Archive for April, 2018

Conlangery SHORTS #28: Fuzzy Phonetics

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

George gives a short talk about how phonology affects phonetic transcriptions and why the narrow “phonetic” transcription of your language does not have to be overly specific (especially with vowels!). We should have a regular episode again next month. ORIGINAL SCRIPT: There is a tendency in the conlanging community to hew toward more narrow, standardized… Read more »

#519

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A conscript where the ideograms must all be drawn to scale.

#519

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A conscript where the ideograms must all be drawn to scale.

Lexical Exploration: “bruise”

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

The English bruise is related to words for "crush, injure, cut, smash." The usage for blemished fruits is first attested in the 14th century.

In Ancient Greek, several words related to the core sense of "crush" are also given the definition "bruise:" θλάω, τρίβω. There is also the rare-appearing word μώλωψ, "mark of a stripe, weal, bruise" which generates a denominal verb.

In the Dravidian family, again, quite a few words related to "crush" or "(strike a) blow, beat," and occasionally "press," are also glossed "bruise." See for example, naci and tar̤umpu.

In the Austronesian family color terms seem to be a popular source domain, as in the color root, -*dem, which generates a term in one daughter language, and the root *alem, also related to color, does in another. Also *baŋbaŋ₈, which generated terms related to a range of skin discolorations. There are other source domains, however, such as baneR, which in addition to "bruise, weal" also generates a specific term for blemishes on fruit.

In Mbula, -berebere across dialects means "be bruised and swollen, itch and burn, have blisters."

Mandarin has a large collection of terms glossed "bruise," most of which seem to be polysemous with more generic injury terms, "wound, abscess, bump," or the aftermath, "scar." The term 烏青 wū qīng refers to the color ("dark/black" + "grue/grey"), and can be used alone as a color term.

Somba-Siawari's yöhöza covers all of "bite, sting, rub, hurt, bruise, weigh down."

In Malayalam the terms are all polysemous with other injury terms, of which ആഘാതം āghātaṁ is most flush with meaning: "stab, stroke, beat, trauma, blow, waft, bruise, bump, impact, poke, push, shock."

Other dictionaries consulted: Maori, Turkish, Angave, Swahili, Arabic, Wolof, Korean, Armenian, Malay.

Summary: the cause of bruising ("hit, crush, pound, press," occasionally "abrade" or "dent") is a common source domain. In some families, the word is polysemous with other kinds of injuries, "weal" and swelling, in particular. Color terms are an occasional source. It's hard to tell history from some dictionaries, but there may occasionally be root terms for a polysemous injury word that includes "bruise." Finally, languages that are robustly reduplicating seem happy to use it in "bruise" terms (but this might be due to the stative sense rather than specific semantics).

Lexical Exploration: “bruise”

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

The English bruise is related to words for "crush, injure, cut, smash." The usage for blemished fruits is first attested in the 14th century.

In Ancient Greek, several words related to the core sense of "crush" are also given the definition "bruise:" θλάω, τρίβω. There is also the rare-appearing word μώλωψ, "mark of a stripe, weal, bruise" which generates a denominal verb.

In the Dravidian family, again, quite a few words related to "crush" or "(strike a) blow, beat," and occasionally "press," are also glossed "bruise." See for example, naci and tar̤umpu.

In the Austronesian family color terms seem to be a popular source domain, as in the color root, -*dem, which generates a term in one daughter language, and the root *alem, also related to color, does in another. Also *baŋbaŋ₈, which generated terms related to a range of skin discolorations. There are other source domains, however, such as baneR, which in addition to "bruise, weal" also generates a specific term for blemishes on fruit.

In Mbula, -berebere across dialects means "be bruised and swollen, itch and burn, have blisters."

Mandarin has a large collection of terms glossed "bruise," most of which seem to be polysemous with more generic injury terms, "wound, abscess, bump," or the aftermath, "scar." The term 烏青 wū qīng refers to the color ("dark/black" + "grue/grey"), and can be used alone as a color term.

Somba-Siawari's yöhöza covers all of "bite, sting, rub, hurt, bruise, weigh down."

In Malayalam the terms are all polysemous with other injury terms, of which ആഘാതം āghātaṁ is most flush with meaning: "stab, stroke, beat, trauma, blow, waft, bruise, bump, impact, poke, push, shock."

Other dictionaries consulted: Maori, Turkish, Angave, Swahili, Arabic, Wolof, Korean, Armenian, Malay.

Summary: the cause of bruising ("hit, crush, pound, press," occasionally "abrade" or "dent") is a common source domain. In some families, the word is polysemous with other kinds of injuries, "weal" and swelling, in particular. Color terms are an occasional source. It's hard to tell history from some dictionaries, but there may occasionally be root terms for a polysemous injury word that includes "bruise." Finally, languages that are robustly reduplicating seem happy to use it in "bruise" terms (but this might be due to the stative sense rather than specific semantics).

#518

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

—-BREAKING—-

We interrupt your usual schedule with this important announcement. Reports are coming in about a brand new conlang idea, where everything is written in the style of a breaking news report. This idea is believed to originate from one bored shitposter killing time as they waited in the departure lounge of a train station. More on this as it develops.

#518

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

—-BREAKING—-

We interrupt your usual schedule with this important announcement. Reports are coming in about a brand new conlang idea, where everything is written in the style of a breaking news report. This idea is believed to originate from one bored shitposter killing time as they waited in the departure lounge of a train station. More on this as it develops.

Detail #378: An Unlikely Type of Numeral

Monday, April 2nd, 2018
Consider imprecise numbers. In normal usage, one can assume some leeway with the unstated digits, so e.g.
370.3
permits any number in the range [370.25, 370.35[. However, final zeroes offers a small problem here, as 370 can be imagined to be 37 * 10 or 37.0 * 10, giving us the following possible ranges:
[369.5, 370.5[
[365, 375[
A jargon for some mathematically inclined profession, or the language of a highly technological culture could potentially include these distinctions in their spoken numbers by having a significant zero. This significant zero would appear in the same kinds of constructions giving higher numbers as do regular numbers, with the exception that it only appears once, at the least digit position that is significant (not the least significant such). 

Thus, you'd get numbers like zeronty, zero hundred, zero thousand, and these would cut off the number at the desired level of precision.

The tens would in addition need two tens - one that is just ten, the other is ten and zero.

Thus ten thousand would signify 'ten +/- 500', 'ten and zero' would signify 'ten +/- 50', and ten thousand zeronty would signify ten thousand +/- 5, and finally 'ten thousand zero' would signify ten thousand +/- 0.5.

Smaller fractions could also be formed using the regular ways fractions are formed.

Detail #378: An Unlikely Type of Numeral

Monday, April 2nd, 2018
Consider imprecise numbers. In normal usage, one can assume some leeway with the unstated digits, so e.g.
370.3
permits any number in the range [370.25, 370.35[. However, final zeroes offers a small problem here, as 370 can be imagined to be 37 * 10 or 37.0 * 10, giving us the following possible ranges:
[369.5, 370.5[
[365, 375[
A jargon for some mathematically inclined profession, or the language of a highly technological culture could potentially include these distinctions in their spoken numbers by having a significant zero. This significant zero would appear in the same kinds of constructions giving higher numbers as do regular numbers, with the exception that it only appears once, at the least digit position that is significant (not the least significant such). 

Thus, you'd get numbers like zeronty, zero hundred, zero thousand, and these would cut off the number at the desired level of precision.

The tens would in addition need two tens - one that is just ten, the other is ten and zero.

Thus ten thousand would signify 'ten +/- 500', 'ten and zero' would signify 'ten +/- 50', and ten thousand zeronty would signify ten thousand +/- 5, and finally 'ten thousand zero' would signify ten thousand +/- 0.5.

Smaller fractions could also be formed using the regular ways fractions are formed.

Tone for Conlangers: A Basic Introduction

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Aidan Aannestad is one more name on the long list of people who discovered linguistics through Tolkien, and he’s been conlanging ever since that seventh grade discovery. He’s learned a lot about linguistics since then, though, and now holds a BA in it from the University of Texas and is partway through a graduate degree. He holds himself (and sometimes others) to a very high standard of realism in his work, and he’s always striving to get a more complete perspective on the enormous variety found in the world’s natlangs. His creative output is so far mostly limited to the minimally-documented, though fairly well fleshed-out Emihtazuu language and its ancestors, but he hopes to someday increase his productivity and make a full linguistic area with multiple interacting families. He also speaks Japanese, and will happily discuss its history and mechanics for hours with anyone interested. He’s been on-and-off a member of a number of conlanging communities, and these days is most likely to be found on one of the relevant Facebook groups or lurking in the conlang mailing list.

Abstract

Despite being present in a huge number of the world’s languages, phonemic tone is perhaps the most misunderstood linguistic system there is. Probably because of this, conlangs with phonemic tone are next to unheard of. This paper aims to solve those problems, by providing a basic description of how to think about tone through the framework of autosegmental phonology. It also gives an overview of variation among tone systems and how tones arise and change over time, and discusses some problems unique to conlanging with tones. The author hopes that readers will be encouraged to try creating tone systems themselves, and expand their palette of conlanging tools with one more system to play with.

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