Archive for November, 2013

What about dying languages?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

There are various ways a person can respond the the discovery that I create languages for fun. The most common is noncommittal and polite puzzlement. A few people will be enthusiastic about the idea, especially if they're fans of the recent big films and TV shows involving invented languages in some way. Every once in a while, especially online, someone will object on the grounds that people involved with invented languages should, instead, be Doing Something about dying languages. This objection is so badly thought out that I'm genuinely surprised at its popularity.

First and foremost, anyone complaining about people messing around with invented languages has failed, in a fairly comprehensive way, to understand the concept of a hobby. Time I spend working with an invented language is not taken from documenting dying languages or some other improving activity, it is taken from time I spend with my banjo, reading a novel or watching TV.

Second, while it is true I, along with most language creators, know more about linguistics than the average Man on the Street, documenting undocumented languages is a special skill taking training I certainly don't have. In fact, most people with Ph.D.'s in linguistics won't even have such training. Do people going on about dying languages really imagine anyone can go out and do this sort of work? If someone has a nice garden near their house, we don't harass them about how they should be growing crops to feed the hungry, nor do we demand every weekend golfer go pro. What is it about invented languages that brings out this pious impulse to scold people for not doing something productive with their time when so many other hobbies get no comment at all?

If we step back to more modest goals than documenting a dying language, we're in much the same boat. There is little point to me going out and learning, say, Kavalan (24 speakers left as of 2000) unless I go to Taiwan and spend most of my time among the people who speak it. Sitting at home in Wisconsin learning Kavalan does nothing to preserve it in any meaningful way. You just can't really learn a language from a book. You have to spend time with native speakers.

Using other people's cultures — or fantasies about their culture — as a rhetorical foil has a long history. When Europeans were less approving of sex, they complained that Muslims were libertines, while others used this an example of a more sensible cultural trait. This is all part of the usual Noble Savage industry. The death of so many languages is a real issue, representing the permanent loss of a wealth of cultural and environmental knowledge. It deserves to be treated with more respect than to be used merely as a rhetorical club to browbeat people who have a hobby you don't like.

What about dying languages?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

There are various ways a person can respond the the discovery that I create languages for fun. The most common is noncommittal and polite puzzlement. A few people will be enthusiastic about the idea, especially if they're fans of the recent big films and TV shows involving invented languages in some way. Every once in a while, especially online, someone will object on the grounds that people involved with invented languages should, instead, be Doing Something about dying languages. This objection is so badly thought out that I'm genuinely surprised at its popularity.

First and foremost, anyone complaining about people messing around with invented languages has failed, in a fairly comprehensive way, to understand the concept of a hobby. Time I spend working with an invented language is not taken from documenting dying languages or some other improving activity, it is taken from time I spend with my banjo, reading a novel or watching TV.

Second, while it is true I, along with most language creators, know more about linguistics than the average Man on the Street, documenting undocumented languages is a special skill taking training I certainly don't have. In fact, most people with Ph.D.'s in linguistics won't even have such training. Do people going on about dying languages really imagine anyone can go out and do this sort of work? If someone has a nice garden near their house, we don't harass them about how they should be growing crops to feed the hungry, nor do we demand every weekend golfer go pro. What is it about invented languages that brings out this pious impulse to scold people for not doing something productive with their time when so many other hobbies get no comment at all?

If we step back to more modest goals than documenting a dying language, we're in much the same boat. There is little point to me going out and learning, say, Kavalan (24 speakers left as of 2000) unless I go to Taiwan and spend most of my time among the people who speak it. Sitting at home in Wisconsin learning Kavalan does nothing to preserve it in any meaningful way. You just can't really learn a language from a book. You have to spend time with native speakers.

Using other people's cultures — or fantasies about their culture — as a rhetorical foil has a long history. When Europeans were less approving of sex, they complained that Muslims were libertines, while others used this an example of a more sensible cultural trait. This is all part of the usual Noble Savage industry. The death of so many languages is a real issue, representing the permanent loss of a wealth of cultural and environmental knowledge. It deserves to be treated with more respect than to be used merely as a rhetorical club to browbeat people who have a hobby you don't like.

What about dying languages?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

There are various ways a person can respond the the discovery that I create languages for fun. The most common is noncommittal and polite puzzlement. A few people will be enthusiastic about the idea, especially if they're fans of the recent big films and TV shows involving invented languages in some way. Every once in a while, especially online, someone will object on the grounds that people involved with invented languages should, instead, be Doing Something about dying languages. This objection is so badly thought out that I'm genuinely surprised at its popularity.

First and foremost, anyone complaining about people messing around with invented languages has failed, in a fairly comprehensive way, to understand the concept of a hobby. Time I spend working with an invented language is not taken from documenting dying languages or some other improving activity, it is taken from time I spend with my banjo, reading a novel or watching TV.

Second, while it is true I, along with most language creators, know more about linguistics than the average Man on the Street, documenting undocumented languages is a special skill taking training I certainly don't have. In fact, most people with Ph.D.'s in linguistics won't even have such training. Do people going on about dying languages really imagine anyone can go out and do this sort of work? If someone has a nice garden near their house, we don't harass them about how they should be growing crops to feed the hungry, nor do we demand every weekend golfer go pro. What is it about invented languages that brings out this pious impulse to scold people for not doing something productive with their time when so many other hobbies get no comment at all?

If we step back to more modest goals than documenting a dying language, we're in much the same boat. There is little point to me going out and learning, say, Kavalan (24 speakers left as of 2000) unless I go to Taiwan and spend most of my time among the people who speak it. Sitting at home in Wisconsin learning Kavalan does nothing to preserve it in any meaningful way. You just can't really learn a language from a book. You have to spend time with native speakers.

Using other people's cultures — or fantasies about their culture — as a rhetorical foil has a long history. When Europeans were less approving of sex, they complained that Muslims were libertines, while others used this an example of a more sensible cultural trait. This is all part of the usual Noble Savage industry. The death of so many languages is a real issue, representing the permanent loss of a wealth of cultural and environmental knowledge. It deserves to be treated with more respect than to be used merely as a rhetorical club to browbeat people who have a hobby you don't like.

A Fine Review of The War of the Stolen Mother

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
Ki'shto'ba Stands Guard

Here is the text of a very positive  review of v.1 of the series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.  I think it captures the essence of what I set out to do in the series.  The review  is by Marva Dasef, author of a number of entertaining MG and YA books including the 3-volume The Witches of Galdorheim, which you can find on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Epic Tale of War and Honor

This is the first volume in a series following the labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, a warrior of the Shshi race of intelligent termite-like people. It is set on an alien (to humans) world described in an earlier multi-volume novel covering the discovery of the world by humans. In the first book, the point of view is primarily that of Kaitrin Oliva, a human linguistic anthropologist who decodes the Shshi language.

This next multi-volume novel has no humans, only the termites. It's an epic tale told as if narrator Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer is dictating it to his scribe long after the events of the story. This is an effective means of narration because it allows for asides and personal thoughts of Di'fa'kro'mi about the story. I found it amusing when Di'fa comments how he used a bit of literary trickery to describe events happening elsewhere. That is, Di'fa invents a point of view shift. Clever of the author to come right out with it before I made a note about the "POV SHIFT!" Ms. Taylor uses multiple literary devices to get around some of the obstacles a termite might have recording a story for others to read, not just listen to in the oral tradition of the Remembrancers.

This novel is steeped in earth mythos from the role of Di'fa as the Homer of the Shshi to the obvious comparison of Ki'sh to both Ulysses and Hercules of Greek myth, the war with Troy, and a lot of other references I probably missed.

It's a really long first volume, but I'm almost getting used to Ms. Taylor's monolithic multi-volume novels. You certainly get plenty of words for your 99 cents (the price may have changed) and all of them quite necessary to the story. I will always have a problem with the names and the other con-lang (constructed language) features, but this one is footnoted for the most part. As for the names, there's a handy cast of characters and places at the beginning of the book.

What did I love about the book? Lots. The epic sweep of the story (and this is only the first volume of Ki'shto'ba's travels). The warrior is as knightly and honorable as any of King Arthur's court. The brotherly love between Ki'shto'ba and his twin brother, A'zhu'lo (highly unusual in the termite world) is touching and real. I quite enjoyed the antics of Za'dut the trickster outcast who just can't keep his claws off others' property. While playing the clown, he turns out to be quite clever and, at his heart, cares as much for the companions as any of the others.

I think what I want to say is that this novel is deeply and touchingly human although the termite practices are entirely unhuman. The concepts of honor, love, grief, fear, jubilation, caring are all there and I truly believed them.

Well done, very well written, squeaky clean grammar and spelling. Ms. Taylor has made me a fan of the termites even if I can't always remember who's who with the secondary characters. I didn't have a problem remembering the companions who travel on this epic journey.


Thanks for the nice words, Marva!  I hope other readers will be inspired to give my books a try!  The ebooks will remain at 99 cents through Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 (only $2.99 thereafter) at Amazon and at Smashwords, but remember that as a Christmas present, a print book looks much better wrapped under the tree!  Besides, if you buy a paperback, you can get the Kindle version FREE under Amazon's MatchBook program!  And one more bonus:  with a paperback you get extra features, like a map and extra illustrations on the back covers.

 

Kiamjan rale:ebin op kaxtale:lin pal safpa aww

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

So, I talked about some leaves today.  Videographic evidence over on Youtube.  Bahaha.

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 Order of texts:  Sandic -- Smoothish English of Sandic

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Galo le:ee ta kabrain!  Ejj vedeob yma pa ba sandi, wii, okay, meer jeeb ba mon, ian safpa me exfeed, wii jeeguu ta kiamjabin ivin fele: exraug, pal ba natsmao keei ba safpa aww, wii exwiisra aan le:ian mee-e otiab, wii, zum yahl pal ba meedal ba erini ba safpa aww, wii kiamjabinnia midin exade, exeek, aan le:ian mee-e.  Le:ian frn ta rale:en op fele: etejae.  Okay, jeeb baneot ahl kiamj frnm meedal.  Jeeb baahl kiamj frn jjuurna.  Ydeeva aan bee-enuu ba baahl jjuurna.  A jeeb ba kiamj, rale:ee ba baahl heef, wii ba kiamj heefi baahl.  Jeed baahlra kiamj frn meedal, a rale:ee ba baahl eeo, wii inee eeoi baahl .  Jeeb ba kiamj piiri baahl.  Rale:e ba baahl piir.  Wii, am, jeeb ba kiamj baahlnia narani.  Rale:ee ba baahl naran.  Okay, wii frn ta rale:en berain tejae, skra inee rale:e ba baneot ahl eeoi, a baal eeo ameesoi.  Skra berain oahl ta rale:en.  Eeo ameesoi ejj, wii jeeb baahl piir eeosoi.  Wii jeeb baahl piir gleensoi.  Jeeb baahl eeo gleensoi, uu eeo asuunani, eeo asuuni.  a... yea, auzo...  faee me ta kiamjan ba meedal meer tale:l ta rale:en op, faee me oahl ta saidra umasin, skra wenarain oahl.  Balnia?  Bal le:eeneot ade?  Inee aan wenarain oahl, pa otiab extreekaa...  gezoto expiat, haha.  am.. a auzo, le:ian ta kiamjabin exmee-e, wii balnia aan siad oteneot jae, skra ysa aan yutub frn vedeon erinin baneot mas.  ...okay.  Balnia aan sriitnia vedeob uu vedeeob nabei ytema.  Strob, wii auzerastab le:ian.


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Hello, you who are listening.  I'm making another video in Sandic, and, okay...  Today, I came home, and I saw all these leaves in our house's little yard, and I really wanted to show you guys them, and, here I am by the big maple tree by our house, and I've taken- picked up- some leaves, to show you guys.  I'm going to talk to you about their colors.  Okay, so this one isn't a maple tree leaf.  It's an oak leaf.  I think the name of it(s) tree is "oak" (in sandic).  But this leaf, its color is brown, and the leaf is brown.  This one actually is a maple tree leaf, and its color is yellow, and look, it's yellow.  This leaf here is red.  Its color is red.  And, um, this leaf is orange, I guess.  Its color is orange.  Okay, so I'm going to talk about combo colors too, because look, this one isn't yellow, but it's greenish yellow.  Cause the colors are together.  Greenish yellow again, and this one is yellowish red.  And this one is blackish red.  This one is blackish yellow, or very spotted yellow- spotted yellow, but...  yeah, okay...  For me, the leaves of the maple, while they're changing colors, are the most liked, because they are very beautiful.  Isn't it so?  Don't you guys agree?  Look, they're so very beautiful...  I went walking into them.  I played like a kid, haha.  Um...  but okay, I've shown you guys the leaves, and I probably shouldn't talk anymore, since I know that youtube doesn't like big videos.  ...Okay.  Maybe sometime I'll make another new video- "video".  Bye, and good things to you all!

And there was the word.

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Finally added a few sound samples in the old posts. I’m going to make it practice to always have a recording of the key examples in future posts. And I’d like to go back and add them for all the old posts.
Hope they’re enjoyable!


Restricted gender distinction in first and second person verbs

Thursday, November 21st, 2013
I like when languages mark gender in a restricted part of their verb system - e.g. Russian in the past tense (due to the form basically being a past participle in predicative position), or the Swedish periphrastic passive ('became Xed'), where the participle has gender congruence.

Trying to come up with a similar restriction basically only gave me this idea: gender congruence in reflexive verbs. The way this would come about is - for some reason, third person reflexive object pronouns became tied closer to the verb than regular non-reflexive objects pronouns (despite essentially being the same lexemes!), and soon were grammaticalized as part of the verb. However, during the transition, the reflexive markers also became used for first and second person, while the case marking for the pronouns also developed separately in the object forms.

Maybe something like
noun verb him/her = reflexive
noun verb accusative particle him/her =  transitive
Possibly through a middle stage of
noun verb-him/her = reflexive
noun verb-transitive marker him/her = transitive 
 
 

Fall = Home

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Of the MANY photos taken in the last 4 weeks, this is just one:

 Fall 13 001 Out my window
#YalDawo Sahré (n., acc. 1) Home.

I took this photo the day before yesterday to celebrate living in the same place for 22 years (14.6 Guadamin) as of today! At this time of year, Upstate Manhattan looks almost like a region on the Homeworld. Kva Fashiet'a {6th River} resembles Earth's Hudson River. It is a tributary to the Avostrunto Kva, the Wayward River near which the Ema Renss´e {The Revered First Hundred} first came to Gysrrt. That river, however, runs through a much flatter terrain bound by tall grass prairie and marshlands leading to the sea. In November on a cloudy day, it looks like Home in a lush growing Season. Even the temperatures match up.

 I will edit the pictures some time after finishing the edit for The Touching Lands' Dance for Amazon release. Many will not be shown, but shall instead stay in my file as material to develop later into visuals for "Life on a Mëssôt", the working title for a possible art book of here v. there visual similarities in the Terran and Sartine cultures. Or this may turn into a bunch of reference shots for a stab at The Subway Tarot, which I started in the 90s w/o desktop technology; I never really put it out anywhere. Note that the above is in no way as complete an idea as The Touching Lands' Dance Art Book, which might come out some time after I'm done writing the series, not including sequels.

All material © 2013 Ariel Cinii. All rights reserved.

Fall = Home

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Of the MANY photos taken in the last 4 weeks, this is just one:

 Fall 13 001 Out my window
#YalDawo Sahré (n., acc. 1) Home.

I took this photo the day before yesterday to celebrate living in the same place for 22 years (14.6 Guadamin) as of today! At this time of year, Upstate Manhattan looks almost like a region on the Homeworld. Kva Fashiet'a {6th River} resembles Earth's Hudson River. It is a tributary to the Avostrunto Kva, the Wayward River near which the Ema Renss´e {The Revered First Hundred} first came to Gysrrt. That river, however, runs through a much flatter terrain bound by tall grass prairie and marshlands leading to the sea. In November on a cloudy day, it looks like Home in a lush growing Season. Even the temperatures match up.

 I will edit the pictures some time after finishing the edit for The Touching Lands' Dance for Amazon release. Many will not be shown, but shall instead stay in my file as material to develop later into visuals for "Life on a Mëssôt", the working title for a possible art book of here v. there visual similarities in the Terran and Sartine cultures. Or this may turn into a bunch of reference shots for a stab at The Subway Tarot, which I started in the 90s w/o desktop technology; I never really put it out anywhere. Note that the above is in no way as complete an idea as The Touching Lands' Dance Art Book, which might come out some time after I'm done writing the series, not including sequels.

All material © 2013 Ariel Cinii. All rights reserved.

Taut – Thoth

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Something a bit personal here, so I'll post but not provide a translation.  Since there's no translation, instead enjoy my Sandic handwriting.  Buahaha.  Let it not be said I made no fair trade. ;)

Order of Texts: Sandic

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Katé ba jebé baahl jten ba mekâ, wî mamant ta méugan me baahl ba raug auniai, wî ba ham me ân jae kriani baahl frn ba auzoi, wî ba mî me frn ta mîalan zaoan wî madan ba auzo baahl.

Skra jéd ba kaxokai, lēena me, wî krian ba paela me, ymî arap wî res ian jwr ba ada.

Daeyúi kaahl jwr, ada ba ivi.

Daeyúi kaahl jwr, ba wîs ka umai wî umai krian baahl ba méân ka.

Daeyúi kaahl jwr, ba kaxmejai ân ahl usai, wî ba usai kaahl frn ta ka, wî ta uxadein ka.

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba mîal lēé ivi lēéxma.

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba frn lēé ba oka ivi baahl ba jebé.

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba oka lēiab baxneot ma..

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba faé bénonia lēéahl paelai siad.

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba faé arapnia lēéahl deyai siad.

Daeyúi lēéahl pélēa, ba faé mînia arap lēéeahl umasi siad.

Jégú ta orarabin utadein frn lēena jéd ba kamai arap, wî ba wîsra ba lēian kagriawi, olēétade.

Lēé ba gator utejaei, gator utemîi, ba lēian otaŵmî arap iat mîb kahami!

Lēé ba Taut, lēian yviata, ân felē gator otejardalē dé ba sa lēé. Fian olēéraug katetiadi, wî fian olēéma ân oteméâ ân ma, wî arap lēé ta sab kahamin olēétora san, ta jutin ba jiav me, ta gezon lēé.

Iné ân lēiab yte, wî yraug sa, wî pa JJewab wî Yéâb yféd.