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We start off with a reccomendation of sorts of the Speculative Grammarian Podcast, and George’s own long post on romanization.  Then we get into the meat of the show talking about all kinds of irregularity and “regular irregularity”.  Then we take a 180-degree turn and talk about the insanely regular Esperanto.

Top of Show Greeting: Ayeri

Featured Conlang: Esperanto (also here)


Email from Nathaniel:

I’ve developed a fairly complicated type of poetry for my conlang Japaratu. This kind of poetry is known as the Gį́į́, and takes advantage of several rules that Japaratu has such as tone and nasal harmony. It also used consonance and alternating patterns of high, low, and middle tones. Interesting, the Gį́į́ does not use vowel length, although other poetry forms do.I write the mechanics of the Gį́į́ this way:A is a nasal syllable with high tone.
B is a nasal syllable with low tone.
C is a nasal syllable with middle tone.
D is a oral syllable with high tone.
E is a oral syllable with low tone.
F is a oral syllable with middle tone.The first and second occurence of a syllable do not have to be the same word, but they must have the same features. Thus, péék and pár would fall in the same class. A, B, and C must all begin with the same sound. D, E and F must be the sound’s nasal equivalent.

M is a nasal monosyllabic word with middle tone.
O is a oral monosyllabic word with middle tone.

Unlike the above, M and O have to be the same word in all contexts.

2. M
4. O
6. O
8. M

Because the structure is so strict, the poems do not have necessarily have to make sense, although it is more prestigious to do so.
Because the Japaratu are a poetry-loving culture, they have developed an elaborate poetry notation system. Here is an example:

1.ká kùb-kot
3.gų́ų́į́į́m gų̀m gǫǫg
5.kóp kììj kiuu
9.mų mų et et
— tìt.

Which literally translates as:
rock marble
autumn fern dirt
tide clever branch
clear clear poison poison
Negative copula (to not be)

My apologies if any or most of this is unclear.

Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

On little correction:the word tìt at the end of the Poem is the name of the author and is not part of the poem.

15 Responses to “Conlangery #27: Irregularity”

  1. Bristel

    I would say that Esperanto is “mostly” regular. There are quite a few examples of irregularity within even the basic rules of morphology.

    There was an article written about Esperanto irregularity (among other complaints) called “Ranto”, which I believe can be quickly found on Google.

    Cheers, I always enjoy listening to your podcasts, especially Bianca’s pet peeves about conlangs and natlangs!

    -Bristel from ZBB and CBB

  2. Andrew J Smith

    A recent discussion on one of the posts in the Facebook Conlangs group reminded me to ask if you have already recorded an episode about gender (grammatical, semantic, noun classes, etc). If you haven’t then it would be a nice topic of discussion.

  3. Tim

    Really nice podcast. There’s one thing I’d like to mention, that I hope will be a useful bit of critique. One thing often makes me want to stop listening, and it is the seemingly overdone laughing by the host. Luckily the rest is good enough to not give in to that urge.

    • admin

      We can maybe edit out some of that. We tend to laugh a lot during the podcast (quite honestly — it’s not like we’re trying to manufacture a laugh track). Thank you for the critique, though.

      • Tim

        Okay, maybe it’s just me, it did sound exaggerated to me. I’m not sure if it is at all easy to edit it out, and if other people would appreciate that as much as I would, or if other people feel it sounds exaggerated. But I still think it would really make a difference to me. Not that I think you should take all the laughter out though. It is a lighthearted show, in spite of the rather academic nature of the content. And that’s great.

  4. Keenir

    When you reached the point of saying that the Ancient Greek for “nobody” is different in one form from another, it raised this question in my mind: where in Ancient Greek did “no-one” come from? (as in _”who has blinded you?” “no-one has blinded me!”_)

    thank you; and a great podcast.

  5. wm.annis

    In that part of the Odyssey, Odysseus and Polyphemus are just using the normal, indicative (-ish) word for “nobody,” οὐδεῖς [], which is transparently formed from οὐδέ (“nor”) [] and εἷς (“one,” the numeral) [he:s]. The moody version of this is μηδεῖς [mɛ], replacing οὐδέ with μηδέ.

  6. Ossicone

    In regards to irregularity in agglutinating langs:
    I used regular phonological processes layered with fun allophony to break up Inyauk’s intense regularity.

    So what is underlying /naxkudan/ ‘a coffee’ ‘will surface as [nɑxo’ʔudzən].
    naxkudan –> nax’xudan –> naxuudan

    Anyway the point is you don’t have to stack all your irregularity one place. It’s nice to have unrelated forces working together which creates greater depth and makes patterns less obvious to the casual observer.

    I also prefer the term ‘predictable irregularity’

    • Ossicone

      inyauk also had the equivalent of phrasal verbs and they were one of the reasons making a dictionary was such a pain. XD

    • Rhamos Vhailejh

      I also used allophony to break up some of my conlang’s intense regularity. I was going to mention that, since I didn’t catch it being brought up in the video at all, but you seem to have beaten me to it by about three years. lol.
      My conlang does also have some irregular adjectives which take the form of particles (what kind of particles though, I’m not ultimately sure. They can’t take any declension or inflection though, and they are whole words on their own which can’t be used on their own (unless when being used as interjections, which they can also do), so they’re definitely particles). Particles are nifty.
      Also, as a suggestion (I’m not sure if it was mentioned, I kind of work on my conlang as I listen, so I don’t quite catch everything), I’ve found that when I come across something that I need to add into my language, but I simply cannot seem to come up with anything that fits, that’s when I consider making an irregular. It can cause irregulars to crop up in interesting places that can help bring the language a lot of flavour, I think.

      • Rhamos Vhailejh

        Just to clarify, when I say “my conlang’s intense regularity” and “does also have some irregular adjectives”, I don’t think that’s a contradiction, because it’s a very, very small number of irregular adjectives. Thought I should point that out, ’cause it sounded like it left the wrong impression when I was reading it back.

        • Rhamos Vhailejh

          And when I say “video”, I mean “podcast”. ::facepalm@self:: Also, sorry for the triple post. I dunno’ if that’s like, a thing here, but I know that people on the internet in general have always been pretty touchy about that.


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