conlangs with homophones

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Foolster41 » 05 Apr 2015 22:35

(I hope it's okay to bump this, rather than starting a new topic, not sure which is preferred here)

This is a problem I've been having recently with my conlang. For example the word Kakel can mean the nouns rock, shield and wall, and also the verbs to protect and to withstand but I'm not sure how to differentiate them when the thing they are talking about is absent (i.e. in a story). King is an easier one with context (gender affix), but how do I differentiate that the king is using either a rock or shield for example in the sentence kakels da-kakela chi-kakel? (protect SUBJ-king OBJ-rock or shield)?

I'm leaning towards simply making the words for rock and shield different words, as this would fix the problem.

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by kanejam » 06 Apr 2015 00:08

Nitpick from earlier in the thread: Loglan is a specific language, loglang means 'logical language'.

Anyway, homophones are a very important part of natural language and avoiding them too strongly essentially makes your language unnaturalistic. In your specific case, rock and shield have meanings close enough that they could be considered polysemous (ie the same word that we just happens to translate with two). As protecting a person might normally be done with a shield, that might be the default interpretation, and it would only mean 'rock' in that sentence if you elaborated.

And off topic: even with my tiny lexicon, Savvinic already has a homophone: casggiu can mean either 'bread' or 'I should'.
Edit: Another thing, it's also likely that your lang would have other words that mean rock or shield where the meanings don't overlap, so just choosing a different word will disambiguate.

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Khemehekis » 06 Apr 2015 00:18

Sometimes two meanings both kinda match the same soind. For instance, in Kankonian, kokok can mean both "jet black" and "anus", and shoip can mean both "tomato" and "pulse".
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by qwed117 » 06 Apr 2015 00:36

Khemehekis wrote:Sometimes two meanings both kinda match the same soind. For instance, in Kankonian, kokok can mean both "jet black" and "anus", and shoip can mean both "tomato" and "pulse".
Wait; I think fecal matter is brown, not jet black.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Khemehekis » 06 Apr 2015 00:46

qwed117 wrote:
Khemehekis wrote:Sometimes two meanings both kinda match the same soind. For instance, in Kankonian, kokok can mean both "jet black" and "anus", and shoip can mean both "tomato" and "pulse".
Wait; I think fecal matter is brown, not jet black.
Cute.

(No, wait, feces isn't cute!)
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by qwed117 » 06 Apr 2015 00:51

Khemehekis wrote:
qwed117 wrote:
Khemehekis wrote:Sometimes two meanings both kinda match the same soind. For instance, in Kankonian, kokok can mean both "jet black" and "anus", and shoip can mean both "tomato" and "pulse".
Wait; I think fecal matter is brown, not jet black.
Cute.

(No, wait, feces isn't cute!)
feces are def not.
back to subject matter:
Akuriga doesn't have true homophones nor homonyms (Akuriga is written phonetically, so there are only both homonyms and homophones, and neither, but not one or the other).
The concepts encoded within a morpheme often are extremely similar. There's only one words for "bad" and only one for "good".
They are homonymic with "darkness" and "light" respectively.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Khemehekis » 06 Apr 2015 00:59

qwed117 wrote: The concepts encoded within a morpheme often are extremely similar. There's only one words for "bad" and only one for "good".
They are homonymic with "darkness" and "light" respectively.
Wait . . . wouldn't that be polysemy?
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by qwed117 » 06 Apr 2015 01:24

Khemehekis wrote:
qwed117 wrote: The concepts encoded within a morpheme often are extremely similar. There's only one words for "bad" and only one for "good".
They are homonymic with "darkness" and "light" respectively.
Wait . . . wouldn't that be polysemy?
I guess. [insert shrug]
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Ahzoh » 06 Apr 2015 02:11

Khemehekis wrote:
qwed117 wrote: The concepts encoded within a morpheme often are extremely similar. There's only one words for "bad" and only one for "good".
They are homonymic with "darkness" and "light" respectively.
Wait . . . wouldn't that be polysemy?
http://www.afv.gr/index.php?option=com_ ... Itemid=352

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysemy

http://www2.hawaii.edu/~bergen/ling640G/lec/lec4.htm

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Imralu » 06 Apr 2015 03:28

Edit: I dumb-posted. I answered a question from years ago which had been answered. Move along please.
Last edited by Imralu on 06 Apr 2015 06:28, edited 1 time in total.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by QuantumWraith » 06 Apr 2015 03:50

Foolster41 wrote:(I hope it's okay to bump this, rather than starting a new topic, not sure which is preferred here)

This is a problem I've been having recently with my conlang. For example the word Kakel can mean the nouns rock, shield and wall, and also the verbs to protect and to withstand but I'm not sure how to differentiate them when the thing they are talking about is absent (i.e. in a story). King is an easier one with context (gender affix), but how do I differentiate that the king is using either a rock or shield for example in the sentence kakels da-kakela chi-kakel? (protect SUBJ-king OBJ-rock or shield)?

I'm leaning towards simply making the words for rock and shield different words, as this would fix the problem.
I suppose there are three paths you could take:

Keep them homophones, use a single referencing pronoun. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this. I think languages get by fairly easily (or with a bit of effort) when it comes to understanding sth in context, even if that sth doesn't have a specific reference. You can get by just by referencing the nouns with, say, a non-gendered third person singular pronoun as per English. I mean, consider the various uses of <it> in English. It is used in different circumstances even though it doesn't always refer to any particular noun.

Keep them homophones, differentiate them through other morphological means. If you're having problems identifying a given noun in context, just mark the distinction elsewhere morphologically, as in classifiers. You can join classifiers with pronouns (or prob any other pos) to give a more specific reference to the nominal it classifies. You could also have classificatory verbs to make similar distinctions. Some languages differentiate nouns with obviative pronouns.

Change 'em. You don't necessarily have to take this route, but if you wanna change 'em, just change 'em.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Imralu » 06 Apr 2015 10:07

I had a rather awkward one come up.

Without noticing, I made two words for "thank". No problem I thought. It's nice to have variety and I made them slightly different! There is, of course, a difference between being thankful and actually telling someone as much.
  • makua :: (v) NOM thanks / is thankful to DAT
    teua :: (v) NOM thanks / says thank you to DAT
But then there was this word:
  • maka :: (v) is feces / shit
And adding a regular causative infix to it, -u(z)-, it gives makua.

That meant that makua nu eui would mean both "I thank you" and "I defecate on you" ... which is a little bit too awkward to be left up to context. I'm still not removing makua from the dictionary though. It can just be archaic and weird. The kind of thing people say to make other's snigger, or also a fantastic way to say "Thank you" sarcastically.

Overall though, I don't have many homophones. I don't create any on purpose (although I do like me some meaty polysemy), figuring they'll accidentally come about anyway. There are quite a few already. Also, in a language without the usual noun-verb distinction in content words, substituting one verb for another still generally leaves a grammatical sentence, so a lot of the cues from part of speech are not there. I think redundancy in Ngolu may be a little thin on the ground for this reason, so I want to try to keep homophony (!) fairly minimal and not let it get out of hand.
xBlackWolfx wrote: i personnally think a true loglan like lojban is pretty dull since metaphors are impossible, my own conlang will have metaphors (though typically quite logical ones, for example one i mentioned in another thread is 'to have ended', which can mean 'to be dead'). would i end up with robotic and unpoetic language if i didnt have homophones in my conlang?
I know this is old, but I wanted to address this. Having an unambiguous language does not mean metaphors are impossible. Metaphors are not built around words sounding the same, they're built around comparisons between meanings which is pretty fundamental to human thought processes. You're confusing metaphors with puns. But even there, puns that are based on similar sounding words or phrases are still possible in Lojban, just not identical sounding things. A lot of puns in English are based on two phrases that have different stress patterns or things like that - and exactly this is still available to anyone using Lojban.
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific, AG = agent, E = entity (person, animal, thing)
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Znex » 06 Apr 2015 13:11

Imralu wrote:I had a rather awkward one come up.

Without noticing, I made two words for "thank". No problem I thought. It's nice to have variety and I made them slightly different! There is, of course, a difference between being thankful and actually telling someone as much.
  • makua :: (v) NOM thanks / is thankful to DAT
    teua :: (v) NOM thanks / says thank you to DAT
But then there was this word:
  • maka :: (v) is feces / shit
And adding a regular causative infix to it, -u(z)-, it gives makua.

That meant that makua nu eui would mean both "I thank you" and "I defecate on you" ... which is a little bit too awkward to be left up to context. I'm still not removing makua from the dictionary though. It can just be archaic and weird. The kind of thing people say to make other's snigger, or also a fantastic way to say "Thank you" sarcastically.
I feel like this could be dealt with similarly to the infamous English homophones <come> and <cum>.

<come> is used so often that thinking of {cum} instead is seen usually as childish and only really made reference to in clique groups. eg. a common /mlp/ phrase (or it was common last time I heard of it) is "i want to come inside rainbow dash".

Alternatively, I have heard of cases (I'm thinking particularly in the history of the Chinese languages) where the unfortunate pair are artificially or not made separate by changing the vowels or consonants in one of them. The less taboo word may be used so often that the usual tendency is to reduce the vowels or lenite the consonants in it.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Xing » 06 Apr 2015 13:52

Foolster41 wrote:(I hope it's okay to bump this, rather than starting a new topic, not sure which is preferred here)

This is a problem I've been having recently with my conlang. For example the word Kakel can mean the nouns rock, shield and wall, and also the verbs to protect and to withstand but I'm not sure how to differentiate them when the thing they are talking about is absent (i.e. in a story). King is an easier one with context (gender affix), but how do I differentiate that the king is using either a rock or shield for example in the sentence kakels da-kakela chi-kakel? (protect SUBJ-king OBJ-rock or shield)?
My first thought was that rocks, shields and walls are used in quite different ways, and in different situations, so that homophony (or -nymy or -graphy) need not be a huge problem. (Things might of course be different in a conworld that's very unlike the Earth - who knows if warriors use to carry around huge rocks for protection... [;)] ). In those few cases where there is a risk of serious confusion (as sometimes happen, in any language...) one could rephrase the situation. Instead of saying 'the warrior was spared from death through the shield', one could say 'the warrior held his shield, which saved his life', or 'the warrior hid behind a huge rock, which saved his life', or something like that. Those or a million other ways of rephrasing the description of a situation could help to avoid misunderstandings.

Otherwise, a classical way of dealing with compounds is through compounds: 'metal-kakel', 'hand-kakel', 'kakel-building', 'mountain-kakel', etc.
I'm leaning towards simply making the words for rock and shield different words, as this would fix the problem.
Natural languages will often have a bunch of differently sounding that mean roughly the same thing. Even if they rarely or ever are interchangeable in all situations, in any given situation, one might often find a word with a similar meaning that could work sufficiently well to get the message across. One could, for instance, use a hyper- or hyponym. Instead of saying 'the village lies protected by a wall', one could say that the village lies protected by a 'fortification', etc.

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by shimobaatar » 11 Apr 2015 23:36

kanejam wrote:And off topic: even with my tiny lexicon, Savvinic already has a homophone: casggiu can mean either 'bread' or 'I should'.
Knowing Savvinic is an Italic language, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see casggiu is "cheese"… what is its actual etymology, if you don't mind my asking?
Imralu wrote:That meant that makua nu eui would mean both "I thank you" and "I defecate on you" ...
Pff… [xD]
Znex wrote:I feel like this could be dealt with similarly to the infamous English homophones <come> and <cum>.
[+1]
Imralu wrote:Overall though, I don't have many homophones. I don't create any on purpose (although I do like me some meaty polysemy), figuring they'll accidentally come about anyway.
[+1]

This is pretty similar to what I do. I tend to like polysemy, and I try to avoid creating words that are pronounced in the exact same way as words I've always created. If I realize I've done this, I probably would just leave it be, especially if neither word had been added recently. If I had just added one of the words, I might change a phoneme or two, or I might leave it alone. It really depends.

When I do diachronics, there are several things that I hope "naturally" occur, and the creation of homophones is one of those things. For example, here are two (currently "meaningless") Proto-Ypsilon words that become homophones in Proto-Western-Ypsilon.

ðtəŋao /ˈðtəŋaɔ̯/ > /ˈztəŋaɔ̯/ > /ˈstəŋaɔ̯/ > /ˈstəŋɔ/ > /ˈstəŋo/ stəŋo
staǧód /staˈɣod/ > /staˈŋod/ > /staˈŋo/ > /stəˈŋo/ > /ˈstəŋo/ stəŋo

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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by shanoxilt » 06 Jun 2016 01:15

xBlackWolfx wrote:i personnally think a true loglan like lojban is pretty dull since metaphors are impossible
Lojban has metaphors and figurative speech, but they tend to be marked as such with "pe'a".
though speaking of which, i could just take up that abandoned voksigid project (the guy who put that site up did specifically state that he put it up in hopes that someone would finish it someday)
Someone should start a project of reviving and revising dead or abandoned constructed languages.
kanejam wrote:Anyway, homophones are a very important part of natural language and avoiding them too strongly essentially makes your language unnaturalistic.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Imralu wrote:Metaphors are not built around words sounding the same, they're built around comparisons between meanings which is pretty fundamental to human thought processes.
What would a language without metaphors even be like? If it is at all possible, I'd love to read it.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Keenir » 06 Jun 2016 01:43

shanoxilt wrote:Someone should start a project of reviving and revising dead or abandoned constructed languages.
that someone would have to ask the creator of each of those conlangs for permission first.
What would a language without metaphors even be like?
do words that used to be metaphors also count in the "not welcome in that language"'s lexicon? (like how "rival" was the two shores of a river)
If it is at all possible, I'd love to read it.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by shanoxilt » 06 Jun 2016 01:56

Keenir wrote:that someone would have to ask the creator of each of those conlangs for permission first.
It seems to me that languages like Bolak or even Enochian could be repurposed as non-naturalistic artistic languages. As far as I am aware, even if languages could be copyrighted, the creators' claims on them would be void by now.
do words that used to be metaphors also count in the "not welcome in that language"'s lexicon? (like how "rival" was the two shores of a river)
I would assume that they would be allowed, but it would be best if either the etymology were unknown and no folk etymology influences its use.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by qwed117 » 06 Jun 2016 02:00

shanoxilt wrote:
Keenir wrote:that someone would have to ask the creator of each of those conlangs for permission first.
It seems to me that languages like Bolak or even Enochian could be repurposed as non-naturalistic artistic languages. As far as I am aware, even if languages could be copyrighted, the creators' claims on them would be void by now.
do words that used to be metaphors also count in the "not welcome in that language"'s lexicon? (like how "rival" was the two shores of a river)
I would assume that they would be allowed, but it would be best if either the etymology were unknown and no folk etymology influences its use.
Just to note, conlangs can be copyrighted.
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Re: conlangs with homophones

Post by Keenir » 06 Jun 2016 02:12

shanoxilt wrote:
Keenir wrote:that someone would have to ask the creator of each of those conlangs for permission first.
It seems to me that languages like Bolak or even Enochian could be repurposed as non-naturalistic artistic languages. As far as I am aware, even if languages could be copyrighted, the creators' claims on them would be void by now.
ahh...I was thinking you were contemplating the dead and abandoned conlangs of extant conlangers.
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