Hey guise, it's Lev here with something a little intriguing for some of you. Often, I find people in role-play forums who are beautiful creators as they create a new culture, a new world, and a new mythos to each of their role-plays--but sometimes, I can't help but cringe when they create a new "language" for their world. For some creators, they create an arbitrary vocabulary that magically means something. While it makes sense in one sentence, if you use it in another sentence, it may seem like it has a completely different meaning that is GRAMMATICALLY ILLOGICAL. Others create a simple cipher for the English language. A=E, B=P, T=J, etc. To me, while it's a quick way to create a new language, it's dull and unoriginal. I'm kinda irritated with that since I'm a fluent speaker of two/three languages (English--my primary and most proficient--Tagalog and Kapampangan, two different Filipino dialects which are similar in grammar, but also have many differences). I also speak Korean and Spanish well enough to understand written children's literature and can speak in daily conversations fairly well. I can listen to Japanese music and translate quite a few songs--but I'm a terrible reader in Japanese. Currently, I've found great interest in Thai and in German since the area I live in has quite a few Germans and the restaurant I work at is owned by a Thai family. However, I'm also a "conlanger," one who constructs languages. And I'm no expert, by any means. I've no linguistics degree in any language and I'm certainly not the most well learned polyglot--there are far more people I know who know five, six languages very well. But I thought it'd be interesting to impart what knowledge I have to the RP community. Not all of these ideas are mine, many from a friend who also is an avid conlanger and many more from two books written by another conlanger. But perhaps in the sharing of knowledge, I may yet learn more. So here goes! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I'll reserve a few posts to make sure I have enough room at the beginning to try to keep these little tidbits of information together. Do let me know if you see any errors in information or writing. Thanks and enjoy! Log: Ver. 1.0.0: 4 Oct 2013 - Posted the first post, Introduction and Sounds: Part 1. Ver. 1.1.0: 5 Oct 2013 - Posted the second post, Sounds: Part 2. Ver. 1.2.0: 19 Oct 2013 - Posted the third and fourth posts, Word Building: Part 1 and Grammar/Syntax. Ver. 1.3.0: 20 Oct 2013 - Posted the fifth post, Grammar: Part 1. Ver. 1.4.0: 22 Oct 2013 - Posted the sixth post, Grammar: Part 2. Ver. 1.4.1: 23 Oct 2013 - Edited the first and second posts to add minor content and correct typographical errors. Ver. 1.5.0: 28 Oct 2013 - Posted the seventh post: Grammar: Part 3. Ver. 1.6.0: 30 Oct 2013 - Posted the eighth post: Grammar: Part 4: Pronouns. Ver. 1.7.0: 2 Nov 2013 - Posted the ninth post: Numbers Here is the tentative outline, to be changed to correspond to the guide as it is written. Introduction (YOU ARE HERE) Sounds Word Building Writing Grammar Formality Various Nuances Levusti's Con-Lang! Resources and Links Miscellaneous ============================================ Sounds: Phonology, if you want to sound like you've studied linguistics. First of all, when creating a language, I recommend to think first about the SOUNDS. A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z These are the letters of the English language, but there are far many more sounds expressed with these and there are MANY more nuances that these letters do not represent. For example, Th is considered two letters but represent one/two sounds. There's "th" as in "this" which is voiced or heavy, one might say, and "th" as in "thin" which is not voiced or light. Another sound is ng and perhaps even ch and sh and the zh sound in American English leisure or seizure. Sounds not even represented at all by English letters are ones you might find in Korean such as B or P, P', and PP. P as in spit or span or bow P' as in pit or pan but not spit or span PP as in BANG or BAM or BOOM! What's the difference in P in pit and P in spit? Most English speakers don't realize this but there is a difference. P in pit is airy and breathy, or in linguistic terms, aspirated. P in spit is unaspirated. That just means air DOES NOT puff out strongly. To try this, take a piece of paper, place it in front of your mouth a hand's width away and say the word pit. The paper should waver with the movement of the breath that comes out. Now say spit. The paper moves very little, if any at all at the letter P. They're both classified as the letter P, but some languages classify them as different letters. The third P, sometimes written in Latin letters as BB or PP is kinda like holding your breath to say B and then just letting it EXPLODE out. It's hardly noticeable to western ears, but some words differ only in the B/P sounds. In some languages, there are big differences in these two kinds of Ps. English pairs the two P sounds together, but Korean does not. Korean considers them two different sounds. However, Korean pairs the unaspirated P as in spit with the letter B. (Fun fact, Eighteen in Korean is 십팔, pronounced shib pal, like the p in pit. If you say 십발, shib pal with the p as in spit, it's a swear word. Be careful!) Another sound occasionally found in American English (with different letters) is the "rolling" R. If you speak Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, or Italian (and I'm sure many others), you already know this sound. In Korean and Japanese, this R is the same as the L sound. If you speak AMERICAN English, it's the middle sound in butter, latter, bitter, later, waiter, cater, etc. I can't speak for other English dialects because I'm not familiar with them. This R is called the alveolar trill R. This is a different R found in German and in some French dialects. Say "rrrr" like your gargling or growling like a dog. This is called the uvular trill R. The voiced uvular fricative is the French R. Say "rrrr" like you're swallowing. It's similar, but not the same as the German R. Say R in English. As far as LEVUSTI knows, English and Chinese and maybe 3 or 4 other languages has this R. Most languages use either the "rolling" R or the other two Rs found. In Filipino/Tagalog, Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese, the sound of NG may come at the end of a syllable as in the English words ringing or singing or hanging, or they may come at the beginning of a word as in Tagalog ngayon "today" or Thai nguu "snake." Most English speakers have no problem saying it at the END of a syllable, but they have trouble saying it at the BEGINNING of a syllable. In English, the sound of ny as in onion, canyon, bunion, or minion appears, but it's not considered a sound by itself. Russian and Spanish consider it as a stand alone letter sound and is represented by Spanish ñ or Russian H (at least, sometimes. It's a linguistic thing. If it piques your interest, then go ahead and do more research.) Vowels are even more diverse than you think. English limits ALL the sounds that vowels can possibly make into five, sometimes six or seven: A E I O U and sometimes Y and W. Lemme tell you there are MANY more sounds expressed. Korean has two sets of U's. Say "ooh" like hoot. That's one. For the other, form your mouth like you're about to say the letter E but say "ooh" again. In English, it's often rendered as eu. When you say "little" in American English, your mouth forms the proper shape at the second syllable. Try this one. Say "ah" with your mouth. Now say it again with your nose. Some languages place a difference in that. This is called nasalization. Say the o in lonely and then o in hot. Two different sounds but the same letter. Korean expresses this sound in two different letters, ㅗ for the o like lonely and ㅓ for the o as in hot. How about this? Say "ee" as in teeth. Now round your lips and say it again. This is the French u and the German ü. Think also now about WHERE YOUR TONGUE TOUCHES. For example, there's no difference in the Ls in American English "will" and "loose." But pay attention to where your tongue touches. In "will," it usually touches the roof of your mouth. In "loose," it usually touches the front of your teeth. Korean "d/t" is pronounced with the teeth biting the tongue and not pressing against the back of the teeth as in American English, making it sound like a th HERE COMES THE FUN PART. What you see above is a bit like an overview of phonology. This is NOT exhaustive (AKA everything there is). It's more like a single cookie chip on your one foot wide / thirty centimeter wide cookie. But the truly fun part is here. These sounds that are described above are for the HUMAN mouth, with two lips, one tongue, and two sets of teeth located on the front. However, what about NONHUMANS? Some animals don't have lips, like chickens or insects. Some animals don't have teeth, like birds. Some animals don't have one tongue with one tip, but have TWO TONGUES or maybe a forked tongue. What kind of sounds can they make? What about sounds they cannot make? For example, let us imagine an alien species without TEETH. The American English sound of the letter T requires teeth. The sound of "th" and "f" require teeth. The sounds "s" and "z" and "ts" like "cats" require teeth, but "sh," "ch," and "zh" do not. (If you don't believe me, say these sounds WITHOUT TOUCHING YOUR TONGUE TO YOUR TEETH IN ANY WAY.) So you have now an alien with a speech impediment concerning the English language. Now let's create another example, an alien species with TWO TONGUES, one on top of the other. What kind of sounds could it make? Maybe an L sound with the upper tongue and another sound with the bottom? Could they make now TWO DIFFERENT SOUNDS AT ONCE? What about an alien species with two different tracheae (windpipe in your throat)? Two different sets of nostrils, one set on the face and another set about the throat? I will give you a list of terms that might help you think of more dimensions of sounds. Dental = made with TEETH and TONGUE. Like th as in this and thin. Labial = made with LIPS. Like the letters B or P or Japanese F (almost like blowing out a candle) Labio-dental = made with TEETH AND LIPS together. Like the letters F and V. Alveolar = that ridge part right behind your teeth. Like N or D or T in American English. Postalveolar = the part right behind the ridge part behind your teeth. Sh or Zh or Ch Palatal = touches the palate of your mouth. The closest thing we have in English is Y as in Yes. Touch to your tongue and it's there. Also, Mexican Spanish pronunciation of the letter Y. (almost like saying Y so hard you say J) Velar = back part of your tongue against the soft palate. Like the ng in Ring or sing. Uvular = Tongue touches/approaches the uvula/dangly thing in your mouth. Like French R. Approximant = a sound that ALMOST TOUCHES A SPOT BUT REALLY DOESN'T TOUCH. Like Y in Yes or R in Wrong. Phoneme = the actual different sounds. Some languages define this differently. Some languages define B and P as different phonemes, but some don't. Some languages define F and V as different phonemes, but some don't. Grapheme = the way a sound is represented in writing. In Korean, ㅂ, ㅍ, and ㅃ represent B, P, and PP respectively, though in English, they sound nearly the same. Sounds are virtually unlimited. Can you think of new ones for an alien species? What about for us humans? (Trust me, it's hard. There's even clicks, snorts, and hiccups in some languages.) SOUNDS PART 2 COMING SOON! Feel free to discuss below! This concludes this first post to multi-part guide, but SOUNDS ARE NOT COMPLETED! If you'd like me to site the books and sites I used for reference, let me know and I'll post them for you.