Archive for July, 2011

The Mayan Interference

Friday, July 29th, 2011
I remember having read once that an early Mayan language investigator was surprised to realize that this language was actually about 90% greek in essence of words, grammar, etc. I really don't know how this came to happen, but the idea caught on really fast. It is something that would have been pretty spooky had it been real, of course, but actually it's a very weird notion. In fact, I even found some people claiming a mayan etymology for the word 'philosophy', φιλοσοφία.

PIL, to open one's eyes, be attentive, to contemplate. O, an intensifier particle. SOU, to shuffle, to untangle. IA, a hard or difficult thing.

So, voilà, we have that, according to this "faketymology" φιλοσοφία means something like 'to untangle something difficult in order to assert it strongly by contemplating it' (sic). What a wonderful fantasy has been concocted.


Back to the Real World


Not only should we forget that a Grimm's Law should occur to make pil into phil, but also we are lacking a ph in 'pil-o-sou-ia'. Not only that, but the intensifier is given a whole morphosemantic concept as "to assert strongly"! No, this is not how an intensifier particle works, and even if we were to blindly accept all this... SOU doesn't mean 'untangle' but 'to tangle, to tie a knot' just the opposite. All in all, a complete mess of a fantasy.

And this is even disregarding the fact that in greek 'philos' is a word and 'phil' is not. Also note that Mayan never used this word, and is not a valid word in any Mayan dictionary, also I think it breaks several Mayan rules.

But how? How can a language so dissimilar as Mayan be equated to Greek? This is actually a very interesting question, is it a misreading of Mayan dictionaries and Greek ones? Or is it a purposefully evil attempt at creating fake etymologies and fantasies to sicken real linguists and discredit Mayan studies?

When this doesn't work some equate it to other languages. I've read Mayan is a 70% Mesopotamian (sic), which makes no sense, since there were more than one language in use in the Mesopotamia at any time. Even that it is 70% Aramaic, which really startles me since Mayan prefers bi-consonantal roots and Semitic languages favor tri-consonantal ones, even when, by way of suffixes, Mayan can seem to have tri-consonantal roots, like for example hanal, akbal, both use the suffix -(V)l, but roots are han and kab respectively.

The most incredible? Someone wrote Yucatec Mayans and Japanese people can speak "fluently with no need of an interpreter". Really? Let's put this statement to the test, shall we? Let's write some common phrases in both languages to see how much they can understand each other;

Japanese: あなたの名前は何?
Anata no namae wa nani? Your name is what?

Mayan (Yucatec): Bix a kaaba’ ?
What your name?

Hum... I really don't think they would understand what the hell they are talking about. Certainly I wouldn't recommend you to speak Mayan to a Japanese. Let's see the answers to this, maybe they can glean the meaning from the similarity of the words for that;

Japanese: 私の名前はアレクス
Watashi no namae wa Alex. My name is Alex

Mayan (Yucatec): In kaabae Alex.
My name (is) Alex.

Hum... again, I don't think they would understand a word. Specially not if one speaks of "namae" and the other of "k'aaba'/k'aaba'e", or, for that case, "watashi" vs. "in", or "anata" vs. "a". So we can say for sure that this is not the case, then how come so many people on the Internet go by this theory? We sure love a good conspiracy or secret knowledge story no matter how wild it is.

The Mayan Interference

Friday, July 29th, 2011
I remember having read once that an early Mayan language investigator was surprised to realize that this language was actually about 90% greek in essence of words, grammar, etc. I really don't know how this came to happen, but the idea caught on really fast. It is something that would have been pretty spooky had it been real, of course, but actually it's a very weird notion. In fact, I even found some people claiming a mayan etymology for the word 'philosophy', φιλοσοφία.

PIL, to open one's eyes, be attentive, to contemplate. O, an intensifier particle. SOU, to shuffle, to untangle. IA, a hard or difficult thing.

So, voilà, we have that, according to this "faketymology" φιλοσοφία means something like 'to untangle something difficult in order to assert it strongly by contemplating it' (sic). What a wonderful fantasy has been concocted.


Back to the Real World


Not only should we forget that a Grimm's Law should occur to make pil into phil, but also we are lacking a ph in 'pil-o-sou-ia'. Not only that, but the intensifier is given a whole morphosemantic concept as "to assert strongly"! No, this is not how an intensifier particle works, and even if we were to blindly accept all this... SOU doesn't mean 'untangle' but 'to tangle, to tie a knot' just the opposite. All in all, a complete mess of a fantasy.

And this is even disregarding the fact that in greek 'philos' is a word and 'phil' is not. Also note that Mayan never used this word, and is not a valid word in any Mayan dictionary, also I think it breaks several Mayan rules.

But how? How can a language so dissimilar as Mayan be equated to Greek? This is actually a very interesting question, is it a misreading of Mayan dictionaries and Greek ones? Or is it a purposefully evil attempt at creating fake etymologies and fantasies to sicken real linguists and discredit Mayan studies?

When this doesn't work some equate it to other languages. I've read Mayan is a 70% Mesopotamian (sic), which makes no sense, since there were more than one language in use in the Mesopotamia at any time. Even that it is 70% Aramaic, which really startles me since Mayan prefers bi-consonantal roots and Semitic languages favor tri-consonantal ones, even when, by way of suffixes, Mayan can seem to have tri-consonantal roots, like for example hanal, akbal, both use the suffix -(V)l, but roots are han and kab respectively.

The most incredible? Someone wrote Yucatec Mayans and Japanese people can speak "fluently with no need of an interpreter". Really? Let's put this statement to the test, shall we? Let's write some common phrases in both languages to see how much they can understand each other;

Japanese: あなたの名前は何?
Anata no namae wa nani? Your name is what?

Mayan (Yucatec): Bix a kaaba’ ?
What your name?

Hum... I really don't think they would understand what the hell they are talking about. Certainly I wouldn't recommend you to speak Mayan to a Japanese. Let's see the answers to this, maybe they can glean the meaning from the similarity of the words for that;

Japanese: 私の名前はアレクス
Watashi no namae wa Alex. My name is Alex

Mayan (Yucatec): In kaabae Alex.
My name (is) Alex.

Hum... again, I don't think they would understand a word. Specially not if one speaks of "namae" and the other of "k'aaba'/k'aaba'e", or, for that case, "watashi" vs. "in", or "anata" vs. "a". So we can say for sure that this is not the case, then how come so many people on the Internet go by this theory? We sure love a good conspiracy or secret knowledge story no matter how wild it is.

The Mayan Interference

Friday, July 29th, 2011
I remember having read once that an early Mayan language investigator was surprised to realize that this language was actually about 90% greek in essence of words, grammar, etc. I really don't know how this came to happen, but the idea caught on really fast. It is something that would have been pretty spooky had it been real, of course, but actually it's a very weird notion. In fact, I even found some people claiming a mayan etymology for the word 'philosophy', φιλοσοφία.

PIL, to open one's eyes, be attentive, to contemplate. O, an intensifier particle. SOU, to shuffle, to untangle. IA, a hard or difficult thing.

So, voilà, we have that, according to this "faketymology" φιλοσοφία means something like 'to untangle something difficult in order to assert it strongly by contemplating it' (sic). What a wonderful fantasy has been concocted.


Back to the Real World


Not only should we forget that a Grimm's Law should occur to make pil into phil, but also we are lacking a ph in 'pil-o-sou-ia'. Not only that, but the intensifier is given a whole morphosemantic concept as "to assert strongly"! No, this is not how an intensifier particle works, and even if we were to blindly accept all this... SOU doesn't mean 'untangle' but 'to tangle, to tie a knot' just the opposite. All in all, a complete mess of a fantasy.

And this is even disregarding the fact that in greek 'philos' is a word and 'phil' is not. Also note that Mayan never used this word, and is not a valid word in any Mayan dictionary, also I think it breaks several Mayan rules.

But how? How can a language so dissimilar as Mayan be equated to Greek? This is actually a very interesting question, is it a misreading of Mayan dictionaries and Greek ones? Or is it a purposefully evil attempt at creating fake etymologies and fantasies to sicken real linguists and discredit Mayan studies?

When this doesn't work some equate it to other languages. I've read Mayan is a 70% Mesopotamian (sic), which makes no sense, since there were more than one language in use in the Mesopotamia at any time. Even that it is 70% Aramaic, which really startles me since Mayan prefers bi-consonantal roots and Semitic languages favor tri-consonantal ones, even when, by way of suffixes, Mayan can seem to have tri-consonantal roots, like for example hanal, akbal, both use the suffix -(V)l, but roots are han and kab respectively.

The most incredible? Someone wrote Yucatec Mayans and Japanese people can speak "fluently with no need of an interpreter". Really? Let's put this statement to the test, shall we? Let's write some common phrases in both languages to see how much they can understand each other;

Japanese: あなたの名前は何?
Anata no namae wa nani? Your name is what?

Mayan (Yucatec): Bix a kaaba’ ?
What your name?

Hum... I really don't think they would understand what the hell they are talking about. Certainly I wouldn't recommend you to speak Mayan to a Japanese. Let's see the answers to this, maybe they can glean the meaning from the similarity of the words for that;

Japanese: 私の名前はアレクス
Watashi no namae wa Alex. My name is Alex

Mayan (Yucatec): In kaabae Alex.
My name (is) Alex.

Hum... again, I don't think they would understand a word. Specially not if one speaks of "namae" and the other of "k'aaba'/k'aaba'e", or, for that case, "watashi" vs. "in", or "anata" vs. "a". So we can say for sure that this is not the case, then how come so many people on the Internet go by this theory? We sure love a good conspiracy or secret knowledge story no matter how wild it is.

Sy’u Ma!

Friday, July 29th, 2011
Sy'u Ma (Honorative Noun; colloquial): Hello. I've been engaged in a long-term recall project where I've been retrieving words, historical and cultural bits from a language I used to speak in a past life. The language is called Yal Dawo (lit. "Borrowed Tongue") and it comes from another planet, which is the subject of what I hope shall be a series of best-selling science-fiction novels. Back in the ink and paper days I was part of a Language Apa called "Linguiça" where I could geek about Yal Dawo to my heart's content. Much of the fannish audience online, however, seems more oriented toward English.

Anyway, here's what I've written so far:

The Touching Lands Dance: The theft of some cutting-edge technology draws together two communities whose flying islands are about to collide.

The Telepaths' Song: A psychic becomes the new priest in town on a flying island about to drift into the equivalent of the Battle of Midway, where she must ultimately choose her path.

A Dance in White Time: A (different) priest and her son are separated in arctic weather by an air crash. She faces a small town's hidden mystery. He tries to find his mother and encounters a species out of legend--and out of bounds to his people.

I just rewrote Touching Lands and may review White Time for similar improvement. I'm distinctly on the fence in re Print-on-Demand; I'd prefer to be recognised by a Real (i.e., paying) publisher first, which means dealing with the eternal slush-pile. The Yal Dawo language is an essential element to these stories and I try to teach things contextually as I go. E.g., "He picked up an iBrejNa and listened for the switchboard operator."

Hope to hear more from youse.

anāxkīñi

Friday, July 29th, 2011

anaaxkiinji

anāxkīñi

This is the word for ground, as in what’s beneath your feet (mostly).

te anāxkīñi anjūti nīkan jakīþīñi jakepōli jē sōta ñe anwūlīñi;
There was baked ground with scattered little rocks instead of sand.

Lana

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lana'.

lana

  • (v.) to push, to shove
  • (n.) pushing
  • (n.) (a/the) push or shove
  • (adj.) pushing

Oku lana ia i ipe: a olo ei ko a.
“Don’t push that: I’m sleeping here.”

Notes: …iiiiiiiiiiiiit’s CATURDAY!!! :D

We pulled out the box of wrapping paper to wrap a wedding gift the other day, and when we went to push it back in, Keli let us know that she had taken up residence in the hollow it had left behind:

Keli lounging about.

And the hollow is still there. She goes there every day now for a portion of the day to rest. I’ll never do a pull-up again…

High Eolic word of the day: sársavavam

Friday, July 29th, 2011

sársava- (transitive verb), imperfective sársavavam or sársavam: to cross, go across (something).

len sársava-m yambaralut tá-lendamusettár
we cross.PERF-TRANS street.ACC.DEF all-we.mud.ILL
“we crossed the street [only to be] covered in mud”

Clarion Conlanging, part 4

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The fourth post in my conlanging series at the Clarion Foundation’s blog is up today!

mountain is mordi (revisited)

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
mordimordi = mountain (noun) (some things Google found for "mordi"; a common term; user names; an unusual last name that can be Nigerian; a masculine first name that can be Hebrew as short for Mordechai; means to bite in Esperanto; Italian conjugations of the verb to bite; name of a town in Russia)

Word derivation for "mountain" :
Basque = mendi, Finnish = vuori
Miresua = mordi

My previous word for mountain was nuodi. A somewhat odd word. I want to include the Finnish UO vowel combination in Miresua, but on reconsideration, not in the word for mountain.

Spec Tech: Conlanging 4 — Verbs and Basic Clauses

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

This is the fourth in a series of posts “live-blogging” the creation of a fictional language from scratch, with the help of our readers.  We plan to construct a functional language one piece at a time, incorporating suggestions and preferences from our audience along the way.  You can read previous installments here: one, two, three.

Before we get into our discussion of verbs, we should probably deal with our pronouns.  I’m going to propose the set below.

na “I”

ti “you”

ku “he/she/it”

nahu “we”

tihu “you” (but plural: “y’all, youse”)

kuhu “they”

There was a suggestion about the pronouns made after our last meeting: that we have both an inclusive and an exclusive option for the first-person plural form “we”.  Although we don’t have this in English, it does show up in a number of languages.  Essentially, we’d have two forms for “we” — the exclusive would indicate that the person being spoken to is not part of the “we”; the inclusive would mean that the person being spoken to IS part of the “we”.

What do people think of this?  We could perhaps do a combined form of the other pronouns, something like natihu, for the inclusive meaning, and leave nahu as the exclusive form?

On to verbs, then.  The first thing to discuss is our basic word order.  Last time, I proposed that we choose one of three possibilities: SVO, SOV, or VSO, as these are the most common patterns found in natural languages.  Those who chimed in seemed to prefer VSO word order, which I think is a good option; it’s not horribly common in the world, but neither is it uncommon, so I think it will add a nice flavor to our language, without being too terribly strange.

Now, we need to decide about case marking.  There was some disagreement about whether or not this is something we want in our language, so I’m going to ask that more people speak up if they have strong feelings.  In the meantime, though, I’m going to tentatively suggest that we do mark subjects and objects by placing a short word before them: sa for subjects, fi for objects.

sa “subject marker”

fi “object marker”

We also need to decide on tense, aspect, and mood, at least in terms of what is grammaticalized, but we should probably talk a bit about what “grammaticalized” means.  All languages are capable of expressing all of the same ideas, it’s just a matter of how they do it.  In some languages, for example, past tense is expressed by including some sort of time word in the sentence, such as “yesterday” or “earlier”, but the verb itself doesn’t change.  This is different than English, of course, where we have a specific suffix, -ed, that is stuck on the verb to mean past tense.  What we need to decide, then, is what parts of meaning have grammaticalized, and which we want to do via paraphrastic means.

As was noted by one of our group previously, because of the structure of our words, it’s probably best if we have our tense and aspect marking show up as prefixes on the verb root, so that’s the route we’ll take.

For tense, I think the most logical set of time distinctions are past, present, and future, and it’s these that should be grammaticalized.  We don’t necessarily need to have a prefix for each of these, though—one can be “unmarked”, where the lack of any prefix indicates one of the tenses; this is indicated by the symbol ∅.  Our set of tense prefixes, then, would look like this:

ta- “past”

∅- “present”

li- “future”

Before we get to examples of verbs, let’s think about aspect.  Here, it seems reasonable to make a two-way distinction between perfect and imperfect.  As with our tense suffixes, we can leave one unmarked, which I propose be the imperfect:

∅- “imperfect”

pu- “perfect”

Now, what is meant by “perfect” versus “imperfect”?  Essentially, perfect is used for actions which are completed, while imperfect is used for ongoing actions.  Note, though, that this is separate from tense — we can have actions completed in the past as well as the future (e.g., “will have eaten”).  We’ll have some examples in a second which should help to clarify the difference.

I think that we can deal with issues of mood later, as they come up; I don’t know that we need any grammaticalized prefixes to deal with it.

Now that we have our tense and aspect systems in place, we have an idea of what a basic clause will look like in our language:

TENSE- ASPECT- VERB sa SUBJECT (fi OBJECT)

Using these prefixes with some verbs, we can now take a look at some examples of how our tense and aspect markers can go together to get different meanings:

dalu sa moing pa Mike

∅- ∅- dalu sa moing pa Mike

“Mike’s cat is running”

tapudalu sa ku

ta- pu- dalu sa po

“he/she/it ran”

lipudalu sa na

li- pu- dalu sa na

“I will have run”

lidalu sa moing 

li- ∅- dalu sa moing

“(a/the) cat will run”/”(a/the) cat will be running”

wufa sa hihau fi moing

∅- ∅- wufa sa hihau fi moing pa Mike

“(a/the) dog is chasing Mike’s cat”

tawufa sa moing fi hihau

ta- ∅- wufa sa moing fi hihau

“(a/the) cat was chasing (a/the) dog”

We still have a lot to do on our language, but we’ve got a rough sketch of the basics — what words look like, what kinds of things nouns and verbs do, and a basic structure for putting it all together.  I’m going to suggest that we work on two things for next time:

First, we need to start developing more vocabulary.  I’m going to ask that people pick a certain vocabulary domain (e.g., body parts, animals, basic verbs, etc.) and start creating words for those things.  This will have to be first-come, first-served, but once people start posting their words, I’ll create a spreadsheet online so that we can keep track of our vocabulary and make sure that we don’t have any repeats.

Second, we need to spend some time playing with what we have.  Admittedly, we still haven’t developed a number of things that we’ll need eventually — negation, question words, grammatical particles, etc. — but we need to be sure that what we do have works, as far as it goes, as well as make sure that all of us are on the same page.  I’m going to suggest, then, that as the vocabulary starts to come in, you begin making up some sentences of your own, using the various words and prefixes that we’ve developed so far.  You can post these here, along with any questions that you have.

As you’re doing this, try to make a note of things that you’d like to be able to say, but can’t with what we have so far.  Much of this will be filled in as we go along, but it’s certainly possible that we’ll need to tweak what we do have to make it a viable core for our language as we go along.

Our next meeting will be something of a review — take a look at what we have so far, with a bunch of examples from the group, and decide what the next topic we want to tackle is.

Happy sentencing!