Archive for May, 2010

‘itli: to be soft, light

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Blankets itli*, plush itlis, Linux penguins big enough to hide behind itli as well, despite their weight. However, also hard things, which just weigh little itli. If something only complies with one meaning of ‘itli and context does not provide enough hints, it can be specified that something ‘josok (is heavy) or ‘skede (is hard).

Example: Vinkuin’het tisa mi’itli ,mi’josok ykal, venil. (penguin cloth 3S-be_soft ,3S-be_heavy some, but.: The plush penguin is soft but it is heavy.) Audio file tomorrow. Currently, my flatmates are too loud. EDIT: listen

* As I mentioned already, I like state verbs and I like using rejistanian state verbs in English for reasons, which probably relate to immaturity ;)

‘ninis: to be salty, to salt [food]

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Rejistanian is an odd language occasionally. At certain times, verbs can mean different things depending on whether they are used transitively or intransitively. I know that there are different languages which do the same thing, but when I had the first idea for such a word (which was ‘viki: to win/to defeat) it was something incredibly weird to me. It was one of these moments when I wanted to seriously disturb all the others who took the bus to te suburb of Cologne I lived in by screaming “Xe’la’hax mi!” (I found it) or “eureka!” because this meant I could use far fewer roots. Rejistanian is an auxlang at heart, a fictional auxlang, sure, but it is an auxlang. Well, of a fictional place. As I stated, I never plan world domination with Rejistanian*. It is however constructed like an auxlang with very regular derivations**, and often rather broad terms.

Ninis’het means salt and nins means either ‘related to salt’, ‘salty’ or ‘salted’. Ninis’tan means, as can be expected the state of being salty and the equivalent to jumek’het would be ovik’het ninis (salty food).

Example: Il’lanja’dori ninis’het xe’han su? (2S-SUBJ1-give salt 1S-ALL QUEST?: Can you give me the salt?/Can you pass the salt?) listen

* when I reach world domination, I will make Kenshuite He Mo Gie or maybe Quuxlang official language to prevent my ‘little playthings’ from thoughtcrimes. ;)

** I insist that it was the words who changed from their originally intended meanings by their own evilness occasionally and am going to defend this delusion vigorously since the alternative (ie: What was I high on when I did this‽) is unthinkable (and might lead to legal repercussions in case someone else finds out what I was high on before I do and destroy all evidence) ;)


Monday, May 24th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kopu'.


  • (n.) hand
  • (v.) to touch, to feel (something)
  • (prep.) against

Au fiti kopu.
“Your hands are cold.”

Notes: It’d depend on context here; could mean “My hands are cold.” Anyway, this is the Kamakawi word for hand. It seems more fitting than English “hand”; don’t know why. In the coming days, you’ll see how it relates to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The iku is a straight-up ikunoala comprising pu and ko. I think it looks like an oven mitt.

Oh, hey, let me tell you about this wondrous invention! It’s called the Oven Squirrel. Here’s a picture:

A picture of the Oven Squirrel.

Isn’t it darling! It’s a little wooden squirrel, and you grab him by the tail to push the oven rack in, and then latch his little ear onto the under side of the rack to pull it out!

I got one for my mother as a present, but she lost it after awhile (she couldn’t appreciate something like the Oven Squirrel the way I can). Then it occurred to me—just now, in fact—that while I had no use for an Over Squirrel at the time I bought one for her, I do now! In fact, I know my wife would love an Oven Squirrel. And since she doesn’t go anywhere near my webpage, I can state here my intention to obtain her an Over Squirrel without her knowing it! Hoorah! :D

You’re hot then you’re cold

Monday, May 24th, 2010
I know I haven't been posting much. There is no excuse. Mostly it's because we have new people at work which is keeping me from goofing off and conlanging there, and at home I've been playing too much WoW. Totally going to level a new toon when Cata comes out. Probably a female Worgen druid if they don't make their voices too annoying.

Ahem... anyway...

It's started getting really hot here! It actually has been hitting 90 degrees a few days. Now I love the warm weather compared to the cold, but when wishing for summer I always forget how annoying driving is in the hot weather. So I thought it would be a good time to talk about Reisu temperature words.

The main words to describe temperature are rati and fuxu, hot and cold respectively. The proper word for temperature is 'juaratifuxu' or a 'hot/cold scale', often just shortened to ratifuxu.

Like other modifiers in Reisu we can use them as verbs. While in English we would need to use a dummy subject and verb "It's hot", in Reisu we can just say "hot" or "rati".

Temperature especially in relation to the weather is common small talk in English. At least it's what clients always seem to talk about at work. However we don't normally say just hot or cold. We exaggerate saying freezing or sweltering, or we downplay it saying warm or cool. We can use quantifiers in Reisu to do the same thing. On a scale of coldest to hottest the words go this way.

fuxuge > fuxu > fuxutai > ratitai > rati > ratige

So getting into the car I might begrudgingly mumble 'ratige...'


Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'takoi'.


  • (v.) to be vain
  • (v.) to be dignified
  • (adj.) vainglorious
  • (adj.) dignified
  • (n.) dignity
  • (n.) vanity

Hava i takoiki.
“Food is vanity.”

Notes: Or I guess it could be “food is dignity”. The first seems more likely to me.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the word “dignity”, and I had nothing for that in Kamakawi. I tried to think up some plausible derivation, and I couldn’t come up with anything. After all, what is dignity, really? The notion of “dignity” seems to assume that there are two selves: One that is “dignified”, and one that isn’t. The “dignified” self seems to be the self that one takes seriously. It seems to me, then, that the notion of “dignity” wouldn’t make sense in Kamakawai—at least not with the same connotations.

Anyway, that’s when I got to thinking. What is dignity really about? It seems to be about self-image: One’s impression of oneself. Or, to put it another way, how one imagines one appears to others (and applying that to others, it’s how one imagines someone else appears to themself and others). The whole concept revolves around appearances

The word for “dignity”, then, derives from the word takoi: yesterday’s word which means “to reflect”. With the magical abstract suffix which can mean whatever I want (hee, hee… Oh! And by that I mean which forms abstract nouns from concrete ones), the idea is it’s the abstract notion of reviewing one’s reflection. In English, it would seem natural to call that “vanity”. In Kamakawi, though, there’s really not much difference between that and dignity.

Thus was born takoiki. I guess it changes the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a little bit, but it still works. After all, we should all have a right to our own private vanity.

‘jumek: to be hot/spicy

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Hot is a wonderfully ambiguous term which cannot be translated into rejistanian. Hot like an indian meal is jumek*, hot like a stove is kelhu and there is a number of terms referring to people who are hot like my [statistically] significant other. This is one of the times when Rejistanian is rather specific, just because these meanings are rather different to me. Language is wonderfully bizarre in grouping terms in specific ways. This term however is rather regular.

Example: Kihunu’het’ny lexad jilih min’jumek al (noodle-PL cold this 3PL-be-spicy very: these cold noodles are hot). listen

*It can be kelhu as well and thus burn your tongue in 2 ways.

Not Conlangs, but…

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

I just finished reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. Although she states clearly on her web site that “I didn’t consult a linguist to make the languages internally consistent, and I’m aware that some of the patterns of pronunciation contradict each other”, she has included some interesting con-vocabulary.

Most notably, the word esui which is defined in the book as follows: “The Darren language has a word for the attraction one feels to danger: esui. It is esui that makes warriors charge into hopeless battles and die laughing. Esui is also what draws women to lovers who are bad for them — men who would make poor fathers, women of the enemy. The Senmite word that comes closest is ‘lust,’ if one includes the variations ‘bloodlust’ and ‘lust for life,’ though these do not adequately capture the layered nature of esui. It is glory, it is folly. It is everything not sensible, not rational, not safe at all — but without esui, there is no point in living.”

This is just one word, but it demonstrates nicely (from my perspective) the ability of invented words to convey new ideas not available in natlangs. To use a natlang example, it’s like trying to convey in English the meaning of Schadenfreude, but with a con-vocabulary the sky’s the limit.

Although not a conlanger, Jemisin does a nice job of incorporating the idea of language. Her gods (yes, gods) speak their own tongue. Knowing this language allows scriveners to manipulate reality. Different peoples in the hundred thousands kingdoms speak their own languages (although we don’t actually read any of them in dialogues).

On a completely different level, the book was an enjoyable read. The characters were interesting. The plot had plenty of twists. Overall, a thumbs-up. Just don’t go looking for a conlang.


Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'takoi'.


  • (v.) to reflect
  • (adj.) reflective (able to reflect)
  • (n.) reflection (not a reflection, but the phenomenon)

Ka takoi’u motu tie lelea.
“My face was reflected in the water.”

Notes: Or “by the water”; same thing, in this case.

I remember that I created the word takoi for a children’s story I was writing for my little sister. The story was written in verse, and I needed a name that was three syllables and ended in i, so I took advantage of my position as language creator and did it. Takoi, in the story, was the name of the moon: The Sun’s husband, who was sad because the Sun had been abducted by her father (a very strange individual).

The iku is supposed to be something reflected in a mirror, or something. Actually, come to think of it, that’s the iku for ta, isn’t it? Kind of looks like it. Let’s say it is.

As for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this is a setup word. I didn’t actually use it in the translation, but I used something derived from it. What did I use? Check back tomorrow and you’ll see. :D

Happy Birthday to Me!

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

This month, The Conlanging Librarian blog is one year old! In some ways, this is very surprising. I didn’t necessarily think it would keep going…but I’m glad to say it’s kept going on a fairly regular basis. (Insert cheering crowds here.) We’re still working on increasing the traffic to the blog and the Library. A year ago, the Library had 418 unique visitors to the Library who had 2,199 page views. As of today, 485 unique visitors with 2,744 page views. So, in a year, we’ve had 67 new visitors and 545 page views…not bad, but with the new LCS Twitter account (Fiat Lingua), we should see some more traffic as well. In any case, here’s to another year of postings. A elea ei!

How to Make a Conlang out of English

Friday, May 21st, 2010
Ok.  My experience has been that some conlangers out there do not like it when your conlang is too... Englishey. This generally means your conlang has basically the same syntax and grammar as English, and the same sounds, too.  There might be a few twists in there - an extra case, some extra phonemes, a different alphabet, but overall, pretty close to English.

And really, who can blame them?  For those that take the time to learn and understand linguistics and all the concepts behind it, it looks and feels lazy and uninspired. For the record, I do not encourage conlanging snobbery, I'm just saying that I understand where it comes from.

But... if you DON'T know lots of linguistics, and don't care to study all the principles and so forth, what else can you do?  If you know a second language you can mash up the two languages you know.  But aside from that, how else can you build a language?

Being the conlang contrarian I am, I think you can transform English into an elegant, simple conlang if you understand at least a few linguistic principles, and because you're using English underneath it, you might be able to make it more sophisticated than you would otherwise be able to.

Here's my formula:

Step One: Restrict (and simultaneously simplify) the phonemes.  If you must, throw in some non-English sounds (like zh, a trill, a click, etc.)

Step Two: Figure out how you will substitute sounds as you translate words from English to your conlang.
Example: lets say the phonemes we picked in step one are P, T, K (P, T, & K are in almost every language), L, N, M, H, J, long and short vowels - I, U, O, and Y as a semi-vowel.
So, lets make a rule that any voiced plosive becomes non-voiced (b=p, d=t, g=k).
E's will become I's, A's will become U's.
Other semi-vowels (W, R) will beome Y.
Other fricatives will become H or be dropped.
Long vowel sounds will be shown by repeating the letter.  You know how to say "beet" but e's are now i's in this conlang, so you would have to write it as "biit," but it would sound the same.  There are a lot of issues we could get into here, but I'm just creating a framework to give an example of how this might work.
So, "cinnamon" would become hinnumon.  "Bulletin" would become pullitin.
"Keep this reference near you at all times" would become "Kiip hi yeheyen niu yu ut ul tiim" or something like that...

Step Three: Develop an altered grammar and syntax.
Example: Let's use a Yoda syntax and go for OSV (Object - Subject - Verb).
Lets use -im to make something plural.  Some "times" is now tiimim.
Let make ku- a prefix that shows command form of a verb.

So - according to the grammar rules, "Keep this reference near you at all times" would become "Near you, this reference keep at all times."
Then we apply the rest of the rules and "Near you, this reference keep at all times" would then become:
"Niu yu, hi yeheyen ku-kiip ut ul tiimim"

I don't know about you, but that does not look Englishey to me!  But hopefully you see my point, which is just that if you apply a few linguistic principles, you can make English, or whatever your native tongue is, into your own little conlang, and not have to worry as much about generating vocabulary and so on.  Try this out for yourself and see what you think.