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After some discussion of one little New York Times article that quoted William(!), we move along to talking about designing your sound system and romanization, though it’s mostly about romanization.  After that, we break a pattern and for the first time feature a natlang rather than a conlang — going from a grammar that just so happens to be the dissertation of one Mark Okrand.  The language is Mutsun.

Top of Show Greeting: Standard Sentalian

Links and Resources: George’s “Design Perameters for Romanization”

Featured NATLANG: Mutsun

19 Responses to “Conlangery #29: Sound Systems and Romanization”

  1. Anthony

    Very informative.

    side note – at the 9th minute from the start, I was momentarily reminded of when the Predator (from those films) tries speaking English.

    • admin

      Yeah, I have no idea what happened there. As I was editing I listened through that thinking “How did I miss this during the recording?” Usually I stop the recording to fix major issues like that.

          • admin

            No, but “audible” means that you can hear it, not that you can hear and understand it.

          • admin

            Yes! Dingdingdign! Intelligible we are looking for. For that Bianca gets a scrumptious peanut butter fudge cookie.

            I would say it’s barely intelligible to me. My apologies to those with hearing impairments and to non-native speakers who weren’t able to understand. Hopefully it was short enough that it didn’t ruin the whole episode for you.

  2. Gildoff

    I love the new theme music. Makes George sound like he’s got swagga.

    I also love the quote just when that weird distortion starts “Sorry, we had some minor technical difficulties.” *facepalm* But don’t worry! The theme music makes up for it.

  3. Bryan Parry

    I have to agree with William’s comments around 17:30 regarding making the more normal phoneme have the plainer, undiacritical/special character form.

    In my main artlang, I have an alveolar tap and an alveolar trill, represented medially and finally as (tap) and (trill)… except initially, where they don’t contrast and only the trill can occur, so the trill is represented ; I just found that, e.g., was a bit ungainly and superfluous.

    You might say, ‘Why not have the trill be and the tap be , so then you wouldn’t need to switch for for the same phoneme in a different position?’ The problem is that for a tap and for a trill in the context of there being a tap is somewhat counter-intuitive.

    Thus, try to think outside the box, people. The Romanisation is there for a few reasons, but the key should be simplicity.

    The same principle leads many people, the Pinyin system, and George(!) to using and for voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated. Why go over the top using, e.g., Greek symbols to represent the aspirates?

    • admin

      Because Greek symbols are difficult to type, and no one will have a clue how to read it. Pinyin works for English speakers because English’s aspiration rules will tend to naturally lead English speakers to the correct pronunciation of the Mandarin. My Aeruyo is somewhat less suited for this structurally, since it has stress-accent and allows plosives medially, but it is still an elegant solution since I have no voiced plosives (if I did, I would probably represent aspirates with <-h> digraphs. But I’m not going to dive into Greek unless I really need it, because I don’t want to have to invent a keyboard for my language.

      • Bryan Parry

        Oddly, half my post in the last paragraph has been deleted and replaced with bolding… :-S

        • admin

          Yes, I know what the problem is. I’m thinking that you put “b” in angle brackets somewhere and WordPress interpreted it as an HTML tag. I am going to go to work finding a way to fix the comments system so that can’t happen. I’m sure linguistic use of <> is simply something that the WordPress people don’t know about or that isn’t prevalent enough for them to care about it.

          In short, I’m going to find a comment plugin that will allow you to disable HTML or something.

  4. Bryan Parry

    For interest’s sake…
    Regarding the ‘insanely high’ number of English vowels being 16. Well, I speak Southern Standard British English, and we have… 20! In fact, you could argue I have 21 vowels, as I also have the wholly/hole-y vs. holy split (/QU/ vs. /@U/)

    It’s always fun to see my students’ (foreigners) heads explode when trying to get to grips with British English vowels. Mwahah!

    • admin

      Yes, indeed, 20 is crazy. Even 16 is a bit high, though. WALS actually only counts up to 14 vowels (, although with the difficulties involved in analyzing vowel inventories I’m sure that the coding could be suspect there.


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