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 Post subject: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:07 pm 
Sanci
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As many of you know, it is often said that "cellar door" is said to be the most beautiful phrase in English without regard to spelling or meaning. First of all, what makes {sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic or phonetically aesthetic? Secondly, how could we, as conlangers, use this to our advantage to keep our conlangs sounding beautiful?


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:16 pm 
Sumerul
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I haven't got much to say about this except for: A conlang never ends up sounding how you intended it to.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:26 pm 
Osän
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CalebWhite wrote:
As many of you know, it is often said that "cellar door" is said to be the most beautiful phrase in English without regard to spelling or meaning. First of all, what makes {sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic or phonetically aesthetic? Secondly, how could we, as conlangers, use this to our advantage to keep our conlangs sounding beautiful?


Well obviously people disagree considerably on what constitutes linguistic beauty. You could spend all day arguing over what languages sound the best or worst. I personally rank languages between certain Germanic languages that I found terrible sounding and melodious Finnish or Japanese, but many would have totally different criteria.

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Last edited by Aurora Rossa on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:57 pm 
Sumerul
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CalebWhite wrote:
As many of you know, it is often said that "cellar door" is said to be the most beautiful phrase in English without regard to spelling or meaning. First of all, what makes {sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic or phonetically aesthetic? Secondly, how could we, as conlangers, use this to our advantage to keep our conlangs sounding beautiful?

IIRC this was strictly the opinion of Tolkien, who never said it was a universal and was also into a rather simplistic set of phonaesthetics where "soft" sounds (e.g. vowels, glides, approximants) equaled civilization and refinement while "harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:02 pm 
Sanci
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Anguipes wrote:
CalebWhite wrote:
As many of you know, it is often said that "cellar door" is said to be the most beautiful phrase in English without regard to spelling or meaning. First of all, what makes {sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic or phonetically aesthetic? Secondly, how could we, as conlangers, use this to our advantage to keep our conlangs sounding beautiful?

IIRC this was strictly the opinion of Tolkien, who never said it was a universal and was also into a rather simplistic set of phonaesthetics where "soft" sounds (e.g. vowels, glides, approximants) equaled civilization and refinement while "harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.


I guess that's how I view it, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:25 pm 
Avisaru
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CalebWhite wrote:
harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.


Don't Sindarin and Quenya both have /x/?

CalebWhite wrote:
First of all, what makes [sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic


Don't forget [sɛ.lɚ.dɔɻ].

I think what seems to be the real criteria here is that the consonants are present in a listener's L1. Second, maybe a (C)V or (C)(appxomiant)V syllable structure, which maybe suggests ease of production is a criteria. Third criteria, If you look at J.R.R.'s "good"--i.e. more developed languages--he's basically just mixed Spanish and Finnish phonology which are SAE all the way.

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Last edited by 2+3 clusivity on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:28 pm 
Sumerul
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My own aesthetic sense is quite different from that of Tolkien's, so it's certainly not universal even if common to prefer soft phones.

Phones I quite like: (x-sampa)
k m v z x E

Phones I dislike:
b p w u 2 h

I'm not sure what the pattern here is, if there is any. I do tend to really like voiced fricatives of any sort though.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:32 pm 
Sanci
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2+3 clusivity wrote:
Don't Sindarin and Quenya both have /x/?

CalebWhite wrote:
harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.


CalebWhite wrote:
First of all, what makes [sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic


Don't forget [sɛ.lɚ.dɔɻ].

I think what seems to be the real criteria here is that the consonants are present in a listener's L1. Second, maybe a (C)V or (C)(appxomiant)V syllable structure, which maybe suggests ease of production is a criteria. Third criteria, If you look at J.R.R. he's basically just mixed Spanish and Finnish phonology which are SAE all the way.


J.R.R. Tolkien's point of view makes sense, but this all too subjective to put specific criteria on. Really, this should all be about what makes "cellar door" beautiful, ugly, or neither to you and why? Also, what constitutes beautiful phonology to you?


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:39 pm 
Avisaru
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My "criteria" are just pointing out that asthetics are subjective.

My ideal, for what it is worth would be:

p, t, c, k
b, d, j
ʃ, h
ʒ
r
l

i, ĭ, ĩ, u, ŭ, ũ
e ẽ, ă, o, õ
ɛ, ɛ̃, ɔ, ɔ̃
a, ã


I'm really not sure whether "cellar door" is that beautiful objectively considering that english speakers alone have such ranging variations.

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linguoboy wrote:
So that's what it looks like when the master satirist is moistened by his own moutarde.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:42 pm 
Sanci
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Agreed


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:49 pm 
Smeric
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I reject the premise of the question.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:26 pm 
Sanci
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cromulant wrote:
I reject the premise of the question.


Do any specific phones appeal to your ears more than others at all?


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:43 pm 
Sumerul
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my own "cellar door" would probably be something like "Krakatoa".


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:38 pm 
Avisaru
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JCD wrote:
My own aesthetic sense is quite different from that of Tolkien's, so it's certainly not universal even if common to prefer soft phones.

Phones I quite like: (x-sampa)
k m v z x E

Phones I dislike:
b p w u 2 h

I'm not sure what the pattern here is, if there is any. I do tend to really like voiced fricatives of any sort though.

You have no excuse for not using IPA


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:41 am 
Sumerul
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2+3 clusivity wrote:
CalebWhite wrote:
harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.


Don't Sindarin and Quenya both have /x/?

Even the elves can be bastards sometimes.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:05 am 
Lebom
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I find /v/ and ejectives to the sexiest sounds to dip into my pallet. but labials are just icky and gross.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:24 am 
Lebom
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For me, the most "beautiful" sounds are /ɤ/ and /æ/, and nasalized laterals (I particularly love the retroflex one as it sounds so resonant).

The last one I haven't seen in any conlangs, while the former two are generally rare (in both conlangs and natlangs - I have included both in Proto-Ginösic).

I personally think Tolkien's Elvish languages sound too much like Latin. Especially Quenya.


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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:41 am 
Sanno
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Hubris Incalculable wrote:
JCD wrote:
My own aesthetic sense is quite different from that of Tolkien's, so it's certainly not universal even if common to prefer soft phones.

Phones I quite like: (x-sampa)
k m v z x E

Phones I dislike:
b p w u 2 h

I'm not sure what the pattern here is, if there is any. I do tend to really like voiced fricatives of any sort though.

You have no excuse for not using IPA


Fuck off.
We've been using x-sampa here since before you learned to read.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:00 am 
Sanno
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Anguipes wrote:
CalebWhite wrote:
As many of you know, it is often said that "cellar door" is said to be the most beautiful phrase in English without regard to spelling or meaning. First of all, what makes {sɛ.lə.dɔː] or [sɛ.lɚ.dɔː] euphonic or phonetically aesthetic? Secondly, how could we, as conlangers, use this to our advantage to keep our conlangs sounding beautiful?

IIRC this was strictly the opinion of Tolkien, who never said it was a universal and was also into a rather simplistic set of phonaesthetics where "soft" sounds (e.g. vowels, glides, approximants) equaled civilization and refinement while "harsh" sounds (anything further back than palatal that isn't a stop or a nasal) equaled coarseness, barbarism or downright evil.



Sorry, but while that may be what people say about Tolkien, it really isn't accurate. Sindarin, for instance, has /x/, and Quenya itself isn't a particularly 'soft' language (it's certainly less 'soft' than Sindarin, though it's meant to be more civilised). Adunaic, the language of the noble Numenoreans, had such unsoft sentences as "Kadô Zigûrun zabathân unakkha". Most tellingly of all, the greatest and most noble language is surely that of the Valar themselves, and that is anything but soft! The elves described their language as like the glitter of swords and entirely unpleasing to Elvish ears. Known words include Ezellôchâr, Mâchananaškad, Tulukhedelgorûs, Tulukhastâz, and A3ûlêz. The language closest to the pure language of the gods may actually the Black Speech...

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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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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:08 am 
Sumerul
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Meh, then I'm wrong. Not that I find any of Tolkien's languages particularly harsh. Too polysyllabic, not enough consonant clusters.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:41 pm 
Lebom
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I personally find the way Russian and German sound very appealing, what with the complex clusters of consonants, the way everything fits together; like a complex piece of music performed with great skill. On the other hand, Māori, with its relatively simple and elegant phonology and phonotactics, is beautiful to me in its own way; a tune that's not technically difficult or complex, but simply beautiful. There is not a single standard of beauty, even in one person.

As for individual phones, ts/dz and pf/bv have always appealed to me, but tʃ/dʒ, not as much. f/v, ɸ/β, and of course x are cool; ʁ I don't mind; h is okay (but recently, I discovered word-final h, and that's... pretty cool). Though it might be my English bias, θ/ð have always sounded nice to me. Dentals (t̪/d̪, n̪, l̪) have really grown on me.

However, I think that a phonology is more than the sum of its phones; it's the way it's put together that makes it sound the way it does. So I include sounds that are "ugly" to me sometimes, because when I look at the phonology as a whole, it sounds right.

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Last edited by Buran on Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:36 pm 
Sumerul
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din wrote:
I haven't got much to say about this except for: A conlang never ends up sounding how you intended it to.

I'm gonna stop you right there only to say that you're talking crazy.

Aside from the fact that one can indeed choose almost any combination of phonemes that one wants, allophony, syllable structure, diachronics, and morpho-syntax can all be adjusted to reach what the creator may describe as euphonic. The absence of natlang or conlang precedent in any of these aspects is not the limiting factor, only one's imagination.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:11 pm 
Smeric
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Cael wrote:
I find /v/ and ejectives to the sexiest sounds to dip into my pallet. but labials are just icky and gross.


Eh, I like Labials alot. One of my favorite words in my conlang Pazmat is "Wuub" [waUb], for instance. I especially love /b/, but a lot of people don't for some odd reason.

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:28 pm 
Sumerul
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Chagen wrote:
I especially love /b/, but a lot of people don't for some odd reason.[citation needed]

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 Post subject: Re: Phonoaesthetics
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:09 pm 
Lebom
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This seems kind of strange, considering that it's Zompist BBoard.

And yes, I love the /b/ in the third person singular present forms of Estonian verbs (like kirjutab "writes" or tuleb "comes"). It just sounds so exotic, probably since I am used to third-person forms ending in some sort of coronal or just a vowel, as in Indo-European and Dravidian languages.


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