Conlanging – Ŋyjichɯn – Lesson 1

As I said last time, this is one of my languages that I made for Thundercats fandom. Specifically, this one is the one that Wilykit and Wilykat speak, along with one of my original characters, Felino. First of all, I haven’t seen all of the 2011 revival, so all of this is from the original series and the 80s comics. Second, my personal theory is that Wilykit and Kat are adults, but that their clan don’t get as tall as other Thunderians and grow up slower.

None of that is incredibly relevant to the language itself, to be honest. This post will cover phonology (the sounds of the language) and colors. Here we go.

Phonology

IPA / Trans labiodental alveolar post-alveolar velar
nasal ɱ m n n ŋ ŋ
plosive t t k k
affricative tʃ dʒ ch j
fricative f v f v s z s z
approximant ɰ w
tap β ɽ r
lateral approximant l l

The International Phonetic Alphabet notation is given in red. The standard transcription is given in black. Honestly, the only reason I use β is because the IPA symbol doesn’t show up in my browser. It looks better than β, but what are you gonna do?

My accent is Standard American English. Since this is a conlang, it honestly doesn’t matter that much if you pronounce things incorrectly, but I’ll be giving approximate sounds based on my accent, with heavy help from Wikipedia.

The majority of consonants should not give students trouble, although Ŋyjichɯn speakers may detect an accent on the ‘m’ and ‘w’. If you wish to prevent that, pronounce ‘m’ against your top teeth and ‘w’ in the back of your throat.

  • ‘ŋ’ is equivalent to ‘ng’ in ‘sing.’
  • ‘r’ should be pronounced cleanly and shortly, a tap at the top of the mouth, like the ‘d’ in ‘rider’.
  • ‘β’ is similar, a short tap against the upper teeth.
IPA / Trans front near-front central near-back back
close i y ɯ ɯ
near-close ʏ i ʊ u
mid ɜ o
open a a ɒ ɒ

The pairs ‘i’ & ‘y’ and ‘ɯ’ and ‘u’ are primarily distinguished by how rounded the lips are. Vowels are most likely to give students trouble, but the approximations below will generally be sufficient.

  • y as in free
  • i as in bit, but with the lips rounded
  • a approximately as in cat
  • o approximately as in strut
  • ɯ as in boot but with the lips very rounded
  • u as in hook
  • ɒ as in hot but with lips very rounded

(If I don’t have IPA available or it’s too much hassle, I cheat and use ‘h’ for ‘ŋ’, ‘B’ for ‘β’, ‘x’ for ‘ɯ’, and ‘p’ for ‘ɒ’.)

Doubled vowels are pronounced twice as long. Any vowel may combine with another to form a diphthong, and are pronounced long. On the occasion that a vowel is meant as a syllable it is written with apostrophes separating it. For example ro’ɒ’ryi, za’yr’ta, ny’i’an, kyo’yt.

And now for some fun stuff.

Colors

Color words in Ŋyjichɯn are heavily associated with nature and the exact color meant is heavily context specific. The pictures below give a sampling of the hues associated. If you’ve checked out the link dumps, there was a long article about how different cultures see color. Wikipedia also has a fair overview here.

jpxw

hafnxh jasakyijio     kixklyasim kouch

To reference the color itself (or to create new color terms), the color is incorporated into chanyki, thus chajɒɯwnyki, white; chawaovonyki, fire colored (waovo, fire), etc. Native speakers would say that metal terms would fall under lyasim, even if the shade itself might fall under ŋafnɯŋ or kiɯk.

You’ll note that most of the words have meaning beyond colors. Words will be given in Ŋyjichɯn alphabetical order.

Modern Ŋyjichɯn English Notes
chanyki skin, surface, color
jɒɯw day, to be daytime, white, light
jio water, to be wet, to be liquid, juicy, black, brown, blue, green, blue For colors it describes deep cool colors like black, brown, green, and blue. The base color is black/brown. May also be used how we would use ‘tomato red’ to evoke the flavor
jasa fruit, flower, pink, red, magenta, purple References flowers and describes anything from pale pink to vibrant purple
ŋafnɯŋ child, unripe, green, raw, yellow, pale When used as a color it’s the color of unripe fruit, early morning sky, young shoots and grass, and can cover white, yellow, and light greens
kyi ripe, adult, mature, full-size, green, blue When used for colors it means the green of ripe vegetables, or noon-sky (vibrant greens and blues)
kiɯkjio red-brown Given as an example of combining colors. From kiɯk and jio
kiɯk blood, red, orange Describes the color of blood.
kouch night, dark, black Describes the dark, usually blue and unsaturated colors, you would observe at night.
lyasim stone, grey, beige, pale, yellow, tan, off-white Primarily inorganic colors (the color of stones), but also pale bark, the yellow of wheat, etc

I’m creating all this using a combination of Excel, Tiddlywiki (basically a wiki in a single file. It’s awesome), and various text files. At some point I’m going to write up an in-character description of Ŋyjichɯn, but I have to figure out how I want to approach it. And probably the next post will be simply ‘I’ve changed this in the tiddlywiki, here’s a link!’ rather than making it work in WordPress, which is somewhat of a pain. I have to get the tiddlywiki uploaded.

(Editted 2-18-13, because I screwed up when I derived kiɯkjio.)

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