Author Topic: A Fictional Language Introduction...  (Read 4198 times)

Offline K2

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A Fictional Language Introduction...
« on: December 06, 2019, 06:24:17 PM »
Hello Everyone;

Right off, I feel it is important that I disclose that I have zero linguistic experience or education. In fairness, I doubt that I could ever contribute anything of value to the membership here through my participation. At this stage I'm visiting to learn, unable to intelligently assist anyone regarding the forum's subject matter.

That said... I'm a novice writer, currently developing a series of dystopian sci-fi novels. Within that series (near future United States), the climate has collapsed, the government has fallen and been remade under an oppressive regime, and now with the population of the nation compressed into a tiny area, the people are considering rebellion.

Due to numerous detailed reasons, 63% of the population has developed their own pidgin language. The current vocabulary stands at roughly 600 words. I'm extremely pleased with the minimal language, rules for speaking, spelling, rules for writing, and have even developed an alphabet. I'm very satisfied with all that... What I'm not, is the basic rough 300 word introduction.

Though I've researched the subject of linguistics, pidgins, dialects, and so on, with my limited education and no linguistic experience, in the introduction I am WAY over my head to present the language (shared in an appendix) to the reader intelligently. To reduce the text, I'm using words which are well beyond my knowledge base, knowing that a single word can explain vast amounts of information. I've tried to confirm what I've written, yet I've reached my limit and have no one else to check this.

If you feel so inclined to take the time, I would appreciate it if you could read over the brief introduction below and chew on it a bit. The words beyond my skill-set will no doubt reveal themselves, and any suggestions you might care to make would be welcome.

Thank you for your time,

K2



A3. CASE Pastoral Pidgin Language and Primary Dialects
P-say – Peoples’ Language, Pastoral Pidgin
Sowfee-say – South Philadelphia (exclusive) Pastoral Dialect
CASE – Consolidated America Sanctuary East
RCFG – Restored Constitution Federal Government

Introduction: Pastoral Pidgin, colloquially ‘P-say,’ is a multicultural, slang originating, evolving, and growing pidgin language, based on American English as the common lexifier. All ‘regional-specific CASE P-say dialects,’ derive from efforts to retain and integrate pre-Gathering regional or cultural slang into P-say. Neither Pastoral Pidgin nor any of the regional CASE dialects make up a complete language vocabulary set.

The speaker’s native language remains the primary language for all users. Pastoral Pidgin and the varied slang dialects are spoken only if-or-when the speaker sees fit. Code-switching is typical, random, and inconsistent among P-say users; although, it is in decline as the P-say language refines and grows. Within a single sentence, speakers may combine their native language, English (often elision modified), Pidgin English, P-say, and regional CASE dialects. Context, gesture, and personalized inflection are critical in conveying the implied meaning.

P-say and subsequently Sowfee-say, each originated in South Philadelphia’s, Sector-14. Once P-say took hold, pre-Gathering Philadelphia residents residing in Sector-14 began integrating Philadelphian slang into P-say to differentiate themselves from other residents, developing Sowfee-say. Other regional pastoral dialects followed suit.

Regional CASE P-say dialects include: Sowfee-say (South Philadelphia); V-tahk (New Venice (New York City)); Jeabe’ (New Jersey influenced areas); Bawlmar (Baltimore region); C-tahk/C-say/Chop/Carney (Homestead Capital/Circus (District of Columbia surrounding)); Smugs – various cultural or regional pre-Gathering dialects and slang still in use where a P-say direct replacement exists.

Regional-specific P-say dialects are all post-P-say variants. However, regional P-say dialect use is fading; gradually absorbed or replaced by universally accepted P-say as its vocabulary grows, the original population diminishes and dilutes through overwhelming diversity.

P-say and its varied regional-specific dialects became firmly entrenched in pastoral areas by G4. As pastoral residents’ exclusive use of English alloys with Pastoral Pidgin, their English vocabulary has rapidly declined, unfortunately assisting the RCFG’s ‘Policy of Erasure’ efforts.


Thank you again for considering my request!
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 10:59:35 PM by K2 »

Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2019, 02:49:10 AM »
Hello and welcome. This is a relevant and appropriate topic for the forum, not to worry!

For an outsider to the field, it looks like you've done a good job with background research, and overall you're heading in a reasonable direction.

Some specific thoughts responding to your post (before I get to the description itself):

1. If you have not already, you should check out the TV series 'The 100', which is about a similar scenario, also including an English-based pidgin of the future. To see what you like, what you don't like, etc. (Another relevant comparison I'm sure you're aware of is Newspeak from 1984, which developed in a particular way that isn't like most natural pidgins, but again could be relevant for comparison.)

2. You should also consider existing work in this area by language creators like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_J._Peterson -- I've met him at a conference, and he has some great insight into what makes human language both language and human. He emphasized in particular that something important is to have some irregularity (rather than just mechanical grammar) to make it feel natural. (That would of course apply in a specific way to a pidgin: some inconsistency across users perhaps although probably still limited means of expression.) Check out his book from a few years ago for a useful perspective. (There are some other books on the topic too of course, and also various conlanging forums online if you want that perspective too.)
One way that he suggests designing a language is to start at an earlier stage and then "evolve" it via sound changes, etc., while also introducing irregularity. Tolkien did some similar things for his languages (built up elaborate language families, in fact) for some very impressive world-building. But in this case specifically, you might try to trace the development of the pidgin over time starting with current English, to see how it would change, rather than just starting with the end result. If done well, this would remove any inconsistencies or artificiality in the first version and add some naturalness. (Though in this case, it's just based on English, not a fictional language, so you don't need to start by inventing English, just tracing the development to the future.)

3. Without knowing anything about this scenario, I'd ask whether this is a pidgin or a creole. Do children speak it natively? If so, it would technically be called a creole, after a few generations. That's the definition: a pidgin is a language with no native speakers and limited means of expression, while a creole is what develops as a full language following that. Pidgins are marked by not having a word for everything, and also having limited/basic grammar, just enough to get by. Also you mentioned that this will be used in writing, and that's somewhat rare: typically pidgins are used in contact situations rather than existing as standards with conventional spelling, etc. (Part of that is probably attached to the colonial past of most real-world pidgins, though.) Note that pidgins also typically reflect a gap in language transmission, either used when speakers of different languages meet (e.g. Russenorsk as a blended and simplified Russian-Norwegian trade language) or when a new population isn't given sufficient time/exposure/practice to learn a language (e.g. slaves in the Caribbean). In sci-fi you also might imagine some event like radiation from nuclear fallout making everyone forget some of English, but that would be extreme.

--

Alright, so now for your 'introduction'-- but let me ask an important question: is this text meant for one of the chapters in your book, for the average reader who does not have a technical background? Do you want to use specialized vocabulary linguists would, or just describe this in an intuitive way?

Overall what you have written seems coherent and clear, without any obvious errors in terminology, so I don't have many suggestions.

A few details or bits of phrasing stood out:

1. Why are you using English spelling for these words? Often an "eye-dialect" (phonetic spelling) can give a particular impression to the reader, and it would also make sense that if these speakers are re-creating a reduced form of English they wouldn't know or use the almost random spelling of English today. You could change this just a bit (I see you did some words, but you should do all consistently, or perhaps you could stylistically mix in normal and phonetic spelling inconsistently for effect to show continued blending and contact).

2. I'm still not sure why this pidgin came about. See my earlier comment on that topic. Which languages are mixing? Why would English speakers lose English and speak this instead? If the plots explains all of that, that's fine of course.
By the way, current research suggests that small, isolated communities without intense contact with other languages tends to result in more complex grammar, while extensive contact often results in simplification. The exact meaning of 'complexity' is unclear, including how it relates to pidgin/creole grammar, but roughly the intuitive sense seems to fit according to researchers like Trudgill and McWhorter who have made such claims.
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it is in decline as the P-say language refines and grows
3. Your use of "refine" here hints at a bias that almost every non-linguist has, which is assuming that some languages are more primitive and some are more developed than others. I'm just saying to watch out for that assumption. (If linguists could agree on a motto it might be something like "there are no primitive languages", or at least that's an important perspective in how we describe languages today. Note that this was not always the case historically when Latin and Greek were assumed "best", followed by vernacular European languages, and then the various "primitive" languages elsewhere, which really reflected instead the ignorance of Europeans, ironically. "Primitive" is now considered a 'bad word' in linguistics, but more generally we tend to avoid words or analyses that would imply value judgments: linguists are descriptivists, not prescriptivists.)
On the other hand, almost to contradict myself, this is a complicated situation. People (speakers) do often have value judgments about "proper" ways to speak (but that's entirely arbitrary, just like "proper" ways to dress, no real logical "right" way, just the way people with social prestige speak), and even more specifically with a pidgin, it is a limited grammatical system (whereas a creole is not). And people do talk about more "developed" languages in reference to things like having translations available (for books, for software, or similarly for keyboards to type the language), or for having vocabulary to express and keep up with technical innovations, etc. But again, don't think that some languages are inferior to others. They're just different, and used differently. My suggestion here is just to be careful about using any descriptive words that imply value, unless of course that is your intent (e.g., from the antagonist's perspective!).
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English (often elision modified)
4. Linguists sometimes refer to this as "telegraphic" speech, which actually happens to be a transparent term that most readers can probably understand without explanation. This involves things like omitting articles (the, a) in order to literally save money per letter for sending a telegram. Now it's common in newspaper headlines, etc. And stylistically it's somewhat similar to pidgins.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 07:57:15 AM by Daniel »
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Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2019, 10:44:57 AM »
Hi Daniel;

Thank you for the extensive and detailed response. So I don't miss a point, I'll respond by section. First, let me give you a bit of insight into my own language 'dysfunction.'

Without going into the whys, for the first 10 years of my life I rarely spoke (and I've never had any formal education, and was American born). From 11-24 I lived round the globe where people conversed with me in their own form of Pidgin English, slang from their language, and those languages were countless. To that end, for much of my life I spoke my own brand of pidgin... and still do in times of stress. It was not until my early 30's I learned to read, write, and began to converse in English. So, I have an anecdotal grasp of building a language, and bridging language barriers with pidgin.

1A. I have never seen that series (The 100). Though it looks awesome and I'll definitely look into it. What I did find was a clip of the language in use. Right off I can say, it is MUCH more advanced--has been used longer and evolved--than my own. I noted hints of Portuguese, Patios, elided English and Pidgin English. But, from its compressed and smooth verbalization, that hints to me (as a layman), that it has been in use much-much longer than my P-say.

1B. Newspeak actually has some direct relevance regarding the very last line in my text.
As pastoral residents’ exclusive use of English alloys with Pastoral Pidgin, their English vocabulary has rapidly declined, unfortunately assisting the RCFG’s ‘Policy of Erasure’ efforts.
In my story, the government determines that it must wipe as much memory of the past and drive for the future from pastoral residents. As they have, many previous words simply have no relevance so are forgotten. But, they still need to express amplitudes, volume and so on. They do that via new universally applied adjectives and adverbs (like in Newspeak).

2. Thanks for that tip, I'll look into all of their work in more detail. That said, just like 1A above, their languages are (or likely more seem) much more advanced being true languages vs. my pidgin.

3A. At this stage it is definitely a pidgin... although, children are beginning to learn it as a first language (to their detriment, the language still so limited), it has a way to go before growing into a creole.  That said, I have rules in place for its use when spoken, and as I mentioned, extensive rules in place for spelling, writing it, even a logical alphabet. So, it is getting there (toward a creole), yet is not there yet.

3B. In brief to not waste your time... In the introductory novel (of 4 spanning 4 subsequent years), people in pastoral areas have spoken P-say for ONLY 'four years.' Hence the push-back by previous residents with their own slang dialects.

In my story, 417-million have gathered in a very small area at the government's insistence. At that point, the government began segregating groups based on various factors. Do they have children, race and language. People in pastoral areas (263-million), do not have children (for the most part). In S. Philly where the pidgin began, people who were not Caucasian and who did not speak an Am. Eng. dialect were all crammed in together. So, though most speak some amount of English, it's like the tower of Babel. Naturally, even for native English speakers, slang begins to dominate... to that end, finding words which could be enunciated by all speakers, discounting words and sounds which could not, P-say began to grow like all pidgins.

So, we're very early into this language, most people have a minimal grasp of English, yet the people have chosen their own slang based pidgin over forcing English on their neighbors. Finally, the actual developers of P-say, P-bit (alphabet), and the resistance, use the new language to combat RCFG Policy of Erasure efforts, pull the people together as a group, merge the races and cultures to work as one... IOW, they choose to diverge from English (like kids and slang), to define their identity and resist.

P-say is influenced by English, Am.Eng. Dialects, Spanish, Portuguese, Caribbean Patios, West.Hem. Creoles, Thai, etc.. Basically, every language you might find in America at any one time, all compressed into a minuscule area. Finding common aspects and adopting those universally speak-able by the majority (pronunciations and such).

_________________________________________________________

The introduction will be contained in an appendix section. Appendices in the first novel will be: Introduction to Pastoral Languages (and very-basic/introductory use by English readers), a P-say Glossary, a Sowfee-say Glossary, Translations by Chapter.

In the second novel's appendix, Sowfee-say will be eliminated, detailed rules for speaking P-say will be added, and rules for spelling in P-say will be added. (ex.: long vowels like 'case' are written with two adjacent vowels, 'caas.' More true, hard-c's are now represented by K, so 'kaas').

In the third novel, a new appendix section detailing the alphabet and it's use and reasons will be presented.

Throughout the series, discussions as to the language, it's origins, alphabet and so on, are extremely informal to keep the 'story a story.' That said, the languages are used by the appropriate characters... but, as allowed and reflecting the early stage, code-switching intermingling English (often elided) is used as dialogue WITH restraint (to not overwhelm the reader).

Ex.:
“Look, be quiet, okay? And if it’s help you’re offering, I don’t need any help,” Kae whispered back. “I just need to find somewhere to sleep, where I won’t be bothered—by anyone. What in the hell is that you’re speaking anyway? Speak English.”

“Po, yawut Meircan? Un ats P-say wha' pes. Welp, P-say Sowfilly style, Sowfee-say. As mi say, mi from ‘ere, mi ahways bint ‘ere. Mae’ say G-tahk fo' Meircan.”

Tr.: (question), you mean American (English)? And that's (the) Peoples' Language what else. Well, (the) Peoples' Language South Philadelphia style, Sowfee-say. As I said, I've always been here. We say G-tahk (government language) for American (the English language)."

So, in the story it reads like you or I might encounter it real life. All the detailed explanation, like the introduction, is there in the appendix IF someone wishes to look into it further.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Specific critique:

1. I'm not sure what you mean by "using an English spelling for these words?" Could you point to where please?

What is presented here, is an 'appendix introduction.' In the story, and in the glossary, best-approximation English speaker pronunciations are used... In the next novel, just in the appendix, P-say spellings will be added along side those English pronunciations. Otherwise, I fear it would overwhelm the reader demanding they learn P-say rules (which means, they'll stop reading)... P-say is phonetically written and simplified (I don't want to bore you with my basic rules, but if you would like for me to present them, I'd be pleased to).

2. (See above, previously covered). Beyond that, the government has worked to reduce the intelligence, memory, and motivation of these residents. The dialects are an attempt by individual groups to retain their previous group identity/individuality... As to English loss, many people did not speak English as their first language when they came there. Others, used their own pidgins, creoles, patios, whatever. Pastoral Pidgin bridges those divides... yet, as they begin speaking it primarily (having no strong English influences), they focus on it gradually losing touch with the English they did know, especially finer points... The situation, however, makes memory difficult. So, they focus on the now and lose what they once worked at daily.

3. I understand your point. That said, P-say at this stage is just a 4-year old developing language being influenced by 263-million people. So, it is growing and refining. Refining as in 'firming up' vocabulary, usage, grammar, phrasing. Naturally, that helps me. It allows me to intermix English to help the reader understand, and lends a tremendous degree of flexibility in P-say's use.  IOW, Bob does not have to say the exact same phrase the same way as Mary. Over time, that flexibility will reduce--refine--and ultimately become a creole.

4. Although that is NOT what I meant (elision modified), your suggestion of telegraphic speech should probably be added... although, I think that aspect would be better placed in the initial reading rules section. As an example of 'what I meant by elision modified,' typically > typ'cly > tipclee (when written in P-say).

That said, telegraphic speech as you suggest IS USED by the residents to varied degrees. So, I definitely need to add that aspect.

EDIT: With that in mind, after some investigation prompted by your suggestion, I'm curious if there are degree standards regarding telegraphic speech? IOW, a toddler might say, "give," representing Stage 1. Stage 2 might be, "give me candy," as voiced by a young child. Stage 4 (obviously I'm making these up), might be related to pidgin languages where complete vocabularies are unavailable.

If there are levels of distinction regarding telegraphic speech, I'd like to apply the correct one. It is definitely a condition that I show in the dialogue. Yet, I'd like to explain it correctly in the appendix.

_______________________________________

Since you have not mentioned them, please let me know if I used the introduction contained terms correctly (I'm pretty sure I have correctly used 'pidgin, dialect, and slang':

lexifier: (core/common language)
code-switching: (using English, patios, pidgin all in the same sentence)
elision modified/elided: (excluding vowels or consonants, sometimes larger portions when a word is spoken or written... typically above a good example)
vocabulary set: my way of saying... the users MUST use English or their own language, to supplement P-say's word deficiencies at this stage.

Elsewhere (in my rules not shown here), I also touch on 'reduplication, word-compounding, consonant reduction, vowel simplification, etc..' I WILL be adding your suggestion regarding 'telegraphic speech.'

Where I KNOW I'm having trouble is the application of the word 'phonic.' That phrasing I'll need to work on to ensure I apply the word correctly.


THANK YOU so very much for your time and help. If you have any other insights you'd care to suggest, they would be appreciated.  Also, if you feel the 'formal appendix introduction' is too difficult to read (or perhaps reads like telegraphic speech itself), please let me know.

Thank you again!

K2



P.S.: Just for fun, here is that replacement alphabet I developed.  You'll note that in actuality, there are only 3-symbols, rotated in three positions, with three positions for the accent mark. That reduces the number of print blocks required to 9 (perhaps even three if the accent mark is separate). So, as they begin mass producing documents for distribution, it will be easier to produce the equipment.

P-bit is written from top-to-bottom. At the page end, you shift right, then down again (point being, it keeps your hand away from messy inks/paint/etc..). Each word is ended with a dot. ALL punctuation uses the same accent mark. Sentences are ended with a line. Paragraphs, 2-lines.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 03:45:21 PM by K2 »

Offline panini

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2019, 10:51:57 AM »
IMO good science fiction remembers the science part, and posits things that are scientifically realistic. I think the prior question that you should consider is whether this is a realistic scenario, or alternatively what would be realistic. Pidgin languages arise when populations come in contact and have no language in common. We have a common language in the US – English. My dialect is different from Daniel's or that of folks in Maine or Alabama, but we can understand each other. I can even understand people from Australia, South Africa and London (I admit that understanding people from Newcastle is hard).

In order to change the language situation in the US, you need a longer period and lack of linguistic contact. Obviously, no interwebs or television; trade is basically village to village; illiteracy is pandemic. Even so, that kind of describes medieval Scandinavia, so you also need time, not just "near future". A lot of sci-fi invented language is based on the opposite premise, namely massive contact and blending / code-switching, but that seems to be contrary to the plot of the novel.

My suggestion is to start by fleshing out the presumed social history that resulted in some language change. Think in terms of millenia, to get sufficient divergence in English dialects to the point that pidginization is a plausible outcome. Or mix in large populations of non-English speakers (e.g. all of the Chinese speakers move to Fargo, all of the Spanish speakers move to Memphis – and then contact happens). If you want dialects of this language (creolization and then further segregation and isolation), you need more time.

Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2019, 08:05:52 PM »
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I lived round the globe where people conversed with me in their own form of Pidgin English
Technically this wouldn't be considered a "pidgin" but just some kind of interlanguage (English spoken by English learners of various levels). There's also "foreigner talk" for the reverse where English speakers try to "simplify" (in sometimes helpful, other times not helpful ways) how they speak so foreigners can understand. How and why we do this is interesting, and does relate to how pidgins eventually come about. You mentioned earlier code-switching vs. pidgins, and that's the same difference: code-switching (etc.) is spontaneous and part of usage, while pidgins (and creoles) start to become conventionalized systems rather than actively mixed with the standard form.
(By the way, the term "slang" is a personal pet peeve of mine, because on a technical level all it would refer to is "jargon" or specialized vocabulary, but also brings along with it a value judgment of the usage being inherently wrong in some sense. "Technical jargon" is use by professionals, whereas "slang" is used by people who are "uneducated", "unprofessional", etc. So I personally prefer to avoid that term, although of course it's in common usage by people even to describe how they speak themselves.)

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So, it is getting there (toward a creole), yet is not there yet.
Exactly how and when this transition occurs is actually a controversial topic in current research. The simple assumption that pidgins "become" creoles when children learn them isn't always directly supported by historical evidence due to a lack of historical record. So some researchers have questioned the simple dichotomy and suggested other models. Regardless, there are also some current examples of pidgins transitioning to creoles, which are being researched in that context as well. Some prominent examples include Tok Pisin and Nigerian Pidgin English, which today are probably better considered creoles, despite their names. That's pretty clear for Tok Pisin (Verhaar wrote a grammar of it in 1995 with this in mind, using corpus data to look at actual usage, showing conventionalization and change), and Nigerian Pidgin (or Creole!) is a more complicated case according to the research I've read about it because it exists in a wide continuum, as a pidgin for some speakers, as a creole for others, and also in constant contact with (standard-like, non-creole) Nigerian English, all three mixing together in usage and communication between speakers.

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As an example of 'what I meant by elision modified,' typically > typ'cly > tipclee (when written in P-say).
Oh, I see. Hm, the technical terminology here won't help too much for describing this to non-linguists. "Ellipsis" describes the omission of something, although especially for words (e.g. in answering a question), rather than for sounds. The term "elision" can also be used for the loss of a sound, as well as (at least in historical research on sound change) the term "loss" as well. But that's not particularly transparent to a non-linguist. The other relevant phenomenon here would technically be called cliticization, where a clitic is a morpheme somewhere between an affix and independent word, with mixed properties. In this case, it's phonologically dependent (pronounced with another word), but syntactically independent (functions like a separate part of the grammar). An example from English is the common combination of pronouns plus tense-marking auxiliaries like "I'll" or "I'm", etc., or auxiliaries with negation like "can't", etc. The eventual result of this is compounding and even development of additional morphology. (In the far future of your pidgin, by the way, the language structure could look quite different, with a lot more morphology due to these changes: but that's probably a thousand years or more away. Generally speaking current creoles around the world haven't reached that point yet but probably will in a couple thousand years. This is called the 'morphological cycle' if you want to look it up, going from isolating>agglutinative>fusional and then repeating, over many thousands of years. But that's a tangent because it's not relevant to the context of your book, except the part where this 'repeats' above, in that fusional languages (like English) lose some of that morphology and shift to isolating languages with very little or no morphology like most pidgins/creoles.)
Anyway, the terms that will be familiar to readers are "contractions" (more technically, when we use an apostrophe to indicate missing content due to cliticization) or just "compounding", which isn't as narrow in meaning but also fits.
Another possibility would be "abbreviations" (and various more specific technical terms for subtypes) but I'm not sure that quite fits. Current youth speech includes some of this with truncations like "delish" for delicious, etc.

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EDIT: With that in mind, after some investigation prompted by your suggestion, I'm curious if there are degree standards regarding telegraphic speech? IOW, a toddler might say, "give," representing Stage 1. Stage 2 might be, "give me candy," as voiced by a young child. Stage 4 (obviously I'm making these up), might be related to pidgin languages where complete vocabularies are unavailable.
Well, "telegraphic speech" just refers to, e.g., newspaper headlines. Typically formal usage that deviates from standard full grammar, and often in writing, although it might be used in speech too (e.g. foreigner talk? sports announcing?).
But what you wrote there reminds me of something else regarding first language acquisition in children: different stages, beginning with the one-word stage ("cookie!"), followed by the two-word stage ("give cookie!", "me cookie!"), and then more productive use of larger sentences structures toward adult usage. (For even more abstract background, this also seems intuitively to correspond to the architecture of grammar and the human language faculty in the sense that some animals do have "words" mirroring the one-word stage, while only a few animals seem to have reached the 'two-word' stage including apes trained with signed language but also a few naturally occurring examples, and then in general animals don't seem to have reached the more extensive level of 'infinite recursion' found in human language, so, for now, that level of grammar appears uniquely human from what we can tell, although a few cases might begin to border on it. There's some very interesting research on prairie dogs for example, but now I'm on a tangent. See the short video here if you'd like though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1kXCh496U0)

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If there are levels of distinction regarding telegraphic speech, I'd like to apply the correct one. It is definitely a condition that I show in the dialogue. Yet, I'd like to explain it correctly in the appendix.
No, there aren't specific levels in terms of how to label things. It's just a general phenomenon.

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Since you have not mentioned them, please let me know if I used the introduction contained terms correctly...
Overall, yes, it seems fine. (Again it's important for terms like "slang" to consider whether this is an objective description, in which case I would avoid that word, or a subjective description from the perspective of speakers who think of their own speech as non-standard-- a complicated sociolinguistic issue, but certainly one that exists.)
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patios
typo: should be patois. This term is used most often with Jamaican creole English, as a name for it (just like "Creole" can often, ambiguously, refer to a specific language in some location, like Louisiana). I wouldn't think of it as a distinct phenomenon, just another term like "creole" or "pidgin". I see online looking the word up now that it might also just refer to any non-standard vernacular usage (e.g. a local dialect). So that's fine if you want, I guess, but it's so non-specific I don't see it as additionally helpful here.

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reduplication, word-compounding, consonant reduction, vowel simplification
Reduplication is when the same word (or part of a word) is used twice in a row for grammaticalization, especially for meanings like plurals, augmentatives ('big X'), diminuatives ('small X'), intensives ('very X'), etc. We hardly ever use this in standard English, except interestingly for color terms as in "red red" (for a deep, strong shade of red).
"Vowel simplification" seems intuitively fine, although the technical term is most often "vowel reduction", where stressed vowels are pronounced most distinctly, and in unstressed positions they are pronounced in "lax" (=relaxed, unstressed) variants, even to the point of all being reduced to schwa and eventually loss of the segment altogether.

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Where I KNOW I'm having trouble is the application of the word 'phonic.' That phrasing I'll need to work on to ensure I apply the word correctly.
Post an example if you want. That term is really used more as a sort of branding of English-spelling teaching methods rather than anything more technical than that. We use the terms "phonology/phonological" to refer to the grammar (combinatorial properties and interaction) of sounds and "phonetics/phonetic" to refer to the physical pronunciation (articulation, acoustics, etc.) of sounds. (That is, phonology is a sub-field of linguistics proper, studying the grammar of human languages as systems, while phonetics has sometimes been considered a branch of physics, although today it's commonly researched in linguistics departments because of its obvious importance to linguists.)

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Also, if you feel the 'formal appendix introduction' is too difficult to read (or perhaps reads like telegraphic speech itself), please let me know.
I think it seemed fine and not even too technical, but I'm not the best test for that: try it on a non-linguist test audience to see what they think.

--

Panini's suggestions are crucial as well. Again I'll mention Peterson's book from my reply above, The Art of Language Invention where he discusses exactly these issues of realism, including some anecdotes about why he thinks this is important having watched and been disappointed by earlier attempts at 'alien language'.
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Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2019, 08:54:51 PM »
Thanks for the response panini;

All great points that I hope in the story line I have overcome. That's a big part of what I did when I wrote this. I asked myself, "how do I want the world to be?" Then I sought out circumstances to make that happen. In this case, climate moving past a tipping point, a corrupt government ruled by a mad man, that mad man trying to convince the people we're under threat, causing a total infrastructure collapse, false threats of invasion, and the government's refusal to help anyone outside of a tiny area... and so on (it's long and involved, little things that add up).

Though I realize this is a VERY compressed time-frame and you folks here are working with limited information, I briefly touched on some of those issues in my reply to Daniel.  To recap what I mentioned there using bullet-points and expanding on it:

* 417-million are forced by circumstance into a tiny area... With only 326m in the U.S., the balance came from Canada, the Caribbean, ultimately a portion of the Mexican and Central American population, and 'Super-Corp' employees recalled from other nations. Naturally, that includes every language you might find in those regions (with people in the U.S. on visas and so on as well).

* Once there, the government performs a sort or 'cull.' In S. Philly (for example) where the pidgin began, people who were not Caucasian and who did not speak an Am. Eng. dialect were all crammed in together. A few residents remained.  So, though most speak some amount of English, it's like the tower of Babel. Naturally, even for native English speakers, slang begins to dominate.

* In these 'pastoral areas,' 263 million are crammed into 1,134 mi2 = 231,667 /mi2 population density. Much of those areas are unusable, so using S. Philly as an example and considering sea rise, it's now 1-million in 1.3 sq.mi..

* In pastoral areas, there are no utilities, nothing electrical works, there is no radio, etc.. And, the people are trapped behind walls meant to keep them segregated.

* So, we have a lot of different cultures and languages forced in together. On top of that, the government has a system of crushing oppression using starvation, constant threat of violence (from them and other residents), lack of water, supplied narcotics, excessively loud 24/7 PA propaganda (for the first two years) and so on, to wear the people down. The point being to get them to focus every moment on fear and survival. The goal to get them to forget the past, and even cease planning for the future.

So, with that minimal bit and a lot of other factors, we have densely packed groups that realize they must get along to survive (contrary to the governments goal). Language is one of the limiting factors... and since people pick up slang in such situations easily enough, often making a game of it (having little else to do), what works better?

Forcing non or rudimentary English speakers to learn or improve upon their English skills (as the English speakers begin to forget)... or, where everyone picks up new slang words that evolve to ease pronunciation for all, and as new words are added the language grows?

Think back to when you were a teen or even now. How many slang terms did/do you use? If we're introduced to rubber shoes as 'bumpers,' or a specific type of clothing as 'skins,' or the sole food product as 'gese,' what do you call them?


I feel very comfortable with all of the scenarios.  Even the language issue that I've supplied sufficient reason to have it come to pass.  My big trouble is, however... Does the introduction to the language read correctly?

Thanks for your input! Any feedback you could give on the introduction itself would be very helpful.

K2





Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2019, 08:57:00 PM »
Daniel, thanks for the followup response... I have to head out for a bit. I'll try to read it all over when I get back later tonight.

Thanks again!

K2

Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2019, 09:23:40 PM »
Responding to the post above about sociolinguistic context and development, just as a general rule you should assume that contact = mixing, change, pidginization, simplification, etc., and isolation = maintanence, perhaps complexification. What you've described seems to involve both components. In the end, it's your story, so as long as that fits what you're trying to describe, you should be fine.

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My big trouble is, however... Does the introduction to the language read correctly?
Yes, generally it seems fine. One suggestion I could add is to include more examples. This is especially helpful for non-linguists to get a feeling for the language, but even for linguists often the most important part of any description. Sometimes languages are illustrated with a short section of the Bible or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-- as a sort of allusion to that, could you quote a section of some similar political document from your world? ("The resistance has spread word of their efforts through the following document....??")
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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2019, 11:39:41 PM »
Thanks again Daniel and Panini for your help;

Daniel, getting back to your followup post, I appreciate your input on my own language development.

Regarding the word "slang," I'm somewhat at odds as to 'what if not?' Reviewing the terms jargon, argot, cant, slang and even dialect (which I believe (don't know) is more advanced and expansive), I'm brought right back to slang, however, not meant in a derisive way.  As an example, in Philadelphia a number of words used are not found elsewhere. "Jawn" the classic example, others simply different words applied to a common thing, sometimes elided, others not. Wit = with, plug = fire hydrant, MAC an ATM or Automatic Teller Machine.

In my regional dialects, I've included versions of all the 'jargon/slang' I could find, and then altered it to fit P-say rules while retaining the original sound (somewhat). That part is easy... P-say, the base language, not so much.

In my experience (not educated knowledge), two people can speak different languages, referring to the same object while discussing the same action and for the most part, figure out what the other person means well enough that an answer or end goal (perhaps a sale) can be reached. Before we reach a point of what is considered a pidgin language, a misunderstood word or a simplified word might work as a substitute for each party. 

Ex.: Tire tread sandals are common in many poorer regions. They're loose and 'smack' your feet and the ground, but the word 'slap' is easy for most to say and there's the beginning. Two people agree on the word (as they try to find something each understands) and soon it's repeated (one might know exactly what they're saying, the other assumes that's how that speaker says it... "yeah-yeah, slaps") it gets repeated, used with other people to save the discussion, and pretty soon they're known as "slaps," not, tire tread sandals.

That's how I tried to work this. So, I considered 'slang' not formal words from one language or the other everyone else was forced to learn... Except when it was 'catchy.'

First step, I checked which sounds were difficult for various languages... mostly by reviewing swaths of the vocabulary looking for missing sounds or sound combinations.  For P-say, I considered what would be common or slang terms for say an object from numerous languages. Not the formal word but what typically most people would call it. I then considered what sounds were difficult (or not used) for the languages, then picked the word which had the most overlap. Subjectively, I then considered what sounded 'catchy' realizing a HUGE part of this language had to be that English speakers would not use their typical word and accept this new word... then altered it to be spoken even easier.

So, that's why I 'assumed' the language was based on slang.  However, I'm open to using a better word. The question is, which?

Cliticization... That's going to take me some time to research just to understand a lot of what you said in that passage.  ;D In fact, as I research the sites/books/etc. you suggested, many of the terms (which all mean much more than a simple word, each describing volumes of information), lose me quickly. That relates directly to your mention of elisions and how the average reader might become lost.

Examples are a fine idea, and are given in later discussion of the language, yet in the case of the introduction (though I'm limiting the amount of terms), some say a lot with a single word. Elisions I first described as "shortened, fractured or broken," which I felt was a fair description. But, it added its own bit of confusion as to what way. I agree with you as to speaking above the average reader, but at some point to reduce pages to a few paragraphs, I need to use a few, minimal, specific words, and let them look it up.

Past that it's getting late and I'm losing my concentration.  I'll get back to address the balance tomorrow.

If you'd care to suggest a better term than 'slang,' jargon perhaps... please do.

Thanks again!

K2

« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 08:02:45 AM by K2 »

Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2019, 12:05:53 AM »
"Slang" is a complicated issue, and I should explain that I probably dislike the word more than the average linguist. The issue is that it seems to be a sort of self-deprecation, as well as judgment from outsiders. You might hear people say "I don't speak proper English, just slang." or "That's just a slang word." And those attitudes are problematic. It's sort of an internalized sense of being wrong. Languages vary, but no version is better than another, and no version is wrong. The complication is that in a given society, there may be standards, and compared to those standards some other forms are non-standard and therefore understood to be wrong or slang. But that's embedded within a biased system. In short, slang is jargon without prestige, and jargon is slang with prestige. Thus slang is inherently a stigmatized variety (or it would be called something else). That seems like the wrong way to look at it, to me.
In the end, many people do think of what they say as slang. (But I ask my students to question why when I'm teaching about these topics.)
So if it fits your book, that's fine. I was just giving some context. And I don't have another word in mind that would be so intuitive for readers. In fact, from what you've hinted about the plot of your book, it might actually succeed in demonstrating the value of "slang" because it's used by the good guys, right? (That's one aspect of my objection to the term in general: it seems to me that no one would typically say "that's good slang" or "slang is good", because it doesn't have positive connotations. So if "slang" is inherently negative, I don't see it as a useful word for describing language rather than judging it.)

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Cliticization... That's going to take me some time to research just to understand a lot of what you said in that passage.  ;D In fact, as I research the sites/books/etc. you suggested, many of the terms (which all mean much more than a simple word, each describing volumes of information), lose me quickly.
Yes, that's a dense paragraph with some additional ideas packed in there. If something stands out as relevant and you want me to address it specifically just let me know.

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That relates directly to your mention of elisions and how the average reader might become lost.
Right, so that's your job, to make the readers understand. Linguists won't fault you for writing in a way that works for your audience (but throwing in some technical vocabulary and other details would be nice, as you're already doing).

--
(By the way, just a technical note about using the forum, I've noticed that replies in this thread are for some reason often getting caught by our spam filter. It's there to prevent massive amounts of spam showing up, which is helpful, but sometimes certain topics result in 'false positives' so messages might be delayed appearing. But we'll approve them when we see them.)
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 12:56:57 AM by Daniel »
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Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2019, 09:11:04 AM »
Thanks again Daniel;

I think at this point I'm going to let consideration of the word 'slang' stew in my head a bit.  Perhaps a new way of phrasing it will come to me.  Regarding the level of linguistic education to understand the terms I'm using, the value of saying a lot with a single word, or having it be understood easily by all, as I reread that introduction, I actually I think might have given people clues (to all things except elisions, which could be improved).

Lexifier I say, 'based on American English as the common lexifier.' Code-switching, 'Within a single sentence, speakers may combine their native language, English (often elision modified), Pidgin English, P-say, and regional CASE dialects.' And so on. So, though I don't want to speak above anyone (especially since I'm talking above my own education), I also don't want to speak 'below everyone.'


Getting back to your response I didn't finish, 'reduplication, etc., etc.,' you do bring up a point worth mentioning. (btw, reduplication and many other things ARE part of the language. Ex.: boda = please, boda-boda = begging please).

You said: "Vowel simplification" seems intuitively fine, although the technical term is most often "vowel reduction", where stressed vowels are pronounced most distinctly, and in unstressed positions they are pronounced in "lax" (=relaxed, unstressed) variants, even to the point of all being reduced to schwa and eventually loss of the segment altogether.

You mention the word 'schwa,' another I looked up, and if I understand it correctly, you may have touched on the primary vowel type or sound of my language (albeit, I did not use that word, most linguistic terms well beyond me). 

In my language (and this ONLY applies to writing my language in P-bit... in the manuscript, I write words using American English 'best guess' spellings), I mention how consonant use is simplified (perhaps it is phonetically?):
** Consonant use is simplified: F replaces GH and PH (cough=couf, phone=fone); K replaces a hard-C (cat=kat) and CK (back=bak); S replaces a soft-C (nice=nise); Z randomly replaces S and is enunciated as Z.
** Identical double consonants are not used unless each is enunciated (rattid=rat-tid), or is a compound word with identical end-start letters. Integrated English words are similarly elided to reflect that practice.
** H is only used after a ‘P-say soft vowel’ for added emphasis and is enunciated when spoken.
** Y is only used as a consonant and will only follow a vowel or a consonant as the start of a subsequent compound word.
** etc.

Regrading vowels/vowel sounds, however, I mention there are only three types used... One of those types is by a vast margin used in most words (perhaps 60-70%). Though I called it a 'soft vowel,' unconcerned with linguistic accuracy, I'm guessing it is your 'schwa' sound.  IOW, a,e,i,o,u, sound like; ah, eh, ih, oh (no longer a 'long vowel' for consistancy), uh. Considering that, at times P-say spellings differ from the expected English spelling (Eng-Eng pronun-Pbit spell):
Don't you - Donya (don-yah) - Danya (dahn-yah).
Come out of hiding - Naroach (nah-roach) - Naroch (nah-rohch)
Lady - Walocha (wah-loh-chah)

Is that a problem? The way your text read (to me), is that the schwa was almost a second thought, perhaps disposable, where in contrast it makes up the bulk of my vocabulary's vowel pronunciation.

Thank you so much for your generous indulgence. I'm sure it's difficult discussing a topic so close to your heart with someone so vastly uneducated on the subject (and why I tried limiting my request to just the introduction).

Thank you again, sincerely and deeply,

K2




Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2019, 09:46:47 AM »
Overall that sounds fine.

One specific point:
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Is that a problem? The way your text read (to me), is that the schwa was almost a second thought, perhaps disposable, where in contrast it makes up the bulk of my vocabulary's vowel pronunciation.
That's fine. Schwas are basically neutral vowels. But from the spellings you gave, it seems there are other vowels too (which is also normal).
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Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2019, 11:38:57 PM »
Daniel & Panini;

You two have left me with a lot of information to mull over and learn, to help me with my project.

Thank you both so much!

Once I get everything sorted out in an acceptable fashion regarding the introduction, guidelines and rules, I'll be sure to post that portion of the appendix to wrap things up here.  If there is anything I can answer for you, or if you feel I misunderstood what you posted, please let me know here.  I'll check back often.

Thank you both again,

K2

Offline K2

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2019, 08:24:29 AM »
I do have one further question regarding the discussion of 'schwa' above. Have I used the term correctly in this instance:

** Identical double consonants are not used unless each is enunciated (rattid=rat-tid), or is a compound word with identical end-start letters. Integrated English words are similarly elided to reflect that practice. Where there is a determining vowel or schwa, it is often also eliminated (typically = typic’ly = tipclee).

Thanks again,

K2

Offline Daniel

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Re: A Fictional Language Introduction...
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2019, 08:29:37 AM »
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Identical double consonants are not used unless each is enunciated (rattid=rat-tid), or is a compound word with identical end-start letters.
Isn't this already true for English? Are you trying to differentiate your spelling? (Note that there is a big difference in doubled consonants in spelling vs. pronunciation: in spelling they mostly serve to indicate that the preceding vowel is short, which is an odd consequence of the history of English spelling.)
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Integrated English words are similarly elided to reflect that practice.
Technically "elided" here would seem to refer to the whole word (=omitted), rather than, e.g. 'parts of the words are elided'. "The words undergo elision" is another way to phrase that, but not necessarily transparent for the reader. Something simpler like "some sounds are lost in the middle of words" would be fine of course.
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Where there is a determining vowel or schwa, it is often also eliminated (typically = typic’ly = tipclee)
What's a "determining vowel" specifically? Why not just say that all unstressed vowels are eliminated? Is that correct?
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