Archive for August, 2013

Alphabet and prononciation – beta

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Note: As it said in the title, this alphabet is under construction. It’ll be the case since I saw if its alphabet work in time. The pronunciation satisfy me for the moment, it should stay the same, and the number of letter too. The alphabetical order (and the numerical value) will probably change, as for the "original" script, who will change a lot. Here, you can see a new alphabet in which I am working (but it isn’t the final alphabet).

Note 2: I use a lot the international phonetic alphabet. I’ll write an article in which I’ll explain it. It is possible that it’ll not correctly be displayed. I am seeking for solutions.

Overview

Gelota have 25 consonants and 8 vowels (diphthongs are impossible). Gelota is generally written with its own alphabet, that you will find in the left column of the table. The computers doesn’t allow to write it: I created a transliteration. The consonants are written in upper-case and the vowels in lower-case (in long texts, this rule isn’t compulsory: I use this rule here in a didactic purpose). For example, "I am" is write "", but its transliteration is "FaGaDa". In its original alphabet, the Gelota is write from right to left (as Hebrew), but its transliteration is write from left to right (as English). When the transliteration needs diacritics or rare letters, you will see an alternative (for example, "HH" for "Ĥ").

Consonants

Letter Pronunciation Transliteration Numerical value
(in base 7)
/b/ B 0
/t͡s/ C 1
/t͡ʃ/ Ĉ
(CH)
2
/d/ D 3
/ð/ Ð
(DH)
4
/f/ F 5
/d͡f/
(FH)
6
/g/ G 10
/h/ in the beginning of a word;
/ʔ/ elsewhere.
H 20
/x/ Ĥ
(HH)
30
/ʒ/ J 40
/k/ K 50
/l/ L 60
/m/ M 100
/n/ N 200
/p/ P 300
/r/ R 400
/d͡r/
(RH)
500
/s/ S 600
/ʃ/ Ŝ
(SH)
1000
/t/ T 2000
/v/ V 3000
/k͡s/ X 4000
/z/ Z 5000
/d͡z/
(ZH)
6000

To summarize, we can say that the consonants in Gelota are pronounced as in English, except for:

  • "C" is pronounced "ts" (/t͡s/), as in "Tsar";
  • "G" is always pronounced hard, as in "game" (/g/), and NEVER soft as in "giant" (/dʒ/) or "rouge" (/ʒ/);
  • "R" is rolled (/r/), as "curve" in Scottish English or in Italian "terra";
  • "S"  is always pronounced as in "sand" (/s/) and NEVER as in "rose" (/z/).

If Gelota have some existent English letters with different pronunciation, it have other letters too:

  • "Ĉ" is pronounced "tch" as in "bleach" (/t͡ʃ/);
  • "Ð" is pronounced as the "th" of  the (/ð/) and NOT that of "thin" (/θ/);
  • "Ḟ", is pronounced "dff" (/d͡f/) or, if it’s too hard, "tff" (/t͡f/);
  • "Ĥ" is very guttural, as the Scottish English "loch", the German "ach" or the Spanish "jota" (/x/);
  • "Ṙ" is pronounced as in "dragon" (/d͡r/, with a rolled r);
  • "Ŝ" is pronounced as in "sheep" (/ʃ/);
  • "Ẑ" is pronounced "dzz".

The numerical value may seem surprising, because no number exceeds 6. This is explained by the use of the base 7 in Gelota; this fact will be explained in the posts devoted to the numbers.

Vowels

There are 8 vowels (in red) :

Letter Pronunciation
Example
Transliteration
/a/
hat
a
/ɛ/
bed
e
/i/
free
i
/o/
go
o
/u/
boot
u
/ɔ̃/ ō
or ô or oi
/ɛ̃/ ā
or â or ai
/ø/ ē
or ê or eu

The three last vowels are non-existent in English. ɔ̃ is as the French "bon". You can heard it here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/Fr-on.ogg. ɛ̃ is as the French "faim". You can heard it here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/Fr-Un-fr_FR-Paris.ogg. ø is as the German "schön". You can heard it here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Close-mid_front_rounded_vowel.ogg.

The transliteration is complicated by the fact that there are just 5 vowels-letters in the Roman alphabet. The three other are represented by a vowel with a macron: you have to remember that ō isn’t a long o, but a completely other letter and a completely other sound. Since the macron isn’t always available, you can replace it by a circumflex accent (ō = ô); when neither is available, two vowels can replace it (ō = oi).

Name of the letters

All letters have a name. For consonants, its their pronunciation with "-o". E.g., "B" is called "Bo". The name of the vowels is the sound "H" with the pronunciation of the vowel. E.g., "a" is called "Ha". "H" and "o" have the same name; if you have to differentiate "H" and "o", you can say "Ho-KeSoNa" for "H" (Ho-consonant) and "Ho-VeGoTa" for "o" (Ho-vowel).

Stress

The stress is always in the central syllable of the root (the second in the rare two-syllable roots). FaGaDa its pronounced [faˈgada]. When several words are composed, the most important stress go in the last word, and a secondary accent go in the other words. E.g., NāZiTa-FeHiTa, the hanky, is pronounced [nɛ̃ˌzita.fɛˈʔita].


Realigned (Redundant)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

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I’m not sure if the old alignment pattern will work now that verbs are marked for person. I’m playing with nominative/accusative patterns, ergative/absolutive patters and active/stative patterns. I’m not sure if I’ll need a sperate set of pronouns. Stay Tuned.

Subjects of intransitive verbs and stative verbs are marked within the verb itself.

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nene
1PRED\food
I eat

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nine
2PRED\food
you eat

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nune
3PRED\food
she eats

Words corresponding to adjectives in other languages function as predicates in Umu.

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jki, pronounced iki
NPRED\money
money

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jeki
1PRED\money
I’m rich.

When the subject of these two types of verbs is a lexical item, it comes either directly before or directly after the verb, depending on whether it’s definite or indefinite.

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nune si
3PRED\food woman
the woman eats

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si nune
woman 3PRED\food
a woman eats

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kom nma
3PRED\high.object NPRED\mountain
The mountain is high.

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ku’e zni
3PRED\strong.object NPRED\wind
The wind is strong.

Subjects of transitive verbs are indicated by three independent pronouns, wma, wti and wu, first person, second person and third person respectively.

Because Umu, completely prohibits lexical ergative subjects, only these three pronouns can serve as the subjects of transitive verbs. That means no noun can never be the subject of a transitive verb.

Just like English, many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Remembering the examples above, suppose something very hungry comes along.

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nene wu
1PRED\food 3ERG
it eats me

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nine wu
2PRED\food 3ERG
it eats you

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nune wu
3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats her

These pronouns are actually clitics that live at the very end of the verb complex. Look what happens to the women.

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nune si wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG
it eats the woman

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si nune wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG
it eats a woman

This may seem crazy but it actually works. Minthum pointed out something about discourse that I never knew. It inspired this prohibition.

It is now well known that speakers of most languages rarely introduce new participants into discourse as the subject/ergative/agent of a transitive clause. Though they might seem perfectly grammatical, sentences like ‘A nice man helped me out.’ are surprisingly rare in spontaneous speech.

Speakers more often introduce new entities in presentative constructions, in intensive clauses, or as the objects/absolutives/patients of transitives: ‘A nice man came up and offered to help,’ or ‘I met a nice man there and he helped me out.’

For this reason ergative arguments (or subjects/agents of transitives) are rarely identified in full noun phrases: they are usually represented by pronouns or nothing at all.

(Minthum 1999: 192)

That means in most cases, by the time we mention an ergative argument, it’s already clear who/what we’re taking about. In cases where the ergative subject needs to be clarified further, such information can be expressed either topically or as an oblique, both of which fall completely outside of the verb complex… though I’m still not sure what this will mean. And because topics usually introduce new entities, this construction is unnaturally and quite rate.

Turns out the culprit is a cannibal, out of work, fishmonger… as usual.

image image image image image image
nune si wu | ‘oji nju wu
3PRED\food woman 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats the woman, the fishmonger

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si nune wu | ‘oji nju wu
woman 3PRED\food 3ERG | 3PRED\market fish 3ERG
he eats a woman, the fishmonger

The word for fishmonger is actually a verb meaning “he sells fish”. It is a complete sentence on its own. But that’s another entry.

Thank you native North America.


Tagged: ergative alignment, morphosyntactic alignment, pseudoghlyphs, umu

lizard is lisker

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
lisker = lizard (noun) (some things Google found for "lisker": an uncommon term; an unusual last name; Leigh Lisker was an American linguist and phonetician; Bruce Lisker is a California man whose conviction for murder was overturned; a Zoanoid character in science fiction movie The Guyver (1991); name of a Basque progressive rock or folk rock band of the 70s; Lisker Congregation is a NYC Jewish Orthodox synagogue; Lisker's sign is tenderness to percussion of the medial surface of the tibia which suggests deep venous thrombosis)

Word derivation for "lizard"
Basque = musker, Finnish = lisko
Miresua = lisker

Another Finnish word for lizard is sisilisko.

Bill the Lizard is a character appearing in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Cipher Needed for Mobile App

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Description

Mobile app developer looking for someone that can create a writing system that can only be deciphered by using said mobile app. Embedded in the writing system should be a cipher. It is not necessary to create a full blown language, rather the writing system should consist of entirely new glyphs. These glyphs should be somewhat artistic in nature rather than following the form of basic letters. The key is that the system is extremely difficult to crack as to push people to the mobile app to figure out what messages, using the new glyphs, say. The mobile app is not part of the spec.

(Editor’s Note: This is to be a substitution cipher for the English language.)

Employer

Michael Yanoff

Application Period

Open Until Filled

Term

2 months

Compensation

$800 for the cipher and glyphs; $400 extra for a font of the glyph system (if needed).

To Apply

Email — “at” — “dot” — to express your interest in this project.

Note: Please assume that comments left on this post will not be read by the employer. All comments left on this post will be deleted after the job has closed.

Challenge #5: Verbal numbers

Monday, August 26th, 2013
What possible things other than

  • existential statements of amounts ("there are N so-and-so" → so-and-so N.verb)
  • N repetitions of an action
  • increasing something by a factor
could verbs derived from numbers signify? 

Modern forum culture is kind of introduce the idea of 'stating agreement, where each person stating such says which number in the line he has' (seconded, thirded, but I have not seen any higher numbers.)

My mind does go in a few directions with regards to this:
  • time-span related things, "I seven work on that now" → I will work for seven days on that
  • rank-related things, maybe intransitive (he tens → he is the boss of ten people), maybe transitive (he tens technicians → he is the boss of ten technicians) 
  • performing a specific number of culturally significant obligations? Verbed ordinals could signify specific obligations.
  • Worship of some kind?
Other ideas would be interesting as well.

Conlangery #94: Face and Politeness

Monday, August 26th, 2013
We go over politeness theory and discuss its implications for creating interesting conlangs and concultural interactions. Top of Show Greeting: Zametulian Links and Resources: Wikipedia on Politeness Theory Lecture notes on the subject (with some critiques) Power Point slides with good English examples Another Wikipedia article on Face

Two Front Covers for The Valley of Thorns!

Sunday, August 25th, 2013
Click for larger view
Click for larger view





















Finished! Or as finished as it can be at this point! I did two versions. In the beginning I got frustrated with the clutter of the full battle scene, so I resorted to abstracting the element of the fight between Lug'tei'a the Warrior Priest and the Demon Warrior Sho'choi'jik'a and adding a border and a few thorn bushes to reflect the title. Then I decided to go ahead and finish the first one after all -- the one with the valley wall, the lookout up in the Awl's Eye, opposing armies, identifiable characters, etc.
 
SO LEAVE A COMMENT!  WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER SEE ON THE COVER?

Big Change

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

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Dear readers,

Big changes have come to Umu, a bit of a reboot you could say. These changes will make a lot of Umu’s previous features redundant, including most of the lexicon, it’s alignment, and word structure.
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All redundant posts are keep online under the ‘redundant’ category. I do this because they’re still a part of the creative process–however obsolete they may be to Umu’s present incarnation–and remain dear to me. I fear most of the project has been made redundant but no bother.

Here’s what different.

Word Categories and Vowel Harmony

The good news is I’ve finally found a use for that vowel shift that’s eluded me for so long.

Umu has a vowel harmony governed by a word’s final vowel. The standard has been that words end either in a’s (dark vowel), u’s (light vowel), or i’s and ö’s (neutral vowels).

As for non-final vowels, dark word have o’s instead of u’s and light words have e’s instead of a’s.

This is nothing new. I did it to squeeze more than four vowel sounds out of the writing system’s four directional vowels and I thought it sounded… pretty.

But the shift from dark to light and light to dark was always possible, creating variants that end in e’s and o’s (sounds which I originally thought we ugly to end on).

At first, I used this shift to signal that a word was being modified but couldn’t set the parameters. Every damn word in the noun phrase was being modified and compound words really threw the spanner in. So I scaped the whole thing.
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Enter The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge Language Surveys) by Marianne Mithun, a book full of amazing languages and their quirks. Here, I found a use for my vowel shift.

Earlier I decided that all words in Umu belong to all lexical categories. The same word could be a noun or verb or adjective or anything else based on ‘context’. But I never cleaned up what this actually meant or how it would work in practice.

Thankfully, after some study, this has become less nebulous.

In some natural languages, verbs and nouns are universal, like in Kwak’wala and Nookta of the Pacific Northwest cost.

In both, the stem is, as far as it’s meaning allows, indifferently verbal or nominal and one or more suffixes are required to give rise to definitely verb or nominal complexes.

(Sapir 1911c: 17/1991: 354)

In the example they give, the same word can mean fire or burn, with only optional affixes serving to signal one from the other.

And here’s my vowel shift. So now in Umu, the shift will signal that a word is predicative (verbs and verby words), and the standard form will be non-predicative (nouns and nouny words).

The fun part will be deciding which verbs correspond to which nouns, whether verb X means to be noun X or to do what noun X does or to do what is done to noun X, etc. There’s a lot of room for fun involving animacy and figurative speech, whatever. Will food mean to cook food or to eat? Don’t know yet. To copy the example directly, in Umu:

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jv, pronounced iv
NPRED\fire
fire
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jv, ditto
PRED\fire
to burn

Words with all neutral vowels show no change but are still marked orthographically.

A least that’s the working theory for now. But for a less ambiguous example:

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mwa
NPRED\choice
choice
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mwe
PRED\choice
to choose

Introducing Infection

One idea leads to another and some solutions create new problems. One problem I have is too many words and don’t know what to do with them.

Problem

Each Umu glyph/word is made up of two syllabic blocks. There are 10 consonants with four vowels which yields 1600 possible combination, 3200 if you factor in the vowel shift.

I’ve all these potential words and am intimidated by the massive inventory.

Solution

Enter inflections. Let’s say that the first vowel of a word indicates person. There are four vowels which means three vowels would correspond to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person and the fourth can be the uninfected base, used for bare nouns, infinitives, modifiers, compounds, and particles.

The vowels to be used will match the vowels from what were formerly the pronouns. The leftover will be the base.

a = 1st person (formerly wma)
i = 2nd person (formerly wti)
u = 3rd person (formerly wu)
ö = base

This brings 1600 down to 400. Including the vowel shift, we’ve a modest 800 base words in total: 400 predicative bases, 400 non-predicative bases. This way, Umu still has 3200 distinct glyphs for me to draw but the other 2400 are simply inflected forms of the original 800. And really, there’s only 400 core morphemes to assign meaning. Perfect for my small brain.

Here are some examples:

Non-predicative Inflection

wpid-1377264955028.png
mwa
NPRED\choice
choice

wpid-1377312723188.png
ma’a
1NPRED\choice
my choice, our choice

wpid-1377312782952.png
mi’a
2NPRED\choice
you choice

wpid-1377312887675.png
mo’a
3NPRED\choice
his/her/its/their choice

Predicative Inflection

wpid-1377265082865.png
mwe
PRED\choice
to choose

wpid-1377312925222.png
me’e
1PRED\choice
I choose, we choose

wpid-1377313158765.png
mi’e
2PRED\choice
you choose, you pl. choose

wpid-1377313228291.png
mu’e
3PRED\chioce
he/she/it/they choose

Alignment Re-alignment

I’m not sure if the old alignment pattern will work now that verbs are marked for person. I’m playing with nominative/accusative patterns, ergative/absolutive patters and active/stative patterns. I’m not sure if I’ll need a sperate set of pronouns. Stay Tuned


Umu Dictionary (Redundant)

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Some languages will suit Pseudoglyphs better than others, but none better than Umu. After realizing that a writing system without a language is like a cart without a horse, Umu is my attempt at constructing a language. It is a constant work in progress.

Here is the Umu dictionary. New words are added with each post.

A

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‘ara
(n.) boy, son, child

‘E

F

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fuu (vövu) 
(maximally general question particle)

G

H

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hajö
(n.) book, letter

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haza
(adv.) here; in, at or to this place or position; originally
(adj.) current, belonging to the present time

‘I

J

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jöja
(pn.) something, anything, what

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jöma
(adj.) good
(adv.) well, very

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jöma pöju | jma.pju
(adj.) well, fine, comfortable
(v.) to be well/fine/comfortable

K

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kuzu
(v.) to thank, to apologize, to wither (leaves or flowers), to decline

L

M

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mara
(n.) woman

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mönu
(n.) chair, seat, position, location

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mözö
(phrase-final particle) what, about, how

N

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netu
(n.) source, origin, roots or stems of plants, periodical, newspaper

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nöni
(n.) small thing
(cl.) maximally general inanimate classifier

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nöni haza | nni.haza
(dem.) this, this one, these

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nöni vöna | nni.vna
(dem.) that, that one, those

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nöti
(n.) girl

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numi
(adj.) dead
(v.) to die, to be dead

‘O

P

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panö
(n.) pen, pencil, writing brush

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pata
(n.) table, carpenter’s plane

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pöju 
(adj.) comfortable
(v.) to be comfortable/well

S

T

‘U

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‘umu
(n.) language, culture, writing
(adj.) formal, literary, gentle

V

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vöna
(adv.) there, overthere]

W

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wöma
(pn.) I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours

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wöra
(n.) man

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wöti
(pn.) you, all of you, your, yours

X

Z

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zata
(n.)letter, symbol, character, word


Tagged: company, dictionary, pseudoglyphs, umu

parrot is papakai

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
papakai = parrot (noun) (some things Google found for "papakai": an unusual term; Papa Kai makes alaia surfboards for ocean use and home decoration in Hawaii and in San Diego; similarly named Papakea Resort on Maui; a very rare last name; Papakai Marae is the (Maori) name of a place in New Zealand; name of a mountain in New Zealand)

Word derivation for "parrot"
Basque = papagai, Finnish = papukaija
Miresua = papakai

The Lory is a character in the Caucus-Race in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Lories are small to medium-sized Australasian parrots.

The words for parrot are similar in many European languages.