(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by DesEsseintes » Thu 22 Mar 2018, 06:51

Parlox wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 04:25
In my conlang Manchi, stops have a five way distinction. Voiceless, voiced, voiceless aspirated, breathy voice stops, and prenasalised stops. How realistic is this, and what should i change?
Osage has a five-way distinction in labial stops. There are a handful of other languages that have five or six stop series, but I don’t remember what they are.

The distinctions you mention don’t seem particularly problematic to me personally, though preaspirated stops would go very nicely with prenasalised stops in my opinion.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch » Thu 22 Mar 2018, 10:27

Davush wrote:
Wed 21 Mar 2018, 18:48
How do you all organise your lexicons? Do you memorise words as you go along or make a conscious effort to learn vocabulary in your conlang? Do you look up words in a lexicon when creating examples or translating? I am finding this quite frustrating as I will often forget words, or forget I have created a word, and end up with 5 synonymous or near-synonymous words. ((This can sometimes be a good thing for adding quirky nuances, though). I also don't have the time/energy to actually 'learn' my conlangs, which makes creating examples using more than 10 core words laborious. I find Excel depressing and dull, but it is probably the most efficient way of managing a lexicon. Does anybody use any other programs/methods?
I don't even try to memorise anything when it comes to conlangs because my brain is already getting enough natlangs mixed up. Sometimes I end up "learning" certain words or grammatical features of my conlangs, but that's never intentional. I just write all the rules down in an .rtf file along with a huge disorganised mess of vocabulary. I always try to organise them somehow, usually either alphabetically or in some kind of thematic way (animals, bodyparts, etc.), usually with derivatives like antonyms and whatnot below, but that's not that important because ctrl+f exists. [:P]

So, basically, I have lists like this:
[word in the conlang] - [English translation(s)]

Random example that isn't from any of my actual conlangs:
luh - cold, cool, frozen
mole - tortoise, turtle
nūnā - happiness, joy, enjoyment, fun, etc.
binūnā - sadness, depression, boredom, etc.
oba - pizza
obanūnā - the taste of pizza and the good feeling derived from eating it
luhoba - cold pizza that no one wants to eat
Parlox wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 04:25
In my conlang Manchi, stops have a five way distinction. Voiceless, voiced, voiceless aspirated, breathy voice stops, and prenasalised stops. How realistic is this, and what should i change?
Doesn't seem unrealistic to me. What DesEsseintes said is one option, but another one would be to give the prenasalised stops aspirated counterparts as well; that's close to what Wa has, although with the exception that it doesn't have plain voiced aspirated stops. Some stuff on Hmong says it has voiceless/voiced±aspirated±prenasalised stops, but other stuff (like the Wikipedia article on Hmong) only mention the voiceless ones having prenasalised aspirated counterparts, while the voiced ones are either prenasalised or aspirated but not both; however, on another article on Wikipedia only the voiced ones are implied to occur as prenasalised aspirated, so I don't know... I guess it simply means that voicing isn't distinctive in the prenasalised aspirated stops.

Theoretically, you could even have prenasalised preaspirated stops, but that's getting kinda ridiculous since AFAIK no language has those (and there are no results on Google for ʰⁿt, ⁿʰt, etc. or "prenasalised preaspirated", etc.) and they'd most likely simply be clusters of /h/ and a prenasalised stop, a nasal and a preaspirated stop or a (pre)aspirated nasal and a (prenasalised/preaspirated) stop, because how else would they really be articulated? Still, no one is stopping anyone from going crazy with phonemes like /ʰᵐp ʰⁿt ʰᵑk/, especially if giving them phonemic status was simply a matter of convenience, eg. if the language's phonotactics didn't permit other clusters and/or the nasalisation was phonetically on the preceding vowel, etc. [:P]

Anyway, if you like your phonology just the way it is and think adding prenasalised aspirated stops and/or preaspirated stops would make it worse, there's no reason to add them.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by clawgrip » Thu 22 Mar 2018, 14:32

Salmoneus wrote:
Mon 19 Mar 2018, 22:43
Do you have examples for animacy? Not doubting you, just not familiar with that, I don't think.
Unfortunately, I don't, I was just listening things off the top of my head that seemed possible. I wish I had an example.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Thu 22 Mar 2018, 15:09

Parlox wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 04:25
In my conlang Manchi, stops have a five way distinction. Voiceless, voiced, voiceless aspirated, breathy voice stops, and prenasalised stops. How realistic is this, and what should i change?
Wait, "Manchi", with voiceless, voiced, voiceless aspirated and breathy voiced stops? Woah. either great minds think alike, or that's a massive coincidence!

[About ten years... or more?... ago, over on the ZBB we had a brief collaborative thing to develop 'Manchi' and 'Manchistan' (preliminary names). Manchi was to be a Uralic language that had migrated the wrong way and ended up somewhere in the Indo-Iranian sphere (we ended up in the Pamir), so that it was at least debated whether it would indeed have the Indic four-series system. We never actually did develop that Manchi (probably in part bcause I got over-enthusiasted and chased people away by monopolising the political con-history), but the name is a blast from the past!]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Parlox » Thu 22 Mar 2018, 16:30

Vlürch wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 10:27
Theoretically, you could even have prenasalised preaspirated stops, but that's getting kinda ridiculous since AFAIK no language has those (and there are no results on Google for ʰⁿt, ⁿʰt, etc. or "prenasalised preaspirated", etc.) and they'd most likely simply be clusters of /h/ and a prenasalised stop, a nasal and a preaspirated stop or a (pre)aspirated nasal and a (prenasalised/preaspirated) stop, because how else would they really be articulated? Still, no one is stopping anyone from going crazy with phonemes like /ʰᵐp ʰⁿt ʰᵑk/, especially if giving them phonemic status was simply a matter of convenience, eg. if the language's phonotactics didn't permit other clusters and/or the nasalisation was phonetically on the preceding vowel, etc. [:P]

Anyway, if you like your phonology just the way it is and think adding prenasalised aspirated stops and/or preaspirated stops would make it worse, there's no reason to add them.
I might add preaspirated stops, if I can figure out how to pronounce them.
Salmoneus wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 15:09
Parlox wrote:
Thu 22 Mar 2018, 04:25
In my conlang Manchi, stops have a five way distinction. Voiceless, voiced, voiceless aspirated, breathy voice stops, and prenasalised stops. How realistic is this, and what should i change?
[About ten years... or more?... ago, over on the ZBB we had a brief collaborative thing to develop 'Manchi' and 'Manchistan' (preliminary names). Manchi was to be a Uralic language that had migrated the wrong way and ended up somewhere in the Indo-Iranian sphere (we ended up in the Pamir), so that it was at least debated whether it would indeed have the Indic four-series system. We never actually did develop that Manchi (probably in part bcause I got over-enthusiasted and chased people away by monopolising the political con-history), but the name is a blast from the past!]
That's very interesting! Though (my) Manchi is primarily inflenced by Tibetan and English, with minor Arabic and Pashto influences.

(I arrived at the name "Manchi" from "Machu Picchu")
  • :con: Cajun, a descendant of French spoken in Louisiana.
  • :con: Bàsupan, loosely inspired by Amharic.
  • :con: Oddúhath Claire, a fusion of Welsh and Arabic.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by felipesnark » Fri 23 Mar 2018, 02:18

Davush wrote:
Wed 21 Mar 2018, 18:48
How do you all organise your lexicons? Do you memorise words as you go along or make a conscious effort to learn vocabulary in your conlang? Do you look up words in a lexicon when creating examples or translating? I am finding this quite frustrating as I will often forget words, or forget I have created a word, and end up with 5 synonymous or near-synonymous words. ((This can sometimes be a good thing for adding quirky nuances, though). I also don't have the time/energy to actually 'learn' my conlangs, which makes creating examples using more than 10 core words laborious. I find Excel depressing and dull, but it is probably the most efficient way of managing a lexicon. Does anybody use any other programs/methods?
I don't memorize words intentionally. I just memorize the odd word here or there. I use SIL FieldWorks Language Explorer to maintain and organize my lexicon. I believe it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. For documentation of my conlang in general, I use Google Apps.
Visit my website for my blogs and information on my conlangs including Shonkasika: http://felipesnark.weebly.com/ It's a work in progress!
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Fri 23 Mar 2018, 14:31

I think I've asked this question a while ago, but it is one which still plagues my ability to create words. How many roots vs derivations? In a conlang which allows quite free compounding, it is tempting to create words out of as few roots as possible, but this leads to a mechanical effect. On the other hand, having too many un-analysable/non-transparent 'old' roots leaves the language feeling not quite coherent. How does everyone go about this? Are some languages simply more derivation heavy than others? I imagine more isolated languages will rely on derivation more, as loanwords are less available.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by gestaltist » Fri 23 Mar 2018, 14:43

Davush wrote:
Fri 23 Mar 2018, 14:31
I think I've asked this question a while ago, but it is one which still plagues my ability to create words. How many roots vs derivations? In a conlang which allows quite free compounding, it is tempting to create words out of as few roots as possible, but this leads to a mechanical effect. On the other hand, having too many un-analysable/non-transparent 'old' roots leaves the language feeling not quite coherent. How does everyone go about this? Are some languages simply more derivation heavy than others? I imagine more isolated languages will rely on derivation more, as loanwords are less available.
I think it's a false dichotomy. Derivations become new roots given enough time and diachronic change. In other words: I don't worry about it.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa » Fri 23 Mar 2018, 20:57

Well, I like to keep words alive, so to speak, by passing down derived forms of words in their abstract form rather then succumbing to sound change and becoming ordinary opaque roots. Some polysynthetic languages have less than 2000 roots and they get along fine.... even placenames can be derivations that mature with the language and remain with their grammatical form after many generations. Only exceptions I have in conlangs are placenames and names of species... i.e. things whose meanings cannot ever change. But some natlangs are more powerful, in this regard, than even my most extreme conlangs.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 00:22

[/quote]
I think it's a false dichotomy. Derivations become new roots given enough time and diachronic change. In other words: I don't worry about it.
[/quote]

I'm probably overthinking...maybe I should just let me instincts decide the ratio of roots words to derivations. [:D]
Pabappa wrote:
Fri 23 Mar 2018, 20:57
Well, I like to keep words alive, so to speak, by passing down derived forms of words in their abstract form rather then succumbing to sound change and becoming ordinary opaque roots. Some polysynthetic languages have less than 2000 roots and they get along fine.... even placenames can be derivations that mature with the language and remain with their grammatical form after many generations. Only exceptions I have in conlangs are placenames and names of species... i.e. things whose meanings cannot ever change. But some natlangs are more powerful, in this regard, than even my most extreme conlangs.
I'm not too sure I understand. Could you perhaps give an examples of a derived word in its 'abstract form', and a place name with its 'grammatical form'?

New Question:

At what point does an allophone become a phoneme in its own right? I am unsure whether to include the following under allophones, or as separate phonemes in Qutrussan.

/k g/ when followed by /i j/ become /c ɟ/. Word finally, the /i/ is often dropped or extra-short: raci [ɾæc] muggi [mʊɟɟ]

Similarly, /l n/ become /ɲ ʎ/ or close enough: líhi [ʎiːħi] cyóni [cjɔːɲ] - this could also possible be [cɔːɲ] (I can't hear a difference between /c/ and /cj/ to be honest).

/ts dz/ may also become /tɕ dʑ/, but this is also a common dialectal realization regardless of surrounding vowels. ziris [dʑiɾɪs] qadzi [qaddʑ] ?zúr [dʑuːɾ].
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 16:47

Davush wrote:
Sat 24 Mar 2018, 00:22
At what point does an allophone become a phoneme in its own right? I am unsure whether to include the following under allophones, or as separate phonemes in Qutrussan.

/k g/ when followed by /i j/ become /c ɟ/.
Turkic languages usually have some noticeable difference between the dorsal stops with front and back vowels, but whether they're considered separate phonemes or not varies by language; in Turkish, both [c ɟ] and [k g] are represented by <k g> and are not considered phonemic, but in Tatar's Latin orthography [k g] and [q ʁ] are <k g> and <q ğ> but in the Cyrillic orthography both are <к г>, while Kazakh's [k g q ʁ] are written <к г қ ғ>, etc.

Then again, graphemic distinction and phonemic distinction aren't always equivalent... I'd say do whatever feels better and consider this: would the speakers of the language perceive them as different sounds or not? If yes, then it'd make more sense to call them phonemes. If not, then it makes more sense to analyse them as allophones.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 17:47

Can you make a 3 way distinction of /k/ vs /ci/ vs /c/? If so then the /c/ has to be phonemic.

For the other question, I'll try to word my answer better if I think of another way, but the Semitic langs may be a better example anyway, as they have neologisms formed from elements that are the exact same as they were thousands of years ago, without the derivations being analyzed as independent roots. E.g. the Hebrew word for pencil is not a loan , but a transparent derivation from the word for lead , and the Arabic & Hebrew words for school are both fairly old derivations that nonetheless still today behave as derivations and not as opaque roots like a loanword would. That is, sound changes were applied to the root rather than the derived form as a whole, because it still behaved as a derived form rather than a single opaque root. If the word for book changed, so too would the word for school, even if sound changes wouldnt have effected the word for school in isolation. Not many langs do this with basic vocabulary words like "school" & "pencil".
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 18:02

Davush wrote:
Sat 24 Mar 2018, 00:22
I think it's a false dichotomy. Derivations become new roots given enough time and diachronic change. In other words: I don't worry about it.
I'm probably overthinking...maybe I should just let me instincts decide the ratio of roots words to derivations. [:D]
Pabappa wrote:
Fri 23 Mar 2018, 20:57
Well, I like to keep words alive, so to speak, by passing down derived forms of words in their abstract form rather then succumbing to sound change and becoming ordinary opaque roots. Some polysynthetic languages have less than 2000 roots and they get along fine.... even placenames can be derivations that mature with the language and remain with their grammatical form after many generations. Only exceptions I have in conlangs are placenames and names of species... i.e. things whose meanings cannot ever change. But some natlangs are more powerful, in this regard, than even my most extreme conlangs.
I'm not too sure I understand. Could you perhaps give an examples of a derived word in its 'abstract form', and a place name with its 'grammatical form'?

New Question:

At what point does an allophone become a phoneme in its own right? I am unsure whether to include the following under allophones, or as separate phonemes in Qutrussan.

/k g/ when followed by /i j/ become /c ɟ/. Word finally, the /i/ is often dropped or extra-short: raci [ɾæc] muggi [mʊɟɟ]

Similarly, /l n/ become /ɲ ʎ/ or close enough: líhi [ʎiːħi] cyóni [cjɔːɲ] - this could also possible be [cɔːɲ] (I can't hear a difference between /c/ and /cj/ to be honest).

/ts dz/ may also become /tɕ dʑ/, but this is also a common dialectal realization regardless of surrounding vowels. ziris [dʑiɾɪs] qadzi [qaddʑ] ?zúr [dʑuːɾ].
Is the final <i> ever pronounced in, for example, <cyóni>?



IIRC, an allophone is often (but not always) recognised to have become a phoneme when the original conditioning environment has disappeared, which is one of the reasons why you get things like "minimally phonemic" where two sounds are only phonemic in specific environments. In Icelandic, for example, [c] and [k] both appear before back vowels, but only [c] appears before front vowels and before [j], so they contrast in some environments, but not in others (IIRC, some instances of [j] are morphologically determined, e.g. grikkur (prank) ~ grikkjum, vs. myrkur (darkness) ~ myrkrum vs. fiskur (fish) ~ fiskum, such that the appearance of [c] is morphophonemic).
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Sat 24 Mar 2018, 19:46

Pabappa wrote:
Sat 24 Mar 2018, 17:47
Can you make a 3 way distinction of /k/ vs /ci/ vs /c/? If so then the /c/ has to be phonemic.

For the other question, I'll try to word my answer better if I think of another way, but the Semitic langs may be a better example anyway, as they have neologisms formed from elements that are the exact same as they were thousands of years ago, without the derivations being analyzed as independent roots. E.g. the Hebrew word for pencil is not a loan , but a transparent derivation from the word for lead , and the Arabic & Hebrew words for school are both fairly old derivations that nonetheless still today behave as derivations and not as opaque roots like a loanword would. That is, sound changes were applied to the root rather than the derived form as a whole, because it still behaved as a derived form rather than a single opaque root. If the word for book changed, so too would the word for school, even if sound changes wouldnt have effected the word for school in isolation. Not many langs do this with basic vocabulary words like "school" & "pencil".
Thanks - I think Semitic is quite unique in this regard though, because of how the triconsonantal root is pervasive throughout the morphology and sound change (of consonants) is likely to be analogised throughout the system. There are some interesting sound changes which do obscure things somewhat though, i.e. in the Gulf /q/ > /dʒ/ mostly before front vowels but also sometimes sporadically, leading to things like /dʒiddaːm/ 'in front of' and /yuqaddim/' 'he presents' both from q-d-m, or for example in a Yemeni dialect /qalb/ means a date palm heart, but /galb/ means human heart, both from q-l-b. I wonder if it is naturalistic for this type of thing to occur in languages otherwise? You also mentioned placenames - I wonder if there are any examples of place names being more resistant to sound change, or reacting in unusual ways?
sangi39 wrote:
Sat 24 Mar 2018, 18:02


Is the final <i> ever pronounced in, for example, <cyóni>?


...
The /i/ is pronounced sometimes, especially if the following word has a CC cluster, as CCC clusters are strongly avoided. I think it will mostly been in free-variation, with the silent /i/ forms being more common in colloquial speech. I suppose this is an allophone which is on the verge of becoming phonemic but I will probably keep it as an allophone for now as it isn't indicated in the writing system and is subject to dialectal variation. Also, are there any languages which contrast /c/ with /cj/? I'm finding such a distinction difficult to pronounce! (I know Russian has /tʲ/ vs /tj/ (and maybe vs /tʲj/) but this seems easier to distinguish as it seems like there is a tiny /ɨ/ like glide after the non-palatalised /t/).

I wonder how/if speakers of languages without writing systems have the idea of a phoneme?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Shemtov » Sun 25 Mar 2018, 19:38

Is it naturalistic for Retroflexes to merge with the post-alveolar series?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » Sun 25 Mar 2018, 20:28

Shemtov wrote:
Sun 25 Mar 2018, 19:38
Is it naturalistic for Retroflexes to merge with the post-alveolar series?
I just have to be a pain, but did you mean the palato-alveolar series or the alveolo-palatal series? Since those two and retroflexx consonants are all "post-alveolar" (its a bit of a catch-all term, like "dorsal" or "coronal", but a bit more specific).

Overall, though, I'd say it's not an unreasonable merger to expect. There are so many different ways the post-alveolars can be distinguished (apical vs. laminal vs. subapical, flat vs. domed vs. palatalised, closed vs. non-closed), and some of them are distinguished only by means of one feature (IIRC, Polish has laminal flat (retroflex) vs. laminal palatalised (alveolo-palatal), so it doesn't seem unlikely that the two might merge in some languages.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Mon 26 Mar 2018, 21:01

Are some instances of sound change seemingly unmotivated/random in that the surrounding phonetic context does little to explain the change but are nonetheless attested? I.e. palatalisation is very common around high vowels due to how the sounds interact, and most sound changes can be explained in a similar manner, but how about something like 'all vowels lower before /p b f v/' or '/a/ > /ɔ/ before /n/? Any thoughts or examples from natlangs?
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by cedh » Tue 27 Mar 2018, 10:08

Yes, changes of that sort are attested. A fairly well-known natlang example is the palatalisation of *k → tʃ → ʃ before /a/ in French. But: Usually there's a phonetic motivation somewhere underneath; in this case most likely that /a/ was pronounced a bit closer to the front of the mouth than today when the change started (possibly allophonically triggered by the preceding velar!).

Apparent "sound changes" in situations where they don't seem to make sense phonetically might sometimes also be conditioned morphologically. For instance, the addition of a common suffix may phonetically trigger a sound change in some common words. This change might then spread to other words of the same class by analogy, as a morphophonological rule associated with the suffix. If the change is sufficiently common, it may affect all forms of the same words even without the triggering suffix. And finally, the change may be analogically extended to other instances of the same phoneme in other words, even where the suffix never played a role. But note that while this should be possible, the odds for it to happen are very low, and I don't know of any securely attested natlang examples offhand.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Tue 27 Mar 2018, 11:17

cedh wrote:
Tue 27 Mar 2018, 10:08
Yes, changes of that sort are attested. A fairly well-known natlang example is the palatalisation of *k → tʃ → ʃ before /a/ in French. But: Usually there's a phonetic motivation somewhere underneath; in this case most likely that /a/ was pronounced a bit closer to the front of the mouth than today when the change started (possibly allophonically triggered by the preceding velar!).

Apparent "sound changes" in situations where they don't seem to make sense phonetically might sometimes also be conditioned morphologically. For instance, the addition of a common suffix may phonetically trigger a sound change in some common words. This change might then spread to other words of the same class by analogy, as a morphophonological rule associated with the suffix. If the change is sufficiently common, it may affect all forms of the same words even without the triggering suffix. And finally, the change may be analogically extended to other instances of the same phoneme in other words, even where the suffix never played a role. But note that while this should be possible, the odds for it to happen are very low, and I don't know of any securely attested natlang examples offhand.
Thanks. I did some searching and found an interesting paper which tries to explain some baffling sound changes such as /w/ > /nc/ In Sundanese. The paper says there is no evidence for intermediate stages, but what would you expect the path of /w/ > /nc/ to be? Perhaps /w/ > /ŋgʷ/ > /ɲɟ/ > /nc/? Although that doesn't explain by /ŋgʷ/ would front spontaneously.

A footnote reads: 'As Juliette Blevins (p.c.) puts it: “It seems to me that the entire array of facts could go back to just one high-frequency correspondence (e.g. cai/wai or cai/bai), with analogical ex- tensions of this high-frequency correspondence into subsequent borrowings.'

So, fellow conlangers, if you want to justify an outlandish sound change, it seems one way is to just apply it to one high-frequency word and then have diffusion via analogy. [:D] (The author does admit that this still doesn't explain why /w/ > /c/ though).

It is available here if anyone is interested: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by spanick » Tue 27 Mar 2018, 14:24

Have you ever thought, “Hey, I have some cool ideas for a Romlang, cause I’m super original like that.” Then realize you’re basically just making Romansh?

Yeah, me neither...
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