Fragen: A Conlang

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Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Sun 16 Jan 2011 3:31 am

This is my first conlang, and as such, is relatively unpolished and somewhat awkward. As such, any feedback is very, very, welcome.

Phonology:

a-/ɑː/
æ-/æː/
ă-/æ/
å-/ɔ/
b-/b/
x-/x/-like "ch" in "ach"
ч-/t͡ʃ/-like "ch" in "chicken"
d-/d/
ə-/ə/
e-/ɛ/
ē-/i/
f-/f/
g-/g/
h-/h/
i-/ɪ/
ī-/aɪ/
j-/j/
k-/k/
l-/l/
m-/m/
n-/n/
ŏ-/ɔː/
ō-/oʊ/
ø-/ø/
p-/p/
q-/kj/
r-/r/
s-/s/
ʃ-/ʃ/
t-/t/
đ-/đ/
þ-/θ/
ü-/uː/
u-/ʌ/
v-/v/
w-/w/
y-/y/
z-/z/
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Sun 16 Jan 2011 8:16 am

In the above letter-list, replace
"q-/kj/"
to
"q-/c/"

Really wish that I could edit these posts.
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby linguoboy » Mon 17 Jan 2011 4:37 pm

Phlogiston wrote:This is my first conlang, and as such, is relatively unpolished and somewhat awkward. As such, any feedback is very, very, welcome.

What really helps when constructing a phonology is putting the proposed phonemes into a IPA chart-style grid. That makes it easier to see where you have imbalances. Remember, in general phonemes spread to fill the available space. Those that are too similar either shift to increase their distinctiveness or merge. First, let's look at your vowels:

/i/ /uː/
/ɪ/
/ø/ /oʊ/
/ə/
/ɛ/ /ʌ/ /ɔ/ /ɔː/
/æ/ /æː/
/ɑː/

A number of things stand out. The first is the highly asymmetrical distribution of vowel length. Why is it contrastive only for the low front and mid back rounded vowels and nowhere else? What is the short counterpart of /ɑː/. /ʌ/? /ə/? (Distinguishing those last two vowels is rather unusual crosslinguistically as well; some phonologists contest whether they are even distinct for English.)

Another is the existence of only one front rounded vowel. Again, these are rare crosslinguistically as well; moreover, if a language has only one, it's almost invariably /y/. At least, I can't think of a single attested language which has only /ø/. Another vowel phoneme that is rare in the languages of the world is /æ/.

In general, your low mid-level looks very crowded. Not counting length, you've got two close-mid vowels, one mid, and three open-mid. I find it hard to imagine a natural language where these values would be kept distinct for long.
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Mon 17 Jan 2011 8:48 pm

linguoboy wrote:
Phlogiston wrote:This is my first conlang, and as such, is relatively unpolished and somewhat awkward. As such, any feedback is very, very, welcome.

What really helps when constructing a phonology is putting the proposed phonemes into a IPA chart-style grid. That makes it easier to see where you have imbalances. Remember, in general phonemes spread to fill the available space. Those that are too similar either shift to increase their distinctiveness or merge. First, let's look at your vowels:

/i/ /uː/
/ɪ/
/ø/ /oʊ/
/ə/
/ɛ/ /ʌ/ /ɔ/ /ɔː/
/æ/ /æː/
/ɑː/

A number of things stand out. The first is the highly asymmetrical distribution of vowel length. Why is it contrastive only for the low front and mid back rounded vowels and nowhere else? What is the short counterpart of /ɑː/. /ʌ/? /ə/? (Distinguishing those last two vowels is rather unusual crosslinguistically as well; some phonologists contest whether they are even distinct for English.)

Another is the existence of only one front rounded vowel. Again, these are rare crosslinguistically as well; moreover, if a language has only one, it's almost invariably /y/. At least, I can't think of a single attested language which has only /ø/. Another vowel phoneme that is rare in the languages of the world is /æ/.

In general, your low mid-level looks very crowded. Not counting length, you've got two close-mid vowels, one mid, and three open-mid. I find it hard to imagine a natural language where these values would be kept distinct for long.


It does have /y/. (ă-/æ/) could be disposed of, and could be the long form of (æ-/æː/). As for (ŏ-/ɔː/), I may have misrepresented that in IPA. It is more of the short "o" sound, such as would be in "cot", or represented by the "ŏ" symbol in an English dictionary. Although, it would have the å have a long and short sound, /ɔː/ and /ɔ/. (a-/ɑː/) could be (a-/a/), and the long version would be (a-/ɑː/), unless I'm interpreting "long" incorrectly.

a-/ɑ/
æ-/æː/
ă-/æ/?
å-/ɔ/,/ɔː/?
b-/b/
x-/x/-like "ch" in "ach"
ч-/t͡ʃ/-like "ch" in "chicken"
d-/d/
ə-/ə/
e-/ɛ/
ē-/i/
f-/f/
g-/g/
h-/h/
i-/ɪ/
ī-/aɪ/
j-/j/
k-/k/
l-/l/
m-/m/
n-/n/
ŏ-/ɔː/?
ō-/oʊ/
ø-/ø/
p-/p/
q-/kj/
r-/r/
s-/s/
ʃ-/ʃ/
t-/t/
đ-/đ/
þ-/θ/
ü-/uː/
u-/ʌ/
v-/v/
w-/w/
y-/y/
z-/z/
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby linguoboy » Mon 17 Jan 2011 9:20 pm

Phlogiston wrote:It does have /y/.

My bad, so it does.

Phlogiston wrote:As for (ŏ-/ɔː/), I may have misrepresented that in IPA. It is more of the short "o" sound, such as would be in "cot", or represented by the "ŏ" symbol in an English dictionary.

That's [ɔ] in some dialects, but in others it's [ɒ] or [ɑ]. Around here (i.e. Chicago) it may be as far forward as [a].

Phlogiston wrote:Although, it would have the å have a long and short sound, /ɔː/ and /ɔ/. (a-/ɑː/) could be (a-/a/), and the long version would be (a-/ɑː/), unless I'm interpreting "long" incorrectly.

The terminology is confusing for English-speakers, since historically "long" vowels have mostly become diphthongs. In standard linguistic terminology, length refers strictly to the duration of the vowel. That is, [ɔː] lasts somewhere between one-and-a-half and two times as long as [ɔ]. Some non-rhotic dialects have a length context, e.g. north with [ɔː] vs. lot with [ɔ]. (In RP, however, the vowel in lot is [ɒ].)

Moreover, it often happens that short vowels are are laxed in many languages. So you might have a phonemic constrast between /iː/ and /i/ which becomes a phonetic contrast between [iː] and [ɪ]. This used to be the situation in Standard German until the recent flood of Latinate borrowings reintroduced an [ i] distinct from [ɪ] (e.g. Idiot [idi'oːtʰ] vs. bitte ['bɪtʰə]). (Usually this is dealt with by reanalysing the vowel phonemes as /i/ and /ɪ/ and noting that /i/ is phonetically long on in stressed position.)

So you could also collapse /i/ and /ɪ/ as /iː/ and /i/, /y/ and /ø/ as /yː/ and /y/, and so forth. (Keep in mind that phonemic notation is an abstraction. The actual phonetic values of your phonemes should be spelled out in your discussion of allophones, which ideally is more involved than just stating what the default value is.)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Thu 20 Jan 2011 5:45 am

I think I addressed most of the issues, if not all. Did I miss any?

a-/ɑ/
æ-/æː/
ă-/æ/
å-/ɔ/
b-/b/
x-/x/-like "ch" in "ach"
ч-/t͡ʃ/-like "ch" in "chicken"
d-/d/
ə-/ə/
e-/ɛ/
ē-/i/
f-/f/
g-/g/
h-/h/
i-/ɪ/
ī-/aɪ/
j-/j/
k-/k/
l-/l/
m-/m/
n-/n/
ŏ-/ɒ/
ō-/oʊ/
ø-/ø/
p-/p/
q-/kj/
r-/r/
s-/s/
ʃ-/ʃ/
t-/t/
đ-/đ/
þ-/θ/
ü-/uː/
u-/ʌ/
v-/v/
w-/w/
y-/y/
z-/z/
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby linguoboy » Thu 20 Jan 2011 4:50 pm

Phlogiston wrote:I think I addressed most of the issues, if not all. Did I miss any?

Er...not really. Now instead of a having a length contrast in only two vowel phonemes, you have it in only one. Now it's your low level that's crowded: /æ/ /æː/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/.

And how did it come about that your only diphthongs are /aɪ/ and /oʊ/?

Overall, your choice of "phonemes" (both vocalic and consonantal) is strikingly similar to English. I'm not sure to what degree that is intentional.
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Fri 21 Jan 2011 4:55 am

linguoboy wrote:
Phlogiston wrote:I think I addressed most of the issues, if not all. Did I miss any?

Er...not really. Now instead of a having a length contrast in only two vowel phonemes, you have it in only one. Now it's your low level that's crowded: /æ/ /æː/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/.

I'll try to fix that. How would you recommend?

And how did it come about that your only diphthongs are /aɪ/ and /oʊ/?

Does the phonology include the digraphs? If so, then I'll put those in.

Overall, your choice of "phonemes" (both vocalic and consonantal) is strikingly similar to English. I'm not sure to what degree that is intentional.

I probably didn't go out of my way to make sounds that were (to me) different.

Anyways, if I do ever finish phonology, what should be next? I know words usually come fairly late, so conjugation? Declension? Cases? Tenses?
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby linguoboy » Fri 21 Jan 2011 5:11 am

Phlogiston wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Er...not really. Now instead of a having a length contrast in only two vowel phonemes, you have it in only one. Now it's your low level that's crowded: /æ/ /æː/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/.

I'll try to fix that. How would you recommend?

It depends what you're going for, really. Personally, I would either (a) extend the length contrast to more vowels or (b) eliminate it completely (unless of course I could come up with some really compelling reason for why it should have developed in only one vowel).

Phlogiston wrote:Does the phonology include the digraphs? If so, then I'll put those in.

Phonology includes everything about the sounds of your language. Not just what the basic distinctions are but all the variants (positional, dialectal, social, etc.) and all the rules for combining then. At the very least, it should explain the syllable structure and any restrictions on clusters. (For instance, English may allow syllables of the form CCCVC, but that still doesn't mean that *tkven is a permissible word. It is in Georgian, however.)

Phlogiston wrote:I probably didn't go out of my way to make sounds that were (to me) different.

That's typical for a first go.

Phlogiston wrote:Anyways, if I do ever finish phonology, what should be next? I know words usually come fairly late, so conjugation? Declension? Cases? Tenses?

The order is up to you. Some conlangers start with the words and figure out everything else from there. (This is particularly common when creating a "naming language", which may be used to generate names of people and places but no actual sentences.)

I guess it would help to know what your goal is with creating this language. To have fun, obviously, but do you want to be able to write poetry in it? Is it going to be the ancestor or cousin of another language you're creating? Is this an exercise to teach yourself something about a certain aspect of grammar, like how topic-comment languages work, or to pursue some thought-experiment, like what the language of a race of blind cave dwellers would be like?

There's no reason why you can't work on multiple aspects of Fragen at the same time, coming back revising bits after you've changed your mind about another component of the grammar.
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Re: Fragen: A Conlang

Postby Phlogiston » Fri 21 Jan 2011 5:16 am

sorry, still made the same mistake. q-/kj/ should be q-/c/.
Languages (Some may overlap):
Native: English
Learning: Deutsch, English
Looking Towards: Dansk
Constructing: Fragen (WIP)
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