      >
                      > On Saturday 26 October 2013 09:12:38 R A Brown wrote:
                      [snip]
                      >> Of course, if it is a language
                      >> then it ought to be usable for communication between humans
                      >> this can, if one gets other interested people involved, be
                      >> tested.

                      [snip]
                      > be realistic if human beings could not use them. Of course,
                      > languages of fictional non-human beings may have features that
                      > would render them unusable for humans (i.e., use of ultrasonic
                      > sounds), if the fictional beings can cope with them.

                      Yes, I'd remembered that after I sent my email. It is, e.g., IMO a
                      valid criticism of Lin that its phonology is unrealistic or that no
                      human could _speak_ a language with its strange syntax. The language is
                      presented as the written representation of one "spoken" by alien beings
                      who communicate by telepathy. Unless one can communicate by telepathy,
                      it is rather difficult to evaluate Lin in this regard ;)

                      All one can do is to evaluate it on the aim of its author to achieve
                      maximum spatial compactness of its written form. On this it surely
                      scores highly.

                      [snip]
                      >> ... and Srikant's Lin (to achieve maximum
                      >> spatial compactness, e.g. ki Q#4f = "The child fears to be
                      >> asked") by the same criteria would IMO be silly.
                      >
                      [snip]
                      >
                      >> I set out the Objectives & Design Principles of Bax (Piashi) on:
                      >> http://www.carolandray.plus.com/Briefscript/ObjAndDesign.html
                      >>
                      >> It was because I was failing to meet these satisfactorily
                      >> that I eventually abandoned the project.
                      >
                      > Piashi is in my opinion not a complete failure; it was worth
                      > trying out, even if the result was disappointing.

                      'Failure', I think, was the wrong word in any case. The project
                      explored the problems; it was more that since I began the thing the
                      world has moved on and the aims were already being achieved 'naturally'
                      with the de_facto use of English as a global auxlang and the evolution
                      of SMS.

                      >> TAKE was an experiment to produce an ancient Greek based
                      >> language that has no grammatical inflexions. Well, it uses
                      >> ancient Greek roots and it has no inflexions, so it meets
                      >> those objectives. But how one further evaluates it, I don't
                      >> know.
                      >
                      > One could question TAKE on the ground of: "Why should one
                      > want to have a language based on ancient Greek but without
                      > inflections? What is to be gained from such a project?"

                      What is to be gained by any bogolang? What is to be gained by applying
                      sound changes of Slav languages to Vulgar Latin? They are all
                      experiments. But if one does these things as well as one can (and not
                      just superficially) much can be learnt. Surely by discovering that TAKE
                      was a darn sight more difficult to achieve than Latino sine Flexione
                      teaches us something about the structural differences between ancient
                      Greek and Classical Latin, as well as perhaps giving a greater insight
                      to differences between fusional and isolating languages. One could also
                      ask why TAKE has achieved a greater degree of isolating than LsF.

                      > But as an experiment, it is just fine.

                      And from properly conducted experiments one can learn.

                      >> How does one evaluate Outidic? We'd probably not rate it as
                      >> an auxlang now. But it was supposed to the product of a
                      >> fictional 17th century Dr Outis? Is it something that a guy
                      >> in the 17th century might produce?
                      >
                      > These are indeed the right questions to ask about it. Would
                      > a 17th-century scholar come up with a language like this, or
                      > does it involve concepts that weren't current at that time?
                      [snip]
                      > not to work particularly well), or combinations of both;
                      > but there have been schemes like Labbé's, too.

                      ... and of course it was Labbé's scheme that ins[ired Outidic ;)

                      Ray.
                      (Away from home and having to use webmail)
                    • Jörg Rhiemeier
                      Hallo conlangers! ... Yes. It matters a lot how much thought, and what *quality* of thought, the author invested in his language. Yet, there are brief
                      Message 10 of 19 , Oct 28, 2013
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                        Hallo conlangers!

                        On Sunday 27 October 2013 04:35:59 Daniel Bowman wrote:

                        > It is subjective, of course, but I think it is possible to have a fair
                        > *impression* of the quality simply on the thoughtfulness of the creator.
                        > [...] What matters to the
                        > creator of the conlang? How deeply have they thought about it, and how is
                        > it expressed in their language(s)? How is this reflected in their
                        > presentation of the grammar, vocabulary, phonology, and writing system?

                        Yes. It matters a lot how much thought, and what *quality* of
                        thought, the author invested in his language. Yet, there are
                        brief sketches that may have been put together in a weekend,
                        and still show more mastership than some languages that were
                        brought to "completion" and worked on for years.

                        > For example, I am not fluent in Old Albic,

                        How could you be? There is only little of the vocabulary that
                        has been released to the public so far. Not even I am fluent in
                        Old Albic!

                        > but I am very interested every
                        > time Jörg discusses it, because it is clear that he has thought long and
                        > carefully in its construction - and it is very interesting to see his
                        > creativity at work.

                        Thank you for your appreciation.

                        > Likewise with John Quijada's Ithkuil. Other peoples'
                        > minds are fascinating, and what better way to understand the workings of
                        > really interesting minds than to learn about the languages that spring from
                        > them?

                        Indeed.

                        > On the other hand: We are all of us, to a greater or lesser extent,
                        > amateurs at this, and it is not right to judge anyone's language harshly,
                        > even when it does seem simplistic or hastily done. As a small and
                        > relatively unknown group, it behoves us to keep open and accepting minds.
                        > So in the end, I think that we can all agree that judging a conlang is
                        > difficult and subjective, and that is probably the right attitude for our
                        > community.

                        Concurred. All judgments of the quality of a conlang are
                        subjective.

                        On Sunday 27 October 2013 23:13:14 Herman Miller wrote:

                        > On 10/26/2013 10:57 PM, Padraic Brown wrote:
                        > > Emil wrote:
                        > >> Padraic's remarks suggest to me that a language as an artistic product
                        > >> can be judged independently of real-world considerations.
                        > >
                        > > To a certain extent, I'd certainly agree with that. As a piece of art, a
                        > > conlang does not háve to be fully functional in order to be a good piece
                        > > of art. Any more than Dali's pocket watch has to be fully functional in
                        > > order for Persistence of Memory to be a good piece of art.
                        >
                        > I think to some extent that depends on how you're defining "fully
                        > functional". Klingon is functional enough for the needs of Star Trek
                        > writers to write dialogue for Klingons. (Maybe they get Marc Okrand to
                        > translate all the Klingon lines, I don't know. But in principle they
                        > have what they need to do it on their own.) Tirelat and Jarda are
                        > functional enough for me to use in translation relays, but the
                        > documentation isn't good enough for someone else to translate something
                        > into one of those languages.

                        Fine. A fictional language need not always be brought to
                        "completion", if that is attainable at all. It is always just
                        a *model* of an imaginary linguistic reality, and thus may merely
                        be a *partial* image of a usable language. For an example from
                        my own oeuvre, see Attidian:

                        http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/attidian.html

                        A tiny fragment of a conlang, meant to convey the image of an
                        extinct ancient language from which only one meagre short
                        inscription is known.

                        > > [Getting attuned with a language's cultural background]
                        > > There are people who do this on a regular basis (Foreign Service workers,
                        > > e.g.), and so I don't think it must necessarily be a one time shot! I
                        > > think the only draw back to this kind of art experience is that, chances
                        > > are good, the artwork itself -- the conlang -- is probably not well
                        > > enough developed for the experiencer to get much out of the experience!
                        >
                        > Well, a background for the conculture is certainly important for many
                        > conlangs, but I don't think you need that to evaluate the conlang itself
                        > as a conlang.

                        A fictional human language *can* be evaluated on its naturalism,
                        plausibility etc. without taking the concultural background into
                        account, but I feel that such a background, where it exists, ought
                        to be taken into account for the full picture, especially as many
                        fictional languages have vocabulary and idioms that are particular
                        to the relevant conculture.

                        > [...]
                        > > This is certainly a valid (though I think, in some ways, far more
                        > > sterile) way of going about it. This is like the person who has heard of
                        > > the Brandenburg Concertos and decides, rather than just buying a CD,
                        > > goes and takes a masters in classical music and composition in order to
                        > > appreciate the music from the inside out. To me, this is a more clinical
                        > > approach: more of a "brain approach" rather than a "heart approach".
                        >
                        > I think you need both, especially with something as complex as a
                        > language. You miss the details if you don't understand how languages are
                        > put together. Even if you think of conlangs as a kind of music, just
                        > sounds strung together, it helps to understand how they work. Conlangers
                        > need linguistics in the same way that artists need to know anatomy. (Not
                        > to the extent that physicians need to know anatomy!)

                        Not all linguistic knowledge is useful in conlanging; much is not.
                        Yet, some basic knowledge of grammar, language typology and (for
                        the diachronists among us) historical linguistics is instrumental
                        in building conlangs. And of course, conlanging is a great way
                        to learn how languages work!

                        > [...]
                        > > Well, a bridge is really only tested on opening day when you allow
                        > > zillions of cars and trucks to drive over it. Likewise, a language is
                        > > only tested when people learn it and use it. For practical purposes,
                        > > yes, I think it is very unlikely that a conlang will be so tested. But
                        > > on the other hand, this kind of testing really doesn't tell us anything.
                        > > It would certainly tell us whether the conlanger did a good job of
                        > > creating a usable language. Ho-hum. Unless his góal was to produce a
                        > > usable language, the testing is pointless. It might be marginally
                        > > interesting to an artistic conlanger to know that he's created something
                        > > useful; but I think he'd be more interested in learning how others
                        > > reacted to its artistry. Were they moved by its beauty or turned away by
                        > > its harshness? Did it add to or take away from their experience of his
                        > > broader work (a novel, a play, a song)? How did fit into that work, in
                        > > the perception of the experiencer? I.e., did he hit his mark, or did he
                        > > shoot himself in the foot?
                        >
                        > Well, it might be useful information if a language passes such a test,
                        > but if it fails, all you know is that the language isn't suited for the
                        > users who tried to use it. That doesn't tell you whether the fault is
                        > with the language, the learners, or the instruction method.

                        Yes.

                        On Monday 28 October 2013 08:56:57 R A Brown wrote:

                        > On 26.10.2013 14:33, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                        > > Hallo conlangers!
                        >
                        > > On Saturday 26 October 2013 09:12:38 R A Brown wrote:
                        > [...]
                        > > be realistic if human beings could not use them. Of course,
                        > > languages of fictional non-human beings may have features that
                        > > would render them unusable for humans (i.e., use of ultrasonic
                        > > sounds), if the fictional beings can cope with them.
                        >
                        > Yes, I'd remembered that after I sent my email. It is, e.g., IMO a
                        > valid criticism of Lin that its phonology is unrealistic or that no
                        > human could _speak_ a language with its strange syntax. The language is
                        > presented as the written representation of one "spoken" by alien beings
                        > who communicate by telepathy. Unless one can communicate by telepathy,
                        > it is rather difficult to evaluate Lin in this regard ;)

                        We do not know how telepathy works (if it works at all), much
                        less how it works among a particular species of aliens. One
                        can say that Lin would not work well as a human language
                        - fine; but the premise is not really that. Rather, it stands
                        to be gauged to which extent the concept of the aliens who are
                        meant to "speak" it makes sense or not - and that is difficult
                        as we have no data on real extraterrestrial intelligences.

                        But as I have seen it, the conceit of Lin is so fraught with
                        bizarre fringe ideas that we can say that it is almost certainly
                        utter hogwash, and that the notion that Lin actually exists out
                        there can be rejected on these grounds.

                        > All one can do is to evaluate it on the aim of its author to achieve
                        > maximum spatial compactness of its written form. On this it surely
                        > scores highly.

                        Fair. The author claimed that Lin is spatially extremely compact
                        in written form; and no matter what kind of esoteric mumbo-jumbo
                        he wove around it, we can say that it is indeed highly compact,
                        so on *this* count Lin is a success!

                        > [...]
                        > > Piashi is in my opinion not a complete failure; it was worth
                        > > trying out, even if the result was disappointing.
                        >
                        > 'Failure', I think, was the wrong word in any case. The project
                        > explored the problems; it was more that since I began the thing the
                        > world has moved on and the aims were already being achieved 'naturally'
                        > with the de_facto use of English as a global auxlang and the evolution
                        > of SMS.

                        Yes.

                        > [...]
                        > > One could question TAKE on the ground of: "Why should one
                        > > want to have a language based on ancient Greek but without
                        > > inflections? What is to be gained from such a project?"
                        >
                        > What is to be gained by any bogolang? What is to be gained by applying
                        > sound changes of Slav languages to Vulgar Latin? They are all
                        > experiments.

                        Sure.

                        > But if one does these things as well as one can (and not
                        > just superficially) much can be learnt. Surely by discovering that TAKE
                        > was a darn sight more difficult to achieve than Latino sine Flexione
                        > teaches us something about the structural differences between ancient
                        > Greek and Classical Latin, as well as perhaps giving a greater insight
                        > to differences between fusional and isolating languages. One could also
                        > ask why TAKE has achieved a greater degree of isolating than LsF.

                        These are all valid results on valid questions. Remember how
                        we discussed whether TAKE should not only shed the inflections
                        but also the polytonic accent system of Ancient Greek? And
                        after all, the whole thing was set off by a cursory remark of
                        a list member (I forgot who) who spoke of "Graeca sine flexione",
                        and as a way to "do it right" after Philip Newton came up with
                        his GSF, which turned out to sport many features which were not
                        covered by the equation "Greek - inflections = X".

                        > > But as an experiment, it is just fine.
                        >
                        > And from properly conducted experiments one can learn.

                        Precisely. My (seemingly eternally dormant) Quetch project is
                        also an experiment; even Old Albic can be viewed as an experiment,
                        as I explore hypotheses about the prehistory of PIE in it.

                        --
                        ... 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
                      • carolandray+ray
                        ... [snip] ... [snip] ... On reflexion, It probably should. The first version of TAKE used the monotonic system of post-1981 modern Greek. This, of course,
                        Message 11 of 19 , Oct 28, 2013
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                          On 28.10.2013 16:38, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                          > Hallo conlangers!
                          [snip]
                          >> > On Saturday 26 October 2013 09:12:38 R A Brown wrote:
                          [snip]
                          >
                          >> But if one does these things as well as one can (and not
                          >> just superficially) much can be learnt. Surely by discovering that
                          >> TAKE
                          >> was a darn sight more difficult to achieve than Latino sine Flexione
                          >> teaches us something about the structural differences between
                          >> ancient
                          >> Greek and Classical Latin, as well as perhaps giving a greater
                          >> insight
                          >> to differences between fusional and isolating languages. One could
                          >> also
                          >> ask why TAKE has achieved a greater degree of isolating than LsF.
                          >
                          > These are all valid results on valid questions. Remember how
                          > we discussed whether TAKE should not only shed the inflections
                          > but also the polytonic accent system of Ancient Greek?

                          On reflexion, It probably should. The first version of TAKE used the
                          monotonic system of post-1981 modern Greek. This, of course, is a
                          gross
                          anachronism and was justified only by adopting the "Hellenic
                          Alternative
                          Timeline" (HATL) fiction. I dropped this because one than more HATL was
                          emerging and I didn't want to be distracted by sorting out competing
                          alternate histories.

                          The current version now uses the traditional polytonic system and
                          includes
                          the breathings. But even that is, strictly speaking, anachronistic.
                          We
                          are so used to seeing ancient Greek texts printed with breathings and
                          with
                          acute, circumflex and grave accents that we forget that the ancient
                          Greeks
                          did not use them! They were an invention of the Alexandrian
                          grammarians of
                          the 3rd century BC and seem to have been devised in the first place to
                          indicate
                          the correct reading of Homer. During the Hellenistic period they get
                          used
                          more as Greek attracts L2 speakers who need to know the correct
                          pronunciation.
                          But the system did not become fully standardized till the Byzantine
                          period.

                          In any case we know (more or less) the correct accentuation of Homeric,
                          Attic
                          and Aiolic dialects only. I am tempted to drop the lot - when we began
                          learning
                          ancient Greek at school we didn't use them, and the ancient Greeks
                          themselves
                          didn't use them. I would adopt the accentuation of the Aiolian dialect
                          of Lesbos,
                          which consistently used recessive accent - the only major problem being
                          that final
                          alpha might be long or short, and that affected the accentuation of the
                          word.

                          > And
                          > after all, the whole thing was set off by a cursory remark of
                          > a list member (I forgot who) who spoke of "Graeca sine flexione",

                          It was Philip Newton - in imitation of 'Latino sine flexione' - and, of
                          course,
                          it should be 'Graeco sine flexione' ;)

                          > and as a way to "do it right" after Philip Newton came up with
                          > his GSF, which turned out to sport many features which were not
                          > covered by the equation "Greek - inflections = X".

                          Philip was using modern Greek. It seemed to me more in keeping with
                          LsF to use
                          ancient Greek.

                          Ray
                        • Jörg Rhiemeier
                          Hallo conlangers! ... Yes, the example of Ill Bethisad clearly shows how messy collaborative alternative histories can become. ... That is a sensible reason to
                          Message 12 of 19 , Oct 28, 2013
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                            Hallo conlangers!

                            On Monday 28 October 2013 18:39:46 R A Brown wrote:

                            > On 28.10.2013 16:38, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                            > > Hallo conlangers!
                            >
                            > [snip]
                            >
                            > > These are all valid results on valid questions. Remember how
                            > > we discussed whether TAKE should not only shed the inflections
                            > > but also the polytonic accent system of Ancient Greek?
                            >
                            > On reflexion, It probably should. The first version of TAKE used the
                            > monotonic system of post-1981 modern Greek. This, of course, is a
                            > gross
                            > anachronism and was justified only by adopting the "Hellenic
                            > Alternative
                            > Timeline" (HATL) fiction. I dropped this because one than more HATL was
                            > emerging and I didn't want to be distracted by sorting out competing
                            > alternate histories.

                            Yes, the example of Ill Bethisad clearly shows how messy
                            collaborative alternative histories can become.

                            > [...]
                            > In any case we know (more or less) the correct accentuation of Homeric,
                            > Attic
                            > and Aiolic dialects only. I am tempted to drop the lot - when we began
                            > learning
                            > ancient Greek at school we didn't use them, and the ancient Greeks
                            > themselves
                            > didn't use them. I would adopt the accentuation of the Aiolian dialect
                            > of Lesbos,
                            > which consistently used recessive accent - the only major problem being
                            > that final
                            > alpha might be long or short, and that affected the accentuation of the
                            > word.

                            That is a sensible reason to drop the accent system.

                            > > And
                            > > after all, the whole thing was set off by a cursory remark of
                            > > a list member (I forgot who) who spoke of "Graeca sine flexione",
                            >
                            > It was Philip Newton - in imitation of 'Latino sine flexione' - and, of
                            > course,
                            > it should be 'Graeco sine flexione' ;)

                            Ah, so it was him.

                            > > and as a way to "do it right" after Philip Newton came up with
                            > > his GSF, which turned out to sport many features which were not
                            > > covered by the equation "Greek - inflections = X".
                            >
                            > Philip was using modern Greek. It seemed to me more in keeping with
                            > LsF to use
                            > ancient Greek.

                            Right! A Greek analogue of LsF would have to use ancient Greek,
                            not modern Greek. The latter would be an analogue of "[Choose
                            your Romance language] without inflection"! Also, Philip
                            extended the Greek alphabet with Latin and Cyrillic letters.

                            --
                            ... 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
                          • BPJ
                            0 ... That s not quite fair since Modern Greek is a good deal closer to Ancient Greek than any of the Modern Romance languages is to Classical Latin. Besides
                            Message 13 of 19 , Oct 28, 2013
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                              0
                              Den 28 okt 2013 22:03 skrev "Jörg Rhiemeier" <joerg_rhiemeier@...>:
                              >
                              >
                              > > Philip was using modern Greek. It seemed to me more in keeping with
                              > > LsF to use
                              > > ancient Greek.
                              >
                              > Right! A Greek analogue of LsF would have to use ancient Greek,
                              > not modern Greek. The latter would be an analogue of "[Choose
                              > your Romance language] without inflection"!

                              That's not quite fair since Modern Greek is a good deal closer to Ancient
                              Greek than any of the Modern Romance languages is to Classical Latin.
                              Besides all it takes to make a sine flexione language is a rather much
                              inflected language to start with. Philip worked with what he knew best; you
                              can't really blame him for that!

                              /bpj

                              > Also, Philip
                              > extended the Greek alphabet with Latin and Cyrillic letters.
                              >
                              > --
                              > ... 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
                            • carolandray+ray
                              ... Yes, but we need some place for the word accent (whether pitch or stress) in speech; and deriving satisfactory rules that are easily applied but have some
                              Message 14 of 19 , Oct 29, 2013
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                                On 28.10.2013 21:03, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                > Hallo conlangers!
                                > On Monday 28 October 2013 18:39:46 R A Brown wrote:
                                >[snip]
                                >
                                >> [...]
                                >> In any case we know (more or less) the correct accentuation of
                                >> Homeric,
                                >> Attic
                                >> and Aiolic dialects only. I am tempted to drop the lot - when we
                                >> began
                                >> learning
                                >> ancient Greek at school we didn't use them, and the ancient Greeks
                                >> themselves
                                >> didn't use them. I would adopt the accentuation of the Aiolian
                                >> dialect
                                >> of Lesbos,
                                >> which consistently used recessive accent - the only major problem
                                >> being
                                >> that final
                                >> alpha might be long or short, and that affected the accentuation of
                                >> the
                                >> word.
                                >
                                > That is a sensible reason to drop the accent system.

                                Yes, but we need some place for the word accent (whether pitch or
                                stress)
                                in speech; and deriving satisfactory rules that are easily applied but
                                have
                                some basis in ancient Greek is not trivial. I think I will leave
                                things as
                                they are for the moment.

                                [snip]
                                >>
                                >> Philip was using modern Greek. It seemed to me more in keeping with
                                >> LsF to use
                                >> ancient Greek.
                                >
                                > Right! A Greek analogue of LsF would have to use ancient Greek,
                                > not modern Greek. The latter would be an analogue of "[Choose
                                > your Romance language] without inflection"! Also, Philip
                                > extended the Greek alphabet with Latin and Cyrillic letters.

                                Yes, extending the alphabet is not making GsF an analog of LsF! I was
                                insistent
                                on retaining the Greek alphabet.

                                Ray.
                              • Jörg Rhiemeier
                                Hallo conlangers! ... Sure. The accents must fall *somewhere*, and any other accent system (such as initial, penultimate, Latin-like or whatever) would
                                Message 15 of 19 , Oct 29, 2013
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                                  Hallo conlangers!

                                  On Tuesday 29 October 2013 16:02:39 R A Brown wrote:

                                  > On 28.10.2013 21:03, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                  > > Hallo conlangers!
                                  > >
                                  > > On Monday 28 October 2013 18:39:46 R A Brown wrote:
                                  > >[snip]
                                  > [...]
                                  > > That is a sensible reason to drop the accent system.
                                  >
                                  > Yes, but we need some place for the word accent (whether pitch or
                                  > stress)
                                  > in speech; and deriving satisfactory rules that are easily applied but
                                  > have
                                  > some basis in ancient Greek is not trivial. I think I will leave
                                  > things as
                                  > they are for the moment.

                                  Sure. The accents must fall *somewhere*, and any other accent
                                  system (such as initial, penultimate, Latin-like or whatever)
                                  would introduce a foreign element into the language. So it is
                                  reasonable to keep the classical accent system intact.

                                  > [snip]
                                  >
                                  > >> Philip was using modern Greek. It seemed to me more in keeping with
                                  > >> LsF to use
                                  > >> ancient Greek.
                                  > >
                                  > > Right! A Greek analogue of LsF would have to use ancient Greek,
                                  > > not modern Greek. The latter would be an analogue of "[Choose
                                  > > your Romance language] without inflection"! Also, Philip
                                  > > extended the Greek alphabet with Latin and Cyrillic letters.
                                  >
                                  > Yes, extending the alphabet is not making GsF an analog of LsF! I was
                                  > insistent
                                  > on retaining the Greek alphabet.

                                  Very much so. LsF did not extend the alphabet; it kept Latin
                                  phonology and orthography intact. So a Greek analogue of LsF
                                  would have to as well, and introducing any new letter would be
                                  off limits.

                                  --
                                  ... 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
                                • R A Brown
                                  ... [snip] ... Yes, tho strictly it isn t classical, but the way the Byzantines accented classical Greek. To understand it properly one ought make a
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Oct 30, 2013
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                                    On 29/10/2013 15:17, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                    > Hallo conlangers!
                                    >
                                    > On Tuesday 29 October 2013 16:02:39 R A Brown wrote:
                                    [snip]
                                    >> Yes, but we need some place for the word accent
                                    >> (whether pitch or stress) in speech; and deriving
                                    >> satisfactory rules that are easily applied but have
                                    >> some basis in ancient Greek is not trivial. I think I
                                    >> will leave things as they are for the moment.
                                    >
                                    > Sure. The accents must fall *somewhere*, and any other
                                    > accent system (such as initial, penultimate, Latin-like
                                    > or whatever) would introduce a foreign element into the
                                    > language. So it is reasonable to keep the classical
                                    > accent system intact.

                                    Yes, tho strictly it isn't classical, but the way the
                                    Byzantines accented classical Greek. To understand it
                                    properly one ought make a distinction between long and short
                                    vowels.

                                    I notice that while descriptions of LsF give consonants
                                    (more or less) the classical Latin values (e.g. _c_ = [k])
                                    the vowels are just given the modern Spanish values; there
                                    is no distinction between long and short vowels, as there
                                    was in Classical Latin. Yet I read that "The stress is
                                    based on the classical Latin rule:
                                    - Words with two syllables have the stress on the penult.
                                    - Words with three or more syllables have the stress on the
                                    penult only if it has a long vowel, otherwise on the
                                    antepenult ."

                                    This is not actually a proper description of the classical
                                    Latin rule. The stress is on the penult if that syllable is
                                    heavy. One reason that it might be heavy is that it
                                    contains a long vowel. Yet LsF does not distinguish vowel
                                    length in pronunciation and does not show it in writing. So
                                    how is the learner to know where to place the stress in
                                    these two words?

                                    corpore "body" ['korpore]
                                    colore "colo(u)r" [ko'lore]

                                    At least in TAKE one see the difference between βασἰλεια
                                    "queen" and βασιλεἰα "kingdom", even tho keeping the
                                    Byzantine adds another complication which sort of runs
                                    counter to dropping all grammatical inflexions.

                                    [snip]
                                    >
                                    > Very much so. LsF did not extend the alphabet; it kept
                                    > Latin phonology and orthography intact.

                                    Tho it can be argued that it kept the post-classical written
                                    distinction between I and J, and between U and V as well,
                                    apparently W.

                                    > So a Greek analogue of LsF would have to as well, and
                                    > introducing any new letter would be off limits.

                                    Yes, if you're going to do that maybe one ought to think of
                                    a Greek creole or a fictitious modern language derived from
                                    ancient or Hellenistic Greek, e.g. the discovery of a group
                                    in Bactria.


                                    --
                                    Ray
                                    ==================================
                                    http://www.carolandray.plus.com
                                    ==================================
                                    If /ni/ can change into /ɑ/, then practically
                                    anything can change into anything.
                                    [YUEN REN CHAO]
                                  • Jörg Rhiemeier
                                    Hallo conlangers! ... Comparison with other IE languages such as Vedic or Germanic (where Verner s Law permits to reconstruct the earlier mobile accent in many
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Oct 30, 2013
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                                      Hallo conlangers!

                                      On Wednesday 30 October 2013 15:21:26 R A Brown wrote:

                                      > On 29/10/2013 15:17, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                      > > Hallo conlangers!
                                      >
                                      > > On Tuesday 29 October 2013 16:02:39 R A Brown wrote:
                                      > [snip]
                                      >
                                      > >> Yes, but we need some place for the word accent
                                      > >> (whether pitch or stress) in speech; and deriving
                                      > >> satisfactory rules that are easily applied but have
                                      > >> some basis in ancient Greek is not trivial. I think I
                                      > >> will leave things as they are for the moment.
                                      > >
                                      > > Sure. The accents must fall *somewhere*, and any other
                                      > > accent system (such as initial, penultimate, Latin-like
                                      > > or whatever) would introduce a foreign element into the
                                      > > language. So it is reasonable to keep the classical
                                      > > accent system intact.
                                      >
                                      > Yes, tho strictly it isn't classical, but the way the
                                      > Byzantines accented classical Greek. To understand it
                                      > properly one ought make a distinction between long and short
                                      > vowels.

                                      Comparison with other IE languages such as Vedic or Germanic
                                      (where Verner's Law permits to reconstruct the earlier mobile
                                      accent in many forms) shows that the ancient Greek accent system
                                      is inherited, though not in unchanged form, from PIE.

                                      > I notice that while descriptions of LsF give consonants
                                      > (more or less) the classical Latin values (e.g. _c_ = [k])
                                      > the vowels are just given the modern Spanish values; there
                                      > is no distinction between long and short vowels, as there
                                      > was in Classical Latin.

                                      I did not know that.

                                      > Yet I read that "The stress is
                                      > based on the classical Latin rule:
                                      > - Words with two syllables have the stress on the penult.
                                      > - Words with three or more syllables have the stress on the
                                      > penult only if it has a long vowel, otherwise on the
                                      > antepenult ."
                                      >
                                      > This is not actually a proper description of the classical
                                      > Latin rule. The stress is on the penult if that syllable is
                                      > heavy. One reason that it might be heavy is that it
                                      > contains a long vowel.

                                      Yes, but only one; another reason that it might be, of course,
                                      is that it contains a short vowel followed by two consonants
                                      which are *not* a stop followed by a liquid.

                                      > Yet LsF does not distinguish vowel
                                      > length in pronunciation and does not show it in writing. So
                                      > how is the learner to know where to place the stress in
                                      > these two words?
                                      >
                                      > corpore "body" ['korpore]
                                      > colore "colo(u)r" [ko'lore]

                                      Good grief, an unpredictable accent in an *auxlang*!

                                      > At least in TAKE one see the difference between βασἰλεια
                                      > "queen" and βασιλεἰα "kingdom", even tho keeping the
                                      > Byzantine adds another complication which sort of runs
                                      > counter to dropping all grammatical inflexions.

                                      Fine.

                                      > [snip]
                                      >
                                      > > Very much so. LsF did not extend the alphabet; it kept
                                      > > Latin phonology and orthography intact.
                                      >
                                      > Tho it can be argued that it kept the post-classical written
                                      > distinction between I and J, and between U and V as well,
                                      > apparently W.

                                      I see.

                                      > > So a Greek analogue of LsF would have to as well, and
                                      > > introducing any new letter would be off limits.
                                      >
                                      > Yes, if you're going to do that maybe one ought to think of
                                      > a Greek creole or a fictitious modern language derived from
                                      > ancient or Hellenistic Greek, e.g. the discovery of a group
                                      > in Bactria.

                                      That, of course, is another thing entirely.

                                      --
                                      ... 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
                                    • R A Brown
                                      ... [snip] ... Yes, I know. ... None of the descriptions of LsF that I ve found indicate phonemic long and short vowels. This makes sense in an intended IAL.
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Oct 31, 2013
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                                        On 30/10/2013 14:59, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                        > Hallo conlangers!
                                        >
                                        > On Wednesday 30 October 2013 15:21:26 R A Brown wrote:
                                        [snip]
                                        >> Yes, tho strictly it isn't classical, but the way the
                                        >> Byzantines accented classical Greek. To understand it
                                        >> properly one ought make a distinction between long and
                                        >> short vowels.
                                        >
                                        > Comparison with other IE languages such as Vedic or
                                        > Germanic (where Verner's Law permits to reconstruct the
                                        > earlier mobile accent in many forms) shows that the
                                        > ancient Greek accent system is inherited, though not in
                                        > unchanged form, from PIE.

                                        Yes, I know.

                                        >> I notice that while descriptions of LsF give
                                        >> consonants (more or less) the classical Latin values
                                        >> (e.g. _c_ = [k]) the vowels are just given the modern
                                        >> Spanish values; there is no distinction between long
                                        >> and short vowels, as there was in Classical Latin.
                                        >
                                        > I did not know that.

                                        None of the descriptions of LsF that I've found indicate
                                        phonemic long and short vowels. This makes sense in an
                                        intended IAL. Many L2 speakers of English, e.g., find it
                                        difficult to distinguish between [ɪ] and [i:] (yes, I know
                                        qualitative differences are involved as well as
                                        quantitative). There are many jokes about foreigners getting
                                        _sheet_ and _shit_ confused. I recall an Iranian colleague
                                        once holding forth about 'ships'; we got more and more
                                        puzzled until we realized he was, in fact, speaking about
                                        _sheep(s)_!

                                        >> Yet I read that "The stress is based on the classical
                                        >> Latin rule: - Words with two syllables have the stress
                                        >> on the penult. - Words with three or more syllables
                                        >> have the stress on the penult only if it has a long
                                        >> vowel, otherwise on the antepenult ."
                                        >>
                                        >> This is not actually a proper description of the
                                        >> classical Latin rule. The stress is on the penult if
                                        >> that syllable is heavy. One reason that it might be
                                        >> heavy is that it contains a long vowel.
                                        >
                                        > Yes, but only one; another reason that it might be, of
                                        > course, is that it contains a short vowel followed by two
                                        > consonants which are *not* a stop followed by a liquid.

                                        Yes.

                                        >> Yet LsF does not distinguish vowel length in
                                        >> pronunciation and does not show it in writing. So how
                                        >> is the learner to know where to place the stress in
                                        >> these two words?
                                        >>
                                        >> corpore "body" ['korpore] colore "colo(u)r" [ko'lore]
                                        >
                                        > Good grief, an unpredictable accent in an *auxlang*!

                                        Well, yes. The obvious thing would be to mark the original
                                        long vowels in open penultimate syllables with an acute, e.g.
                                        coppore
                                        colóre

                                        [snip]
                                        >
                                        >>> So a Greek analogue of LsF would have to as well,
                                        >>> and introducing any new letter would be off limits.
                                        >>
                                        >> Yes, if you're going to do that maybe one ought to
                                        >> think of a Greek creole or a fictitious modern language
                                        >> derived from ancient or Hellenistic Greek, e.g. the
                                        >> discovery of a group in Bactria.
                                        >
                                        > That, of course, is another thing entirely.
                                        >
                                        Yep - indeed, it is.

                                        --
                                        Ray
                                        ==================================
                                        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
                                        ==================================
                                        If /ni/ can change into /ɑ/, then practically
                                        anything can change into anything.
                                        [YUEN REN CHAO]
                                      • Jörg Rhiemeier
                                        Hallo conlangers! ... Yes. Ships grazing on pastures and leaving sheets behind them ;) There are so many languages that do not make vowel length distinctions
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Oct 31, 2013
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                                          Hallo conlangers!

                                          On Thursday 31 October 2013 16:36:29 R A Brown wrote:

                                          > On 30/10/2013 14:59, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
                                          > > Hallo conlangers!
                                          >
                                          > > On Wednesday 30 October 2013 15:21:26 R A Brown wrote:
                                          > [...]
                                          > None of the descriptions of LsF that I've found indicate
                                          > phonemic long and short vowels. This makes sense in an
                                          > intended IAL. Many L2 speakers of English, e.g., find it
                                          > difficult to distinguish between [ɪ] and [i:] (yes, I know
                                          > qualitative differences are involved as well as
                                          > quantitative). There are many jokes about foreigners getting
                                          > _sheet_ and _shit_ confused. I recall an Iranian colleague
                                          > once holding forth about 'ships'; we got more and more
                                          > puzzled until we realized he was, in fact, speaking about
                                          > _sheep(s)_!

                                          Yes. Ships grazing on pastures and leaving sheets behind them ;)

                                          There are so many languages that do not make vowel length
                                          distinctions that such distinctions do not have any legitimate
                                          place in an auxlang! And that also means that accent position
                                          should not depend on vowel length, even less on "vowel lengths"
                                          that do not even show in the language!

                                          > [...]
                                          > >> Yet LsF does not distinguish vowel length in
                                          > >> pronunciation and does not show it in writing. So how
                                          > >> is the learner to know where to place the stress in
                                          > >> these two words?
                                          > >>
                                          > >> corpore "body" ['korpore] colore "colo(u)r" [ko'lore]
                                          > >
                                          > > Good grief, an unpredictable accent in an *auxlang*!
                                          >
                                          > Well, yes. The obvious thing would be to mark the original
                                          > long vowels in open penultimate syllables with an acute, e.g.
                                          > coppore
                                          > colóre

                                          Yes. That would make it easier.

                                          > [snip]
                                          >
                                          > >>> So a Greek analogue of LsF would have to as well,
                                          > >>> and introducing any new letter would be off limits.
                                          > >>
                                          > >> Yes, if you're going to do that maybe one ought to
                                          > >> think of a Greek creole or a fictitious modern language
                                          > >> derived from ancient or Hellenistic Greek, e.g. the
                                          > >> discovery of a group in Bactria.
                                          > >
                                          > > That, of course, is another thing entirely.
                                          >
                                          > Yep - indeed, it is.

                                          I have an idea for a Hellenic language which I don't know when
                                          I will make real, if at all (I have too many open projects
                                          already). I call it _K'olčidič'i_, and it is a lostlang spoken
                                          in Georgia and has undergone changes that make it more similar
                                          to Georgian and Armenian. What I already know about it is:

                                          * The Ancient Greek plain voiceless stops have become ejectives,
                                          at least in some positions.
                                          * Palatalizations have created alveolar and postalveolar
                                          sibilant affricates and fricatives.
                                          * The nominal inflection is agglutinative, with plural case
                                          endings composed of -ia + singular case ending.

                                          The rest is still unexplored.

                                          --
                                          ... 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
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