Artifical Langauge: Easiest to learn?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by ElectricFetus, May 22, 2011.

  1. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Oh my non-existant god that was like 6 years ago!

    Yeah good cool, so about my artificial language, opinions, perspectives?
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  3. Han Registered Member

    I am not sure your diphthongs or triphthongs are very cross-linguistically common. Your vowel inventory has a pretty ordinary size, though. Speakers of some languages will have difficulty distinguishing "i" and "u." Speakers of English will have trouble distinguishing "ou" and "o," as well as "ei" and "e." I think your inventory of dipthongs and triphthongs will require speakers to distinguish at least one thing they didn't have to distinguish in their original language.

    You don't distinguish any sounds solely by voicing or aspiration. This isn't cross-linguistically common, but it may be helpful to learners.

    Simple syllables only is not a cross-linguistically common feature. (According to WALS, only about 61 out of 486 recorded languages have simple syllables only.)

    You are correct that SOV is cross-linguistically common. Free sentence order based on case markings is also common, but because your language doesn't use that much inflection, I have a feeling speakers would, in practice, settle on specific order to express meaning.

    Most languages use inflection much more than your language does. It's possible speakers of those languages would find your language difficult to learn.

    It looks like you're allowed to omit the verb word in sentences about being. ("Where is my cat?") This occurs sometimes in languages with no fixed word order, but among those languages, it's not as cross-linguistically common as using a verb word.

    I think using color or homemade symbols to encode meaning is unlikely to be helpful to learners, and it will make it harder for people to use computers to write in your language. I would just use the latin character set.

    I think your ideas are good!
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  5. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    The thread is old, but fascinating. I enjoy this sort of thing immensely.

    I have a small quibble though, Fraggle:

    Which Spanish? I speak Mexican, mostly, and some of what I may misunderstand from your quote isn't what I hear from Spanish speakers. My teachers were Bolivian and Colombian, so none of the Castilian accent found me until much later. I can understand it (mostly, if you go slow), but I wouldn't even try to speak it.

    Have your ever heard the Spanish say 'e' instead of 'y' when saying 'and', when the following word begins with a vowel? I always thought it was to avoid unintentional diphthongs. I do it unconsciously now, but I still get strange looks from Nahuatl speakers that learned Spanish as a second language. Odd as that sounds from me...
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  7. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Well I made some improvement over the years. pronunciation is no longer dependent on making diphthongs or triphthongs, rather those increase the speed of speech. For example the world "piuua" which means "my" could be pronounce slowly as pi-u-u-a or faster as "pyu-wa"

    Normally no throat clearing sounds, although for the letter "h" an English "f" or "th" or semetic "H" are acceptable allophones

    I'm going under the theory that simple syllables are easier to learn, not how how common they are.

    Case markings can be used if out of order, see example of latest version of the language above.

    Another example "meu" means "you" if in a SOV or SVO format it needs not case marking. But if out of that format case markings can be used

    So "I sent the box to you" is "Piu teluu giim meu" or "I box send(past_tense) you" or I could say it in any order with these grammatical case modifiers: -iu for subject nouns, -au for object nouns and -eu for tertiary nouns. So putting those cases in "Piuiu teluuau giim meueu" or with fusing "Piiu teluau giim meeu"

    Inflections are optional. There are 30 adjectives that can be fused with a noun, verb or adjective (10 such for each) to make inflection. For example "I saw" is "piu pai pia" or reverse translated as "I see past" but "pia" can be fused with any verb to mean past tense, so "piu paip" or "I saw". Lets make it a little more complex: "I was seeing" is "piu pai zia pia" or "piu piapz", "I will probably see" is "piu pai tia lia" or "piu pailt".

    "dae" means "equal" or "is" or "are" so for example "he is happy" is "ziu dae mipou"

    Yeah for convenience I have been using "i,e,a,o,u,p,m,t,z,d,s,g,r,h,l" No upper case. sounds are mostly the same as in english.
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  8. Han Registered Member

    Common advice from designers of things humans interact with: optional features make things more complicated and users typically ignore them.

    This makes it easier for speakers, but does it make it easier for understanders who aren't used to hearing these sound distinctions? Now learners have to understand both.

    I think you're thinking of glottalization, not aspiration. Aspiration is pronouncing a consonant sound with a puff of air. Most languages, for their standard sounds, use both aspirated and unaspirated versions to distinguish meaning, or else both voiced and unvoiced versions. (English does both: voiced sounds are usually unaspirated and unvoiced sounds are frequently aspirated.)

    That's fine, but don't you wonder why this feature doesn't occur very often in human languages if it's really easier to learn? I don't think you should make assumptions like this.

    From what I can tell, this is another optional feature. This makes your language harder for understanders, even if it may be easier to some speakers. Understanders from a language like Chinese, which does not inflect for case, will get lost.

    I think your fusion rules will probably confuse people who are not used to speaking a language that has fusion rules. I'm not sure how cross-linguistically common they are, and I think many speakers will have trouble distinguishing sounds like "lt" from sounds like "t" if they don't have /l/-stop codas in their original language.

    I think you might have picked "no inflection" as your default usage because English speakers don't use very much inflection -- this might be a good idea, because a lot of your hypothetical speakers will probably be users of English or Chinese, and those languages don't use very much inflection -- but overall, I think most languages use inflection much more than you do. Maybe you should consult with speakers of those languages to figure out if your ideas would be hard for them. (Have you spoken to a Hindi or a Russian person about this, for instance?)

    Yes, but based on your examples, it looks like using the word "dae" is optional. In languages with no fixed word order, using the verb "to be" is usually not optional.

    Some things I would try:
    - A very small vowel inventory. (five is OK)
    - Not having any fusion rules at all.
    - Not having any dipthongs or triphthongs.
    - Supporting only one word order.
    - Not inflecting for case.
    - No vowel initials. (consider instead using approximant initials like /j/)
    - Nasal codas only. (no lateral or plosive codas)
    - Prepositional phrases with no extra cases, to speak about position and possession.
    - A particle for polar questions.
    - A negating word that goes immediately before the verb. (like "don't" in English or "bu4" in Chinese)
    - Definite and indefinite articles.
    - Little gender. (probably only in reference to people)

    This would not make speakers of Hindi or Spanish happy (Hindi has a large sound inventory, two genders, distinction between possessive words, adpositional phrases, and adjectives, and several cases) but speakers of English, Chinese, and Arabic might be.
  9. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    The idea is that one starts by learning the language from a basic level, and then works up to the advance level expected of an flaunt speaker. So if you don't know how to speak diphthongs you can start by not doing so, flaunt speakers will understand you, you can ease your way up.

    My mistake, none of the phonemes I choose are related voice/unvoiced versions.

    Lots of languages use simple syllables, spanish and japanese, heck Japanese is almost completely morras, Bantu languages that I learned a bit off also use simple syllables. Perhaps we are talking about different things?

    If you are speaking to a learner, then state the whole adjective. Natural languages use inflections to speed up the language, make it more efficient, languages with simple syllables must compensate for that with more complex grammar, inflections and such. Very simple to learn artificial languages suffer from the problem of lacking the speed of a natural language in communication, my language though should able to achieve natural language speed.

    Then say the whole adjective. Even if read as in "piu pailt" one must know do the the nature of my language that the l and t are the adjectives that end in -ia, but it saves time typing (and speaking) by not writing "ia " twice, that is 6 keystrokes time saved.

    I know enough Spanish from my family, and buntu from my peace corps service to understand the pros and cons of inflection. The biggest difference is my infections have universal rules, without exceptions. Making their operation easier to understand. There are no hundred different forms of the word "go" as in Spanish. If a word ends in "-im" it must be a present tense verb, ALL the words in my language that end in -i are verbs and if it is "-im" it must be a verb with the word for now "mia" suffixed, so "go now" is "sii mia" or "siim"

    Do you mean infinitives? that done by adding the suffix "-ei" to the verb. Or do you mean "to exist"?

    Cardinal vowels, i,a,u are the most common, and most distinct. So the minimum is 3

    Fusion is optional and I explained why

    I tried this before with all words consist of cv-c syllables. Doing so makes fusing, inflection, suffixing and different words orders harder. Which is what you want.

    Your not going to have very many permutations then with cv-c, if your going to have open words then you will need to use a unstated system to separate words. For example "tam kona" are two words and "tamkona" is one word then how can you tell them apart? We can tell the difference from "ice cream" and "I scream" by the unwriten order by which we stress syllables in a sentence. Every language has it own system of tones, stress, length, rhythm, to separate words that is the hardest part of a language to learn. The buntu languages I encountered had a system of high and low tone switching that I never got close to understanding. Instead of these unstated systems my language has fixed syllable structure that makes it impossible to confuse two words for one.

    Not sure I understand what you want.

    Haven't thought of that. I have a whole class of words for stating questions: "pue" means "question", "tapue" means "where", "sopue" means "when", etc, I could certainly make a "-pue" for polar questions.

    Well there is negating word in my language, but it functions like an adjective, after the verb, not before. So "don't go" is "go not" or "sii rae"

    Nope, not in my language. Definite and indefinite is assumed unless specifically stated, so I have a word for "specific" and a words for "unspecific" that can be used as such, but again optional, and they can suffix.
    "the box" = "teluu dua" = "teluud"
    "a box" = "teluu zua" = "teluuz"

    All I got is he, she, person = ziu, sou, duu, so a genderless 3rd person singular exists in my language.

    I have never meet a Spanish speaker that says they missed gendered nouns. Making a language simpler, does not harm people that use more complex languages, it just makes the language sound crude and unrefined to them.
  10. Han Registered Member

    I think you are thinking a lot about how to make your language easy to speak, but you still aren't thinking about how to make your language easier to understand.

    If you don't know how to say diphthongs, you still have to understand other speakers when they use them. If you don't know how to say fused syllables, you still have to understand other speakers when those other speakers use fused syllables. By having lots of duplicate features, you make it much harder to be an understander of your language: not only do you have to learn to understand the one that's easy for you, but you also have to learn to understand the one that's hard for you.

    An extreme example: I could say "I've designed a new international language. To speak it, say your phrase either in Arabic, Chinese, or English, whichever one you like best. Isn't that simple?" It would be very easy for Arabic, Chinese, and English people to speak that language, but to understand it you'd have to learn both of the ones you didn't know already. Your language isn't that extreme, but I think you have a version of the same problem.

    Re simple syllables: I am using WALS' definition. (C)V-only languages are not very common, even though you identified a few. (Although Japanese occasionally allows nasal codas.) Most languages have moderately complex syllable structure, meaning that the most complicated possible syllable is CAVC, where A is a glide or a liquid. Most of the languages that are (C)V-only are spoken in central Africa, Polynesia, western South America, and the islands north of Australia. (Of these, Igbo, Yoruba, and Swahili are probably the most widespread.) It doesn't sound like your language is currently (C)V-only, though.

    A lot of the features you got rid of, like gendered nouns and complex case systems, require the speaker to say more information, but in exchange for that, the understander hears more information. By getting rid of those features, you make it so the understander doesn't have that information automatically. This is part of why it's more common to have a big case system than an optional case system or no case system. I don't think I will be able to convince you this is true, because it sounds like you already think speakers of other languages have the same perspective you do.

    It seems like in some cases, when you say "Making a language simpler," the features that you think make a language simpler also happen to be features that look like English. Speakers of other languages probably see it that way sometimes, but they might not see it that way all the time. Reiterating: if your native language is English, that makes you a native speaker of an isolating genderless language with almost no cases where the subject comes before the verb and the object. The language you designed is also an isolating genderless language with almost no cases where the subject comes before the verb and the object. Have you spoken to any Russian or Hindi native speakers about your language?

    Thank you for continuing to reply!
  11. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    You lost me frankly. My language is not strictly cv. Gendered nouns are frankly useless the vast majority of the time, ask the Chinese afraid they will agree with this native English speaker. Unlike the Chinese though my language is not isolating as there are only 250 cvv words, many of which are double syllable, again my language has 30 inflections for tense and declension that use suffixed adjectives , plus 20 more double vowel suffixes for grammatical case and verb class , in fact the language is completely synthetic for ever single word must have at least a single vowels suffix: every word consist of one or more morra plus a vowel suffix, hence why the most basic word must be cvv. Finally the language is SOV, the subject always comes before the object and the verb, if you want the subject to come after that can be done by declaring its case: so I could say "you speak nonsense" as "nonsense speak you" as "rapoao tetei meiu"
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Of those six, only YAW and WAY (re-spelled to clarify the pronunciation) are true triphthongs. IWA, AWI, AYU and WIA all have two syllables. You might be able to squeeze WYA into a single syllable, but you'll never succeed with IWA, AWI and AYU.
    Good idea. There certainly are tonal languages, especially in the Sino-Tibetan family. But for the majority of the planet's population, tones as phonemes will not endear your language to them.

    Stress is more common in human language, but it's not the same for everybody!
  13. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    yeah it was a bad idea to resurrect this page, the language has changed so much since then, it no longer has any set diphthongs.

    What I meant was that tone and stress and rhythm are used to separate words from each other, Like "I scream" from "ice cream" in english. In my language even back then I was set on having words separated by syllable structure. Let me make it clear, in my language if you see or hear two or more vowels next to a each other, you know a word has ended, that the following consonant must be the start of a new word or a fused adjective/inflection suffix if there are more than one following consonants. so let me make an arragement of syllables in my language:


    from the simple rules on word structure you know that the words must be

    cvvv cvccvcvvc cvcvv

    so I could spit out the above words with any tone, stress or rhythm, with diphthongs, triphtongs or with glottal stops between vowels, what ever it, should still be possible to separate words.

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