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zompist bboard • View topic - The Mantid Language- My First True Conlang and My First Fail

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:21 pm 
Niš
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Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum and I would like to share the story of Mantid, my first conlang- and my first failure in conlanging. I suppose I kind of gave away the ending here, but let's face it, I'm a newbie at this entire conlanging business, and Mantid was pretty much a nooblang. However, it was also a valuable learning experience and to this day remains my most extensive constructed language. I'll let you decide how sad that is.

So, what even was Mantid? Well, when I first decided to make my own language, I never really thought of it as a proper project, or something numerous people do for entertainment, or for the sake of experimentation with various possible optimialisations of linguistics. I just did it because I felt like it at the time. Also, I'm a native English speaker, and that's it. I only had that frame of reference at the time. Mantid, or Mantik if written in itself (such creative naming skills I know) was designed to be a language for a mantis like alien species pretty much like the Mantis from FTL: Faster Than Light. Warlike, aggressive, and also apparently like having seven a's in a row because why not (and yes, this actually was built in to Mantid).

As tempting as it is to look through this as a proper conlanger or linguist would, it is probably a better idea to examine Mantid in the order that I created it. So, without further adieu or however you spell that, I present the first part of Mantid I created:

Orthography

Anybody with experience in this subject should immediately see a red flag at the fact the first thing I made was the orthography. It's nothing particularly amazing, essentially just an alphabet. With some very weird decisions in retrospect. You see, I decided that having one character per phoneme was too boring. Instead of creating some clever system, I instead just made some syllables entire characters. Most notably, three were "de" "di" and "da". The worst offender though was the symbol for "vra", because not only was that ridiculous on its in, but Mantid actually had no symbol for "v" alone. So literally the only time the "v" sound ever showed up was in words with "vra". I should mention at this point that I didn't care much for the IPA at this time, with its huge amount of daunting symbols, so I tried to avoid it as much as I could. I did end up using it though. This of course meant I had to look up the symbols every time I used them to make sure I was using the right sound.

I'm just going to link to a probably blurry picture of the alphabet so you can see it in all its atrocity.



Interestingly I also added symbols for common prefixes, punctuation and even calculation symbols like addition and division. The characters are straight and linear because I'm the world's messiest writer and as such curvy writing would be indecipherable. One unique thing about it was the way extended vowels (read: those long sequences of vowels like "aaaaaa" which I added in this language for some reason) were handled. A little symbol was added above the vowel, and then at the end of the vowel and under the symbol's end a series of dots were written roughly indicating how long to hold the sound.

Now a language is useless without sounds, so let's move on to phonology while I try to ignore my embarrassment at all of my rookie mistakes.

Phonology

I have no idea how to make a table here, so I will try my best to sort of approximate an awful kind of one for all my sounds.

Mantid consonants looked something like this:

Nasal: m n
Plosive: p b t d k g
Fricative: f v θ s z ʃ h
Approximant: ɹ j
Lateral Approximant: l
Ejective: kʼ

And the vowels were something like this:

Vowels: i æ ɑ e ʌ ʊ o

If this were in a proper table, you would immediately be able to tell how all over the place this is. That elective, by the way, is an unusual thing. You see, it's not really a phoneme, but I ended up using without realising in my harsh faux-Manyid accent. It's an example of Mantid's one tiny bit of sandhi that I can actually recognise. When a word ends in "k", it becomes "kʼ" instead. As for other phonotactics...well..I didn't know that was a thing when I made Mantid, so basically there aren't any. Diphthongs weren't really a thing, if two vowels were next to each other you just pronounced one right after the other (possibly making the glottal stop a phoneme? I don't know).

Grammar

This is where Mantid truly falls apart. You see, the word order of Mantid ended up being...OVS? I'm honestly not entirely sure (never a good sign), and I always ended up writing in SVO then having to correct it afterwards. Mantid relied heavily on prefixes which happened to coincide perfectly with the English suffixes of "er", "ing", "ed", etc. with a specific one for plurality, tense, changing nouns into actions and even one for increased modality kind of (which I idiotically just labelled "more" which made me mix it up with plural).

In theory this was fine. In practice, this happened:

Kilik= kill
Raz= equivalent of "er", one who does something
Isk= equivalent of "s", indicates plurality

Iskrazkilik= killers

What made it worse was that I never made any kind of hierarchy as to which prefix comes first, so Raziskkilik would allow have been acceptable.

One interesting thing relates to some crazy symbols from before. Remember "vra"? Well, it actually had a certain meaning- any word with "vra" in it was related to mass death. For example the word for "massacre" was "vrakaak". Yes, I made a language with a two syllable word for massacre and a four syllable word for killers. It only gets worse.

The way I wrote all this down in my book was that each word had its pronunciation written, then it's meaning, then underneath that was how it was written in Mantid characters. The language was read left to right, up to down. Such creativity I know.

Here is a sample sentence that proves just how ridiculous this language was.

Resakek serenek razkakaan
My female onewhomdoes child
My mother

Note that one whom does child thing is because a parent is one who has a child, so that is referring to the action of having a child. If this is confusing, well, so is why I made it in such a way. This kind of massive term for a simple concept is a trend in Mantid.

One more example:

Resakek garinek mek roselik, resekak dekrakek iskmek iskselik
My red is friend, my dead plural-is plural-foes
My friend is red, my foes are dead

The /k/ phoneme was very common in Mantid. As you can see, this simple sentence takes quite a while to say or write. In Mantid script, it took over two lines in my book to write all that down. Very inefficient, very bloated.

Finally, I might as well show off a couple of random words with a bit of a story or something interesting behind them:

plop= rain

Because that's kind of the sound rain makes.

darek= exterminate

I think you can guess where this one comes from.

aaaaaaaak= defeat

I wish I were making that up. It's the sound you make when you're defeated and frustrated that you lost.

yorek= boredom

Literally the only Mantid word to use that "yor" character at all.

Oh, and a taste of the numbering system:

rak= 1
rakek= 2
rakekak= 3
derak= 4
derakek= 5
derkakekak= 6
zatek= 7
zatekek= 8
zatekekak= 9
nezak= 10
rakekzak= 20
derakzak= 40
derakekakzak= 50
hirak= 100

Conclusion

So, what did I learn from all this? Firstly, that planning this stuff out is important, unless you want a very bloated language. Secondly, don't do orthography first. Finally, don't make huge terms for simple concepts.

Perhaps one day I'll try to revise Mantid, and make it less awful, atrocious, abysmal, and other synonyms for horrendously bad that start with the letter "a". Until then, though, I will just learn from my errors, and try to make better languages of different kinds.

I hope you enjoyed reading through that and laughing at my failures. I would be happy to accept any advice on improving my conlangng skills, my forum posting abilities, and just plain not failing. If you found this post boring, stupid, a waste, etc, feel free to say that as well. I appreciate any feedback whatsoever.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:37 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:15 pm 
Niš
Niš

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:48 am
Posts: 8
Location: The Middle of Nowhere
I'm glad to hear that I'm not completely alone (does saying that count as a kind of insult since it means I'm glad some people had failed conlangs?). 5,000 words it's quite a lot. Mantid has...let me count.

Probbaly somewhere around 75 (not very many), although I'm not sure how many of those include prefixes and such. Mantid did have the benefit of a sort of distinct sound thanks to half of its words ending in [kʼ] and having lots of <k> sounds in it. I liked how it made the language sound kind of harsh to me, somewhat like the clicking of an insect's mandibles.

I wonder what kind of language I should work on next. Hopefully a better one. Mantid was a failure, but it does kind of sound cool to me. Certainly it's the kind of language where you could be politely asking for a cake or something and come across as shouting insults to someone who doesn't understand it.

I am looking somewhat into other languages. I'm half trying to learn a certain language that has the same word order as English but in which many other things are different, and where I'm never going to learn to write it decently anytime soon. Perhaps I could take inspiration from that.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:26 pm 
Sanci
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Location: Searching for $15 so I can get the PCK

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Linguistic novice, worldbuilding newbie. Also, wants to be a game developer.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:00 pm 
Niš
Niš

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:48 am
Posts: 8
Location: The Middle of Nowhere
Fair enough, everyone does need to start from somewhere.

Mantid as a conlang was phonetically similar to English, except the velar ejective I suppose. Morphological it was also similar except in areas where it become ridiculous bloated (as was mentioned previously, it took three words and nine syllables to state the term "my mother" in Mantid). Nonetheless, I must attempt to improve at constructing languages.

I tend to run into that issue where I start getting lots of random ideas and trying to merge them all together. That or my ideas involve kitchen sink languages or ones with very unusual qualities, that I don't feel ready to tackle until I can at least make a functional somewhat regular language.

If I may ask, to you, what is the most important aspect of a language to get sorted out? Or is that like saying "which one of the wheels of this car should I put in first?"

I believe that grammar is where I begin to struggle with language creation. It can be an arduous process getting such things sorted out.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:16 pm 
Avisaru
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My first version of Janaharian was based around a thorough misunderstanding of how triconsonantal root systems work and had "do everything analytically that English does inflectionally and vice versa" as a design ethos. To the extent that much of it was ever made, it was a right mess. It also had an "all the sounds I could easily pronounce at the time" phonology (I think maybe minus front rounded vowels), although I did understand enough that it didn't replicate English's phonotactics.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:57 pm 
Niš
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:12 am 
Smeric
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My advice for doing tricon roots: don't, it's not worth it.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:11 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:23 am 
Niš
Niš

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:48 am
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True, I could revise it if I really wanted to, but I've sort of lost interest in this particular language for now. There are so many interesting aspects of language, after all, and it'd be remiss of me to not explore as many as I can, even if unsuccessfully. That also applies to triconsonantal roots, although honestly they seem like a concept I'd be awful at getting my head around. I understand how they work vaguely, I just assume I will struggle to actually apply them.

Should I fail in my efforts to create another, better language, I could always come back to Mantid if I want to. But for now, other concepts intrigue me. I worry though, that in the process of trying to make a language of mine stand out, it'll be essentially a kitchen sink language, or one that makes little actual sense as a language.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:01 am 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:57 am 
Smeric
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What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?”


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:40 pm 
Smeric
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Welcome to the ZBB! Have some pickles and tea! (It's a board tradition for welcoming new members)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:14 pm 
Smeric
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I have just one question:

Why should mantis-like aliens use human speech sounds in their language?

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Tha cvastam émi cvastam santham amal phelsa. -- Friedrich Schiller
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:01 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:01 pm 
Niš
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:42 pm 
Smeric
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...brought to you by the Weeping Elf
Tha cvastam émi cvastam santham amal phelsa. -- Friedrich Schiller
ESTAR-3SG:P human-OBJ only human-OBJ true-OBJ REL-LOC play-3SG:A


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