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zompist bboard • View topic - How to design a non-European phonology

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:57 am 
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Last edited by Nortaneous on Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:41 am 
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Cool information. Inspires me to get to work on something.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:06 am 
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Good fricking gods, that's some sticky-deserving material. Good job!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:04 am 
Sumerul
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Nice, my conlang got a mention :D

I haven't made a new phonology in a while... almost tempted to do it again.

The other thing you forgot to mention is an R/L contrast, which is the norm in SAE and much rarer outside of Europe. If you want a language with a less Europeany feel, a quick cheaty way would be to take one of these sounds out. I've currently only got one conlang, Panceor, that distinguishes them (it's the most SAE-like, to the point where I was lambasted for it when I posted its phonology back in 2004 when I made it – see, we've never changed...). Dialectal Sentalian (ie Rempocian, Facurian and Dotolian) does have the distinction, actually, gaining an /r/ from standard Sentalian's /z/ or /ʋ/.

Anyway, personally I never include things like stiff voice or slack voice because I don't actually know how to pronounce them. So I can't be bothered with them.

Initial /ŋ/ is another one that I don't think any SAE language allows, by the way. It's allowed in both Panceor and Sentalian (probably a bit more frequently in Panceor... in Sentalian /ŋ/ and the ejectives are relatively uncommon consonants).

Erm, what else? I used the dialects of Sentalian to transform it from something that is relatively un-SAE (although still nothing too crazy – as I say, the ejectives are relatively rare) to something very SAE-like, but in different ways. My aim for the intonation of Sentalian (and currently most of the dialects) is to have rising intonation on statements and falling intonation on questions, the opposite of European languages. That's perhaps a bit simplistic, though.

Umpát and Yaufulti, which are my other two active conlangs, are the ones with more minimal phonologies. Umpát's was provided by roninbodhiwhatsit, but I gave it a few SAE consonant clusters (like /skr/) along with plosive-plosive and plosive-nasal clusters, and then a stress/reduction system which makes it end up not being like SAE.

Yaufulti's original phonology was a hodge-podge of different consonants without much rhyme or reason:
p t f s ʒ x ɣ l ɫ j
but I deliberately tried to subvert a couple of the expectations of SAE and conlangers in general, like a three POA plosive contrast (a favourite myth that conlangers like to trot out), and a total lack of nasals in the language. A couple of odd contrasts were thrown in too, such as two phonemically voiced fricatives, one of which is in a pair with a voiceless one (the distinction is often neutralised, because of intervocalic voicing), and a velarisation contrast on the Ls. The syllable structure is usually CV, but could have a coda L of either sort. But it has to have an onset consonant.

Then there were only four vowels: i u æ ɑ. The idea with the vowels was then to create a very strict stress pattern, with primary stress on the beginning of the word and secondary stress every third syllable after that, creating a sort of dactylic rhythm. Confusingly, the high and low vowels then do different things, because any vowel can be followed by /i/ or /u/ in the same syllable. This means that /ii/ is a long [iː] and /uu/ is a long [uː]. So /i u/ distinguish length but /æ ɑ/ don't – then the idea is that the latter two lengthen in a stressed syllable, while the former two don't. But long /i u/ attract stress and break the dactylic pattern. Anyway, then the 3rd syllable of the word, ie the one before a following stress (and actually even if it isn't followed by a stress this still happens) gets reduced vowels: [e o ə] for /i u ɑ/, but /æ/ just drops out.

Then there's the three consonant processes: consonant harmony (of POA, which only affects the following consonant; and affected consonants can't affect the next consonant), voicing between vowels (except next to /æ/ or a reduced vowel), and palatalization before /i/. Basically just to mix it all up a bit. This creates a few more odd contrasts; at some stage during the language we get a contrast between [β] and [v], and [b] and [bv], for instance.

Anyway, the Western variant of Yaufulti was made as a more reasonable variant; it has /k/ instead of /x/ and /n l/ instead of /l ɫ/, and /ɛ/ instead of /æ/. And the voicing is more regularly intervocalic. Basically I did it because Eastern Yaufulti can be tiring to type with the extra characters. But it makes the thing look like Japanese (but with <l> rather than <r>), which is strange. I also did it because I wanted to incorporate /n/ into the consonant harmony. Mwa ha ha. Anyway, I hope that's sufficiently non-SAE.


Edit: made it small because it's less relevant and more self-absorbed stream of consciousness.


Last edited by finlay on Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:34 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:40 am 
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Not bad at all. Some notes, though:
Palatalization is present in a wide swath of languages, including Bulgarian and most of the Slavic languages, though it's less pronounced in languages like Slovene and Serbo-Croatian where only certain consonants are distinctly palatalized.
As a note, I have one language currently active with a palatalization distinction, and one of my past languages employed a velar/palatal system similar to Irish.

Also, I do a similar thing to finlay: I don't include things in my languages unless I definitely know how to pronounce them. That's why I have minimal voicing distinctions.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:22 am 
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Thank you for this well written guide.

http://kneequickie.com/kq/Europe has a bit more info about the phonologies ... things to avoid if you dont want your conlang to sound European, or to follow if you do. Though the list is almost identical to what you used above.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:10 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:25 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:33 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:40 pm 
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Siöö jandeng raiglin zåbei tandiüłåd;
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Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:11 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:17 pm 
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Great thread!

That thing about double versus long consonants I don't get. Is there an actual phonetic difference, or are they just analysed differently by tradition?

I thought my own conlang would be very European, but it seems to be doing okay according to the list:
- has uvulars
- no initial stop+sonorant clusters (actually neither stop+sonorant nor initial clusters at all)
- four degrees of vowel height
- not two series of coronals, more like four

For most of the others, I don't think I'd be able to pronounce them, which is kind of a problem. Well, I could manage clicks or whistles, but they're pretty rare, aren't they? And they just sound weird. :P

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:51 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


Last edited by Nortaneous on Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:11 pm 
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oh right, it's not something you just made up.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:12 pm 
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Yay, I'm mentioned twice! :D Shouldn't be too surprised, though, SE is pretty far from being SAE. It'd probably be better if you linked url=http://glottoclast.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/south-eresian-p honology/]here[/url], though, since my forum topic is incredibly out of date whereas the blog post is only slightly out of date... (shut up, I change shit a lot :P)

Also, an idea of something quite European: /l/ contrasting with /r/ or another rhotic.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:44 pm 
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Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:47 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:19 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:11 pm 
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This is kind of not really that big of a thing but I've noticed that SAE languages really don't ever have back unrounded vowels.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:12 pm 
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I'm surprised there was no mention of .


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:13 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:16 pm 
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