Phonotactics

So Phonology is what sounds are included or allowed in a language. For example, larple could be an English word, but zhangkonn doesn't look like an English word by a long shot (maybe more of a Chinese/German hybrid word?). Phonotactics is also related to this, because the morphology of your language dictates how the sounds can be put together. CVC, consonant-vowel-consonant, could be one way to make a simple word. This would be a "closed syllable," meaning there is a consonant on each end of the vowel sound. In the morphology of your language, do you want to allow consonant clusters? (CC) St, sht, lmthk? Or maybe you want to allow clusters at the end of words or syllables, but never at the beginning? Will your morphology allow for vowel sounds to be put together? (CVVC) Lion, poet, joey? Or do you want lots of open syllables? Once you step into morphology there is a LOT to consider.

The thing that made it simple for me again though was simply reflecting on what I wanted my language to sound like. For a long time, I wasn't sure. But I'd just force myself to write out a sentence in my conlang-to-be. Or as I'd watch movies, I'd pick out phrases or parts of phrases that sounded like what I wanted.

At this point I had picked a name for my language, which was Peetik. I had looked into Orthography (which will be delved into much more in another post) and found Omniglot.com, which is a great resource, and read that the Cirth runes were based on actual Norse runes which are called Elder Futhark. The name Futhark comes from the first six letters of their alphabet. Like "alphabet" comes from "alpha-betos," the first two letters of the greek alphabet. I wanted to have my language named the same way.

By this time I had also found a few Conlanging kits on the Internet. These made me very excited - Hey, there were actually other people out there doing the same thing I was trying to do! One of my favorites was the Zompist Language Construction Kit, and I'll have to track down the links for the others I worked off of. In the beginning, they didn't do me very much good, and I'll explain why in upcoming posts.

1 comment:

baalak said...

Phonotactics. The logical conclusion of phonology is phonotactics. You can't get from sounds to words without going through there. As children, we quickly internalize the phonotactics of our languages, and can know, intuitively, what's a word and what isn't a word.

Zompist helped me out at this stage, too. I like to read his blag, even when he talks about Team Fortress or politics instead of his conworld. I owe a lot to him. His LCK has a link on my own blag, and I read him very carefully again and again until I got the hang of what he was describing.

The phonotactics of my initial language, Glaubaal, a derivative of Glaubuurz, were established before I got there. I was inspired, like so many before me, by the verse on the One Ring:

Ash nazg durbatulûk,
Ash nazg gimbatûl,
Ash nazg thrakatulûk,
Ag bûrzum-ishi krimpatûl.


Please mind any errors, as that's strictly from memory.

I moved straight to orthography as well, which I found to be a big mistake. I ended up recreating my alphabet three times, and spent months of time working on a script I would eventually enjoy, but feel the need to abandon. I've since decided to make my language and then learn to write in it, as this seems a much more natural way of linguistic progression, and I want to be sure that the written language reflects the complexities and reality of my language, instead of trying to change the words to fit the letters.

My new project had me considering phonemes and phonotactics for weeks before I settled on one I've come to enjoy. I may change it again, but at least I have a solid place to stand from which I can begin creating more complex concepts.

- Baalak Nalzar-aung.