Apr. 12th, 2011

So, the interview meme. [livejournal.com profile] padparadscha asked me questions, I gave answers, and I can try to ask you questions too, if you like.

A lot of astronomical rambling goes here )

Jun. 29th, 2010

A very branch-y language post.

I'm trying to review three languages, two with their own syllabaries, at once. This may break my brain.  )

May. 30th, 2010

(More) conlanging -- and natural languages!

Debating about whether changing the phonology of Darynese would be a good idea. Right now, 'tr' is the only consonant cluster in an otherwise (C)V(n,m,r,l,s,z) language. (For those of you who don't know that notation, it means syllables are made up of an optional consonant, a vowel, and optionally one of six terminal consonants. So, for example, ginkgo would not be a valid Darynese word, but ginko would be... well, if the Darynese distinguished between g and k*.) Anyway... I suppose it's not too unusual -- Japanese, for example is (C)V(V)(n)**, but I kind of want to throw in more stop + r consonant clusters.

Shows what happens when I declare a language 'finished except for vocab'. Mostly it's overcoming this one barrier -- the fact it would mean changing something I set a while ago.

Also my friend Shoshe traded a summer Sanskrit course with a friend of hers in the language department at Cornell for 'astronomers at your beck and call to answer questions'. Right now I have the 'homework' of memorizing the Devanagari alphabet. I will say that I like Sanskrit's consonants, in that all the stops and nasals follow the same system. Mostly it's getting the hang of the retroflex consonants (say 't', 'd' or 'n' with your tongue curled up a bit, rather than near your teeth) and the fact Sanskrit distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated stops -- basically when an English speaker says 'pit' there's a puff of air with the /p/ that doesn't occur when she says 'spit'. I think I can control my aspiration on unvoiced sounds (p, t, k, ch, and retroflex t), but voiced sounds are harder.

A lot of learning language for me is speaking it, even if Sanskrit is like Latin in that it's more a historical language preserved for religious and cultural reasons, so is more often read than spoken. I could probably mentally convert all the letters to the Roman letters we use for transliteration, but I want to be able to hear it.

* This doesn't bother me that much -- English does distinguish between g and k, but not voiced and unvoiced th. (The 'th' in 'this' versus that in 'thin'.)

** English is (s)(C)(r, l, w, y)(V)V(C)(C)(C). English loves its consonant clusters.

May. 29th, 2010

Conlanging fun!

Just dumped a lot of art to [personal profile] invoking_urania -- mostly 6 months of exchange art. I still have some fanart I drew for [livejournal.com profile] au_bigbang, and a ficlet I posted to [livejournal.com profile] fma_fic_contest

Also realized that I have proved to myself that I was suffering form mild allergies -- at least I didn't take my pill in the morning, felt unusually stuffy, so I took it and now am fine. It could well be that it was from the nap I took, and it wasn't a rigorous experiment, so I may have to repeat it. Just not on a day I plan on working.

I got The Language Construction Kit book, which was a bit overwhelming to read, but really inspired me. Darynese is pretty much mature enough that I can't tack on more major structural elements, but I have a few more things I could do -- expand the dialects and clean up my notes. Starsailor never was set out besides some basic principles, I mentioned Interling before but I have a feeling that needs me to be a better linguist to design, and there's also Nemean, an auxlang constructed from English and Mandarin* but designed to be speakable by humans and Starsailors.

I could also do something with Hinode and Hinoiri. Both would have a global language**, but probably one based on some strange reflection of Earth languages from the names. A lot of the history of the two places would be folded into languages and dialects.

* Possibly with Japanese influences (and also probably some touches of the Romance languages and the languages of the Indian subcontinent in the vocab) -- the idea was that vocabulary came from spacefaring cultures.

** Or at least a lingua franca. Delwyn's ancestors at least nominally brought most of the planet under control, so their language would probably be used much like any empire's -- as a business and trade language, even if the locals kept theirs. And the spirits' tongue would be too useful to dismiss as a trade language, since people all over Hinode would learn it. You'd get a lot of dialects and loan-words springing up, but it would let people talk to one another.

Jul. 7th, 2008

Amusing myself at work...

My friend Shoshe leant me a summary she did of some Voyager-era papers I'm reading that she did for a term paper last spring. Not only does she mention me in the Acknowledgments for explaining something to her, one of the citations is (B. Stareyes*, private communication), because I told her a picture had never been taken of a ring particle, unless you count the moons Pan and Daphnis.

* Okay, so it was my real first initial and last name, but I try not to give out my real name on this blog.

Also, thanks to Elizabeth Bear's blog (matociquala), I got this link -- English without all the non-Germanic words. It really shows how much modern vocabulary is dependent on Greek and Latin derived words. Reminds me of an essay I was reading a couple of days ago, by Richard Feynman about his trip to Brazil. He noted that speaking science in Portuguese is easy, since both English and Portuguese use a lot of Latin, and the modifications mostly follow the same patterns, so he could quickly convert a term in English to a term in Portuguese. Speaking conversational Portuguese was harder, since English was more Germanic in that sense, and languages in general tend to borrow less at that level.

It also makes me want to develop Darynese's (my constructed language) science vocabulary. Knowing the history of science helps here, since it explain why we named things what we did -- for example, electron comes from the Greek word for amber, since the first electrical systems were created through static electricity on glass and amber. (It's why the electronics in Lyra's world His Dark Materials are known as amberics -- same etymology, but a different language to give it that alternate-history flair).
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