Posted by Glenn Kempf on 15:49 5/23/02

In reply to: Vihal posted by Jonathana Tegire on 15:20 5/22/02

Emai fsyem and airanasin (and ainarana Jonathana; thanks for the correction),

About articles in Vihal: Not really lucky--it's just that two of the three languages that I've studied formally (and the majority of those I've encountered more casually) lack articles, so I'm not bothered by their absence. As a matter of fact, I find it easier that way. (When describing English to a speaker of a non-article language, such as Russian, it can be pretty difficult to explain just what those little "a," "an," and "the" are, and why on earth we need them.)

I agree with Mark about the dangers of using euphony in language construction; tastes do differ. (I recall a Russian acquaintance telling me that as far as he could tell, in order to acquire a good American English accent, all you'd need to do was catch a bad cold.) On the other hand, if what you're after is to please your own ear, and you don't mind others saying it differently to please theirs, it's probably not a problem.

A broader question is that of the use of "phonetic stereotypes" in conlangs, of which I can see at least two types. One is playing on the sense of euphony of (say) native English-speakers to produce a specific effect, so that one language sounds harsh and another tender, for instance. The classic example, of course is Tolkien's Quenya and the Black Speech; others include Verdurian and Barakhinei, Pablo Flores' Wamen and G'amah, and Klingon, which is a language that I just can't get into--not because I don't think it's a perfectly good language, or because I believe in a linguistic aesthetic standard, but because speaking more than two sentences makes my throat hurt. :-)

In my own conlang setting, I have likewise mulled over the idea of making the language of a warlike neighboring people (a bit like the Barakhinei vs. the Verdurians) a "harsher" language with more consonant clusters and hard stops, because warriors are "supposed" to speak that way. It's tempting, but it's also tempting to do something different.

A different form of linguistic stereotyping is basing the language of a made-up culture on that of a similar people on Earth--so that a desert civilization might have an Arabic-like language and Arab-style names, or an arctic people might sound like the Inuit, to immediately create the appropriate atmosphere in the average reader's mind. This is likewise an interesting technique, and I plan to make use of it, although I also suspect that some caution is in order--there's a fine line between creating a tribute to a real language, and producing what looks like a screwed-up parody of it. :-(

As usual, I have another Almealogical question for Mark, this one regarding Skouras and the Littoral nations. I know that they are great traders (at least with each other), but what exactly do they trade? The climate there is cool (I recall the Historical Atlas comparing it to Scotland), but the inhabitants probably grow crops on the coastal plains, and there are likely ores in the surrounding they produce a lot of "manufactured" (handicrafted) goods? In general, I'm trying to picture better how the more southern peoples live... Thanks!

Nenderde quralain ("peace to you"--Chüsöle greeting/farewell; the singular is nende quralain),

Glenn Kempf
(Glenn Icovei Cempf, Galenan Kemapaf; at this point, I think the strict Chüsöle equivalent would be Kemeph Gelen Jeimis-erle.)

Mark responds:

I'll have to check the trade map of Ereláe (which is incomplete but still useful); but they're known for woolen goods, wood, fish, liquor, metallic weapons and tools, as well as what they get from the Lenani, such as horses and weavings.

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