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Bird-Like Language
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Author:  cliftonprince [ Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Bird-Like Language

Howdy your suggestions merited and requested!

I'm thinking of trying to create a constructed language that is based on what birds do to communicate with each other.

Quick version of the question -- which grammatical categories carry (for you; in your opinion; generally speaking) the most meaning. Which are the most dispensable, which the most mandatory?

I have been listening to birds lately. They say the same thing over and over. My fictional characters spend a lot of time with their birds. So, in creating a bird-like language, I might hope to use reduplication of sounds, particularly of syllables, as a major meaning-bearing element. Say it twice, it means negative; say it three times it means formal; that kind of thing. Also, tack-on syllables at the front or back of an otherwise consistent phrase. Say the phrase, then say it with the middle part repeated; or, say the phrase, then say two syllables before it and repeat the phrase; then repeat the phrase with that two syllables after it; that kind of thing; and each change would bear a new (and perhaps unrelated) meaning.

I would hope that I'd produce an end-product of a language that did NOT look like a typical "skin put on top of English". My suspicion is that I'd be radically departing from many of the standard English and/or Indo-European structures and requirements, such as most, or all, of the linguistic concepts of person, number, case, aspect (a.k.a. telicity), tense. Will it be ergative-absolutive or nominative-accusative or will it be something new? I don't entirely know. I'd be excited to break new ground but ... uh ... it's daunting. I wonder which grammatical categories I can blithely eradicate, and which I just can't survive without.

So my inquiry is more directed at the act of creating a language, than at the idea of what this particular language should have. In your experience, when doing without a certain grammatical category or other, how debilitating was it? With other categories, was it not difficult at all to excise it from your con-lang?

Just getting started, thinking my way through it, thanks for any commentary!

Author:  Zaarin [ Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

cliftonprince wrote:
Quick version of the question -- which grammatical categories carry (for you; in your opinion; generally speaking) the most meaning. Which are the most dispensable, which the most mandatory?

Well, hypothetically all you need are verbs and maybe a few particles--this is how some linguists analyze certain Salishan languages (but NB that the line between "noun" and "verb" can be blurry in polysynthetic languages, so YMMV). Many languages do without adjectives as a distinct category, either folding them into verbs (so instead of an adjective "big" you have a verb "to be big") or, more rarely, nouns (so you might convey "big house" as something like "the house's bigness"--NB I don't know of any language that does this universally [though it may well exist], but many Semitic languages have a tendency to use noun phrases in many places where Indo-European languages would use noun + adjective). If your language has lots of case markers, it can easily do without adpositions. Or these can also be replaced by verbs or verbal inflections (many of the languages of the PNW, for example, have rich inventories of locative morphemes that express where the action takes place).

Author:  mèþru [ Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

Welcome cliftonprince! Have some pickles and tea! (It's a tradition for welcoming new members here).
ImageImage

Author:  cliftonprince [ Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

Thanks for the tickles and uh ... beware the Spoonerism's mighty blow! ...

Author:  cliftonprince [ Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

Zaarin wrote:
Well, hypothetically all you need are verbs and maybe a few particles ...


Thanks for the comments. My impression indeed is, that all birds ever do is holler verbs and greetings at each other.

In like vein, have you ever seen Eddie Izzard do the dog talking to the rest of the neighborhood. It goes like this: "Hey! Hey! ... Hey! Hey. Hey hey hey. Hey! Heyheyhey! Hey. ... Hey! ..." etc.. He's brilliant at it.

To me, the birds seem to be saying "Hi! Hiya! Hello! Hellyhellyhellyhellyonhello! Howdy! Cat over there, cat over there, cat over there. Cat. Hi hihihihihi cat HIIIIIIIIIIIIGH! ..." etc..

Author:  Zaarin [ Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

Well, speaking of songbirds specifically, most of what they're saying is either, "My territory, keep out" or "Heeeeeey, pretty lady." :p

Author:  svld [ Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bird-Like Language

Maybe you can make a lyrebirdlang, they've got some awesome birdsongs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjAcyTXRunY

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