Conlanger problems.

A forum for discussing linguistics or just languages in general.
Post Reply
Nachtuil
sinic
sinic
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed 20 Jul 2016, 23:16

Conlanger problems.

Post by Nachtuil » Tue 22 Aug 2017, 21:02

Does anyone else get annoyed when common everday language instruction books don't include IPA symbols?

It seems like such a small bit of ink but so many books in north America which of course are intended for a common English speaking audience seem content to try to explain sounds with heinous, hopelessly imprecise wordy English approximations. This is incredibly frustrating at times.

I have a number of books and the better more "serious" ones have IPA but I also notice that books printed in Europe tend to be far better at it. I assume that since multilingualism is more common there consumers are more familiar with IPA but I don't know for sure. Either way it really cranks my gears.

Does anyone else have any pet peeves that don't bother normal non-linguistically savvy people?
Ashtăr Balynestjăr
sinic
sinic
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed 18 Jan 2017, 07:17

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Ashtăr Balynestjăr » Tue 22 Aug 2017, 22:08

I think the most annoying case of this I’ve come across was a description of [ʌ] in an English textbook for Spanish speakers. If I remember correctly, it was something like the following, but without the IPA.

Start from [l]. Release the tip of the tongue so that it’s just floating in the middle of the mouth, and then, while retaining that tongue shape, pull everything back. That should give you [ɹ]. Now remove the consonant-ness from that thing you’re doing, and just let the back of your tongue hover in midair, which should give you [ə]. Finally, open your mouth, but so much that you’re producing [a].
[ˈaʃt̪əɹ ˈbalɨˌnɛsʲtʲəɹ]
LinguoFranco
sinic
sinic
Posts: 348
Joined: Wed 20 Jul 2016, 16:49

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by LinguoFranco » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 03:59

Yes, this bugs me, too. Once I went IPA, I never looked back. I think it might simply be because most people might not get or at least not be interested in IPA. When I first got into conlanging, I wasn't, either, and would describe sounds as "/u/ is like the 'oo' in 'spoon.'"
I just found all those symbols daunting, though the chart layout is pretty much common-sense in retrospect.
User avatar
lsd
greek
greek
Posts: 825
Joined: Fri 11 Mar 2011, 21:11

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by lsd » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 08:20

Most of these books are aimed at those that do not want to make the extra effort to learn the IPA...
Often these are practical guides, for users that will use english phonemes anyway to make themselves understood...
Last edited by lsd on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 22:54, edited 1 time in total.
Iyionaku
roman
roman
Posts: 1474
Joined: Sun 25 May 2014, 13:17

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Iyionaku » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 10:18

Teaching IPA should be mandatory at schools, let's say in the lessons of the primary state's language. One poem interpretation less, one IPA training more.

I was lucky to have an older English workbook at school that solely relied on IPA. However, we never actually spoke about IPA. It was always more "rinse and repeat".

However, how many primary IPA symbols are there? 40? As LinguoFranco already stated, it really isn't a big deal.
Heaven and Earth, but I feel the color of the cake when you keep the Victoria.
I had a mantra on the moss and I had to go to bed.


Oh, and there is a [ɕ] in my name!
User avatar
Lao Kou
korean
korean
Posts: 5493
Joined: Sun 25 Nov 2012, 10:39
Location: 蘇州/苏州

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Lao Kou » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 10:52

Nachtuil wrote:Does anyone else get annoyed when common everyday language instruction books don't include IPA symbols?
Not I.
It seems like such a small bit of ink but so many books in North America which of course are intended for a common English speaking audience seem content to try to explain sounds with heinous, hopelessly imprecise wordy English approximations. This is incredibly frustrating at times.
But [q], an sich, doesn't magically imbue you with knowledge of how to produce the sound. Without a frame of reference, you're floundering just as much as the next guy. If you don't know the sound, is this especially helpful in learning Arabic?
Wikipedia wrote:It is pronounced like a voiceless velar stop [k], except that the tongue makes contact not on the soft palate but on the uvula.

There is also the voiceless pre-uvular stop in some languages, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless uvular stop, though not as front as the prototypical voiceless velar stop.
or this?
Wikipedia wrote: Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
Its place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.
Knowing this, will you get the sound right? Why, I can practically smell the tanjine. :roll:

Later (same Wikipedia page):

Code: Select all

Language 	Word 	  IPA 	     Meaning 	
Abaza 	   хъацIа 	[qat͡sʼa]   'man' 	
Adyghe 	  атакъэ 	[ataːqa]    'rooster'
etc.

In other words -- EEP! -- "As In" pronunciations. If you have exposure to any of those languages to latch on to, great. If you don't, so sorry for you. There are also some sound files -- hey, there's an idea! -- so that [q] actually has some meaning. But it's an extra step in learning Arabic whose necessity is questionable if you're a language learner.

The IPA is a useful shorthand, to be sure, of people who move about cross-linguistically, as people do here. But I think responding to "as in the 'u' in 'cut'" with "What does that mean? My aunt in Surrey pronounces "cut" [kpʊ̥̈θɢ], so I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about." is a little precious and twee (Look at me! I know the IPA!) and recalcitrantly not very charitable or cooperative.
Nachtuil wrote:Does anyone else have any pet peeves that don't bother normal non-linguistically savvy people?
Well, peeves be peeves, so what can you do? Personally, I find expecting a Teach Yourself Xhosa book to read like a descriptive grammar of Xhosa written by linguists for linguists akin to getting your knickers in a twist that The Joy of Cooking isn't written using symbols from the periodic table or that there are karaoké crooners out there who can't read music.

Edit: Came in as I was writing:
Iyionaku wrote:Teaching IPA should be mandatory at schools, let's say in the lessons of the primary state's language. One poem interpretation less, one IPA training more.

However, how many primary IPA symbols are there? 40? As LinguoFranco already stated, it really isn't a big deal.
Clearly, more knowledge is always a good thing -- I'm not advocating ignorance, and am a staunch supporter of liberal arts education. That said, having been exposed to the periodic table, I can noodle around it to find what I want, but if you expect me to reproduce the table or tell you exactly where Mn is without looking, you're going to be horribly disappointed. I would anticipate something similar for adult general users who had IPA back in K-12. (The value of [q]? Erm...)

And I think some language geek prejudices are showing (mandatory? [:O]) -- what's wrong with poem interpretation? What makes [ɸ] or [ɰ] more valuable to know than an ode to Heidelberg in springtime?
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名
Iyionaku
roman
roman
Posts: 1474
Joined: Sun 25 May 2014, 13:17

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Iyionaku » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 12:02

Lao Kou wrote:
Edit: Came in as I was writing:
Iyionaku wrote:Teaching IPA should be mandatory at schools, let's say in the lessons of the primary state's language. One poem interpretation less, one IPA training more.

However, how many primary IPA symbols are there? 40? As LinguoFranco already stated, it really isn't a big deal.
Clearly, more knowledge is always a good thing -- I'm not advocating ignorance, and am a staunch supporter of liberal arts education. That said, having been exposed to the periodic table, I can noodle around it to find what I want, but if you expect me to reproduce the table or tell you exactly where Mn is without looking, you're going to be horribly disappointed. I would anticipate something similar for adult general users who had IPA back in K-12. (The value of [q]? Erm...)

And I think some language geek prejudices are showing (mandatory? [:O]) -- what's wrong with poem interpretation? What makes [ɸ] or [ɰ] more valuable to know than an ode to Heidelberg in springtime?
Still you can tell that Mn is Manganese with ease. And so do many "ordinary" people as well - I mean, ordinary in a way that they are not exposed to it everyday.

The purpose of school is, of course, not that everyone will keep everything they've learnt. I doubt that I have ever needed 80% of what I learned at school. However, it's still useful to at least have heard about it before. Then people will be like "Oh yes, Mn! I know that! It's an element right? A metal, I guess?"
On the same way, if an ordinary person now sees /q/ or /ʌ/, they'll be like "Don't even bother... what does the paper say?"
Wikipedia wrote: It is pronounced like a voiceless velar stop [k], (...)
Alrighty!! So Arabic q is just like English k! Cool!

On the other hand, if they had had IPA in school, they'd be like "Oh well, I have no idea what /q/ means, but it's an IPA symbol, right? How was it, phonemes in slashes? Maybe I can find something in the internet."

Oh and regarding poem interpretation: I also think that it's very important, yes, but by our A-levels I had done six different interpretations - some of poems of writers you can't google. What's the sense in that? Wouldn't twice or thrice be sufficient in exchange for a little basic course of linguistics? When I started conlanging, I couldn't even tell phones and phonemes apart. But I could detailedly determine whether a poem was Romantic or Sturm und Drang.
Heaven and Earth, but I feel the color of the cake when you keep the Victoria.
I had a mantra on the moss and I had to go to bed.


Oh, and there is a [ɕ] in my name!
User avatar
Lao Kou
korean
korean
Posts: 5493
Joined: Sun 25 Nov 2012, 10:39
Location: 蘇州/苏州

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Lao Kou » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 14:21

Iyionaku wrote:Still you can tell that Mn is Manganese with ease. And so do many "ordinary" people as well - I mean, ordinary in a way that they are not exposed to it everyday.

The purpose of school is, of course, not that everyone will keep everything they've learnt. I doubt that I have ever needed 80% of what I learned at school. However, it's still useful to at least have heard about it before. Then people will be like "Oh yes, Mn! I know that! It's an element right? A metal, I guess?"
I quite agree -- breadth of knowledge, it's a good thing. A font of acquired knowledge from which you can readily draw -- super.
Wikipedia wrote:It is pronounced like a voiceless velar stop [k], (...)
Alrighty!! So Arabic q is just like English k! Cool!
How is that any different from saying it's like the "k" in "kitchen"? IPA [k] is a cardinal value, 'cause you gotta start somewhere. But my pronunciations of the [k] in English "kitchen", English "picnic", and French "pique-nique" are rather different, and no one gets dyspeptic about their aunt in Surrey or what [k] means in the way they would if you said it was like the "c" in "cat".

I'm not arguing against getting a broad base of knowledge in the formative years, but
Maybe I can find something in the internet.
is how the world works now.
Oh and regarding poem interpretation: I also think that it's very important, yes, but by our A-levels I had done six different interpretations - some of poems of writers you can't google. What's the sense in that?
People have been arguing "usefulness" and "sense" in curriculum development since the beginning of curricula.
When I started conlanging, I couldn't even tell phones and phonemes apart. But I could detailedly determine whether a poem was Romantic or Sturm und Drang.
And now you're a better person for all of it. [:)]

I used to read music well and still can make my way around, but it'd take a bit of refresher to get up to speed if I suddenly decided, now, to take up the bagpipes.
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名
Axiem
sinic
sinic
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat 10 Sep 2016, 05:56

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Axiem » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 15:40

The thing is, a lot of people don't really pay attention to how they pronounce things.
Conworld: Mto
:con: : Kuvian
User avatar
Lao Kou
korean
korean
Posts: 5493
Joined: Sun 25 Nov 2012, 10:39
Location: 蘇州/苏州

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Lao Kou » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 16:48

I'm not sure I understand what makes that "the thing".
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名
Nachtuil
sinic
sinic
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed 20 Jul 2016, 23:16

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Nachtuil » Wed 23 Aug 2017, 21:08

I should have stressed it more: my grievance isn't that books for every day people attempt to explain foreign sounds starting from known English sounds, but that the practice of also including IPA symbols at least in the pronunciation section isn't universal for language books. That is my gripe. :\
User avatar
Lambuzhao
earth
earth
Posts: 7172
Joined: Sun 13 May 2012, 01:57

Re: Conlanger problems.

Post by Lambuzhao » Thu 24 Aug 2017, 02:23

Lao Kou wrote:
I'm not arguing against getting a broad base of knowledge in the formative years, but
Maybe I can find something in the internet.
is how the world works now.
Truly.
If I wanted to understand how Arabic sounds, I google youtube vids of folks speaking Arabic. Or I plan to visit my step-daughter when her in-laws are coming for dinner. Or I go to Al Sa'ad Restaurant after jumah in the Masjid across the street.

IPA has its use as a shorthand, for sure.
Æsthetically, I prefer A.G. Bell's Visible Speech.

But
common everday language instruction books
are written, necessarily, in common everyday language & ALPHABET. Which IPA ain't.
[:S]
Post Reply