Archive for September, 2013

New Goodreads Review of The Termite Queen!

Sunday, September 29th, 2013
       Adam Walker is one of my conlanging and conworlding associates (he's writing a book of his own that I really looking forward to because it's going to be full of fascinating aliens), and he's written a review of the two volumes of The Termite Queen.  He didn't like everything about it, but here is some of the good stuff he mentioned:
 
       "The Termite Queen (vol. 1) and The Wound That Has No Healing (vol. 2) really are one long novel in two volumes. Volume one has a logical conclusion, but the story is far from over till the end of volume two. Each of the two volumes contains two parts.
       "Personally I found volume 2 more satisfying, because I found the aliens, the "termites", more interesting than the humans. The Shshi are strange, as aliens should be, but relatable -- they plot against each other and have their customs and rituals and ways of doing things. Several of the Shshi are really fun characters, the scheming chamberlain, the child-like queen, the clever seer. Several of the warriors are especially complex as they are caught between duty and conscience trying to decide where their loyalties lie as the leadership of the termite city fractures."
 
       [I like that because nobody before has noted the complexity of the psychology of Commander Hi'ta'fu, Chief Lo'lo'pai, and Lieutenant Ni'shto'pri.]
 
       Adam goes on mention how he didn't like the romance part of the plot and then continues saying that nevertheless he really likes the book:
 
       "Languages. I love languages. I invent languages as a hobby. And the Shshi language in this book is incredible. Not only is it alien, using a non-verbal modality (radio waves!), but the version we see in the text is actually an invented language that Our Heroine invents during the course of the book as in interface between the humans, who can't detect radio waves, and the Shshi who can't detect our languages."
 
       [I like that because Adam is the first person to mention the language element that plays such a large part in the book -- the process of understanding how we really might communicate during humans' first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials.]

       Adam gave it 4 stars and recommended it.  Most of the reviews of TQ have been 4 star (I've had one 5-star on each of the two volumes, and a couple of 3-star on v.1 -- nothing lower).  I'm satisfied with 4 stars because this book does have so many elements to it (romance, a journey into human psychology, emphasis on future history, space travel, several types of extraterrestrials, conlangs, a low-tech alien culture with a tradition of heroic single combat, etc.),  With a book so heterogeneous, I'm sure everybody will find something that annoys them, but (I trust) also something to like!
 
       Give it a try here: Amazon
       Or here: Smashwords 

Various Updates

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

I’ve been absolutely swamped working on the second season of Defiance and the first season of Star-Crossed, so I haven’t had the time to devote to maintaining this blog. It isn’t going away, though. It’s just wintering at the moment. (Ha. Just realized that Game of Thrones always premieres in the spring. Gives “winter is coming” a bit of a different twist.) I did want to mention a few things, though.

First, on November 9th, I’ll be speaking at El Ser Creativo: an event held in Madrid, Spain that features speakers from around the globe speaking on a variety of topics. I, of course, will be speaking about sports logos. For the event, though, they had me do a little promo. They said I could do it in English, but I elected to do it in Dothraki. Here it is:

I do not know if the event will be streaming (maybe?). Worth checking out!

Additionally, since the last time I mentioned him on the blog, sunquan8094 has started a series of Valyrian lessons on his YouTube channel! The first lesson is below:

I just got back from WyrdCon, and next week I’m going to the San Diego Comic-Fest. My presentation at the latter will be at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4th. If you’re in Southern California today, though, I’m going to be at the Comic Book Hideout at 5:00 p.m. We’ll be talking about cursing. Heh, heh… It’ll be fun!

Finally, my pidgins and creoles professor from UC Berkeley John McWhorter did a video for TED Ed on conlanging, and I thought it was quite good. Conlangs have really gotten the short shrift from linguists for…decades. But things have started to turn around, and I’m really proud of where we’re at. It was John McWhorter who gave me my first opportunity to do some conlang-related experimentation (undergraduate-quality work, but, well, I was an undergraduate), and it’s really gratifying to see this come full circle. You can check out the video below (a short five minute intro; worth the watch).

…though he stressed the wrong syllable in Hajas!

quick is nasper

Friday, September 27th, 2013
nasper = quick (adjective) (some things Google found for "nasper": an uncommon term; NASPER is an acronym for National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act; a rare to unusual last name; a misspelling of Napster which is the name of several music focused online services; similar Naspers is a multinational South African mass media and internet company; similar Naspe is the name of a place in Bhutan)

Word derivation for "quick" :
Basque = laster, Finnish = nopea
Miresua = nasper

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Hatter tells the Dormouse "to be quick about it," when telling a story, "or you'll be asleep again before it's done."

Updates!

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The most recent versions of the grammar and the dictionary are up!

Nothing has been changed in terms of the bones of the language. I’m pretty happy where things are and I’m forcing myself to accept things as they are. These are mainly updates in the thoroughness of the descriptions of phonology, the cases, and conjunctions. I’ll slowly work my way through the rest of the grammar, to add more explanations and A LOT MORE GLOSSES!

I’ll then move on to posting longer translations. I’ve worked a bit on some songs and poems and some of Aesop’s fables. Maybe one of those will go live soon.

The dictionary has also been updated, most of these changes are consistent formatting and adding new words.

More later!


Detail #60: A lexical derivation detail

Thursday, September 26th, 2013
In some language lacking grammatical gender, form adjectives/nouns for members of ethnicities or tribes by

  • female members designated as [tribe name][causative][agent]
  • male members designated as [tribe name][past participle, or passive causative or likewise]

This & That

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Umu has two demonstratives determiners.

image
haza
• here
• in, at or to this place or position
• originally
• current
• belonging to the present time

image
vöna
vna
• there
• over there

Unlike English, they cannot appear as independent noun phrases. Here’s how not to use them:

image image
*jöma haza
*good this
*This is good.

image image
*höra vöna
*pig that
*That is a pig.

Instead, they must be paired with a classifier.

Three General Classifiers

In addition to its rich set of nominal classifiers, Umu has three general classifiers. These three classifiers can replace any noun as well as all the other classifiers.

image
nöni
nni

• small thing
• maximally general inanimate classifier

image
jörö
jl | il

• body
• maximally general animate classifier

image
munö
mun
• person
• maximally general human classifier

Here’s the correct way:

Here’s This

image image image
jöma nöni haza
jma nni.háza

good CL.INANIM here
This (thing) is good.

image image image
höra jörö haza
la jl.láza

pig CL.ANIM here
This is the pig.

image image image
janö munö haza
jan mũ.láza

Jan CL.HUM here
This is Jan.

Thereʼs That

image imageimage
jötö nöni vöna
it nni.vná

yam CL.INANIM there
That is a yam.

image image image image image
‘ajö ‘ö’o ‘ömö jörö vöna
‘áj.wo.wmö jl.vná

horse GEN3 PL CL.ANIM there
That is their horse.

image image image image
mari ‘öme munö vöna
mári.wme mũ.vná

mother GEN1 CL.HUM there
That is my mother.


Tagged: classifiers, conlang, demonstrative determiners, demonstratives, determiners, pseudoglyphs, this & that, umu

This & That

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Umu has two demonstratives determiners.

image
haza
• here
• in, at or to this place or position
• originally
• current
• belonging to the present time

image
vöna
vna
• there
• over there

Unlike English, they cannot appear as independent noun phrases. Here’s how not to use them:

image image
*jöma haza
*good this
*This is good.

image image
*höra vöna
*pig that
*That is a pig.

Instead, they must be paired with a classifier.

Three General Classifiers

In addition to its rich set of nominal classifiers, Umu has three general classifiers. These three classifiers can replace any noun as well as all the other classifiers.

image
nöni
nni

• small thing
• maximally general inanimate classifier

image
jörö
jl | il

• body
• maximally general animate classifier

image
munö
mun
• person
• maximally general human classifier

Here’s the correct way:

Here’s This

image image image
jöma nöni haza
jma nni.háza

good CL.INANIM here
This (thing) is good.

image image image
höra jörö haza
la jl.láza

pig CL.ANIM here
This is the pig.

image image image
janö munö haza
jan mũ.láza

Jan CL.HUM here
This is Jan.

Thereʼs That

image imageimage
jötö nöni vöna
it nni.vná

yam CL.INANIM there
That is a yam.

image image image image image
‘ajö ‘ö’o ‘ömö jörö vöna
‘áj.wo.wmö jl.vná

horse GEN\3 PL CL.ANIM there
That is their horse.

image image image image
mari ‘öme munö vöna
mári.wme mũ.vná

mother GEN\1 CL.HUM there
That is my mother.


Tagged: classifiers, conlang, demonstrative determiners, demonstratives, determiners, pseudoglyphs, this & that, umu

Lëé lëiféstus ba gamiai

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
It is  big day for me today.  A second birthday, of sorts.  Anyway, while steeling myself for the biggest part of it, this chant (mantra?) came to me spontaneously, and I clung to and repeated it.

It may become my shot mantra, haha.

I am in a great mood, for obvious reasons, so you can even have a recording of me chanting it for you. http://vocaroo.com/i/s0j1vd9FoxsM

This is a short text, as it was spontaneous.  I feel like the shape of this has been used before, but I am not entirely sure where my brain pulled it from.  If anyone has any idea, let me know- otherwise I will assume this is an original!


Order of texts:  Sandic -- Smooth English of Sandic

-----

Lëé lëiféstus ba gamiai
Lëé lëiféstus ba gamiai
Lëé lëiféstus ba gamiai
Iab olëétiadra!

---

O Hephaestus, who exists in balance
O Hephaestus, who exists in balance
O Hephaestus who exists in balance
Help me!

Zero Copula

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

image

In the basic Umu sentence, the subject comes after the predicate.

Tarzan, me. Jane, you.

The predicate is joined to the subject without overt making.

image image
kömu janö
kmu jan
big Jan
Jan is big

image image
tipi kimö
tipi kim

small Kim
Kim is small.

image image
‘ajö ‘ö’u
‘aj wu

horse 3
It is a horse.

image image
tözi ‘ö’u
si wu

woman 3
She is a woman.

image image
‘u’ö ‘ö’u
‘uw wu

young 3
He/she/it is young.

image image
minö ‘öti
min di

rich 2
You are rich.
You have.

image image image
miru ‘öme ‘ezu
míru.wme ‘ezu

name GEN1 ‘Ezu
My name is ‘Ezu

image image image
tipi jö’a ‘öme
tipi.jwá.wme

small child GEN1
My child is small.


Tagged: conlang, copula, grammar, pseudoglyphs, umu, zero copula

Zero Copula

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

image

In the basic Umu sentence, the subject comes after the predicate.

Tarzan, me. Jane, you.

The predicate is joined to the subject without overt making.

image image
kömu janö
kmu jan
big Jan
Jan is big

image image
tipi kimö
tipi kim

small Kim
Kim is small.

image image
‘ajö ‘ö’u
‘aj wu

horse 3
It is a horse.

image image
tözi ‘ö’u
si wu

woman 3
She is a woman.

image image
‘u’ö ‘ö’u
‘uw wu

young 3
He/she/it is young.

image image
minö ‘öti
min di

rich 2
You are rich.
You have.

image image image
miru ‘öme ‘ezu
míru.wme ‘ezu

name GEN\1 ‘Ezu
My name is ‘Ezu

image image image
tipi jö’a ‘öme
tipi.jwá.wme

small child GEN\1
My child is small.


Tagged: conlang, copula, grammar, pseudoglyphs, umu, zero copula