A long while back (but I guess not too long, since it’s been less than a year), I read a blog post that put forth the idea of a Conlanging Holiday. I loved the idea and held on to it, marking it on my calendar for celebration.
Well folks, today’s that day. The feast day of St. Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century conlanger!
I plan on celebrating by revising, organizing, and expanding my primary conlang (Ounuan U:shos) and its sub-dialects (Fjamen, Ptachel, Rachego, Mnagame, and Irroi).
So, to wish you all a Happy St. Hilde’s Day:
So:mparimacra:! (“Be joyous!”)
Nasal + Stop clusters simplify into the voiced version of the non-nasal stop.
<ch> is actually the [tʃ] affricate, where [k] palatalizes before [r].
Vowel length distinction disappeared; stress falls on the first syllable, which is pronounced phonetically long (not phonemically).
Vowel length is still phonemic, though only on the initial syllable.
Unstressed vowels become short.
Voiceless stops between voiced segments assimilate in voicing.
Long vowels gain high pitch contours, while short vowels gain low pitch contours.
Vowel length contrast disappears.
Syncope (Vowel deletion in VC_CV environment) occurs.
Palatalization of [k] before [r].
Consonant clusters simplify by deleting the first segment.
Stops undergo lenition (become become fricatives) between vowels.
[æ] has merged with [a].
Fronting of vowels occurs when the preceding syllable contains an [i].
Phonemic vowel length has disappeared.
Words cannot begin with [s].
The final long vowel retains stress. If a word does not have a long vowel, stress is on the penultimate syllable.
Phonemic vowel length has disappeared.
Syncope occurs, though it cannot occur on the first vowel of a root (eg. /-VpariCV-/ becomes /par/, not /pri/).
Orthographical change of <c> to <k>.
Note: The different dialects are the evolved forms after about 300 years. The original Ounuan U:shos that I describe is actually the mother language. The best analogy being that Ounuan U:shos is like Vulgar Latin, while the dialects are the various Romance languages that evolved from it (at the point in time when they were at the end of mutual intelligibility).
I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite books called The Sparrow. I went through a phase about a year or two ago where I thoroughly embraced my nerdy linguist-hood and read a ton of novels with linguists as main characters. Honestly, most of them are pretty… meh. But The Sparrow stood out among them.
It’s a science-fiction novel (set varyingly between 2020 and 2060) about a group of Jesuits who travel to another world because SETI has actually found proof of alien existence there. The main character is a Jesuit who has worked as a missionary and so has learned many languages, but is also a linguist.
He has a brief passage that I just read where he’s attempting to explain to a small group of Vatican officials about the difference between being ‘multilingual’ and being a 'linguist.’ Well, really he was explaining why his research focused beyond simply 'learning to speak the language.’
The ability to speak a language perfectly does not necessarily confer any linguistic understanding of it… Just as one may play billiards well without any formal understanding of Newtonian physics, yes? My advanced training is in anthropological linguistics, so my purpose… was not merely to be able to ask someone to pass the salt, so to speak, but to gain insight into her people’s underlying cultural assumptions and cognitive makeup.
His focus in the passage is on Anthropological Linguistics, which is an interesting field. He (or the author) is making a bit of a stretch by saying you can infer cognitive make-up from language, but underlying cultural assumptions can definitely be extracted. He was essentially probing semantic fields and ranges, seeing what terms were grouped and how objects were described.
Anyways, it’s a really good book. Definitely recommended for Linguists and non-Linguists alike. And if science-fiction isn’t your cup of tea, it’s not even heavy science-fiction either!
Gathering intelligence, cracking codes, coordinating communications systems, learning dozens of languages, serving your country. Sound like something you’d like to do? The military and other government organizations are hiring linguists!
*Note: This post is U.S.-centric, because that’s what I’m familiar with. Similar jobs at equivalent agencies are available in most countries.
The Canadian equivalent is CSIS.
Linguists are code-breakers, pure and simple. We’re given tons of data and asked to organize, categorize, and simplify. It would be nice if the term ‘linguist’ didn’t mean 'multilingual’ out in “The Real World.” Alas, we’ll just have to settle with being particularly apt at being spies and speech pathologists.
Here’s ten more sentences. A lot of compounding happened here, but that’s mostly because there’s no direct word for cat/kitten, so I had to use the closest animal (which is similar to a panther). And since they don’t have a separate word for cub/kitten/whatever, I had to compound it with ‘baby.' There’s also verb compounds along with noun+preposition compounds. It might make some sense for me to go through and describe it… Eh, oh well.
All the people shouted.
Ounaengeicolhy ulunyi ejiwha.
speak.loud.PERF people.AGENT all
“Spoke-loud the people all.”
Some of the people shouted.
Ounaengeicolhy ulunyi we:ly.
speak.loud.PERF people.AGENT some
“Spoke-loud the people some.”
Note: I feel like there should be some sort of Partitive marker, but that’s case, so I guess that’ll be in a future evolution of the language.
Many of the people shouted twice.
Ounaengeicolhy pawepri:a ulunyi chiunya.
speak.loud.PERF after.two people.AGENT many
“Spoke-loud twice the people many.”
Happy people often shout.
Ounaengeicim ulunyi pari.
speak.loud.FREQ people.AGENT happy
“Speak-loud often the people happy.”
The kitten jumped up.
“Jumped the panther-baby.”
The kitten jumped onto the table.
Owepolhy ifinyonesham eshtiehaenyi.
jump.PERF table.on.GOAL panther.baby.AGENT
“Jumped on the table the panther-baby.”
My little kitten walked away.
Lyuarhelhy clo:rhaeisham eshtiehaenyi aloin sa:tos(/nyuhos).
walk.PERF not.here.GOAL panther.baby.AGENT little 1st.Sg.Masc(/1st.Sg.Fem).POSS
“Walked away from here panther-baby little of me.”
“Cause to fall the rain.”
The rain came down.
“(Made to) fall(/fell) the rain.”
My kitten is playing in the rain.
Thiechte:c eshtiehaenyi uchu:ta.
play.PROG panther.baby.AGENT rain.LOCATION
“Playing the panther-baby in the rain."
So, I uploaded me saying each of these sentences in (what I am now officially calling) Ounuan U:shos. Sorry they’re all fairly quiet, I haven’t exactly recorded a lot of things before and I’m a quiet person to begin with.
Falema itocaelhy lyasen whato aelutelhyim whamnyi ounaesem.
what-TOPIC copula-PERF thing-PATIENT COMP attempt-PERF-PROG 2nd.Sg.Neut-AGENT say-INF
“What was the thing that was attempting you to say?”
Without the complementizer:
Falema itocaelhy whamnyi lyasen aelutecona ounaesem.
what-TOPIC copula-PERF 2nd.Sg.Neut-AGENT thing-PATIENT attempt-CONJ say-INF
“What was you the thing attempts to say?”
Falema aelutelhyim whamnyi ounaesem.
what-TOPIC attempt-PERF-PROG 2nd.Sg.Neut-AGENT say-INF
“What was attempting you to say?”
I decided to go through the Conlang Syntax Test Cases. It’s actually pretty good to be sure that your conlang can produce the simplest of sentences, although I started running into problems around the 15 mark. I need to develop a way to express the Partitive and there is apparently no name for ‘cat/kitten’, so I had to adapt it from 'panther’ and 'panther-baby.’
Oh well, those examples didn’t show up in this section. I’ll do those later, I think. And I still need to record myself saying the sentences from my earlier post.
The sun shines.
“It often shines from the sun.”
The sun is shining.
“It is shining from the sun.”
The sun shone.
“It shone from the sun.”
The sun will shine.
Lhashefona tetharem ipupulu.
shine.CONJ late.ADV sun.ORIGIN
“It shines later from the sun.”
The sun has been shining.
Lhashefte:c lyoingarem ipupulu.
shine.PROG early.ADV sun.ORIGIN
“It is shining earlier from the sun."
The sun is shining again.
Lhashefte:c pawelya ipupulu.
shine.PROG after.one sun.ORIGIN
"It is shining again from the sun.”
The sun will shine tomorrow.
Lhashefona rash ipupulu.
shine.CONJ tomorrow sun.ORIGIN
“It shines tomorrow from the sun.”
The sun shines brightly.
Lhashefim charem ipupulu.
shine.FREQ bright.ADV sun.ORIGIN
“It shines often brightly from the sun."
The bright sun shines.
Lhashefim ipupulu cha.
shine.FREQ sun.ORIGIN bright.
"It shines often from the sun bright.”
The sun is rising now.
Ngualte:c haei ipupusen.
rise.PROG now sun.THEME
“It is rising now the sun.”