Z’aveq Phonology and Romanization (#2)

The consonant system of Z’aveq isn’t particularly special:

Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stops p b t d k g q
Fricatives f v s z x h
Nasals m n
Approximants w l j ʁ

Neither is the vowel system:

Front Central Back
High i ɨ u
Mid e ə o
Low a

The mid central vowel ə is considered reduced, which will have implications for the pitch accent when we get to that in a bit. Otherwise, all vowels are created equal, and we encounter very little synchronic reduction or other alternations in unstressed positions. Z’aveq doesn’t like syllables more complex than CVC, although very simple clusters may be tolerated in very recent loans. The reduced vowel may not occur adjacent to another vowel or a word boundary.

Before moving on to the pitch accent, a couple of comments about the romanization are in order. Most phonemes are represented by the single Latin letter corresponding to their IPA symbol, but the phonemes ʁ and ɨ have non-ASCII-compatible IPA symbols and are thus romanized as r and y. Furthermore, the reduced vowel ə is represented by the apostrophe between two consonants (and it doesn’t occur in other positions).

Finally, the most interesting part of the phonology of Z’aveq is the pitch accent system. There are two types of pitch accent that a word may have, and while both types of accent can occur on any syllable of the word, a word may only have one accented syllable, and neither accent can occur on the reduced vowel. It is also acceptable for a word to have no accented syllable at all, and that is not entirely uncommon, although it occurs considerably more frequently on short function words that usually occupy unstressed positions in the broader sentence. All syllables of a word before the accented syllable, and all syllables of an unaccented word, are pronounced relatively short with low, even pitch, whereas all syllables after the accent syllable are pronounced relatively short with high pitch.

The first type of accent, which will henceforth be referred to as accent 1, is realized by pronouncing the accented vowel with high pitch and lengthening it by around one half of its previous length. There is no particular tonal contour associated with this accent, although the high tone may slip towards high falling very slightly when in the first syllable of a word following another word ending on a high tone. Accent 1 is indicated orthographically by an apostrophe immediately preceding the accented vowel.

The second type of accent, referred to as accent 2, is realized as a low rising tone on the accented vowel, which is lengthened even more than a vowel carrying accent 1, to almost double its original length. The tonal contour is largely consistent regardless of the tone of the preceeding or following syllable. Accent 2 is indicated orthographically by an apostrophe placed immediately *after* the accented vowel.

At the sentence level, the baseline pitch of each word drops slightly with each word, so that word boundaries are always obvious even if the words begin and end on the same lexical tone. There is little or no variation in the sentence-level intonation in different types of sentences, although there is likely a slightly different intonational pattern used for listing items (still undetermined, although a good candidate would be to alternate stepping down and up by slightly more than between words in a regular sentence).

That covers most of the phonology. There will likely be additions and modifications in the future, but they will hopefully be few and far between.

DS9 auf Deutsch

Ich habe angefangt alte Episoden von Star Trek: DS9 auf Deutsch anzuschauen, um meine Hörenfertigkeit zu verbessern. Obwohl sie nicht original auf Deutsch gemacht wurden, sind die Übersetzungen gut genug, und wenn ich etwas nicht verstehe, kann ich das Geschicht von den Bildern noch folgen.

Es macht auch Spass, diese Episoden wieder anzugucken. In Theorie habe ich sie alle schon gesehen, obwohl ich fast jedes Mal etwas sehe, woran ich mich nicht erinnern kann. Die Figuren haben auch alle andere Stimmen, weil sie durch Deutsche Schauspieler ersetzt wurden — das ist keine Überraschung, aber es kann mein Leben ein bisschen schwieriger machen, weil ich die neue Stimmen lernen muss.

Ich verstehe leider noch nicht alles. In den letzten Jahren habe ich die Deutsche Sprache nur selten benützt, und ich war immer mehr an den Schweizeren Akzent gewöhnt, damit sind Deutsche Schauspieler (oder ihre Stimmen am mindestens) schwieriger zu verstehen. Es ist vielleicht leichter als Russisch, aber nicht sehr.

Als ich zum nächsten Mal in einem Deutschsprachigen Land bin, werde ich versuchen, einige Filme zu kaufen, die original auf Deutsch gemacht wurden. Das soll ich auch wahrscheinlich für Russisch und Ungarisch machen.

New Conlang “Z’aveq”

This is the same language as previously mentioned in my last conlanging related post, although it has now been tentatively named.

My goal here is to create a language that looks superficially like the languages that sometimes appear in pulp science fiction, or other works that don’t put much effort into creating alien (or sometimes foreign human) languages, but that on closer inspection actually ends up being a reasonable conlang. Towards that end, the orthography will include a large number of apostrophes (more on what they indicate later), and will consist exclusively of ASCII characters used in ways more or less reminiscent of words that look exotic to English-speaking eyes.

At a more linguistic level, the language will not have much in the way of grammatical marking, although it will not be entirely analytic (there will be a fair bit of derivational morphology, although the full extent of this has yet to be determined). As discussed in the previous post, core syntactic categories will be indicated by word order (with prepositions picking up some of the slack when more than two core arguments are present), whereas tense, mood, and aspect will be indicated by a variety of particles. Voice will not exist as a grammatical category, although there will likely be valence-changing derivational affixes.

The language will employ a pitch accent, which will give rise to a couple of more complex tonal patterns at the surface level. This will likely be the only truly interesting high-level aspect of the phonology, as everything else will be fairly run-of-the-mill, although one should expect a post dedicated to phonology either next or in a couple of posts.

Free Word Order for Isolating Language

This is going to be the first in a series of posts about a language that I’m just starting to create. I can’t yet give many details about it, as very few of them have been set in stone, but more information will come as a it becomes available.

Today, however, I just want to talk about word order.

I’ve had the idea knocking around in my head for a while to build a language that allowed “free” word order (defined here as word order in which the placement of all major constituents is dictated by things other than the theta role of the consituent in question) without needing cases or overt direct/inverse marking on the verb.

Assuming we have a default word order of SVO, it’s relatively easy to pull the object up into the theme (initial) position, or the subject into the focus (final) position, without making it difficult to determine which noun is which — the listener can simply assume that the NP closest to the verb should be interpreted according to its position relative to the verb, and the other NP should be given the other role.

However, things break down if you want to move *both* NPs, or if you want to move the verb into focus position while keeping the subject as theme (or vice versa for the verb in theme position with the object as focus). You could of course also declare if there are two NPs in the sentence, the first is the subject and the second the object, but that would just present the same problem, only in reverse.

So far — and this is in no way set in stone yet, although I’m likely to stick with it or something very much like it — I think I’m going to go with something like this:

  • Declare the basic, pre-movement word order to be PSVO, with P being a particle or adverb of some sort that will be present in most if not all sentences (if there are sentences in which it is absent, we may end up with a few ambiguous cases, which is no big deal and could probably be worked around by inserting a dummy particle).
  • Require that some constituent move up into the theme position and another move into the focus position. By default, these will most likely be the subject and object respectively, or subject and verb in an intransitive sentence. Note that this means that the unmarked surface word order will be SPVO.
  • Finally, require that if a constituent immediately preceded by the particle moves to the focus position, the particle moves with it (keeping its place immediately before it). This occurs even if another constituent has already moved, although it does not occur if the particle itself has moved to one of the two positions.

So, for the most basic transitive sentence, we end up with the following grid:

Focus is S Focus is O Focus is V Focus is P
Theme is S N/A SPVO (NPVN) SOPV ( PV) SVOP (NVNP)
Theme is O OVPS (NVPN) N/A OPSV (NPNV) OSVP (NNVP)
Theme is V VOPS (VNPN) VPSO (VP ) N/A VSOP (VNNP)
Theme is P PVOS (PV ) PSVO (PNVN) PSOV (PNNV) N/A

Once we add other constituents, sentences will get longer, but the basic rules will still apply.

Over time, of course, we may see one or two basic particles becoming generalized as a subject marker, possibly with an added element of some sort of TMA marking. But we’ll save that for a descendent of this language.

La Danĝera Lingvo (Ulrich Lins)

Mi finfine tralegis la libron “La Danĝera Lingvo”!

Se vi ne konas la titolon, tio estas la libro de Ulrich Lins, kio eksplikas, kiel la nazia kaj sovetia reĝimoj subpremis parolantojn de Esperanto en la dudeka jarcento. Ĉi tie mi ne provos diri ĉion, kion tiu libro enhavas, sed mi povas rekomendi ĝi al ĉiuj, kiuj interesas pri la malhela flanko de la historio de la Esperanta movado, aŭ kiuj volas scii pli pri unu malplidiskutita parto de la teruro igita de faŝismaj kaj totalitariaj registaroj. En la malĝoja ĉitaga politika situacio, oni povas pensi, ke taŭgus lerni pli pri tiaj temoj.

De la malpli bona flanko malbonŝance veras, ke la libro estas iomete seka, kaj legi ĝin povas postuli multan tempon kaj memkontrolon, por ne ĉesi legi, kiam la historio estas malekcitema. Mi mem legis nur dek ĝis dek kvin paĝojn tage, sed iam iomete pli. Ĉi tiu libro estis ankaŭ bona lernaĵo de Esperanto, ĉar ĝia lingva enhavo prezentis kelkajn (sed malmultajn) nekonatajn vortojn facile troveblajn de vortaroj, sed ankaŭ estis sufiĉe sekvebla sen la troa uzado de la vortaro.

Se vin interesas legi seriozan sed informplenan libron en Esperanto pri la historio de Esperanto, ĉi tiu libro povas esti bona elekto.

Walisisch

Ich habe angefangt, Walisisch zu lernen! Bis jetzt habe ich nur einige Stunden daran gearbeitet, aber ich versuche mindestens eine Halbe Stunde täglich zu machen, und die Sprache auch so oft wie möglich zu verwenden — alle gute Sachen, die man immer beim Sprachen lernen machen muss. Ich schreibe hier leider noch nicht auf Walisisch, aber in den kommenden Monaten will ich genug lernen, um das machen zu können.

Ausser einigen kürzen Erfahrungen mit Irisch ist das mein erster Schritt in die Welt der keltischen Sprachen. Ich wusste schon davor, wie diese Sprachen zum grössten Teil funkzionieren (d.h. VSO Wortstellung, Veränderungen der Anlautskonsonanten, usw.), aber keine von ihnen hatte ich wirklich gesprochen oder zu lernen versucht. Ich finde es nicht schwierig, oder am mindestens nicht schieriger als die andere Sprachen, womit ich mich beschäftigt habe, obwohl das Übersetzen vom Englischen mühsam sein kann, weil man irgendwann auf einige Satzteile warten muss, bevor ich wirklich anfangen kann.

Ich finde es auch interessant, dass eine Sprache eine /ɨ/-Phoneme haben kann, die fast gleich wie /i/ tönt. Auf Russisch war es immer klar, ob man /i/ oder /ɨ/ hörte, eben gerade am Anfang. Es braucht natürlich nur Zeit, bis ich die Underschied zwischen diese Laute leicht hören kann, aber ich erwartete diese Schwierigkeit nicht.

Книга мокшанских поговорок

Некоторые дни назад мне дали книгу мокшанских поговорок, которая осталась после чего-нибудь или которую кто-нибудь отдавал — я не помню какой, но это не очень важно. Важно то, что полезная книга об интересной теме. Я ещё учу мокшанский, и поговорки — важная часть владения какого-либо языка.

В книге все поговорки переведены на русском. Это мне также очень полезно, потому что и не русском не знаю очень много поговорок, и здесь можно будет укреплять и русский, и мокшанский словарные запасы. Хотя я уже не начал читать эту книгу, я напишу больше о том, когда больше о ней знаю.

То, что я сейчас больше пишу по-русски, меня заставляет думать о клавиатурах м о том, что по-русски печатаю ещё очень медленно. Моя скорость печатание наверно возрастёт, но процесс будет медленном и скучном.