Conlanging from an Ancestral Language

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Ælfwine
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Conlanging from an Ancestral Language

Post by Ælfwine » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 03:47

Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by cedh » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 07:22

Ælfwine wrote:Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
Doing it in stages definitely adds more realism and may also provide ideas for grammatical developments (e.g. if these developments are plausible starting from an intermediate stage but not so much from the initial or final stage), especially if you're working with a significant time depth (500 years - no stages necessary; 1000 years - you'll probably see little difference; 2000+ years - working in stages will give a much more plausible result).

I personally tend to end up doing everything at once though, because really working out several stages of a language is just too much work. Although sometimes I might fake an intermediate stage, for instance by planning the sound changes in two halves with a workable intermediate phonology, and writing one or two example sentences for the early form of my language without ever working out more detail than necessary for this small sample.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by DesEsseintes » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 07:50

Ælfwine wrote:Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
I plan what I want to happen roughly from proto to daughter and draw up a list of sound changes. I then order them to make sure they're doing their job properly. Then I divide them up into stages and try to refine the sound changes (I normally come up with conditioning environments and exceptions at this stage).

For my conlang Híí I've identified the following stages so far:
Proto-Plains
Proto-Híí
Old Híí
Middle Híí
Late Híí
Modern Híí
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by ixals » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 13:06

Ælfwine wrote:Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
I do it all at once but I know that it doesn't yield the most realistic results. For sound changes it's not as bad but grammar-wise it could help to do it in stages if you want to go for extra realism. What I do, however, is doing all the sound changes at once and put them in single stages afterwards like DesEsseintes. But for grammar, it would be just too much work as cedh says. I always would love to do it, but it would take up so much time that it's not worth it, in my opinion.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 13:53

Ælfwine wrote:Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
I just want the descendant language to be such and such. Then I try to find out how the parent language could become like that.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 14:21

As a first draft, all in one go. Then divide that into stages and do a bit on each. This helps give discipline - makes sure you're not proposing an intermediate stage that's too weird, and that you're not going to end up proposing too massive a change in too short a period. It is also a good opportunity to spot potential exceptions, simplifications, fossilisable idioms, etc.
However, I wouldn't worry too much about the details of grammar. I have a general idea of the changes in the grammar over time, but I don't worry too much about pinning each one down to a definite point in time, or spend time working out minor complexities and nuances that won't be reflecting in the daughter languages. So i work on stages, but only with an eye on the finished result.

[Of course, introducing periodisation at an early point also makes it much easier for you if you later decide you want to spin off a relative].
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 15:04

Another advantage of stages is that you can introduce loanwords at different stages. My favourite example is German Pfalz and Palast both from Latin Palatium, but loaned at different stages.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Egerius » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 15:14

Ælfwine wrote:Somewhat of an open ended question, but how do you guys usually conlang when going from an ancestor language to a modern language? Do you do it in stages or all at once?
I do it in stages, so I can observe the inflectional changes and, yes, loanwords can come in multiple times at different stages.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Wed 06 Sep 2017, 21:39

Great responses guys. Shoulda made a thread for this but wasn't sure.

I've been working on my conlangs all in one go before, but this time i think I'll try doing stages as my thoughts tend to be all over the place for those who know me.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by DesEsseintes » Thu 07 Sep 2017, 03:48

Ælfwine wrote:Great responses guys. Shoulda made a thread for this but wasn't sure.

I've been working on my conlangs all in one go before, but this time i think I'll try doing stages as my thoughts tend to be all over the place for those who know me.
Ask a mod to make a thread out of your question and the replies it garnered, especially if you plan on continuing the discussion. [:)]
Edit: Whoa it happened!
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine » Thu 07 Sep 2017, 19:12

DesEsseintes wrote:
Ælfwine wrote:Great responses guys. Shoulda made a thread for this but wasn't sure.

I've been working on my conlangs all in one go before, but this time i think I'll try doing stages as my thoughts tend to be all over the place for those who know me.
Ask a mod to make a thread out of your question and the replies it garnered, especially if you plan on continuing the discussion. [:)]
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It's magic...

I'm thinking of splitting my romlang into five or six 300 year stages, like so:

Classical Latin
Cf. <400 C.E.

Vulgar Latin
Cf. 400-700 C.E.

Proto-Pannonian
Cf. 700-1000 C.E

Old Pannonian
Cf. 1000-1400 C.E.

Middle Pannonian
C.f. 1400-1700 C.E.

Modern Pannonian
C.f. 1700> C.E

In your guys opinion, what is a good number of sound shifts to shoot for for each stage? (Or, how many do you guys usually shoot for?)
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar » Thu 07 Sep 2017, 19:38

Ælfwine wrote: In your guys opinion, what is a good number of sound shifts to shoot for for each stage? (Or, how many do you guys usually shoot for?)
This was one of the first questions I asked when I first joined the board, but I've never gotten a satisfying answer, because I don't think there is one.

The answer I got was pretty much that there's really no way to predict how many sound changes will happen over any period of time, since different languages change at different rates, and the same language can change at different rates at different times. It's hard to say how many you "should" aim for for any period of time. It's also hard to define how many sound changes take place between two points in time, because I'm sure not everyone would agree on what counts as one single sound change.

I personally tend to go for maybe 15-20 big changes for every thousand years.
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Re: Conlanging from an Ancestral Language

Post by qwed117 » Thu 07 Sep 2017, 20:07

So I have about 90 codified sound changes in Learran (over 2000 years), and in another diachronic lang I made, I had around 130 (over only around 1000). Usually the substance of the change matters more. A change like a/e/_C might drastically affect the feel of a language, while a change like š/ś/_ might be completely unsubstantial. In addition, a significant amount of change is in lexical elements, and not just in phones.

I'd imagine the most finest set for a language over 2000 years probably is a good 400 to 500 changes, but most of those changes will likely be minor, only affecting a few words at most, or shoehorning in words that might different from other words in development. A good 200 is probably enough for a conlang. If you're going to be developing this over stages, it's probably best to draw points every time several major related changes occur (ie after Grimm's and Verner's law in proto-Germanic and thus English), or before not all changes are in the family.
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Re: Conlanging from an Ancestral Language

Post by Salmoneus » Thu 07 Sep 2017, 23:27

I'd suggest seeing things less in terms of specific 'sound changes' and more in terms of processes. The Great Vowel Shift, for instance, was made up of a lot of little changes, but forms a single (ish) process.

But there's no real answer. What is one sound change? What language is changing? - if you've got 30 vowels, you'll see more minor vowel changes in a century than if you have 3! And what are the processes? If a change is "all unstressed vowels drop", don't be surprised if there's an immense flurry of subsequent rapid changes in the near future dealing with cluster simplification!
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Re: Conlanging from an Ancestral Language

Post by k1234567890y » Tue 19 Sep 2017, 20:08

I sometimes do the proto-lang and the modern lang together at once, with one side listing the modern form and the other side listing the proto-form.
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