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zompist bboard • View topic - Looking for critiques of my conlang's (tentative) phonology

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2016 8:00 pm 
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So, I've been working rather intensely over the last several weeks on a conlang project of mine. I've really only been focusing on the morphology, with only a vague idea of what I want the phonology to sound like. Anyway, I've come to the point where in order to progress, I need to have a list of sounds so that I can put my grammar in more concrete terms.

On the subject of phonology, I really like the sound of Germanic, especially North Germanic languages. Now, I know that trying to emulate the sound of a particular language is generally a fool's errand, and pretty much destined to fail (as well as being unoriginal), but I've tried to look at the Scandinavian languages, particularly Icelandic and Faroese, for inspiration. Incidentally, it should be noted that grammatically, the language isn't really Indo-European. In fact, grammatically, it isn't really intended to be naturalistic, or at least that's not a priority. It's a language for my own personal use, designed to fit my own aesthetic criteria. I do want it to be easy for me to use, so I intend to have largely unnatural amounts of morphosyntactical regularity (though I suppose not entirely unattested, as in e.g. Quechua). Nevertheless, my dissatisfaction with most "regular" languages is that they sound, well, ugly. So while grammatical naturalness isn't important for me, phonological naturalness is (I realize these probably go somewhat hand in hand). If that means allophony at the expense of orthographic clarity, so be it. Anyhow, let me give a rough sketch of what I have so far:

Consonants:

Here is a consonant chart I made in LaTeX



As you can see, I've included the voiceless nasals and approximants found in Icelandic. However, my consonant inventory is somewhat intermediary between Icelandic and Old Norse, as I've kept the voiced stops instead of aspirated unvoiced stops. I put /z/ in parentheses, because I'm unsure about how I want to this sound to feature in the language, if at all. Also, I haven't gotten to allophones yet, so those aren't featured in this chart, but I will probably have the usual /ŋ/ and possibly /ɲ/ (in unvoiced varieties too). One thing I am curious about is to what extent allophony is necessary to make a language sound natural. I suspect at least some is needed, to break up the monotony. Also, it isn't evident in the chart, but I'm unsure if the velar fricatives will be their own phonemes or allophones of the velar stops. Anyway, on to vowels.

Vowels:

Here's the vowel chart I made



Since I wanted to imitate a germanic sort of sound, I've included a set of three front rounded vowels. The vowel system is less specifically Icelandic, than a mash up of various germanic languages (I included the ae sound, for instance, because I like it a whole lot). Also, unlike Icelandic (but like Old Norse), my language includes phonemic vowel length. Orthographically, this is indicated as in Finnish by doubling the letter.


Well, I guess that wraps it up. Phonology/phonetics is definitely the area of linguistics which I am weakest in, so I'm curious to hear whether my inventories are noobish, or respectable.

Thanks.

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 1:33 am 
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The phonological system is not bad, and I do like how the voiceless nasals and liquids make it seem less SAE. As far as orthography, I would personally switch <o> and <w> around as well as <q> and <x>, but I do like the system other than that.

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 2:05 am 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 2:11 am 
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It's more logical to write the front rounded vowels <ü ẅ ö>


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 7:01 am 
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Alright, I update my consonant and vowel charts to reflect the suggestions made to me. One other question I thought of is, how does one go about choosing a set of diphthongs, in a way that makes phonetic sense?




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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 8:20 am 
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I like it! I'm a big fan of Icelandic, Old Norse and Old English. The only thing I'd add is /ɬ/ because I love that sound. I look forward to seeing more.

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 8:50 am 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 10:20 am 
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ɬ could be an allophone of /l̊/


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 10:43 am 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 5:39 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 6:13 pm 
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The distinction between <a> and <æ> is a bit weird to me - it implies four degrees of vowel height in both front and back vowels. In North Germanic languages, such a system is unstable, which is why Swedish and Norwegian have had a chain shift /o: u:/ > /u: ʉ:/. In French, this is the system in oral vowels, but there are many mergers in various dialects: my understanding is that most merge /a ɑ/, many merge /ø œ/, and some merge /e ɛ/.

Is there a vowel length distinction, as in the mainland Germanic languages?

What phonotactics are you thinking of including?


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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 6:56 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 7:25 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 11:34 pm 
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not having /z/ seems weird, i guess you could justify it by having a recent shift to... /j/? (since there's no j_0)

i like 8-bit-ascii orthographies so i'd say something like
<hm m hn n>
<p b t d k g>
<f v th dh s (z) x w h>
<hl l hr r y>
<i ü u>
<é ô o>
<e ö o>
<ä a>

and with all the consonants having voiceless-voiced pairs, you could have sino-tibetan-like initial consonant alternation, maybe for the causative, e.g.

dhäk 'be eaten' > thäk 'eat'
worm 'go' > xorm 'transport'
bü 'fly' > pü 'throw'
ymén 'fall' > shmén 'drop'
ölf 'hit' > hölf 'cause to hit'

as for allophony, low-mid and high-mid vowel contrasts are unstable; you could have /e 2 o/ be realized as [Ei 9y Ou] or [i@ y@ u@], at least in some circumstances -- maybe there's a split before different consonants but there are no phonemic contrasts yet. so e.g. [i@ y@ u@] before velars and [Ei 9y Ou] everywhere else, or [i@...] before nasals and [Ei...] everywhere else, or...

/{/ is also unstable, so you could have it become [e@] in some environments, esp. if you have [i@ y@ u@]. and then /O/ could maybe become [o@], but probably in different environments... and if you do all that, you could have marginal contrasts like in some dialects of AmEng, where, say, /O/ is usually [o@] before nasals and voiced consonants and [O] everywhere else, but one set of words has [O] where the regular rule would predict [o@]

another thing that seems likely is restricted distribution; maybe high-mid vowels can't appear with a following consonant, /E/ can't appear before a velar, etc.

if /j/ is from *z you could have /s/ palatalize to [j_0] or [C] before /e i/

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:19 am 
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:06 am 
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Breathy voice sounds reasonable, but I heavily doubt my knowledge on the subject. Slack voice is sometimes described as half-voicing, so that might be even better.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 2:31 pm 
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Swedish and Norwegian have word tones. It's not the same as the pitch accent of Japanese or Ancient Greek, in which a word may have an accented syllable/mora, distinguished by high pitch. Systems with word tone, and two possible tones on each word, e.g. Shanghainese and Swedish, are called pitch accent as well, but are different from the Ancient Greek pitch accent. Swedish and Norwegian in fact have a Germanic stress accent (and Swedish can have two adjacent stressed syllables).


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 3:58 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:05 am 
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Hello: I have a bit of an update on my phonology.

So I had an idea: I've been reading up on Estonian, which I learned distinguishes between three vowel lengths. I found this really attractive, so I was thinking of incorporating this into my vowel system. The way it would work is that there would be three different lengths. monophthongs would exist in all three lengths, whereas diphthongs could exist in just two, lengths 2 and 3. Furthermore, if I add a triphthong or two, then they would only exist in the third length.

Does that system make sense? Is it too excessive?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:47 am 
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Japanese has the Ancient Greek type of pitch accent and two phonemic lengths.
As for Estonian, as far as I can understand from Wikipedia, extra long vowels occur only in stressed syllables, and there are no regular long vowels in stressed syllables (the contrast is essentially between stressed and unstressed long vowel syllables in the same position). Interestingly, falling pitch occurs in Modern Estonian on these extra long vowels.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:25 pm 
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Properly phonemic three-way length contrasts do occur in and .

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:33 pm 
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My only critique is that I can't pronounce the trill (which makes it confusing when I'm speaking Spanish "DOES HE MEAN CAR OR EXPENSIVE? DOES HE MEAN BUT OR DOG??") so if I turn it into an approximant, will you be mad at me?

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