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zompist bboard • View topic - How to Design a European Phonology (in Interesting Ways!)

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:58 pm 
Avisaru
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The other thread, about avoiding Euro-sounding phonologies, got me thinking about what you would do if you wanted to make a language that sounds European. But in a clever way. So here are my thoughts.

First off, consider the major linguistic provinces, what the areal features are in each, and how they might go together. Romanian shows what happens when a Romance language collides with Slavic languages. Some of these provinces will have very porous boundaries. For example, the uvular rhotic cuts scorss the Romance/Germanic provincial boundary.

Second, what are some historical trends you can exploit? If you went back in time you'd notice that many European languages distinguished apical and laminal coronal consonants (as Basque still does), an areal feature every bit as distinctive and bizarre as the lack of fricative in Australia or the two-vowel system(s) of the Caucasus. Preserving features like this might make a language stand out in modern Europe, but it will give it a wonderful continuity with European diachronics.

Third, don't just think about what makes European languages typical, but also what makes them unique and interesting in a world context. European languages often have baroque vowel inventories with lots of rounded front vowels, so go crazy with it! See how complex you can make it and still have it make sense.

What else would you say to someone who wanted to make a European-sounding phonology interesting?

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[quote="Nortaneous"]Is South Africa better off now than it was a few decades ago?[/quote]


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:07 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:01 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:28 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:56 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:06 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:47 am 
Sumerul
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Hmm. Might be a good idea to make a list of odd/non-SAE things found in European languages. The apical-laminal distinction is one (although Basque has apical-laminal-postalveolar, which I stole for Enzielu), then:

* Germanic and Slavic tone
* gheada
*
*

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Siöö jandeng raiglin zåbei tandiüłåd;
nää džunnfin kukuch vklaivei sivei tåd.
Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:04 pm 
Lebom
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I'd suggest also determining either a genetic or areal relationship and play on those stereotypes. For instance:

"I want it to sound Romance-y" == stereotypically around 5-8 vowels, lots of open syllables and multisyllabic roots, palatalization
"I want it to sound Germanic-y" == stereotypically 10-15 vowels, lots of closed syllables and monosyllabic roots, velar sounds (/x/, /k/, /g/, /N/, /h/)

Of course, IMO most of the "sound" of a language comes from the patterns of the words/syllables, not from the sounds themselves. For instance, /?/, /N/, and /{/ are all perfectly valid English sounds (although granted, /?/ is not generally a phoneme), but the word nga? wouldn't sound remotely English.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:35 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:19 pm 
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nää džunnfin kukuch vklaivei sivei tåd.
Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:25 pm 
Avisaru
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Slavic languages just generally hate velars. They've done everything in their power to get rid of them for thousands of years.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:51 pm 
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And don't forget the diachronic dimension. There can be interesting diachronics hidden behind a "bland" phoneme inventory.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Last edited by Ser on Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:37 pm 
Avisaru
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[quote="Nortaneous"]Is South Africa better off now than it was a few decades ago?[/quote]


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:55 pm 
Sumerul
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Siöö jandeng raiglin zåbei tandiüłåd;
nää džunnfin kukuch vklaivei sivei tåd.
Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:04 pm 
Smeric
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Everybody hates /g/. In Inuktitut g (and the other voiced stop, the uvular) turns into some sort of fricative in most places it occurs, especially intervocally.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:06 pm 
Sumerul
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Don't forget Hebrew fricatizing it.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:15 pm 
Smeric
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And Arabic palatalizing it too
Man g is just not a popular guy


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:43 pm 
Lebom
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:08 pm 
Smeric
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Hey c is a total gossiper, he kind of had it coming, and everyone was expecting it.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:43 am 
Avisaru
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Japanese also hates g, turning it into a nasal.

And Hebrew g is now longer fricatized!



BTW, c is a really nice guy. I think everybody likes him, it's just that he's so similar to some other guys that people keep confusing them. And his look-alikes are so inconsiderate, they pretend to be him so people would talk to them as well! Could you believe them?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:31 am 
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Online dictionary for my conlang Vanga: http://royalrailway.com/tungumaalMiin/Vanga/

#undef FEMALE

I'd love for you to try my game out! Here's the forum thread about it:
http://zbb.spinnwebe.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=36688

Of an Ernst'ian one.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:03 am 
Sumerul
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:24 am 
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Online dictionary for my conlang Vanga: http://royalrailway.com/tungumaalMiin/Vanga/

#undef FEMALE

I'd love for you to try my game out! Here's the forum thread about it:
http://zbb.spinnwebe.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=36688

Of an Ernst'ian one.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:45 am 
Sumerul
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirah%C3%A3_language
The Piraha phonological inventory on wikipedia highlights something I think is pertinent here: Piraha is often claimed to have "no nasals", but as Wikipedia points out, you could reanalyse it as having "no velars" instead, because it has [k g] and [m n] all as allophones of something or other. I think both analyses are very misleading because the language phonetically has both sounds, and it's just in phonological/theoretical terms that it doesn't have one or the other.


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