Author Topic: An article about the pronounciation in my language  (Read 2639 times)

Offline Vir Docilis

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An article about the pronounciation in my language
« on: June 16, 2014, 02:48:28 PM »
The consonants of Ńepent

This article is written in a very biased manner. Sorry about that, but I personally think that some usages of the old roman alphabet just lead to confusion of the simplicity of the alphabet, as the German usage of 'w' and 'v'. Most letters in our alphabets today are used for the exact same sound as they did in Latin. In the IPA, the International Phonetic Alphabet, most symbols are used just as in Latin. When romanizing an writing system or a language, one tries to be as close to the Latin pronounciation as possible. So the standard pronounciation of a Latin letter is basically how it was pronounced in Latin.

But as time went on some new characters became invented. 'v' which was originally the same letter as 'u' became used for the consonant, and 'u' for the vowel. Also 'w' was invented to represent the approximinant sound. In Latin 'v' was pronounced as 'w', but now you generally use 'w' to represent this sound. 'z' is also nowadays pronounced a bit different than it did then. In old Greek, from which it is derived, it was pronounced 'dz' or 'zd'. Nowadays it seems to be used for the voiced s-sound. So although it was pronounced differently from the beginning, some of the new inventions has become standard. In the romanization of Ńepent, I've tried to follow the modern conventions as close as possible. But as I prefer having one letter for every sound, I had to be a bit creative. None of the letters in Ńepent are used for affricatives like x (ks). This is because I consider them as a combination of two sounds. Instead I prefer the russian fricative pronounciation of the same letter.

Also remember that I think that letters variate in some logical patterns. For example, languages can be seen to pronounce 'r' in the back of the mouth. This does however not get us away from the fact that if a language would have both, it would be prefered to use 'r' to describe the sound in Italian, and use the one with the diacritic, say ŕ, for the French sound. This is because the Italian sound is somehow considered to be standard.

b

Standard pronounciation.

p

Standard pronounciation.

v

Well this can also be seen as standard pronounciation. It's pronounced as 'v' in 'very'. What is ironic is that the old latin pronounciation was like 'w' in 'world'.

f

Standard pronounciation. It is however speculated that romans pronounced it with both lips. In Ńepent this is however always prononced with the lower lip touching the teeths and is pronounced as 'f' in 'father'.

m

Standard pronounciation.

w

Standard pronounciation. This is pronounced as 'w' in 'world'.  This symbol didn't exist at the roman times, which is why 'v' was used for 'w'. Romans didn't have the v-sound.

d

Standard pronounciation.

t

Standard pronounciation.

ð

Standard pronounciation. This symbol was invented by the Icelanders to represent the th-sound in 'the' by adding a stroke above d. In english we don't seperate between 'th' in 'the' and 'th' in 'thought', but these are actually different sounds. 'ð' stands for 'th' in 'the' and 'þ' stands for 'th' in 'thought'. In old Swedish writing this sound was written 'dh'.

þ

Standard pronounciation. This rune, called Thorn, is a part of the Futhark. And like it's name it's used for the 'th' in 'thorn'. However, it seems like both 'þ' and 'ð' have been seen as the same sound since medival times. Both symbols were thus used to represent both. In English only 'þ' persisted, and later on 'þ' was replaced by the digraph 'th'. I don't know about the Icelandish writing however. It seems like 'ð' is prefered over 'þ'. Anyway, these sounds are completely different in Ńepent and has different letters.

s

Standard pronounciation.

z

Standard pronounciation. Pronounced as 'z' in 'Zelda'. The Legend of Zelda is a very good game series by the way.

ś

This spelling can be seen in Polish. This is the unvoiced pronounciation of 'c'. It is pronounced as 'sh' in show, but may be a bit more patalized as the Japanese and Polish sounds.

c

Really nonstandard. This letter was actually pronounced as 'k' in old latin, but is nowadays pronounced differently depending on the following vowel. Nowadays 'k', a variant spelling of 'c' is prefered, so it's basically used in loan words from Latin. When followed by a soft vowel, 'c' can be pronounced as 's', 'ts' or as the english digraph 'ch' depending on country. In Esperanto it's used for 'ts' in all positions. But I use this letter for the fricative sound in 'age'. In english this would be pronounced 'dc' if writing it with my letters. So you just have to remove the d-sound to make this sound.

l

Standard pronounciation.

r

Standard pronounciation. Pronounced as Italian and Swedish 'r'. It's not pronounced as in English nor as in French. The Romans also pronounced it this way (at least I think so...).

g

Standard pronounciation.

k

Standard pronounciation.

ǵ

Seems nonstandard. Some sounds didn't have any symbols, so I added an acute accent to some of the letters to create a new sounds. This sound is pronounced like the greek 'g', and can be seen as a soft g-sound. Linguistically speaking, this is the fricative sound in the same position as 'g', and the voiced variant of 'x'. So if you know the sound 'g' you could try to prolong it. Unlike 'g', 'ǵ' can be prolonged. Also if you know how to pronounce 'x' you just need to make it voiced.

x

Russian spelling, so it's a bit nonstandard. But in IPA, the phonetical alphabet used in linguisics, 'x' is used in the russian manner so it's not unthought of. This is the fricative consonant in the same position as 'k', and can be seen as a prolonged sound of 'k'. Figurately it feels like the wind passing through a thin passage. It's a bit alike the h-sound but more compressed. This is because the tongue blocks the passage of the air. Some languages which doesn't have the h-sound seems to use this sound instead.

ń

This is my own convention. There is a IPA-symbol for this sound, but it looks really ugly as a big letter. I tried it for a long time, but concluded that I needed a new letter. At the same time I lacked symbols for both 'ś', 'ǵ' and 'ń'. As I looked for letters available at the computer, I found out that s, g and n could all be added an acute accent. Thanks to this I didn't have to bother with different diacritics for each of them. Now that I've gotten used to it I think it looks quite cool, but the real reason behind it is simply that I had very few alternatives on the computer. 'ń' is the ng-sound as in sing.

j

Latin and Swedish pronounciation. Although the letter 'j' didn't exist in Latin, some has started using it in for example dictionaries. In old Latin writing, however, 'i' and 'j' are the same letter. This is because the romans didn't seperate between vowels and approximinants. The latin j-sound equals to the English y-sound. So it's pronounced as 'y' in 'york' and 'yew'. Neither French, English nor Spanish people pronounces 'j' in this way, so I guess it cannot be called the standard pronounciation. But as I have the vowel 'y' in my language it couldn't be helped.

h

Standard pronounciation. The h-sound is a puff of air passing through an open mouth.

Offline lx

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Re: An article about the pronounciation in my language
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 03:16:42 PM »
Quote
However, it seems like both 'þ' and 'ð' have been seen as the same sound since medieval times. Both symbols were thus used to represent both. In English only 'þ' persisted, and later on 'þ' was replaced by the digraph 'th'. I don't know about the Icelandic writing however.

There is a difference in Icelandic today (and has been stable for over 1,000 years). Thorn (þ) is /θ/ (voiceless dental fricative) and eth (ð) is /ð/ (voiced dental fricative). Also, what you said about engma seemed a bit weird, you talked about the capital letter but that is the uvular sound, whereas the nasal in sing is /ŋ/ and not /ɴ/. Your explanation is not bad but unfortunately it is quite confusing and perhaps not as well laid out as I think you might believe. You should rely on IPA symbols wherever possible because one symbol really puts the direct sound across to us immediately as linguists, and we don't really need the history lesson on the orthographic origins of symbols or the articulatory phonetic descriptions of how sounds are produced (though for a lay audience it could be a good idea).

As an example, it's easier to just use /ʃ/ or /ʃʲ/ (voiceless alveolar-palatal sibilant) rather than the link to Polish pronunciation of 's' and focus on how it might be palatalised. The explanation of 'c' also left me a bit confused as you seem to be talking about /ʒ/, no?

Just some friendly advice!  8) If you want to make it a better explanation and ask some questions and get some feedback to make it more linguistically solid, then we can certainly help you here.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 03:36:47 PM by lx »

Offline Vir Docilis

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Re: An article about the pronounciation in my language
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 03:07:07 PM »
Quote
However, it seems like both 'þ' and 'ð' have been seen as the same sound since medieval times. Both symbols were thus used to represent both. In English only 'þ' persisted, and later on 'þ' was replaced by the digraph 'th'. I don't know about the Icelandic writing however.

There is a difference in Icelandic today (and has been stable for over 1,000 years). Thorn (þ) is /θ/ (voiceless dental fricative) and eth (ð) is /ð/ (voiced dental fricative).

I don't know how I got this idea really. I thought I read something on Wikipedia implying this, but I always thought something was fishy. Maybe I read this, and got the wrong idea:

"It's pronounced either as a voiceless dental fricative [θ], or the voiced counterpart of it [ð]. However, in modern Icelandic it's pronounced as a laminal voiceless alveolar non-sibilant fricative [θ̠],[1][2] similar to th as in the English word thick, or a (usually apical) voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative [ð̠],[1][2] similar to th as in the English word the."

Quote
Also, what you said about engma seemed a bit weird, you talked about the capital letter but that is the uvular sound, whereas the nasal in sing is /ŋ/ and not /ɴ/.

In my keyboard layout ŋ can be made a big letter, looking like this: Ŋ. It looks very ugly! In IPA you only use small letters, so it must be Apple's idea grouping these together.

Quote
You should rely on IPA symbols wherever possible because one symbol really puts the direct sound across to us immediately as linguists, and we don't really need the history lesson on the orthographic origins of symbols or the articulatory phonetic descriptions of how sounds are produced (though for a lay audience it could be a good idea).

I was actually writing this because I was quite tired of the English explanations of vowels, as I'm a Swedish person, when they write vowels something like this:

long a = ah
long o = oh
etc.

Sometimes I've seen explanations that are a lot worse than this and completely incomprehensible. However, putting an 'h' after a vowel seems to has become the standard. But in the beginning, even this was hard for me to understand. Should I say /ah/?

I do agree that IPA would be the most practical way to write how to pronounce the language. However to those who cannot read IPA (this might really have been the wrong place), and especially to people who think that their irregular orthography is the only one in the world, I thought that a history lesson might be in place. So the text was really meant for as you say a lay audience.

I myself remember having gotten really surprised when I learned the Finnish pronunciation of 'o' and 'u', which where similar to the old Latin pronunciation. When I saw this I remember having thought that my spelling were superior to theirs and that they were wrong. But knowing the history has made me accept this kind of spelling more, to the point of using it in my own language.

Quote
As an example, it's easier to just use /ʃ/ or /ʃʲ/ (voiceless alveolar-palatal sibilant) rather than the link to Polish pronunciation of 's' and focus on how it might be palatalised. The explanation of 'c' also left me a bit confused as you seem to be talking about /ʒ/, no?

I was talking about both /ʃ/ and /ɕ/. And the same thing for the voiced one: /ʒ/ and /ʑ/. I personally think these sounds are pretty similar, so I was thinking of letting the speaker choose to speak a mix of the two. But personally I prefer the alveolo-patal consonants more. Is there an IPA symbol for a mix between these, by the way?

Sadly I get my terms mixed up at times, so I happened to say patalized when this is a completely different thing. This must be because I'm self-learned, and because I have such a personality (I don't sweat words, so to speak).

Quote
Just some friendly advice!  8) If you want to make it a better explanation and ask some questions and get some feedback to make it more linguistically solid, then we can certainly help you here.

Yeah, I've pretty much noticed that that is what people get help with here, but thanks for pointing it out. But this site is not only a site for answering questions, no?

Offline lx

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Re: An article about the pronounciation in my language
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 03:40:17 PM »
Quote
In my keyboard layout ŋ can be made a big letter, looking like this: Ŋ. It looks very ugly! In IPA you only use small letters, so it must be Apple's idea grouping these together.
Ah, okay. Well if the issue is just with your computer, then that's sort of solved (it's annoying but I often have to go to sites to copy symbols for specific purposes). The redesign of an orthographic system should really extend beyond a single person's ease of symbol access on a keyboard, no? However, that'd be encouraging more of an IPA style alphabet and I'm conscious of the fact you don't necessarily want that. Might be easier for some people with linguistic training though.
Quote
I was actually writing this because I was quite tired of the English explanations of vowels, as I'm a Swedish person, when they write vowels something like this:

long a = ah
long o = oh
etc.

Sometimes I've seen explanations that are a lot worse than this and completely incomprehensible. However, putting an 'h' after a vowel seems to has become the standard. But in the beginning, even this was hard for me to understand. Should I say /ah/?
I totally get what you mean. The thing is about what I was saying though, is you wouldn't need any sort of explanation if using IPA but then we get to the difference between explaining sounds to a lay audience. I can never make heads nor tails of people who try to spell out sounds like /ah/ or /oh/ because it makes it look like you're specifying one specific sound but it falls right back into the trap of symbols representing multiple sounds anyway. That's why we have IPA symbols, to give a standard! When will dictionaries wake up!  8) Having said that, I suppose the general public need to be considered and they can't all be expected to learn IPA.
Quote
I was talking about both /ʃ/ and /ɕ/. And the same thing for the voiced one: /ʒ/ and /ʑ/. I personally think these sounds are pretty similar, so I was thinking of letting the speaker choose to speak a mix of the two. But personally I prefer the alveolo-patal consonants more. Is there an IPA symbol for a mix between these, by the way?
Not that I'm aware of. The first part of the banded second element (after voiced/voiceless) represents the "central" place and what comes after the dash is the directed it tends towards. So, as you can see in the descriptions, one is a postalveolar fricative, which is also the same thing as an alveolar-palatal sound (base is at the alveolar ridge but it tends a bit further back) whereas the other one is palato-alveolar and starts at the palate but tends forward towards the alveolar ridge. So, used together they sort of are a mix of each other, in a way. I am not aware of a direct split in the middle because that's not a region where sounds can be readily made, exactly half way between the alveolar ridge and the palate. You can have sounds that are sort of centred in one place but either are shifted forward (alveolarised) or backward (palatalised) a bit, but not something equally in the middle.
Quote
But this site is not only a site for answering questions, no?
No, not at all! I assumed you were asking for an opinion and as you were new I hadn't had the chance to gauge the sort of discussion points you were looking for because there wasn't really a question in your post, so my apologies if I misread the type of discussion you wanted to start. It's not the easiest thing to understand what a poster wants when it's just a statement, so my rules of inference could have been wrong.  :)

Anyway, beyond all that, I would like to inquire more into what drives you to create this. What is the end goal? Are you trying to correct inconsistencies you see in places or use this as a solution to a problem? Or is it something you like to do as a hobby and think about how structured sound systems work? Does the language have any grammar? What would be a main generalised description of some of its features?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 03:58:21 PM by lx »

Offline Daniel

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Re: An article about the pronounciation in my language
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 08:44:14 PM »
Quote
In my keyboard layout ŋ can be made a big letter, looking like this: Ŋ. It looks very ugly! In IPA you only use small letters, so it must be Apple's idea grouping these together.
Actually, a capital ŋ does already exist and is used for some African languages (and a few others):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8A

Now the weird part is that it's currently being displayed as <N>+tail rather than, what I remember seeing a few years ago  of big-<ŋ> (operating system update, new default font, I guess). This appears to vary by font, which is quite strange:

Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ
Ŋ

As you can see, changing the font makes it alternate between the two orthographic variants. I have to say I prefer the curved big-ŋ version.
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