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zompist bboard • View topic - Constructing a proper descendant of English

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:48 am 
Avisaru
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As I said over in the Conlang fluency thread, I'm working on an English descendant.

It is intended to be the primary language of a cluster of space habitats (well, each habitat would have its own dialect naturally, sometimes quite divergent, but I'm keeping things simple for now), somewhere in the fourth or fifth millenium.

The speaker's ancestor would have picked English as a common tongue, but it would usually not be their native language. More precisely, I'd expect English to be a native language for about 30% of them. The rest would have a sufficient command of the language; the language would thus show influence from various superstratums (superstrata?) but no creolization.

Basically, I'm following this approach:

1. Pick a dialect of English that would be likely to be chosen as a lingua franca.
2. Apply a series of changes removing most of the salient features of english (clusters, large vowel inventory, and so on), so as to produce a result that would be plausible, and aesthetically pleasing (to me, anyway).


I have a good idea of what I'd like to in step 2, but not so sure about step 1.
The obvious choice is, of course, General American. I can't really think of any good reason to pick another dialect. Some variety of British English might have a chance, but even in Europe people try to imitate American English rather than RP. But, if you have any objections, I'd be interested in them.
But, since we're not building space habitats any time soon, I need to project General American a bit into the future, before I do what I please with it. And here, not being a native speaker is a major bother.

Do any of you have suggestions on what changes to implement ?

A few specific questions:
- Should I introduce the NCVS? So far I did, but I have doubts. And I'm worried about the specifics. Should I have: [æ] > [ɛə] or [ɪə]
- And how about the cot-caught merger?
- The pin-pen merger?

Any ideas? I'm open to all suggestions.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:14 am 
Smeric
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I'd say keep "" seperate, but merge "" - I'm personally not for NCVS in English descendants, but that's because my Englangs are all spoken in Europe anyway.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:55 am 
Lebom
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I'm with herr dunkel on those mergers, but also wouldn't go for radical sweeping changes either. I think, even though a large number of the people are non-native, that many of the clusters and vowel distinctions would effectively remain. Think about it this way. These folks are all going to have children. The accent they speak English with will not be inherited like genes are. Since it is the agreed upon language, why would you not have the native speakers teaching the children English? When they are small, sure they will have quirks in speaking. Think of all the kids under age 4 or 5 that struggle with th sounds or r. My brother had trouble with both into essentially 3rd grade. But if they have an adult teaching them, that person becomes the authority, so to speak, on the subject to them. They will be able to recognize the phonemes in place, and would eventually learn to reproduce them, albeit with small changes likely because of quirks they might develop amongst themselves. Words coming from other languages in, that makes a degree of sense. The kids could use them as slang to hide meaning from adults potentially, or just to sound cool.

The big reason I say this is because, growing up with Greek, I don't speak with a foreign accent (I do have a Boston Accent though). And many of my friends grew up speaking other languages at home too, whether it be Italian, Russian, Spanish, or Chinese. Small accents will develop, but not new dialects over night. Think about poorer regions of Big cities in the US about a century ago. Each neighborhood would have a language from the old country. One would be polish, or italian, &c, but the kids at school would learn English, and because they started young, the accent is minimal. My grandmother talks about this all the time. She grew up in the Quebecois/French region of her city, a few blocks down there were the Polish, then the Italians. She could speak clear English to any of them and get responses, but they still had their family's language. Really, the point I'm getting at is that kids, even if they are forced a new language at school, are VERY good at learning it and using it according to the standard that is in place and taught by teachers.

However, on the other side, if the situation arises that you have something like in India, where some people learn English and then teach it to the children, that is how serious change in the language will take place.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:05 am 
Sanno
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It really doesn't matter in the slightest which dialect you pick. Consider: many modern dialectical features have only been around 50 years, or a century. Few dialectical features go back more than a couple of centuries. You're talking about a language spoken three thousand years from now. Even assuming humanity hasn't evolved into an aquatic cyborg hyperrabbit hive mind by then, you're still talking about the difference between modern english and pre-proto-Germanic. That's more than enough time for any contemporary dialectical differences to be flooded out by changes and restorations and interdialectical borrowing and whatever else.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:15 am 
Smeric
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You might want to look at how things work in Singlish, since "picked English as a common tongue, but it would usually not be their native language" more or less perfectly describes the situation that led to its creation. I've looked briefly at it and there are some interesting things going on, both with grammar, such as the introduction of productive reduplication, complete loss of the definite article in the basilect, reassigning of English words to unusual/unexpected functions (the complex and confusing uses of "one"), and phonology, like dropping lax vowels and rare consonants like /ð/, and interestingly, Cantonese discourse particles being borrowed into the language with tones intact, despite Singlish not otherwise having tone.


Last edited by clawgrip on Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:27 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:42 am 
Smeric
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Yeah, naturally, but it is definitely interesting. I especially think that the taking of completely regular English words and reassigning them to specific and completely non-English purposes could be a fun idea to play with. Singapore English. A grammatical description by Lisa Lim is where I got basically all my information, so if you can find it somewhere (Google Books has selections of it) it might give you some ideas.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:59 am 
Sanci
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In the last proper descendant i have been trying to make, I merged the whole auxiliary system, and made some prefixes...
Exempli Gratia:
E: John had just visited his grandma.
NPDoE: John just ha'visit his grandma.

Also--- you can decide to borrow, for example, vocabulary and grammar from, let's say, Chinese. Why? Cuz there are many immigrants from Asia in the US.

E: I wanted to eat some spaghetti last night.
NPDoE+ChB: I ha'want to eat some myantyaos last yé.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:38 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:26 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:37 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:55 pm 
Sumerul
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To include the NCVS in this is to assume that the NCVS will transform from being a regional dialect feature to becoming part of a future GA, which does not seem all that likely from the present perspective. (It seems much more likely that future GA will include the Canadian Raising of /aɪ̯/, as talked about on other threads here.)

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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:11 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:29 pm 
Sumerul
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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:10 am 
Avisaru
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Thanks for the comments, guys.
On NCVS, I thought of it because it has spread awfully close to dialects GA is based on, it didn't seem too unlikely that it could be adopted as a feature of GA. (Though Canadian reason might too, and for the same reasons).


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:50 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:48 pm 
Sumerul
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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:15 pm 
Lebom
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I found . Maybe it will give you a few ideas?

Also, on pin/pen: I'm a Vancouverite, and I don't have it. I've noticed that "bowl" and "old" for me are [bo:l] and [o:ld], not [bowl] and [owld] ([ow] > [o:] before L). Has anybody else noticed this or heard of it? Also, "let's go" turns into "tsgo"; "What's going on?" beocomes "tsgoin on?", etc.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:32 pm 
Avisaru
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Adúljôžal ônal kol ví éža únah kex yaxlr gmlĥ hôga jô ônal kru ansu frú.
Ansu frú ônal savel zaš gmlĥ a vek Adúljôžal vé jaga čaþ kex.
Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh. Ônal zeh.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:24 pm 
Lebom
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:56 am 
Smeric
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I don't think this is limited to Vancouver. In speech I very often, maybe even almost always drop initial unstressed vowels, as well as function word initial /h/. I can very easily imagine myself saying things like Tsgo.
If he's ready I'm ready. :> Fe's ready I'm ready.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:29 am 
Sumerul
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Nor is it limited really to a region. It's just that this kind of thing is underreported.

Fun fact: I once had the chance to get a t-shirt with IPA on it via my uni's linguistic society, and I wrote quite a broad transliteration of "if you can read this you're cool"... For the first part i wrote something like [I_0fjy] - my teacher pointed out that i could do [f:jy] instead but I decided I wanted it to still be at least vaguely recognizable.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:24 am 
Sanno
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But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:09 am 
Smeric
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I don't think I'd completely drop "if" in this sentence...it seems to lose too much meaning otherwise, even with context.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:19 am 
Sumerul
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I'd have something like [(t)sg̥oɾ̃ɔn] and [fiz ɹɛ.ij‿aːm ɹɛ.i] I think initial tsC clusters would simplify to sC.

Cot-caught will probably hit my dialect in another generation or two; people (from the non-merging parts of the West Coast) have remarked on my [ɔ] being close to [ɑ], and I think the only difference is rounding. If I have to distinguish them, /ɔ/ comes out as a diphthong [ɔ̠ə̯], with a backed and more properly [ɔ]-like onset; but that's not the same as the [uə̯] which some Yankee accents have for /ɔ/ (and which my father has in 'on' but no other word, for some reason).

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