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We talk about one of William’s pet peeves in conlang descriptions and linguistics in general: the overuse of the word “emphasis”.  We start out with some very strong reccomendations against using it in phonology, and then talk about some more standard terms you might use instead when talking about discourse or syntax.  We also review Yivrian, created by the writer of the well-known (in the community) “Artlanger’s Rant”.

Top of Show Greeting: Mybutan

Conlang: Yivrian



Dear Conlangery Podcast!I wasn’t sure where I should leave this little message, but I just had to say something. I am a beginner when it comes to conlanging (truth be told, though I have been “writing” about my conworld for years, but I was using  a truly bastardized version of Esperanto for one of their languages. I have since scrapped it to start fresh and think of myself as a true beginner). I tend to let my love of Japanese guide the way a bit too much, though, so I was kind of scared of infixes. But I made myself go through Bianca’s Inyauk lessons yesterday and they really are pretty easy. She and William did say it was true. Glad I took a chance. :)I also wanted to say how much I appreciated episode #15, Getting Out of Creative Ruts. Blending natlangs is what I think of to get out of it a lot. I also look to specific words out of a bunch of languages to see which I like best before adding it to the lexicon (it takes a while, but it feels more personal than using a word generator for all your words). I love this podcast–I like knowing that not all of my ideas are crazy.

Best wishes,

Conlang: Yivrian

9 Responses to “Conlangery #26: “Emphasis””

    • admin

      Yeah, I think we eventually figured that out. A more common term for that is “malefactive”, but I figure he felt odd calling it malefactive when he has no benefactive.

      • Justin

        Yeah, feel free to delete that comment. I made it while I was listening rather than after I was done.

        • admin

          Yes, indeed. We’ve had that happen a couple of times. If you have to, take notes so you remember your thought until the end of the show.

  1. CMunk

    Here’s a funny way to mark “emphasis” with movement: Sentence intertwining!

    It’s when an object of a subordinate clause is moved to the very front of the matrix clause. Danish does this more than English, but it does happen.

    “Denne bog foreslog hun, at jeg skulle læse” (“Hun foreslog, at jeg skulle læse denne bog”)
    “This book she suggested that I should read” (“She suggested that I should read this book”)

    “Det maleri kender jeg manden, som har malet” (“Jeg kender manden, som har malet det maleri”)
    “That painting I know the man who has painted” (“I know the man who has painted that painting”)

    Although some funky things happen when the subordinate clause is the adverbial of the matrix sentence. This is a real example from Danish and its English translation:

    “Kaffe kan jeg ikke sove, hvis jeg drikker” (“Jeg kan ikke sove, hvis jeg drikker kaffe”)
    “Coffee I cannot sleep, if I drink” (“I cannot sleep, if I drink coffee”)

    Even in Danish this is a weird construction, but it does happen.

    • wm.annis

      That last one (Kaffe kan…) smells very much like a topic to me. Not sure about the others without more context. Danish does seem more flexible than English with these sorts of movement.

  2. NSK

    Ouch, on behalf of us conlangers who have gotten use to talking about “emphatic” phonemes. I included an emphatic series of vowels mostly inspired by the way the [a] sounds in the Arabic word Šīʿah. So, my language is not a Semlang, but the phone in question is inspired by Semitic. As for using a more specific term, I use [ˤ] to transcribe that feature in IPA, the same as is standard for Arabic emphatic consonants, and if I have to pick something specific, I would describe that series as pharyngealized. However, Wikipedia says that the emphatic consonants are more specifically “pharyngealized or velarized”, and I wonder about how phonetically accurate most descriptions are. Personally, I’m not in general an ignoramus about phonology, but I have little or no faith in my ability to produce or distinguish by ear the distinctions between various vowel phonation types. Maybe my “emphatic” vowels would be better described as stiff, creaky, or harsh. I don’t really know. The main thing I do know about it is that it sounds a bit like something you would hear from an Arabic speaker, so “emphatic” seemed like the natural thing to call it. (My language is going to be presented as if it was being researched by linguists in the field, occasionally with uncertain or unclear information, so I feel comfortable leaving some dots unconnected and some t’s uncrossed).

  3. MBR

    Just giving this one a re-listen, and I got inspired to comment. I LOVE the “orangecrunk” operator, especially because “orangecrunk” sounds like a tasty, tangy orange soda. And while we’re on the subject of linguist jokes, I found a light bulb joke a while back:

    Q: How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?
    A: Two. One to figure out what to change it into, and another to figure out what kind of bulb emits broken light.


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