More on Ubese!

I recently got a request to expand on the Ubese language I deconstructed previously, and I had so much fun working on this the first time around, I just had to oblige (Thanks Libra!).

Okay, so I previously established a phonology and morphology; here they are again with a few changes:
Consonants- t, sh, ch, k, n, l, hh Semi-vowels- y Vowels- ee, ay, i, a, u, o
Morphology- CICV (I for Inflection)
Plus, some syntax and grammar rules:
Subject Verb Object, first vowel sound of word denotes inflection (i=I, a=you, o=he/she/it, ay=we, u=they), stress is commonly on second syllable of word - if first syllable is stressed this means something, based on the context (while holding a thermal detonator it means you're getting crazy up in there, so be careful with this!)

In the first post I did a lot with just the two-word-phrase that was pretty much all that was used in the clip from Return of the Jedi. Towards the end of the post I started trying to use more than two words in a phrase and raised some questions about how things should be ordered.

As I considered what rules to add for bigger phrases, I realized I might be going in the wrong direction.  Instead of trying to make the language more complex, I thought I should continue to keep it simple.  So I considered more phrases to translate (loosely related to tell a story):
They are my daughters.
I searched all over the town.
I could not find them anywhere.
But I did not give up hope.

They are my daughters. The possessive inflection in this sentence made me wonder if I had to create a rule of if this could be understood through context or some other way.  Lets make taynu the word for is/be, and naku the word for daughter. "They are being" would be Tunu, and daughters could be nakun, according to the rules I made previously. However, with out a possessive inflection, how can we tell if he's saying They are daughters/they are his daughters/they are my daughters?  Let's try this - we reinforce the CICV word syntax by making a new rule: you can use CICV on the second word in a word phrase to show possessive inflection, rather than a subjective inflection. So now we know a standard word phrase is structured thus: CICV(T) (CI/VCV) (X)

C=consonant V=vowel I=inflective vowel T=tense suffix X=helper word

So, They are my daughters would be translated thus: Tunu nikun

I searched all over the town. Alrighty, should be easy now. Lets make chayshay the word for 'search,' just because it reminds me of chercher - French word for search. Kayto will be 'town.' So, Chishayko kayto is easy enough; we substitute the ay in chayshay for i to make I the subject, and add -ko to make it past tense.  Literally, I searched town. Lastly, lets use reduplication - Chishay chishayko kayto - by doubling up on the searching, we show that the searching was intense. You'll notice I didn't add the past tense marker to both chishays... and honestly this is simply because it didn't feel right. I tried to imagine Boushh's voice saying chishayko chishayko and something about it didn't sound right. What do you think?

I could not find them anywhere.  This one is more difficult.  Yisha = able, tichay = find.  So, Yishako nay tuchay could mean "I was being able not to them-find."  This bizarre word order (bizarre to my English sentiments at least) raised a question: I had always thought of the helper words as being after the word they affect, just as Boushh said "Yatoh, cha." But, it sounded a little better to me to say Nay yishako tuchay.  I was about to create a new rule when I imagined a Boushh voice saying the phrase more like "Yishako NAAYYY tuchay!!" as he told the story, basically almost yelling the negating helper word to show frustration and anxiety, or perhaps just reduplicating the nay.  Either way it felt right so I continued.

A side-issue I thought of during the last translation was, if the first vowel is whatever it needs to be to show the appropriate inflection, how would they teach the words?  My thought was maybe they just show the words as y'sha, t'chay, t'nu, n'ku?  First vowel missing, because they know it becomes whatever is needed for the appropriate meaning. 

But I did not give up hope.  At first it looked tricky, but I realized it was pretty easy, once I looked past the metaphor.  I could literally boil the phrase down to "But, I hoped."  If yakee = hope, and yayt = but, or yet, then "Yayt, yikeeko."

They are my daughters.                         Tunu nikun.
I searched all over the town.                 Chishay chishayko kayto.
I could not find them anywhere.            Yishako NAAYYY tuchay!!
But I did not give up hope.                   Yayt, yikeeko.

So theres a little more on Ubese.  I still think its pretty minimalistic, but we've gotten a little ways away from the couple of words used in ROTJ. Keep conlangin'.


Libra said...

Stumbling upon this has left me feeling both flustered and pleasantly surprised. I had (for some reason) assumed that you wouldn't have the interest or time to expand this language. After reading the extended post, I immediately wanted to say 'thank you' to you in the language. Instead, however, I considered that a hand gesture or facial motion would suffice for the Ubese, something like clasping the hands or raising the head. *Clasps Hands* (My conlangs have never been quite as simple. However the C_CV concept has certainly intrigued me. It may well appear in some of my future Conlangs! Sorry for taking so long to respond. Keep up the good work, fellow conlanger!

Matt M said...

Hey Matt, Just came across this as I'm working on creating a language for my medieval-ish fantasy adventure novel. Currently I've coined it "Old Tongue" - possibly not all that original, but it's holding for the time being if and until something better should zoom by me.

Anyway, I enjoy the creative aspect of creating an alphabet, but I realized that I was just creating different pronunciation for most of the current english alphabet, and after reading your blog here, realized that I think I need to spend more time planning out the letters I want to use.

For example my alphabet pronunciation for "A" is "lah"
However when I write/type A it's still A. So I guess the other part is creating a computer-friendly cipher that can also be understood and spoken to those that know my alphabet. For example I don't just want to write or say "Thanks" I want to pronounce it through my creation, but write/type different like "Tkgo" or something.

So how did you decide what letters to use and which ones to make vowels, etc?

If it's in the blog, could you point it out for me, I probably just missed it.

This is helpful and writing a new alphabet/language is fun as I'm definitely no linguist, but it also gives me a headache at times - especially since my language is not for the majority of my book series, just something to add some realism to my created land. :)


Matt Shields said...

I bet I know which Matt M this is... ;)

If you are developing a medieval/fantasy novel, the first question is probably, "Is this set on Earth or is this some alternate world/timeline/dimension?" If it is Earth, you might start by looking at Elder Futhark or other old runic alphabet forms, especially since this is the "Old Tongue."

As far as how do you choose how to use English characters to express your conlang, I would say it all starts with the phonology and the aesthetics of the language; how do you want the language to sound? Once you determine that, everything else should become more simple.

Do you want a language that sounds harsher, or just comes from the back of the throat? Do you want a language that sounds prettier or something that sounds older? You have to decide what that sounds like, but you can draw from languages you might know of that you consider to hold some of those characteristics.

Once you choose your phonology (and I would choose very sparingly to start with), you can begin to choose how to use English to express your conlang. I remember I had a hard time translating my vowels at first. I used i, e, a, u, o for i as in bit, e as in bet, a as in bat, u as in butt, and o as in boat. But I originally translated all the longer vowel sounds thus: ee as in beat, ey as in bait, iy as in bite, aw as in bought, oo as in boot.

It wasn't until after a lot of experimenting that I simplified mine and found a much more natural looking translation. Let me know if this helps. I was thinking of writing a post along similar lines to this.