Archive for June, 2012

Dothraki on Conlangery

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Dothraki is the featured conlang on today’s episode of the Conlangery podcast. You can listen to the episode here. Additionally, if you read French, there’s an interview with David Peterson over at You can read it here.

Conlangery #56: Growing a Lexicon

Monday, June 25th, 2012
David Peterson joins us for a wonderful Supersize episode where we talk all about growing your lexicon, from generating roots to creating realistic polysemy and semantic fields.  Also, we finally feature an obscure little language we’ve wanted to talk about for a while Top of Show Greeting: Oltengo Links and Resources: Analysis of English phrasal […]


Monday, June 25th, 2012
Another, from Stephen Crane.  " Ancestry."

No new words.

Audio on the main post for those who care to hear.  I'm considering making a "mother of all things spoken Sandic" post sometime, for inclusion on the right-hand nav bar.  Suggestions, comments?

Order of texts:
Smooth English

Once I saw mountains angry,
And ranged in battle-front. 
Against them stood a little man; 
Aye, he was no bigger than my finger. 
I laughed, and spoke to one near me, 
"Will he prevail?" 

"Surely," replied this other; 
"His grandfathers beat them many times." 
Then did I see much virtue in grandfathers -- 
At least, for the little man 
Who stood against the mountains.


Srîtnia ta jjujjabin éngúin otiahb exraug
jebé op baxahl mead ân madîjj
pal tau op kaxovo kémâ kéi, trénui.
Felë exaen, iné jutiian exjae,
"Bal ân kategalën?"

"Rac baahl." Rial baxmî ba juti;
"Adan ta adan ka éra oxgalënra."
Iné felë exfe skra kia oahl erinin ta éradan --
a faé ba kémâ kéi
wwak katovo pal tau ta jjujjan.


Once I saw the mountains angry
their bodies turned into battle-grounds
before them stood one small man, all alone.
I laughed, and to another person spoke-
"Will he succeed?"

"Yes, he will."  The other replied;
"His father's fathers won against them many times."
And then I understood the importance of grandfathers-
at least for the little man
who stood there in front of the mountains.

Publishing Update

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Cover for “The War of the Stolen Mother”

I decided I ought to bring the conlangers up-to-date on what I’ve published so far.  I haven’t posted anything here since May 2o, so it’s about time I did so.
I’ve now published three volumes. (These links will take you to all my books on Amazon and on Smashwords.)  “Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder” is an SF novella incorporating an older version of one of the major characters in the “The Termite Queen”; it has no developed conlang, but it does have a naming language.  As for “The Termite Queen” itself, both volumes have now been published.  The paperback versions present both the Shshi and the !Ka<tá languages as I intended them to look, with the Wingding symbols intact.  The Kindle versions worked fine with !Ka<tá, preserving the musical notes that stand for warbles and trills, but I substituted the syllabic variants for the Wingdings.  That isn’t really wrong – it just doesnt look the way I intended it to look.  The Smashwords versions works fine with the syllabic substitutions, but it wouldn’t take the musical notes or the mathematical operator ∙, which stands for a cough.  It substituted question marks for these.  However, I went ahead and published those versions anyway, because it does make the text available for people who have e-readers other than Kindle.
That’s where things stand at the moment.  I’m currently working on formatting the first volume of “The Labors of Ki’shto’ba Huge-Head,” entitled “The War of the Stolen Mother.”  (See cover art at head of this post.)  Since these stories are entirely about my termite people, there are lots of language references, including information about the additional termite languages that exist on that planet.  They should be of considerable interest to everybody who appreciates both conlangs and concultures, and they are rousing good stories to boot.

The Death of Name That Glyph

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Dear Readers and Contributors,

A while back, I began the Name That Glyph project (NTG) in hopes of making Umu more logographic looking. Since its start, your responses have been creative, heartening and appreciated. But it’s round 9 of 40 and I’m throwing in the towel.

I like hearing everyone’s ideas and enjoy the interaction… but everything else about the project has lost its appeal. The thought of going through 1,600 glyphs, building the database, sorting duplicates, reworking old (and loved) vocabulary, and all that business fills me with dread.

Maybe more importantly, I really like the fact that Pseudoglyphs encodes sounds. Glyphs don’t have to look anything like what they represent because they represent sounds, not meanings. Any resemblances are no more than happy coincidences.

I think it’s also stalled my progress on developing Umu. I’ve been feeling obligated to keep NTG current before unknotting the numerous kinks and mysteries in the jumbled mess that is Umu. But because I’d lost passion for updating NTG, I ended up not updating anything.

My thanks and humility to everyone who had contributed. I hope you can understand my motives.

So let us say goodbye to UTG, in hopes of once again moving forward. Keep you eyes peeled for Umu’s continuing development.


Andrew Mendes

Tagged: Name That Glyph


Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

A B D E F G H I J K L M N Ng O Ö P R S T U V W X Z ‘

The present-day Umu alphabet took shape shortly after contact, as a system for accurately transcribing Umu glyphs. It consists of 26 letters. Most are taken directly from Latin, the remaining are obtained using diacritic marks, a digraph, and the apostrophe.

Letter Pronunciation Notes
Aa [a] as in ‘cot’
Bb [b] as in ‘boy’ tense, initial only
Dd [d] as in ‘dog’ tense, initial only
Ee [ɛ] as in ‘bed’
Ff [ɸ] as in ‘father’ initial only
Gg [g] as in ’good’ tense, initial only
Hh [ɦ] as in ‘behind’ lax
Ii [i] as in ‘see’
Jj [j] as in ‘yet’
Kk [kʱ] as in ‘skip’
[gʱ] as in ’good’
[k̚ ]
initial, lax
medial, lax
final, unreleased
Ll [l] as in ‘pull’
Mm [m] as in ‘mother’
Nn [n] as in ‘not’
Ng ng [ŋ] as in ‘sing’
Oo [o] as in ‘vote’
Öö [ɨ] as in ’roses’
Pp [pʱ] as in ‘spin’
[bʱ] like in ‘boy’
[p̚ ]
initial, lax
medial, lax
final, unreleased
Rr [ɾ] as in ’raton’ tap
Ss [þʱ] as in ‘thinker’ lax, initial only
Tt [tʱ] as in ‘stop’
[dʱ] like in ‘down’
[t̚ ]
initial, lax
medial, lax
final, unreleased

ti initial
[ʨʱi] as in 知人 ‘chijin’
[ʧʱi] as in ‘cheap’
[ʦʱi] as in ‘bitsy’
[ʂʱi] as in 是 ‘shi’

ti medial
[ʥʱi] as in 知人 ‘chijin’
[ʤʱi] as in ‘Jeep’
[ʣʱi] as in ‘sudsy’
[ʐʱi] as in 日 ’ri’

Uu [u] as in ‘boot’
Vv [vʱ] as in ‘vine’ lax
Ww [w] as in ‘weta’
Xx [x] as in ‘Bach’ initial only
Zz [ðʱ] as in ‘other’ lax
[ʔ] as in ‘uh-oh’


Sounds affected by palatalization (di and ti) vary regionally in pronunciation. All variations are mutually intelligible and the different sounds remain orthographically indistinct.

This standardized orthography (in both the Umu alphabet and pseudoglyphs) unites all regional dialects despite the absence of any official standard pronunciation. The sounds [di] and [ti] have yet to appear in any variant.

Lax Voice

Umu is a breathy language, similar to Korean. Most consonants are lax, which blurs the distinction between voiced and unvoiced.

Treat lax consonants as if they were followed by an breathy h and tense consonants like plain old voiced consonants like in English.

Consonant Voicing

Some sounds that are distinct in English are merged in Umu. These pairs are:

             k and g
             t and d
             p and b

Initially, they are lax and unvoiced. Between two vowels, they are lax and voiced. When final, they are unreleased.
pa ka = paka, sounds like paga, lax
ta tu = tetu, sounds like tedu, lax
river, stream
ka pö = kap, sounds like kap , lax onset, unreleased final
ball, sphere

Initial mutations cause the tense voiced stops b, g and d. They only occur initially and contrast their lax voiced medial counterparts.

Initial Mutations

The letters b, d, f, g, s and x are not actual phonemes but result from various initial mutations caused by the collapse of the vowel ö. For this reason, these consonants are less common and only occur initially.

The Glottal Stop, the Velar Nasal & W

In a number of dialects, the glottal stop ( ) is pronounced ng. In these dialects, the letter w is rendered ng as well.

This happens because the w sound comes from the collapse of ö near the glottal stop and another vowel (‘ö’V > wV and V‘ö > Vw). The results are diphthongs.

However, In dialects were is realized ng, no diphthongs are formed and ng remains ng.
‘aw or ngang
people, group, public
‘ara or ngara
boy, son
tiw or ting
chief, head, elder, more

On this site, examples are given with the more standard and w, unless they are specific to the ng dialect. Just realize that in some areas, ng substitutes for both and w.

Tagged: pseudoglyphs, romanization, umu, umu alphabet

Torn Tongue: Verbs Beginning with “A”

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
Previously we talked about verbs in Torn Tongue. Here are some vocabulary verbs (that do not have counterparts as nouns) beginning with "A."

English ............ Torn Tongue
to afford .............. avessa
to ask ................. ethi

Iné hamad kémania amatéi

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Stephen Crane again, of course.  He seems to speak to me.

Also, I am experimenting with adding audio to these posts in a reliable fashion.  We'll see how it goes.

New words:
téngasi - stern, stone-faced, uncompromising (formed from éngúi, "angry")

New words from old words:
hamad - a gravesite (formerly just "a hole")
jjelu tréxabin - "to press/push lips" - to frown

Order of texts:

Behold, the grave of a wicked man

Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
And near it, a stern spirit.

There came a drooping maid with violets,
But the spirit grasped her arm.
"No flowers for him," he said.
The maid wept:
"Ah, I loved him."
But the spirit, grim and frowning:
"No flowers for him."

Now, this is it --
If the spirit was just,
Why did the maid weep?

Stephen Crane


Iné, hamad kémania amatéi

Iné, hamad kémania amatéi-
wî pal onj ba baahl lëivagém téngasi

Bian axféd iadkania jilai, kakrei niajjebin,
A ba lëivagém atian baxma ân otasem, 
"Zaoabin okaneot ade ba amatéi", kaxmî
Ba iadka axjilërra ra-
"A kiab exse ra."
A ba lëivagém, téngasira wî kajjelui tréxabin ba, baxmî:
"Zaoabin okaneot ade ba amatéi."

Iné rerda-
Fî ân gamia baxma ba lëivagém,
Skra kia axjilër ba iadka?

Behold, the grave of a wicked man

Behold, the grave of a wicked man-
and at its side is a stern spirit

A sad servant girl comes to it, carrying violets
but the spirit stops her,
"This wicked one should not take flowers", it says
The serving girl sobs-
"But I loved him so."
But the spirit, stern and frowning, says:
"This wicked one should not take flowers."

Behold a difficulty-
If the spirit has done gamia,
Why does the serving girl cry?

how many is zenkota

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
zenkota = how many (adverb, interrogative) (some things Google found for "zenkota": a rare term; user names; Zen Kota can refer to Maruti Zen hatchback compact SUV cars for sale in the city of Kota in India; similar Zen Kot is a health cafe in Brussels (Bruxelles), Belgium)

Word derivation for "how many" :
Basque = zenbat, Finnish = kuinka monta (or montako)
Miresua = zenkota

There are countable and uncountable nouns in both Finnish and Basque. In English, how many is used with countable nouns, while how much is used with uncountable nouns. Finnish has different terms for how many and how much, but Basque uses the same word. That figures. For Miresua, guess I'll make another word for how much.

Usage: particle shu

Thursday, June 21st, 2012
The perfective particle "shu" has an ample usage in everyday Kareyku. It's main function, as has been pointed out, is that of marking the perfective. It is mainly used with the past, but it can also be used with other tenses to give the idea that the action has been done entirely or has been done as a single complete event.

Also it can be used in composition with "yori" meaning "much, a lot" and in this case it has the meaning of "too much" and indicates that the grade of the adjective is excessive. In this case it denotes insatisfaction on the part of the speaker. As in these examples:

1. uwa yaran yori kolom shu.
[u.'wa ja.'ran yo.'ri ko.'lom ʃu]
"you are too phony for me"

It can even be used with some nouns, specially when talking about weather phenomena.

2. pokolyo yori are shu!
[po.ko.'ljo yo.'ri a.'re ʃu]
"It's too hot at home!"

The use of the many evidentials and particles may add different shades to the sentence, as in the case of the intensive particle "ya".