Monday 28 August 2017

Colours in Diinlang

Version 2
For the last few days I have been considering the topic of colours for Diinlang. The Diinlang word for colour/ hue is “hyu”. Compound “hyu” with a word and you can describe a colour relative to the word you have compounded. “Gold-hyu”, “carpet-hyu”, “cream-hyu” and so on. Obviously some of these are very relative to the conversation ensuing.For Diinlang 2.0 this may be simplified to hu”.
Also needed are some names of colour hues to use with this and this raises the question of how many colour names are need. Different natural languages vary in the number of colours they lexically recognize. “Orange” was a relatively recent addition to the English language which is why some orange/ brown things such as red deer, red kites and robin red breast have the names they do.
Isaac Newton claimed the visible spectrum had seven main colours and numerous intermediates. Indigo is very difficult to pick out and it may have been Newton wanted seven colours because of the occult significance of the number. It has also been postulated that seven was desired to correlate with the seven notes on a musical scale. It is more practical to treat the visible spectrum as six colours. (Six is the first perfect number and a triangular number, so actually way cooler than seven!)
If we consider the colour wheel it conveniently appears as six sectors: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Indigo is somewhere between blue and violet and this suggest we should consider hues that occur between the other sectors. If we mix red and blue we get purple. Blue and green gives us cyan, and important colour in printing. Magenta is purple and red. Yellow-green doesn’t really have its own name in English but is a very common colour in nature. Brown is also common. Technically it is dark orange but it is practical to treat is as a hue and it can range from very red-brown to very light yellow-browns. This line of thought suggested that it was practical for Diinlang to have twelve hues.
Looking at the names of hues in different languages showed no discernible correlations other than historical ones. Romance languages tended to use similar words to each other as did the Germanic and Scandinavian.
In the past I had considered a colour naming sequence based on the word sequence “Doh, Rey Me...” This rather falls down when you recognize six rather than seven main hues, let alone twelve! Many of these note names also resemble words already used in Diinlang. This also gives “sol” as green rather than a more logical yellow or orange.
One of the clearest and simplest colour naming systems was Tok Pisin. This reminded me that much of the world had some familiarity with English and this should be considered when selecting words for Diinlang. Many of the English words were usefully single syllable.
Here are the prototype colour hue names:
Red : Red may change if there is a homophone clash. Adopting “ler/ lert” for “to read” may have avoided this.
Brun : Brun is for brown and dark shades of red-orange and yellow-orange. Brun is considered to encompass both brun and beyj.
Oren : Oren is for the hue orange. This word already has this use in Welsh and Malay.
Beyj : Beyj is for the numerous and commonplace yellow-brown colours such as tan.
Yahn : Yahn is yellow. The Diinlang word is more compact than the English and has some similarity to the French jaune and similar words.
Laym : Laym is the word for yellow-green colours such as olive, pear, lime, chartreuse etc.
Griin (Kwin) : Griin is green and can be taken to encompass the range laym to sian. “Grin” may be selected instead. The word “verd” is likely to find its way into Diinlang but may have a more specific meaning such as “living greenary” or “foliage”. The new spelling system reverts this to “green”. For Diinlang 2.0 this becomes kwin, since it is shorter, and more distinct from gri”.
Sian : Sian the name for blue-green hues, including cyan, an important colour in printing. A number of languages write cyan as cian.
Blu : Blu is blue. The term may encompass sian to viol, depending on individual colour perception.
Viol : Viol is blue-purple and the last visible colour before ultraviolet.
Purp : Purp is purple, the colour formed by mixing blue and red. I’m not entirely satisfied with this name.
Majn : Majn is magenta, the printer colour lying between purple and red.
Pink : Pink is a light shade of red but many languages have a distinct name for this tint. In English pink can cover a range from bluish-red to magenta. It is also the best colour name we have to describe Caucasian flesh. Pink gives us a thirteenth hue name.
Strictly speaking the above words would be combined with “hyu” but this will doubtless be dropped when the context is clear.
The above hues are complimented by the shades “blak”, “gri” and “wiyt/ viyt”, corresponding to the English black, grey/ gray and white. “Grey” and “gray” would both be acceptable Diinlang spellings but to avoid ambivalence Diinlang uses a spelling and pronunciation based on the French “gris”. Given the trouble “w” poses to some nationalities “viyt” may be the preferred spelling and pronunciation. The three shades and thirteen hues gives us sixteen colour names. A case might be made that orange-yellow, often called “gold(en)” in English might qualify as another named colour, “ayen”, giving fourteen hues.

Colours : red, brun, oren, bayj, ayen, yahn, laym, kwin, sian, blu, viol, purp, majn, pink, blak, gri, viyt.

Friday 25 August 2017

Duoverbs of Communication.

Version 1.1
Back when I first drafted down some ideas for Diinlang I proposed that there should be two types of verbs. The majority of verbs would be “lexverbs”.
Lexverbs evolved into the verbs that have been encountered in previous  posts on this blog. Lexverbs are mainly uninflected. The prefixes “is-”, “ge-” and “isge-” are used with them as are the markers “gon”, “wen” and “dun”. There is still some work to be done with respect to mood, volition and potential but I am happy with the basic system as it now is. The small number of suffixes permit the creation of new but obviously related verbs.
The second type of verbs are called “duoverbs” since they have two basic forms rather than one. Originally auxiliary and modal verbs in Diinlang were duoverbs. Some of these verbs became lexverbs. The role of auxiliary verbs currently seems to be met by the marker and prefix system. Modal verbs will be worked on at a later date.
The second group of duoverbs are what might be termed “verbs of communication”. Verbs that have meanings such as “say/ said” or “write/ wrote”. Such verbs would see frequent use and there is an obvious economy in using alternate single syllable words rather than multiple words.
Talking of economy, consider a conversation such as:
“So he was like “No way!” and I go “Why not?” And he went all “Don’t ask” and I’m like “Why?” Then he goes crazy!”
Whatever else you may feel about such English, it is certainly fluid! Of note are the use of the verbs “like” and “go/ went” to introduce statements or reactions. Verbs for similar purposes in Diinlang should have equal brevity, versatility and fluidity.
How many duoverbs of communication are needed remains to be seen. As two possible starting candidates I will suggest “la(h)/ la(h)t” for “to say” and “riy/ riyt” for “to write”. “Tok/ tokt” for “to talk” is another possiblity although “tok” is a good onomatopoeic word for a clock. La or Lah is a verb for general communication while riy and tok specify methods. The Portuguese verb “to read” is “ler” and this might make a nice complimentary duoverb to “la(h)/ la(h)t”.
As can be seen, duoverbs have two tenses, the past form created regularly by the addition of a terminal “-t” (or possibly -d instead). Tense regarding verbs of communication is interesting. Traditionally in English we would use “I write/ am writing to you” (present tense) in a letter, well aware that by the time the reader sees those words our action will be in their past. Nowadays communication by written word is often real time. My inclination is to think of the two tenses of duoverbs as being “past” and “nonpast”.  Should you need to use a duoverb in the future tense the lexverb marker “gon” is used. In fact any of the lexverb markers can be uses with duoverbs, the past form being a convenience of economy. “Mi laht..” and “mi wen lah/ laht...” all mean “I said...”
Potentially the duoverb system will lead to attempts to form past forms of lexverbs with a -t (or -d). The success of this will depend on the individual euphony of the resultant word. Notably, some versions of Novial allowed the past form of a verb to be formed by either the auxillary verb or a “-d” suffix.
It is quite possible that “gon”, “wen” and “dun” might be used as standalone verbs themselves, serving as contractions of “gon du”, “gon bi” etc. Statement of the actual verb may be unnecessary where the following statement makes it clear that the subject was doing or saying something.
Human communication has undergone considerable change in the last few decades and natural languages have lagged behind in some fields. This must be addressed in Diinlang. To me, “phoning” someone implies vocal communication; talking to someone or at least leaving a message on their voice mail. “Texting” implies a written communication sent between phones. My Brazilian girlfriend considers the term to be more generic and if she promises to “text me” the message is most likely to appear on my computer and may have been sent from either phone or laptop. If an interviewer promises to “write to me” this could mean either email or snail-mail. “I’ll talk to you later” could mean a variety of methods or devices.
Diinlang needs a system that can be specific without losing versatility or brevity. For example “fohnlah” would mean communication by phone without specifying the format. “Fohntok” and “fohnriy” would indicate vocal and text communication by phone.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Clashes with Compounds and Affixes.

Version 1.1
A common feature in many natural languages is to drop or change a vowel when two words are combined or a word is suffixed. This tendency is also seen in a number of conlangs. This complicates the process of determining what root or stem word a word has been created from.

This is a convention that is to be avoided in Diinlang. This does pose the problem that the combination of words or the use of an affix might create unintended diphthongs. Let us consider some possible cases.

Diinlang has relatively few true suffixes and the words that may serve this purpose tend to begin with “-i” or “-e”. “-sio” is an obvious exception. For a word that ends in a consonant adding a suffix beginning with “-i”, “-e” or “-s” poses no problems. This leaves vowel endings. “-s” works with any vowel ending. “-i” potentially could form “ai”, “ei”, “ii”, “oi” or “ui”. “ui” poses no problems and “ai”, “ei” and “oi” are not vowel diphtongs in Diinlang, the constructions “ay”, “ey” and “oy” being used instead. For “ai”, “ei” and “oi” a Diinlang reader would know to insert a syllable break before the “i”. Terminal “o” and “a” in Diinlang tend to have the “oh” or “ah” sound. Terminal “-e” is pronounced in Diinlang so can be rendered as “eh”. Therefore when the joining of words results in “-ai-”, “-ei-” and “-oi-” they may be written as “-ahi-”, “-ehi-” and “-ohi-”. “-ii-” is a vowel digraph in Diinlang and for this we have the “rule of y and i”:

When a word that begins in “i” is being added as a suffix or compound to a word ending in “i” a “y” is added between the two “i”s.

For “-e” we see a similar situation. “ae”, “ee” and “oe” are not Diinlang vowel digraphs but can be written as “-ahe-”, “-ehe-” and “-ohe-” to avoid confusion.  “ie” and “ue” should pose no problems but can be written as “-iye-” and “-uye-” if desired.

There are a few suffixes that begin in “a-” and words or suffixes begining in “o-” or “u-” are possible. Where there is a conflict, or where it makes things clearer add a “-h-” to words ending in “-a”, “-o” or “-e” and “-y-” to “-i” and “-u”. The same process is used with prefixes that end in vowels. Perhaps the rule should be:

U and I go with Y.

It may, however, be simpler to adopt the universal rule that suffix endings take an initial “h” where a word ends in a vowel.
If it is desirable to break up an unwelcome consonant cluster between joined words the obvious remedy is to add a vowel. Esperanto uses “-o-” for this purpose but for Diinlang this may accidentally gender some words. Therefore “-u-” is suggested instead.

Syllable Structure.

In his section on euphony Jespersen (Novial) notes that:
“While all nations find it easy to pronounce series of sounds in which vowels alternate with single consonants, and while almost all nations accept certain groups of consonants that are easily combined (tr, sp, bl, etc., before vowels), there are other and heavier groups which a great many nations find it extremely difficult to pronounce, especially at the end of words
An example of this can be seen with romaji transliterations of Japanese morae. The majority of morae have the format CV, where C represents a consonant and V a vowel, bearing in mind that some of these consonants are digraphs in romaji. There are also five standalone vowels and one standalone consonant, “n”. There is also a character that doubles the succeeding consonant to act as a standalone. Thus in morae “Nissan” has four parts =ニッサン or “ni-s-sa-n”, the second character doubling the following “s” of “sa”. A native English speaker generally treats “nissan” as two syllables. Interestingly Japanese loanwords tend to end in “n” or a vowel.
A non-Japanese speaker seldom has trouble producing a relatively reasonable pronunciation of long Japanese words such as “wakizashi”, “naginata”, “manrikigusari” and “kusarigama”. One breaks the word into syllables after each vowel or “n” after a vowel.
One of the earliest principles of Diinlang was to attempt to have words of a CVN format, where C was a consonant, V a vowel and N a nasal, specifically “m”, “n” or “ng”. It should be appreciated that each of these represents a phoneme rather than a single letter and may be a digraph or even a trigraph.
How many potential words this offers us depends on which consonant and vowel phonemes are deemed acceptable. English has many more vowel sounds than some other languages. The number of people that manage English as a second language suggests this is not an insurmountable problem. Japanese traditionally noted to have problems with “l/r” sounds. The greater familiarity of current generations with English may be reducing this obstacle. Native speakers of some European languages have trouble with “w”. “sh” seems to have a wide usage but what of “ch”, “th”, “dh” or even “h”?
Readers of this blog may notice that relatively few of the Diinlang words I have suggested so far actually have a CVN format! This is because so far I have mainly concentrated on words that serve as pronouns, articles, conjunctions, affixes and prepositions. These frequently used words serve as the bone and sinew of a language so I have aimed for brevity in creating them. Many are of a CV or VC format. Many of the affixes are VCV. My plan is to use CVN format mainly for the “muscle” words, the nouns and verbs and their derivatives. Even with this restriction there are likely to be numerous nouns and verbs of a CVC or CVCV format, particularly those of an onomatopoeic nature.
An underappreciated trait of English is its large number of single-syllable words. Since compounding words is intended to be an important mechanism of Diinlang it is desirable that the most commonly used and most useful words be single syllable. Many of these English words are widely understood, even by non-native speakers so it is desirable that such words also be used in Diinlang where they are compatible. What constitutes compatible? The native English speaker treats “strength” as a single syllable but this must cause problems to some language students. Jespersen notes that some consonant clusters cause problems and cautions against using them in the creation of Novial words.
If possible, Diinlang “muscle” syllables should be of CVN or CVC. Typically C or V will be no longer than digraphs, although “tsh”, “ayr” and “iyr” are potential exceptions. N will, of course, be either “m”, “n” or “ng”. This gives us a range of single syllable words from three to six letters. In a multi-syllable word the breaks between syllables can be recognized by a vowel or nasal ending or a “non-digraph” consonant cluster. Hence, if encountering the word “fiyrzhan” a reader with a basic knowledge of Diinlang would recognize that “rz” is not a Diinlang digraph but that “zh” is and pronounce the word as “fiyr.zhan” and deduce it means “able to fire/ burn”.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Noun Suffixes.

Version 1.1
In Diinlang the majority of nouns derived from other words will be created by compounding. To facilitate this the majority of the most useful words will be kept to a single syllable. A small number of affixes will, however, prove useful in noun creation.
In a previous post I suggested forming abstract nouns with the “-ia” suffix used by Lingua Franca Nova (LFN). Upon further reflection Novial’s “-eso” may be the better choice, being phonetically more distinct.
English forms agent nouns with “-er” but also uses the variations “-or” and “-ar”. It also use “-er” for comparatives and a wide variety of words nothing to do with comparison or agent nouns. Novial suggest “-ere” for this but my preference is towards LFN’s “-or” as a suffix. In Diinlang the standard method to indicate the gender of a word is with the zo-, za- or ze- prefix. A small collection of nouns may also have their gender indicated by placing an -o or -a at the end. Agent nouns are part of this class and thus an agent noun may end in -or, -oro or -ora. Other words that have this characteristic are “jhen”, the word for person and “ling”, which means “young and small”.
For some verbs it will be useful to be able to form patient nouns. This is a category that seems to be somewhat neglected by many conlangs. Novial proposes “-arie”, which I find somewhat ungainly and phonetically too close to the adjective ending “-ari”. Patent nouns are inherently passive in that they denote something that is having the action of the verb done to them. Adding the prefix “ge-” to the word is a possible solution. There will be cases when it is desirable to indicate that the patent noun is a person. For Diinlang I suggest the suffix “-ar” with its derivations “-aro” and “-ara”. When this suffix is used the use of the prefix “ge-” is redundant and therefore optional.
The suffixes “-ist” and “-ism” are used to respectively mark the follower of a belief or philosophy and the belief or philosophy itself. A scientist follows a philosophy of problem solving so is “-ist” rather than “-or”.
Adjectives and nouns pertaining to nationalities are ended with “-an” or “-ian” where practical. Country names take the ending “-ia” where possible. The sounds of such words are kept phonetically as close as practical to the native rendering or most commonly recognized name.
Another system for the formation of nouns is the use the active or passive participle of a verb to designate the process, action, product etc of the verb action. In many languages the active and/or passive participle have a form distinct from verb. In English the active participle is identical in spelling to the continuous form and the passive to the perfect form. In Diinlang the active takes the same form as the continuous: “isVERB”. The passive participle takes the passive prefix, “geVERB” rather the perfect “dun VERB” form. While this is a useful mechanism it does not cover all bases.
The suffixes “-ion”, “-sion” and “-tion” or derived variants can be found in many languages. It has the meaning of “the action of a verb” and/ or “the result of the action of the verb”. For some natlang words this meaning has changed or this definition no longer fully applies. The pronunciation of these suffixes is also very variable, posing problems if phonetic rending is preferred, as it is in Diinlang. “-tion” can ʃənor “-tʃənwhile “-ion” can sound like “-yan/ yən” or “-jan/ jən” in some English words. For Diinlang I propose that for “the action of a verb” and/ or “the result of the action of the verb” we use the suffix “-sio” when the active participle is not suitable.
There may be a need for verb derived words that specifically indicate the “substrate”  or the product of a verb action. For the latter Novial offers the suggestions “-um” and “-ure”. While words like “fabrikatum” and “printatum” work well for some applications I am not fully certain on this use for more general products. The suffix “-ure” gives words resembling picture and sculpture but it is not obvious when to use “-um” and when to use “-ure”. The English noun and adjective ending “-ate”, which in Diinlang would be “-ayt” or “-eyt” may serve.
Like much of Diinlang, these topics are a work in progress and hopefully useful solutions will be found.

Monday 7 August 2017

Prepositions and Directives Part Three

Version 1.2
I read the other day that the basic prepositions in Italian are a closed word class and only eight in number. This gives some insight and inspiration for the prepositions in Diinlang.

“In” in Italian is the same as in English and the same word is used in Diinlang. Italian uses this word for some uses not commonly seen in English. “In” is used as a preposition for travelling to geographical and physical locations. The Italian for “Are you going to France?” is “Vai in Franca?” It could be said this is a contraction of “into” in English. Rather than travelling “on a train” or “by a train” Italian uses the more logical “vado in treno”. These uses of “in” should be acceptable in Diinlang. The former use has some overlap with “ad” in Diinlang.

“To” in Italian is “a” and is obviously derived from the latin “ad”. “Ad” is the word used for “to” in Diinlang. “a” is also used like “at” in English for contexts such as “at 7.00pm”.

“Di” and “da” in Italian have the meaning of “of/from” for the former and “from, since, by” for the latter. These meanings are covered by “del” in Diinlang. Scots uses “o” and this may be adopted in Diinlang instead, forming a nice counterpoint for the possessive marker “vo”. A play is “of/from” Shakespeare rather than being “by” him. A person is of/from Rome. Diinlang also has the word “apo” meaning “from” or “away”. This is more concerned with direction and should be seen as the compliment of “ad”. There is some overlap with “del”. For example “left of (del) ship” or “left from (apo) ship” can sometimes be used interchangeably but may also have distinct differing meanings. The Diinlang word for “near” is “veng” and this can be used instead of “by” in some constructions such as “meet by the café”. “Book del Shakespeare”, like the English equivalent “Book of Shakespeare”, is a little ambivalent. To stress that something is about or by a subject we may use “apo” or “on”.

“Con” in Italian is “kom” in Diinlang and means “with” in English. The usage in all three languages is much the same. In some context “kom” can be used instead of “and (en)”. Jon kom Dean = Jon en Dean. It may also be used instead of “of/from” in some contexts.

“Per” is another word used in Italian, English and Diinlang. Its use in Italian is a little more broader than in English and these applications should also be used in Diinlang. “Per” is used for “for” in uses such as “leave for Rome” or “bus for Milan”. In the past Diinlang has also used “pro” to mean “for” in the context of being in favour of something or inclined towards something. This usage needs to be considered in greater depth.

The Italian words “tra” and “fra” are interchangeable and mean “between” or “within (a time)”. “I get married in two years” is “mi sposo tra/ fra due anni”. I believe “tra” to mean “between” has already found its way into Diinlang so the usage can be extended to mean “within” or “during” too. This also suggests that “tra” can mean “than” in comparisons. Jon eta tra Dean = Jon bigger between Dean = Jon bigger than Dean.

The final Italian preposition is “su” meaning “on” or “about”. “Su” has been already used for another purpose in Diinlang and Diinlang has the word “on” for “on”.  On” can be used to mean “about” in the context of “a book about …” The literal translation in Diinlang would therefore be “a book on”. Constructions such as “talk about…” could either be “talk of (del)…” or “talk on (on)…”

The above gives us del, in, ad, apo, veng, kom, per, tra and on as prepositions to use with the directives previously discussed.