Simplicity In My Conlang

I stated in a previous post that there were two main things I did after the second LCC that helped me really firm up my first conlang. The first was digging into the conlang card game. The second was I decided to try and make things REALLY simple. I thought, "I don't really want it to be this simple, but I'm just going to experiment and see what happens." Here's a few other things that lead me in the direction I took:

I had previously found this page on Huttese, the language of Jabba the Hutt and Tatooine from Star Wars. I liked the sound of it. I wondered how I might make my conlang sound more like it, but with my phonology (the one that had TONS of phonemes, remember?). I realized after studying it for a week or two that what I really liked about it was the open syllable structure. "Tolpa da ponki nu puti cha naga." It just sounded right; it sounded good to my ears.

So I started pulling out phonemes and making sure that I had mostly open syllables, meaning CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel) and not CVCCVC. Or, an even better example might be to contrast the Huttese phrase above with something, say, in English: "I walked down the road to the Seven Eleven." A lot of closed syllables there. Let's change them to open syllables and see how it sounds; I'll just change the morphology around a bit: "I walko downu roada to SevenElevena." A little better. Then I tried it with a much smaller phonology, shifting the now-extinct phonemes into nearby still-existing phonemes: "Ee waulko taunoo rota to Seifein Eileifeinau." Ooo... Now THAT sounded cool to me.

And that's basically how I developed the basic rules for Pitak, the proto-language to Fauleethik. A very SMALL AND SIMPLE phonology and morphology. There are (so far) only five cases: future, present, and past tense, plural, and "descriptive" case, good for adjectives and adverbs. Each means a different vowel sound tacked onto the end of the syllable. So, the truth is, the syllables by themselves are generally CVC, or CVCVC, or sometimes CVCCVC, in the case of some compounded words, which means they are closed, BUT with the addition of the case markers, it becomes a very open syllable language. Only singular nouns have no vowel at the end.

I felt like I had finally, truly wrapped my head around a lot of the linguistic principles at this point. And I did it by getting REALLY simple; by stripping out a lot of stuff I kind of wanted in there to get something that was simple, but worked. I think a lot of conlangers should try this and make something functional, then start building on it. Instead of 30 phonemes, use half that, to start with at least, then a basic but functional morphology, then add in simple syntax, grammer, develop a basic lexicon, and then start adding in more stuff. Work on the different layers of the language, seeing how each one influences the next, and just keep building.

1 comment:

baalak said...

Huttese sounds a lot like Japenese to me, with its open coda structure. Having a simple (C)V(n) structure, it has a lot in common with Huttese, and they sound similar to me. Given the sample set I have to work with, they don't seem to contrast much in phonology, either.

I wanted to do something similar with my own conlang, but in reverse. I want to have most words have an open onset and to place up to two consonants in the coda. (C)V((C)C) is a decent way to describe it, if you understand the parts appearing in parenthesis to be optional.

When it comes to playing with phonotactics like this, I found the Awkwords word generator to be very useful in visualizing the structure with a bunch of examples. It can be found here: http://bprhad.wz.cz/awkwords/index.php

- Baalak Nalzar-aung.