An anti-auxlang

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Sasquatch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 213
Joined: 30 Jun 2013 00:24

An anti-auxlang

Post by Sasquatch » 08 Mar 2015 03:59

My recent return to the conlang hobby has exposed me to several new IALs. The idealism of these projects always amuses me. But for some reason, this time I have been inspired to turn my comatose language into an anti-IAL. I want to design it around the idea of being exclusive, elitist.

I'm already thinking of tons of cases, like Ithkuil, just to force semantic precision and require a bit of learning.

Phonemes will be chosen based on whether or not I can pronounce them. This means it will largely be the Latin alphabet. But I plan to explore the IPA to see what else I can add.

It has to have a fairly complex grammar. Again, this makes it somewhat difficult for the riff-raff to learn. But mainly this is because I like semantic precision in a language. So lots of tenses and aspects. Maybe marking for evidentiality. Different conjugations for subordinate verbs?

Of course it needs its own alphabet so that common folk wouldn't even know where to begin deciphering it.

I'll probably even go so far as to completely avoid creating words for kumbaya concepts. So no words for "fairness", "brotherhood", etc. Maybe there are ways to center the language around the individual. For example, the 2nd and 3rd person pronouns could be some variation of "not me".

Feel free to contribute ideas for what you think would create a functional, but anti-kumbaya language. This could be good for some giggles if nothing else. Just remember that the idea isn't to make something ridiculously difficult. It's to make something ideologically inverse to an IAL. I realize that's probably a subtle distinction.
Englishcanbepolysynthetictoo <--------- All one word!

User avatar
DesEsseintes
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4577
Joined: 31 Mar 2013 13:16

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by DesEsseintes » 08 Mar 2015 05:34

Haha, I quite like this idea, probably because I strongly dislike the idea of auxlangs and their tinny-sounding lexicons*. As a nod to all you auxlang lovers out there, I stress that this is purely a matter of taste.
*Esperanto kokino for hen just makes me want to retch.

One idea to render the language less accessible to the swinish multitude would be to have highly prescriptivist and arbitrary assignment of which adjectives can qualify which nouns. Different words would be needed to describe a large animal, a large house and a large country, etc. This is not that far-fetched and doesn't require ridiculous levels of over-grammaticalisation.

As an extreme example, you could look into the use of pillow words (枕詞) in Classical Japanese. Basically, they are epithets that are used to qualify certain nouns in a formulaic manner and have at times lost all meaning. Their use in modern Japanese poetry is purely for decorative "literary dialogue" purposes.

User avatar
Lao Kou
korean
korean
Posts: 5640
Joined: 25 Nov 2012 10:39
Location: 蘇州/苏州

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Lao Kou » 08 Mar 2015 05:46

DesEsseintes wrote:Esperanto kokino for hen just makes me want to retch.
[xD]
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名

User avatar
DesEsseintes
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4577
Joined: 31 Mar 2013 13:16

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by DesEsseintes » 08 Mar 2015 05:52

Lao Kou wrote:
DesEsseintes wrote:Esperanto kokino for hen just makes me want to retch.
[xD]
I hope I remember it correctly, cos I didn't bother looking it up. [:P]

User avatar
Lao Kou
korean
korean
Posts: 5640
Joined: 25 Nov 2012 10:39
Location: 蘇州/苏州

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Lao Kou » 08 Mar 2015 06:03

It's still a great throwaway line.
道可道,非常道
名可名,非常名

protondonor
cuneiform
cuneiform
Posts: 166
Joined: 07 Mar 2015 03:59

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by protondonor » 08 Mar 2015 06:07

In the spirit of elitism, I would have a large vocabulary for things associated with snootiness—fine wines, craft beer, music genres, independent film—and a much smaller vocabulary for basic or common things. Ten different basic vocab words used specifically for French New Wave cinema but no lexical distinction between toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, or disposable napkins. Also, borrowings could be pronounced as faithfully to the original language as possible, even if this is totally at odds with the anti-auxlang's phonology, in order to prove how educated and urbane the speaker is.
Kaimen Keling: Uralic goes Germanic
Kolyma Ainu: Ainu language spoken in mainland Siberia
Wetokwa: a priori, spoken in a Death Valley-like environment, former speedlang
Mañi: a Ngerupic language inspired by Oto-Manguean, Cariban, and Mataco-Guaicuruan

User avatar
Micamo
MVP
MVP
Posts: 6984
Joined: 05 Sep 2010 19:48
Contact:

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Micamo » 08 Mar 2015 06:55

A constraint: Perhaps you should limit yourself to difficulty-enhancers that exist in natlangs? I say so because, without this constraint, this is already a solved problem: It's very easy to make an encoding scheme that you need a computer to decipher even when you have the keys, and simply can't do in your head in real-time unless you have savant-like superpowers. You can continue to add additional complexity from there, but once you're past the point of human ability there's really no point in continuing.
My pronouns are <xe> [ziː] / <xym> [zɪm] / <xys> [zɪz]

My shitty twitter

User avatar
Thrice Xandvii
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3722
Joined: 25 Nov 2012 10:13
Location: Carnassus

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 08 Mar 2015 07:44

Lao Kou wrote:
DesEsseintes wrote:Esperanto kokino for hen just makes me want to retch.
[xD]
What's wrong wit kokino?
Image

Nessimon
cuneiform
cuneiform
Posts: 84
Joined: 04 Mar 2012 00:31
Location: Norway

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Nessimon » 08 Mar 2015 10:04

protondonor wrote:Also, borrowings could be pronounced as faithfully to the original language as possible, even if this is totally at odds with the anti-auxlang's phonology, in order to prove how educated and urbane the speaker is.
Haha, yes! /sawna/ for sauna in the UK!

But this sounds like a fun idea, they should probably also have notion that their language was even better some 300 years ago, and strive to "regularise" it to that time, because 'everything was better before.'

Squall
greek
greek
Posts: 578
Joined: 28 Nov 2013 14:47

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Squall » 08 Mar 2015 15:00

In some older topics, there is the explanation about natural languages.
No natural languages are more difficult or more complex than any other languages, because they are limited by the human mind. The language is simpler in some parts and more complex in other parts. A natural language may be very different and unusual, such as Navajo, but it does not mean it is difficult. The complexity of any natural language is about the same.

What makes a natural language difficult are its artificial features, such as writing. English, French and Mandarin are more difficult because of the non-phonetic writing system.

Languages spoken in large areas have lots of dialects. Consequently, the neutral/standard dialect may be difficult even for native speakers. The language will have many accents and local vocabulary, so other native speakers may have problems to understand.


I wonder: If a country replaced its language with a conlang created to be artificially easy, would the language change to be as complex as a natlang?
Would an artificially fast language become slower? People may start including redundant particles and adverbs and may speak slower.

Some complex features:
  • Pairs of phonemes that are difficult to distinguish, such as /ɸ f/, /ɺ ɾ/, /h x/ and /l ɫ/, which are phonemes that should not coexist in the same language.
  • Lots of tones.
  • Written with Chinese ideograms.
  • Lots of dialects with different pronunciation.
  • Huge lexicon.
  • Lots of case declensions and verb conjugations.
  • Genders and agreement everywhere.
  • Lots of irregular inflections.
  • Each verb has different rules about complement, preposition and subordination.
  • Lots of idioms.
  • Lots of rules about prepositions.
  • Lots of counter words.
  • Rules to use a word. (You watch TV, but you see a concert. And you are a viewer.)
  • Lots of ambiguity.
  • Lots of homophones.
  • Polite inflections.
Of course, everything from the list simultaneously is not naturalistic.


If your conlang has to be naturalistic, you will have to choose unusual features from natural languages. Auxlangs have to avoid unusual features to be easier to learn by as many people as possible.
Navajo is one of the most unusual languages. Therefore, Navajo with Chinese characters is an example of anti-auxlang.
Last edited by Squall on 09 Mar 2015 02:52, edited 1 time in total.
English is not my native language. Sorry for any mistakes or lack of knowledge when I discuss this language.
:bra: :mrgreen: | :uk: [:D] | :esp: [:)] | :epo: [:|] | :lat: [:S] | :jpn: [:'(]

User avatar
Thrice Xandvii
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3722
Joined: 25 Nov 2012 10:13
Location: Carnassus

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 08 Mar 2015 15:23

I don't think using ideograms makes it harder, per se... Just different. English has a spelling system that is very much not phonetic, so in a sense, lots of words need to be learnt individually, learning ideograms is much the same.

Also, how is Navajo unusual?
Image

User avatar
DesEsseintes
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 4577
Joined: 31 Mar 2013 13:16

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by DesEsseintes » 08 Mar 2015 15:30

Thrice Xandvii wrote:I don't think using ideograms makes it harder, per se... Just different. English has a spelling system that is very much not phonetic, so in a sense, lots of words need to be learnt individually, learning ideograms is much the same.
Although I do agree that ideograms are not essentially harder, they do render a language less accessible to speakers of other languages, as only a handful of languages still make use of them, making the concept more alien to a larger percentage of the world's population.

And I believe that is sth a lot of replies to this thread are overlooking. Sasquatch's main aim - if I understand the OP correctly - is to make the language feel less accessible, not intrinsically super difficult.
Also, how is Navajo unusual?
Indeed. How is it more unusual than other Athabascan languages, say, Koyukon?

User avatar
Dezinaa
roman
roman
Posts: 886
Joined: 13 Oct 2013 20:33
Location: tunta, àn paànmúnu’ai

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Dezinaa » 08 Mar 2015 17:42

Squall wrote:
  • Pairs of phonemes that are difficult to distinguish, such as /ɸ f/, /ɺ ɾ/, /h x/ and /l ɫ/, which are phonemes that should not coexist in the same language.
There are many languages with /x/ and /h/. They might be difficult for non-native speakers to distinguish, but they can definitely coexist in the language.
I think Scottish Gaelic has both /l/ and /ɫ/.

I agree that these would be good things to include in an anti-auxlang.

Prinsessa
runic
runic
Posts: 3141
Joined: 07 Nov 2011 14:42

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Prinsessa » 08 Mar 2015 17:46

I have no problem distinguishing h and x. They sound quite different to me. The Persian for sister, خواهر (xâhar), is a good example.

Serena
sinic
sinic
Posts: 273
Joined: 26 Sep 2013 15:58

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Serena » 08 Mar 2015 17:55

Squall wrote:Written with Chinese ideograms.
That's a little bit of a misconception. I think you're not considering the difference between complexity and difficulty: logograms are hard to learn and to remember, but they're certainly not complex. One symbol = one word. No exceptions, no additional rules.

Sasquatch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 213
Joined: 30 Jun 2013 00:24

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Sasquatch » 08 Mar 2015 18:21

DesEsseintes wrote:And I believe that is sth a lot of replies to this thread are overlooking. Sasquatch's main aim - if I understand the OP correctly - is to make the language feel less accessible, not intrinsically super difficult.
Yes, this. I still want a functional language. Otherwise I'd be done right now... Ithkuil pretty much has the "impossible for humans to use" market cornered.

I like the idea of limiting words for certain categories and creating more precise words in other categories. But I don't want to fall into the trap of turning it into a class-warfare language. Especially because I don't see how opera, for example, is inherently more sophisticated than more "plebian" entertainment like Jerry Springer which covers the same topics with similar drama. What about eliminating category words? For instance, there would be no "beer". Instead, you would have to specify "stout", "porter", "hefeweizen", etc. This would require people to have a much more expansive vocabulary and more knowledge of the world around them since they would otherwise look like an idiot for saying "stout" when they meant "hefeweizen". You couldn't just say "dog" or "beer" or "wine" you would have to be more precise. Category words would still exist for technical purposes. But they would be massive compound words too cumbersome for daily use... so "beer" could be "fermented-malt-liquid".

I think I misspoke in my original post. I don't think "elitist" is exactly the right word. IALs all seek to promote brotherhood and togetherness. So I guess I'm looking for ideas that highlight individualism. To me, that means that plural pronouns need to somehow not convey a sense of collectivism. More "me & you" versus "we". An agglutinating or fusional language would make this simpler since the plurals could be combinations of the singular forms. Or maybe go even further and signify "we" by adding some sort of clitic to the singular to really downplay the extra person.
DesEsseintes wrote:One idea to render the language less accessible to the swinish multitude would be to have highly prescriptivist and arbitrary assignment of which adjectives can qualify which nouns. Different words would be needed to describe a large animal, a large house and a large country, etc. This is not that far-fetched and doesn't require ridiculous levels of over-grammaticalisation.
Now that's interesting. It would be sort of like the fewer/less distinction writ large. Seems the quickest way to do that would be to create a complicated gender system and require different adjectives for each gender. Hah! Declension of adjectives based on the gender of the noun! Yes! Then maybe adverbs could be required to agree with the tense of their verb? This may be more regular than you were thinking. But it would still be confusing to the unwashed masses if there were enough genders to make it suitably complicated. Even if the genders were perfectly logical. You could have a gender for "tools" that would include everything from hammers to computers, a gender for "containers" that included everything from a glass to a tanker ship, a gender for "conveyances" that included everything from roller skates to cruise ships... oh, what fun! Then genders could even change depending on how the item was being used. The glass you're drinking from would be in the "container" gender. But the glass you used as a paperweight on the breezy patio would be in the "tool" gender. So I guess the gender would actually go with the case tags. Or the gender could stay the same and the adjectives could agree with the case tags. So you could have articles and deictics that agree with the gender but adjectives that agree with the case tags. That would get complicated in a hurry [xD] At the same time, if it was regular enough it would actually be quite simple to follow. So it's the perfect mix of "too complicated for the uninitiated" and "perfectly obvious for those in the know".

I agree with the couple comments about basing the ideas on what is already done in natlangs. Although I don't really want to make this naturalistic. I think an obviously artificial language helps support the elitist vibe I'm going for. Sort of the same way living in a concrete and glass house seems a bit more uppity than living in a "natural" mud hut. I'm a huge fan of regularity, it's an OCD thing.

It seems this needs to be fusional or agglutinating. I like agglutinating. I'm not entirely sure I understand fusional languages well enough to go that route.

I like the idea of adding tones. My very first plan for my language was to have multiple tones as a way of expanding the phoneme set. I have to admit, I have a difficult time understanding and producing tones. Probably because I'm so accustomed to the tones of English covering entire sentences rather than single syllables. Didn't somebody once try to make a language that used the musical scale for tones? Where you literally ended up singing? That would be funny, but questionably functional.

Regarding other sounds, I am literally going to use every IPA phoneme I can personally pronounce and distinguish. And I fully intend to use similar sounds to distinguish words. My idea is that there can be only one "true" form of the language because any dialectical variation would cause misuse of words. So the British "I" and American "I" would be completely different words. In fact, they would be represented by completely different glyphs since I am very much one of those folks who likes a single glyph per phoneme. The American "I" would most likely be written as a dipthong since that's what it is.

Speaking of orthography... I'm a fan of Hangul. So I'll probably work something along those lines. Maybe it's possible to use the same methodology to simply create new symbols for sounds not in Hangul and just expand the current set of glyphs. Sure, that would create a bias in favor of Koreans. But then you just need biases in other directions to nullify that advantage. Besides, it isn't like Hangul is terribly difficult for non-Koreans to grasp. One advantage to a Hangul-like orthography is that it actually expands the possible vocabulary. Clearly delineating the syllables makes it simple to distinguish between a dipthong, "ai" or "ia", and consecutive vowels, "a-i".or "i-a". Sure, you could distinguish these by context in other languages. I'm just not a fan of the Lojban methodology of "everything is determined by context". Hangul also looks confusing to those who haven't taken any time to understand it but is perfectly clear to those who learn it (not that I have learned it yet). That is exactly the sort of effect I think an anti-auxlang should go for. It's more about the appearance of difficulty rather than actual difficulty.

I'm glad this idea appeals to some. I was kind of worried it would offend people. Well, I'm sure it offends some in the kumbaya crowd. C'est la vie.
Englishcanbepolysynthetictoo <--------- All one word!

Sasquatch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 213
Joined: 30 Jun 2013 00:24

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Sasquatch » 08 Mar 2015 18:54

DesEsseintes wrote:...their tinny-sounding lexicons*.
I hadn't given any consideration to the sound of the language. Every auxlang I've encountered seems to be trying to be flowery like Tolkein's elf-speak. So I need to avoid that. At the same time, I don't want to go to the opposite extreme and create some orcish/Klingon "I'm clearing my throat" language either. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I hate rounded vowels and flowery, elven languages. They sound like you're trying to seduce everybody you talk to.
Englishcanbepolysynthetictoo <--------- All one word!

User avatar
CMunk
greek
greek
Posts: 871
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 15:47
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by CMunk » 08 Mar 2015 19:30

Sasquatch wrote:
DesEsseintes wrote:...their tinny-sounding lexicons*.
I hadn't given any consideration to the sound of the language. Every auxlang I've encountered seems to be trying to be flowery like Tolkein's elf-speak. So I need to avoid that. At the same time, I don't want to go to the opposite extreme and create some orcish/Klingon "I'm clearing my throat" language either. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I hate rounded vowels and flowery, elven languages. They sound like you're trying to seduce everybody you talk to.
Some features that I associate with snobbishness are french ones like nasal vowels, diphthongs and slightly opaque writing system. That last one is a must for a language for the specially introduced: letters, you think you know the pronunciation of, but in weird combinations with lots of silent letters.
Tones would also be good, especially if they aren't marked in any way. Words which only differ by tone would of course be spelled differently, but not in any predictable way: <mae> and <mæ> could be /mæ˥/ and/mæ˩/, but <kae> and<kæ> could be [kæ˩] and [kæ˩˥].
Native: :dan: | Fluent: :uk: | Less than fluent: :deu:, :jpn:, :epo: | Beginner: Image, :fao:, :non:
Creating: :con:Jwar Nong, :con:Mhmmz

Sasquatch
sinic
sinic
Posts: 213
Joined: 30 Jun 2013 00:24

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by Sasquatch » 08 Mar 2015 21:47

CMunk wrote:Some features that I associate with snobbishness are french ones like nasal vowels, diphthongs and slightly opaque writing system. That last one is a must for a language for the specially introduced: letters, you think you know the pronunciation of, but in weird combinations with lots of silent letters.
Tones would also be good, especially if they aren't marked in any way. Words which only differ by tone would of course be spelled differently, but not in any predictable way: <mae> and <mæ> could be /mæ˥/ and/mæ˩/, but <kae> and<kæ> could be [kæ˩] and [kæ˩˥].
Oh, how I despise French. I took a year of it in school and hated every minute of it. I think largely because of the nasal vowels. I never got the hang of them. Although I do like the idea that the arrangement of letters could affect their pronunciation. Much like the difference in English between "can" and "cane" or "Sam" and "same". Similarly, /i/ could be used to indicate the iotation of an adjacent vowel. That could allow a smaller alphabet to do more work. And it would make the written language slightly more opaque, as you suggest. Thanks for the idea.

Maybe syllable-final and syllable-initial vowels always have a specific tone? That would make a Hangul-style writing system essential because you would need to know if "mannata" was man-na-ta, ma-nna-ta, or some other variant in order to pronounce it correctly. There would also have to be some way of indicating you wanted an initial or final vowel to have the default tone. So maybe that's where doubling the vowel could play a role.

Oooh! I got one! Maybe you have to double a consonant to indicate it is voiced? The uninitiated wouldn't know there was a difference between <t> and <tt>, but speakers would know the latter was really <d>. That cuts the consonant glyph inventory roughly in half. Which would make the written language look even more confusing.

Oh, yeah, this could get intricate. Let's say a syllable-final vowel always has a rising tone, a syllable-initial vowel always has a falling tone, and a syllable-centric vowel always has a flat tone. Stand-alone vowels will be treated as centric. And doubling a consonant within a syllable indicates that consonant is voiced. But mirroring a consonant across a syllable break does not indicate voicing. So the word <galactic> would be glossed as <kkallaktik>. The /kk/ indicates the initial velar stop is voiced. The /ll/ is there specifically to break the syllables up correctly-- kkal-lak-tik. That way the first two vowels are syllable-centric and, therefor, in the flat tone appropriate for a loanword. This syllable break isn't obvious in the Romanization. But it would be perfectly clear in the "native" Hangul-style orthography. With a single /l/, one of the first two vowels would be non-centric and would thus assume a tone. Kkal-ak-tik would have a falling tone on the second /a/ while kka-lak-tik would have a rising tone on the first /a/. If stand-alone vowels are considered flat then even words like <echo> can be glossed successfully-- <ekoh> or e-koh. The final /h/ would be treated as a silent placeholder which served only to move the /o/ out of the final position.
Englishcanbepolysynthetictoo <--------- All one word!

User avatar
thaen
roman
roman
Posts: 1080
Joined: 04 Jun 2011 22:01
Location: Plano

Re: An anti-auxlang

Post by thaen » 08 Mar 2015 23:53

I'm falling in love with this idea! [<3]
:con: Nillahimma
:con: Øð!
:con: Coneylang

I am the Great Rabbit. Fear me, O Crabs!
Spoiler:
ı θ ð ʃ ɲ ŋ ʔ ɛ ə ø ʑ ɕ ʷ ʲ ⁿ

Post Reply