Conlang happiness – Ie

Been working on a conlang that’s supposed to be a naming language for some of my comic characters (specifically Delia Troy Burton). I have an Hawaiian grammar from the 70s which I’m using as a model, because it’s the only grammar I have for an analytic language.

It’s called Ie.

At some point, I’ll probably upload my grammar like I did for Nyjichun. I’m currently doing it in HTML instead of in a TiddlyWiki. That may change or I may just make it more than one page at some point. I dunno.

Anyway, the point of this post was to share some words! It’s tonal and differentiates between aspirated and non-aspirated words, but for simplicity’s sake (and to keep from having to post the phonology) I’ll just give the romanticized form. The only note I’ll make is that /c/ is pronounced like /ch/ in English). No, I can’t pronounce most of it. See if you can pick out which words are compounds from other words! (Hint: not all the meanings are given here).

tuep zug – Adam’s apple
pov – bridge of nose
pi – cheek, cheekbone
puk – chin, jawbone
piod puk – chin (underneath)
tyiik – ear
dyuu tyiik – earlobe
kyiv – eye
tiu kyiv – eyebrow, eyelash
pyio – face
tiu – hair
tuep – neck, throat
zug – nose
xuu – tooth
tyii1g – arm, hand
bo – back
kie cuu1 biui – backbone, spine
cye tyiig – elbow
eb tyiig – finger
tŭe7t zĕ4n – heel
o1 – hip
cye zen – knee
zen – leg, foot
ang uom – navel
ang tyiig – palm
ii biui – rib
vo – shoulder
gyud biui – shoulder bone
xo ebtyiig – thumb
eb zen – toe
tuet – wrist

Nyjichun Culture Notes

A bunch of random things I wrote about the Nyjichun. Completely unedited, so rather rambling and full of notes to myself (in square brackets). To remind you all, the Nyjichun are the ‘race’ Wilykit and Wilykat and my oc, Felino, belong to. There are two major divisions of Nyjichun – the Taijin who are more of warriors and Wanrin who aren’t. Felino is Taijin. Wilykit and Wilykat are Wanrin. The Nyjichun grow slower than other Thunderians and are always shorter.

This is also in the Nyjichun tiddlywiki.

CN: funeral practices, extreme body modifications, racism of fantasy culture, specifically, mention of child theft,

Continue reading “Nyjichun Culture Notes”

Link Dump – Linguistics Edition

Sorry, this is going to light on pretty pictures and heavy on things that are of limited interest to most people. You don’t like it, there are thousands of other blogs you could be reading.

Teach yourself linguistics

From all things linguistics:

Other Things

From Aveneca.com, host of the new CBB (aka the conlang board I’m on)

Linguistics lessons for language learners. Includes IPA, phonology, morphology, syntax, historical linguistics, sound change, and more. (from Nativlang, which also has some free lessons in different languages and published some books on Amazon and Lulu that look interesting)

It’s ‘not’ history – how negation usage changes in a cycle through languages. (from the University of Cambridge)

Lexique Pro – a free program for creating a lexicon for your conlang (or natlangs). I wish it was portable. Windows only.

How many languages did Tolkien make?

From Frathwiki.com, one of the conlang wikis:

  • Conlang Terminology – common jargon like lostlang, sketchlang, relex, ANADEW (Another Natlang Already Did it Even Worse).
  • Software Tools – a lot of the links are outdated, unfortunately, but there are word generators, several conlanging guides, sound change appliers, and more.

My goals for Nyjichun

In no particular order:

  • To get to 500 words / lexicon entries, not counting affixes (I currently have 371 lexicon entries, but that’s including affixes)
  • Write up a working grammar
  • Sketch out the culture beyond ‘they live in the forest’
  • Make a map of the area
  • Fix all the words I’ve marked as needing change
  • Redo the family words
  • Translate the Babel Text and at least two other long passages (I’m not sure what).
  • Write up enough lessons that I can pick it back up when I want to

After that, I’ll probably be burnt out on conlanging for a while, but if not, I want to fix up one of my other languages (something simpler, sheesh – probably Ylis, which is basically the English of Thundera) and then working on splitting Ŋyjichɯn into two dialects, which will mostly just be vocabulary changes.

I know probably no one cares, but I’ve uploaded a new version of the tiddlywiki. As always, and more visibly now, it’s a work in progress.

How I write a lexicon

Yeah, another conlanging post. I’ll move on to other things sooner or later.

So, I have the sprawling mess of a grammar for Ŋyjichɯn (which I need to upload again), but that’s not where I story my lexicon (or dictionary, or whatever you personally want to call it). The way I do it is culled from experience and things I’ve learned, mostly from the CBB board (aka, the conlang forum – there are others out there though) and Zompist (linking to the online Language Construction Kit, but looking through his other stuff is helpful as well).

I do it in Excel, because I tend to work on several computers and I haven’t found a portable lexicon program. It always starts with three columns: (conlang), English, and notes. Then columns get added in as I need them. The Ŋyjichɯn lexicon has the following columns, in order:

  • Alpha – the Ŋyjichɯn alphabetical order. It looks like gibberish because I use find and replace in another sheet or text document (or Zompist’s Sound Change Applier 2, aka SCA2) to change every letter to something else.
  • Group – a temporary column, to pull things out that I want to work on. Right now there are three groups: 1) 75 words I pulled out to completely fill in, 2) words that need I want to fix right now, and blank, aka everything else.
  • Lexeme – a lexeme is the basic form of the word before inflection. This is so I can sort it in English alphabetical order, because of the next column.
  • Modern – Ŋyjichɯn is going to get split into two dialects with the same grammar (mostly), but differect vocabulary. Modern Ŋyjichɯn is what I’m working on right now. This column has the words, with some inflections. It also screws up the sorting, because somethings (mostly pronouns) start with notes like ‘subject singular’ or something in parenthesis because the singular form isn’t used (eg, “(sing: rɯs)”). It could have been done in a better way. In the same cell, on a different cell is the paucal (small group) and plural of each noun, and the full inflection of the pronouns.
  • Stress – using no Unicode, I spell out the stress pattern of each word. This then gets run through SCA2 to give me the next column
  • Phonetic – like most languages, spoken Ŋyjichɯn doesn’t exactly fit the written version. It’s not as bad as some, but stress, phonemes interacting, and other factors leads to things like ‘nyma’ being pronounced ‘mima’ or ‘miftyk’ becoming ‘mistych’.
  • Combo – an abbreviated form of the words is used in certain situations.
  • Part of speech – normal stuff, except in Ŋyjichɯn most words can be used as verbs, so I’ve split the parts of speech into things like ‘descriptive (verb)’, ‘noun/static verb’, and then the normal stuff.
  • English – self explanatory, but it’s important not to have one-to-one relations as much as possible
  • Irr? – notes of whether and how a word is irregular
  • Etymology – Mostly empty (or actually marked ‘same’), but has things like ‘onomatopoeic’ and what words compounded to make another word.
  • Category – this is so I can find similarly themed words when I want to. I’ve got things like color, language, directions, anmials, etc, in a drop-down list (which I keep breaking when I add new columns) (I got the code for how to do it here.)
  • Notes – basically, anything else, including usage notes, historical notes, and what words it’s related to.
  • Wanrin & Tajin – these two columns are empty right now.

This is what it ends up looking like:

nyji-lexicon-example.gif

(you’ll probably have to click on it to actually be able to read it)

I also keep adding worksheets. Besides the lexicon, I’ve got the notes for alphabetizing, the category list, and a list of parts of speech. And I have most of the numbers in a seperate file altogether. There’s also an Excel file of words I need to translate, along with notes about etymology and stuff.

So, does every lexicon need all this junk?

Nope. It depends on the language and what you’re doing with it. If you’re just making a naming language that will end up with a couple handfuls of words, you’ll probably need less detail. You have to customize it to what you need. Some people end up programming things for themselves (I can’t do that). If I wasn’t using multiple computers, I’d love to use Lexique Pro, which is designed for linguists. But Excel works well for sorting and finding things.

Conlanging – Nyjichun

Okay, I’ve finally uploaded the Ŋyjichɯn tiddlywiki*. I’ve also updated lesson one there, with more stuff and assignments (working with the idea that it’s meant to be a textbook). As any conlanger would tell you, it’s very much a work in progress and pretty much everything is subject to change at any time. But now I can go to the conlang forum and ask for input without having to rewrite things. Which is what I’m going to do next.

Notes for using the tiddlywiki: You can navigate from the Table of Contents or tagCloud. Links open below in the same window. I’ve got it set up so the last 20 or whatever links you follow show up on top. And no, you can’t edit it.

*  I should do a blog post about tiddlywikis. They’re very awesome.

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.)

WTF is a Conlang?

What is Conlanging?

Conlang is short for constructed language. Conlangers make up languages, whether that’s basically an English cypher or something as involved as Tolkien’s Quenya and Sindarin or Klingon created by Marc Okrend, which has taken on a life of its own. Generally, it’s done by people who love language for their own pleasure. It may or may not end up being used in stories (it seems most conlangs made up for as background are fairly skeletal). Some might be little more than a phoneme inventory, how to build words (morphology), and a bit of grammar. Some are as involved as any real language. There’s way too many different ways to do it for me to explain it, but the wikipedia page and the links at the end are a good start.

Why do you do it?

I like language. I unfortunately don’t have the knowledge necessary to be good at conlanging (I only learned IPA1 last year, for instance). It works my brain in different ways. I tend to work in spurts, which makes going back to things a challenge, but I have fun anyway. Pretty much all of my languages started as background for writing. My first (really bad one) was for a bunch of stories I started writing in junior high, I think, and was basically an English cypher. Several of them I came up with a phonetic inventory during class when I was supposed to be paying attention and did pretty much nothing else with it. I have a tendency to use mostly affixes and to create a writing system for each one.

When the Thundercats fandom was a lot more active in the 90s and early 00s, I started several Thunderian languages. Most of my languages started from that. They’re mostly going to get applied to other things (specifically the world of the White Knight, because creating a language is obviously easier than translating something into a real language /sarcasm). Some of my newer ones I take more inspiration from other, real languages, as you’ll see.

Some of my languages, in no particular order:

  • Herlanian: My first conlang. Objectively terrible. It was supposed to be the result of mixing a ton of real languages together, but it’s basically an English cypher. It just wasn’t very good at all and we shall never speak of it again.
  • Tusir: something I’m going to go back to at some point. A proto-language2, to then evolve into at least four other languages (theoretically). I was going to take inspiration from Arabic and Sanskrit. Currently just a phonetic inventory.
  • Nyazchyn: The name is probably going to get modified a little. Previously called Ochyn. One of my Thunderian languages, and probably the language I have the most done on right now. Previously SOV3 and isolating4, now highly synthetic, edging into polysynthetic. It takes some inspiration from Iroquois and other Native American polysynthetic languages, but only a tiny bit. Verb heavy and pretty much anything can be turned into a verb. This is the one I was working on most recently. I’m kind of lost on it right now (I stopped in the middle of things) so it’ll take some floundering to get going on it again. I need to do a ton of translations for it.
  • Lepadi: Playing with gender and another Thunderian language. The gender of a word determines the placement of the accent and the pronunciation. Phonemes have different sounds based upon gender. Noun-heavy with few verbs. I actually have a few passages translated, which is rather remarkable for me.
  • Okelen: Another Thunderian language, this one I was mostly dealing with the writing. It’s logographic like Chinese, but I was trying to avoid having any pronunciation info in the characters. VOS and supposedly agglutinating5.
  • Tynthna: Another Thunderian language that I did a fair bit with. Inspired by Japanese, with a syllabulary writing system and honorifics. That one was fun.

1 International Phonetic Alphabet

2 A language that will evolve into other languages. Latin is the proto-language for Romance languages, for example.

3 The word order of a language. English is subject, verb, object. There are six possibilities (I leave figuring them out as an exercise for the reader, or you could look at the link at the beginning of this).

4 A language is isolating, like Chinese, when the majority of words can’t be broken into smaller meaningful parts (aka morphemes). Synthetic is the opposite of that.

5 A form of synthesis, where you just keep adding bits (as opposed to fusional, aka inflectional, where the bits added mean multiple things)