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After a discussion of George’s recent consumption of bear meat, we get to talking about designing your sound system, a topic we meant to talk about in episode 29 but somehow didn’t end up saying much about.  After a long discussion about that topic, we feature perhaps the second most famous auxlang in history, which goes by the terrible name of Volapük.

Top of Show Greeting: Quenya (translation by Roman Rausch)

Links and Resources:

Featured Conlang: Volapük (“Handbook”, Wikipedia, Volapü


10 Responses to “Conlangery #48: Designing a Sound System”

  1. Kenneth Nyman

    Concerning the Volakük Wikipedia, wasn’t there some controversy about a large portion of the articles actually being robot-generated or something? So that the number of articles really does not accurately reflect the prominence of the language.

  2. MBR

    If you’re looking for a conlang with an example of sounds merging and sounds being re-added, look no further than Hra’anh.

    Proto Hra’anh (which is currently not much more than a sound system) had /g/ as well as /ɢ/ (along with their voiceless counterparts). Here’s what happened.

    /g/ merged with /k/ mid-Dark Age.
    /ɢ/ became /ʀ/ about the same time that the above happened, and then a couple centuries later separated into /qɾ/, but most people didn’t like to say it, so in the last two hundred years people have been replacing all instances of “qr” with /ɢ/.

    I plan on talking about this kind of thing in this episode of my yet-to-be-produced conlang podcast.

  3. Ossicone

    My favorite example of conditioned vowel length in English is:
    bit – bid – beat – bead
    /bɪt/ – /bɪd/ – /bit/ – /bid/

    You get the full effect of how the length is affected by both the following voiced consonant as well as the vowel quality. Even non-linguists can pick up on the difference if you have them say it consecutively (as I have made my husband do).

    Also, fun story about language perceptions. When I was younger I thought ‘pendejo’ was ‘bendejo’ because of my silly English brain.

    EDIT: I believe Swedish has all voiceless plus one voiced fricative.

    • MBR

      I, too always heard “bendejo”. One thing that really bugs me about English initial-plosive aspiration is that it makes pop filters all too necessary for microphones. When I use a mic, I try to aspirate imperceptibly or not at all, and it gets rid of that blasted *POOM*. I should teach people how to tone down their plosives.

  4. Rhamos Vhailejh

    My conlang has KG, and TD, and P, but no B. And it also has V, but no F. I’ve done this because it was inspired by Finnish, and Finnish lacks these sounds (at least in native words). I also decided to do away with W and Z, but they ended up unexpectedly sneaking their way back in, in the form of allophones (of U and S, respectively). It’s funny, I wanted my conlang to sound like Finnish, but in the end, I think that I only very mildly succeeded in that. When I ask people what they think it sounds like, the answer is always different. And I myself don’t really know what I think it sounds like. xD
    I’ve been trying to put a lot of thought into how I might have my conlang evolve into a new language, and I’ve been thinking that one of the first things I would probably do is have V shift into B, or have P shift into F.

  5. Mike Yams

    When you mentioned Comanche as Algonquian, did you mean Cheyenne? (Seeing as Comanche is Uto-Aztecan.)

    • /sɑɪ̯f ɑsɑd ɑl ˈsətjə/

      I assumed that William was pushing some kind of innovative long-ranger/lumper classification, and that the paper was forthcoming.

      • Mike Yams

        Hmmm Uto-Aztecan and Algic relation? That’d be cool.

        But I just assumed he meant Cheyenne, given that it’s rather closely related to Arapaho and thus likely rather highly divergent from the other Algonquian languages.

  6. Andrew J Smith

    Concerning the interrogative suffix for verbs, Latin had used this as at least one strategy for forming polar questions. It would use ne as an enclitic after the verb, or after any phrase which was the focus of the question. However, it wasn’t always used; so as I said, the enclitic ne was just one strategy. Perhaps Schleyer was inspired by this?


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