This is something that’s been a draft for a while, and I hadn’t published it. So here it is. 🙂
I’ve been asleep or something! It’s like looking at a computer program and seeing the code that constructs it, or like seeing the streaking green Matrix-code behind the Matrix-world. I’ve been learning so many grammatical concepts (some understood, some not and many in a twilight in between) and beginning to see the structure of sentences in a different light. It makes learning languages easier: I think once you have the basics of a languages grammar (word order etc.) then the only barrier is the vocabulary and its use (and that’s not too hard if you immerse yourself in it). I can look at another languages grammar and understand some of it without having to learn the whole language.
It can get very technical, but I think there’s something artistic in the structure of language: the concepts and the structure used. There’s something quite creative in it, and it’s fascinating to think that there are many different ways of explaining the same thing, grammatical structures that at first glance aren’t the same, and may have contradictory meanings across cultures, but actually mean the same thing!
Recently I wrote about the primal roots of language, this actually came from a line of thought about creating an “ecolang” (or ecological language). I have several ideas like doing something onomatopoeic i.e. the words resemble what they represent (such as “cuckoo” in English represents the bird’s sound).
Another is a tense based on the seasons; it gets a bit complicated, but there are four tenses, one for each traditional season; whatever happens to be the present season is the present tense. At present it is spring (just), and so that is the present tense. Winter is past, and summer is future (not strictly for describing the previous and next seasons), whereas autumn represents a combined distant-past/far-future tense (representing a sort of circular nature of time). The tense changes for each season.
Verbs can be marked for their arguments to show interrelatedness between things. “I love you”: I and you are the arguments, and the verb can be mark for first and second person (in Spanish verbs are marked for the subject of a verb phrase – in this case it is “I” – we only need to extend the idea to other arguments, like direct objects).
The idea I’ve been thinking of is that the language shows interdependence in its grammar, and also a correspondence with the environment it finds itself in, rather than being abstract ideas. But going back to the first line, the important part of an “ecolang” is not how “ecological” its grammar, phonology, etc. are but how connected to the body’s expression it is. The body is our “ecological anchor” in the world, something fancy “ecological” grammar might not take into account.
… or constructed languages.
In an earlier blog I mentioned I have the Language Construction Kit and was creating a language, and I’ve been doing stuff with it.
Well make that two languages. There is Alahithian (alahitiano in Spanish and Alahitien in French), and now there is Gnoughish. There a third without a name that I’ve experimented with a bit, but want to concentrate on Alahithian and Gnoughish.
Alahithian looks quite foreign with a spelling system unlike West European languages, whereas Gnoughish I’ve made by copying any Modern English with Old English roots, though with a made-up vocabulary. A lot of the grammar, such as word order, is the same, at least until I’ve experimented a bit more with it.
Boror bik alahep alahith* – this language is Alahithian (lit. This tongue is called Alahithian, and word for word it’s: (to) call this tongue Alahithian)
Chin frold eampt Gnoughish – this language (lit. speech) is Gnoughish.
*notice the similarity between alahep (tongue) and alahith (Alahithian), which both share the same root.
Here’s an example of a poem of mine written in the Alahithian script, sebus (lit. writing):
I have in my hand The Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder, and already I have figured out a few basic rules to my language. I could get carried away with this.
I’ve created the personal pronouns, and started on other pronouns, I’ve created forms for verbs and nouns, and created a few of each (mostly verbs), I have tenses (though still trying to work out verb aspects), a negative suffix, singular and plural, and I’ve still got to get my head around all the grammatical terms! How many times do I have to look up the term “aspects”???
Om alahirtel alahith, omon erefiwt. – I do not speak Alahithian, I am learning it. (I’d say “creating it” but haven’t invented that word yet…)
In Alahithian it is know as alahith, which also means “the speech” and is derived from the verb alahir, “to speak”. Language is alahish and languages, alahizh.
For a phonetic reference see dhê nyoo alfêbet (and yes, I’ve even created my own alphabet for this language LOL): http://jakefishoutofwater.wordpress.com/nyoo-alfebet/
And then there’s The Planet Construction Kit by the same author… Om onedoy thefiw (I’m going to think).
I got a few books on grammar recently and have realised just how much I knew and how much I don’t know. It’s very good. It’s appalling.
I thought I had a good grasp on apostrophes, but I seem to have got confused on a point. When a name or noun ends in an s then there’s no need to put an s after the possesive apostrophe. I’d developed a little quirk from this misinterpretation, so instead of saying James’s I would say James’. Although maybe I’m right, and what I hear and read is wrong. Oh dear, I’m confused now.
And now I’ve discovered a little bit more of what to do with colons, semi-colons, dashes and hyphens I don’t know what to do with them I’ve been relying on commas, full stops and brackets in their place. I didn’t even know the difference between dashes and hyphens so all hyphens have been called dashes. And now I’m not sure if I’m constructing my sentences okay. What did they learn me in school? I ask you!
I often encounter people (non-English) that apologise for not speaking English well, which makes me laugh because, at times, I’d have to apologise about the same thing! Or even describe to their unbelieving ears that I know plenty of English people that speak and write worse. If you’ve learnt English as a second language you’re probably more familiar with Standard English than I am.
Never mind about Spanish or French, I should be ironing the kinks out of my English. I think I need to go back to school, so I can learn me to talk proper.