Thursday, October 06, 2005


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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pending Vocabulary Update

Well, I'm going to start in making major amounts of vocabulary, but I'm going to cheat and use a computer program. The problem with most word-generating programs is that they don't allow you to specify which letters and combinations are more frequent. Obviously, I'm only going to pick the words I like, but it's annoying when the word-generators keep coming up with combinations of letters that really aren't supposed to be usual.

The solution is, of course, to write my own program. It's not that hard, really. I've been playing around with it for a while in C++, but between array arithmatic and getting the random number generator to actually generate random numbers, it's been a pain. It has occurred to me that this would be a lot easier to do with lists than with arrays (pains in the ass that they are), so I'm reading ahead in the (Scheme) class and getting at the procedures that I need to do it. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a random number generator for Scheme at all... at least not for the version we're using. I did find something, which for some reason refuses to work. Fortunately, it seems as though my prof wrote it, so he should know how to fix it. Is my school the only one to actually teach Scheme in a class? I'm beginning to think so.

Anyway, what's frustrating is that aside from that, I should be able to start now. I found this awesome wordlist with words listed be meaning and not alphabetically. Plus, they're lots of typical, useful words that I'm going to need, with lots of roots that'll come in handy later. The whole idea of making a wordlist for a whole language seems like such a massive project, and all the words should relate in some logical way to each other, by roots, or historically, or something. This'll probably be a good way to start though. Perhaps I should add an English->Lán list, and maybe whatever I have of the ULD as indexed. First I need the generator program and some new words though.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Éský: an (extremely) succinct political history

I said I'd do verbs, but I feel like doing this instead.

This is a very short recounting of a very long time in Éský history. In theory, there would be dates and so forth, but since I tossed my other calendar system out the window, those will have to wait until I make a new one. I am also unable to really specify how many years pass between various events, but I will try to group things into a vague Early/Middle/Late scheme. I have an intended "present" for this people, at which point the history ends.

If at any point here, I say "for whatever reason", it means that I haven't gotten the details ironed out yet, but you have not heard the last on that particular datum.

Early: Eastern Expansion
Originally, the Éský lived in the southeastern edge of a very large continent in the northern hemisphere of the world. I supposed I could get into evolution a little bit at some point, and figure out what the movement patterns of whatever non-human-primate ancestors they may have had may or may not have been, but for the moment I'll start the story here. They lived along the southeastern shores of the continent, and their way of life at the time wound up revolving around fishing in some way. Eventually, as is bound to happen, a social order arose out of chaos and an extremely strict and non-negotiable class structure began to form.

I should mention at this point that even though the people here are essentially human, without any weird quirks, they do live in a somewhat alternate universe, and due to the fact that I invented them when I was twelve, in an effort to emulate JRR Tolkien, They do have magic powers of sorts at their disposal. I have oodles and oodles of descriptions, calculations, rationalizations, and rules for such occurances, fear not, and it will turn up here sooner or later. For now, suffice it to say that any magical power an individual might have is innate, not acquired, and that the Éský class system revolves around this innate potential, as do many of their cultural conceptions and categories.

Where were we? Oh yes, the first city/governmental system. The first city was named something which has been rendered unpronounceable by present Lán phonological standards, and will thus remain unnamed until I try to rename it at some point in the future. The first country was Latarvý. The governmental system was a system of Kings*, passing somewhat hereditarily, but mostly based on the Power** of individuals. The social and class structure was also based primarily on Power, and secondarily on gender. Religion tied into it heavily, though the religious system was almost never, in all of its history, a centralized one or the kind that validated the aristocracy (there is one exception, but not until very recent times). The Éský class system has always been rather rigid and restrictive at the best of times, and it's never been a source of mutual cohesian, as we shall see.

Gradually, the society expanded, and new cities were built, and Latarvý covered most of the southeastern quadrant of the continent after a while. It expanded until I hit the edge of a vast forest which covered a swath down the middle of this continent. At this point, with the growth of the government, the whole system had become somewhat totalitarian in nature, and a few of the higher-up-but-not-quite-high-enough-up officials in the government decided that the current King was chafing on their freedoms a little too much, and took a large portion of their underlings into the forest to set up another state. This was all under the guise of there being a need for exploration of the rest of the continent, and the King allowed it. For a while, they lived in peace, but once the underlords decided they had enough of an army to protect themselves, they cut off communications and disappeared into the forest. After several unsuccessful attempts to bring the traitors to justice, the King of Latarvý decided that enough was enough preoceded to distance his people from the seceders as well. As a result of all of this, the second group moved off into the forest and were not seen by anyone from Latarvý for quite a long time; Latarvý developed some interesting superstitions and fears about the forest (which will be very fun to write, heh). The forest was called Eðerný.

Middle: Western Expansion
Now, on the other side of Eðerný, is a tall mountain range, complete with an active volcano. Eðerný has at this point expanded almost as much as Latarvý had when they broke off, leaving some people living rather close to the volcano. Unlike Latarvý, Eðerný did not have the strict, class system relative to government - however, it had an extensive religious order, that was enforced heavily despite not being centralized in any kind of a "church". The religious system of Éský is polytheistic, and mostly animist, and is, probably unsuprisingly, tied to the system of Power as well. In Eðerný, the religious system simply replaced the governmental class system. Actual governmental leadership was more equitable, and based more on popularity than on Power (though still extensively on gender). But the religious order was inviolable. Until then, in Latarvý, the deities were somewhat impersonal, but in Eðerný, they became personalities in their own right, and generated different sects for each one, and inspiring fanatical followings.

Back at the volcano....
There were technically people associated with Eðerný already living on the western side of the mountains, which was not technically part of that same forest. Some particularly adventurous people lived on both sides, and crossed the mountains on a yearly basis, for whatever reason. The volcano would occasionally erupt, but that was rare, it wasn't devastating, the mountain was high, and it usually gave ample warnings. At some point, however, it became much more active and unpredictable, causing the mountains to be unscalable for a period of time, and separating the sizeable population on the western side from the larger population in the eastern forest. The area west of Eðerný was surrounded on the east and north by high mountains, and on the west by extremely cliffy "beaches" and on the south by nicer sandy beaches like the ones on to the east of Latarvý. It was a motley group of people, mostly from the lower classes in the religious structure than wound up isolated on the wrong side of the mountain, and after many years of infighting, they broke into three distinct groups - one settled into the northern region of the area, living mostly in the slightly more hospitable northern mountain range and in the valleys and plains below it. A second group moved onto the west coast of the region, along the cliffs, and the third to the southern and central areas. The two former, Kéðrý and Anderenlé continued the lax governmental system but strict religious system of Eðerný, while the other, Kylyðandylé, combined both systems which resulted in modern times with an entrenched nobility and an entrenched religious heirarchy, which came the closest of anything to a government verified by religion.

The major difference between all of these groups and the two eastern ones was that most of the people involved in the formation of these groups were women, and among the group, the women tended to be the ones who had had the most status in Eðerný's system, for whatever reason. So when the group broke apart into different sub-groups, the women took control in all cases, leaving all of the societies to the west of the mountains highly matriarchal. Kylyðandalé became even more gendered than Latarvý had ever been over time, and this tied into the religion as well, as the religious dictates of Eðerný had decided that most of the pantheon was female.

Late: Conflicts
Back in Latarvý, all was not well with the currect political system. It wasn't as totalitarian anymore, and had begun to move in the direction of personal deities, but it was a far cry from democratic. In particular, people in the east of Latarvý were unhappy with the adoption of personalized/gendered deities, because on the one hand it was moving towards validating the aristocracy, which many people resented, and on the other hand, the deity representing innate Power was shaping up to be female, which many people in the male-and-Power-dominated society disagreed with. The result was that another sect lead by a higher-up-but(you know the rest) decided to secede before things got any worse, only this time there was no pretese about it. There was a long, bloody, drawn-out civil war, after which the eastern half of Latarvý managed to secede and form its own country, named after the leader of the rebellion (Atrystyn), as Atrynašá. The country itself was very similar to Latarvý, the main differences being that the reigning nobility continued to be based on Power and gender, and the deities continued to be impersonal and largely genderless, whereas in Latarvý, the reign was moving towards blood inheritance and the rigid power structure was collapsing into something a little more bearable.

Unlike most of the Kings of Latarvý, Atrystyn was significantly more daring, and eager to break through Latarvý's old myths about the forest to the west. As a result, he inadvertantly discovered the long lost Eðernýans, but considered their adaptation of the pantheon to be blasphemous and tried to impose his own. Naturally, this didn't go over well, and ruling class of Eðerný developed a distinct dislike of that of Atrynašá, and had the power to kick the forces of the newly formed country off their turf. The King of Latarvý, eager to find people to side with him against Atrynašá, hastily made agreements with the rulers of Eðerný. It helped that the years had weathered Latarvý's social and religious system into something much more similar to Eðerný's. The western forests opened up for "fair play", Atrystyn ventured farther, and over the mountain range, which had long since ceased the erupt.

The Latarvý/Eðerný alliance didn't fail to notice this, and moved over the mountains also, to prevent the rasher Atrystyn from becoming a threat. All three countries met with suprise the entrenched religious and political matriarchal aristocracy in Kyltðadylé. The Princess*** of Kylyðandylé was not happy to see any of them. Minor conflicts occured between Kylyð and the east primarily, but also including Kéðrý and Anderenlé, who tended to side with the Princess. No real war ever broke out, but at one point in the procedings, the new King of Latarvý (not the one from which Atrystyn had seceded) attempted to take over the Kylyð aristocracy and partly succeeded in at least lessening the religious influence over it, if not the matriarchal structure. The current Princess, when it became clear that Latarvýn forces were planning on enforcing their new order, collected a her supporters (a goodly part of the population) and left the ruling of Kylyð to her neice, who had been supporting Latarvý to an extent (for whatever reason), and high-tailed down to an as-of-yet unexplored island chain south of Kylyð. There, she set up a new country, under the same rules as Kylyð had formerly employed, called New Kylyð****. Kylyðandylé itself continued with the entrenched matriarchal aristocracy, but lost many of its religious leanings, and became an ally of Latarvý. The new island nation, if anything, became more religious, and in the "present" remains the only country where religious significantly impacts government.

Ok, that was a significant developement - I'm done for the night. Looking at the time recorded when I started this post, it took an hour and a half to type. Yeech.

*King - in Lán, the word used to describe Latarvýn "Kings" means something along of lines of uber-man (gender-specific, masculine man). I haven't invented the word yet. Bear with me.
**Power - refers to magical potential. As will all instances of Power with a capital P.
***Princess - there are several words for the rulers of Kylyðandylé, ranging from purely secular to purely religious/slightly idolitrous. However, none of them have anything to do with the Latarvýn word for King, so I'm rendering them all as Princess in this entry.
****New Kylyð - yeah, "New" will eventually be in Lán. Bear with me.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sunday is Laundry Day

My sister called me today, to inform me that she read my blog, and that it had too much boring linguistic stuff in it. While this was kind of the point, I do have to agree with her. So, if I haven't scared you away for good yet, here is a post that contains no linguistics at all. I promise.

A little-known fact, but I unpack via osmosis. That is, I kick things around until I have a clear space, and put my suitcase down, and unzip it. Over the next week or so, as I need things that are inside the suitcase, I systematically throw things from the suitcase onto the floor until I get what I need. Eventually, the suitcase has been unpacked. Of course, there are better ways to do this, what with strange and miraculous inventions like "drawers" and "the closet". I will make an honest attempt to experiment with these mystical devices in the next few days.

The really terrible thing is, that once I've cleared my floor of clothing, I discover that I still can't see it. There's another layer of books, papers, garbage, and important bits of personal identification underneath the "unpacking" layer. The problem, really, is that the room will never be clean, because I have no space to store all my books. I have my own bookshelf, and the one that magically came with the room, but I still have at least twice as many books on the floor as I do on the shelves. And I do use my shelves, unlike my drawers and my closet. I'll think of something, I suppose....

I did find my driver's licsense though. And some books I was planning to read. And my chocolate-covered espresso beans. And lots of conlang notes. Whoops, this post isn't about conlangs. Sorry about that.

Just you wait, I'll see my floor yet. And get a bigger bookshelf... or two.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005


I realize that I now have a bunch of sort of official information about my conlang scattered around this thing, amidst random, irrelevant stuff. In order to keep track of it all, I'm going to make individual posts for each conculture, which will get edited and updated as I get more stuff written. These will all be linked from the sidebar. So, since Éský is the only one I have anything on yet, this is going to be the official Éský post.


Political History (as of 2/16/05)


This section I will divide up into a grammar reference section, and a dictionary section. I already made a list of nouns, and I intend to make a list of verbs eventually, and those posts will get added to as I make more words. If a grammar post becomes obsolete, I will simply write another one.

Grammar and Reference

Orthography (as of 2/7/05)
Basic Phonology (as of 1/20/05)
Cluster Formation Rules (as of 1/20/05)

General Syntax (as of 1/24/05)

Noun Morphology (as of 1/28/05)
Verb Morphology (as of 2/12/05)

Nouns (last updated on 1/28/05)

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Lán: Verbs

About time, I think. Had another lovely weekend brunch today; they actually gave us protein today, unfortunately it was tofu and burned bacon. My sister called me today, giving me a random incentive to update - and now I've located all the notes I had on verb conjugation, and so I might as well add something about that.

Also, I finished Kadish today, and discovered that it was actually pronounced Kay-dish. Yeesh, D'ni seems to have spelling conventions that rival English ones in terms of lack of logic. Anyway, it was a good age, right up there with Amateria. On to language stuff....

As with the nouns, here's an order for the various morphemes that go into making a verb in Lán:

tense + root + person + number


Verb roots can be related to noun roots, but in terms of their structure, they're pretty different. Noun roots can't ever begin with a vowel, since beginning vowels indicate gender - verb roots always begin with a vowel, except for the verb "to be" but that's pretty universally an exception to most rules, so we'll ignore that for now.

Some verb roots:

ýðr (from ðrý)
étél (live)
éxén (know)

I've got a ton more, but I'm on the wrong operating system and can't open the file now. Will get back to that later.

Anyway, roots don't have to begin with a long vowel, just the ones I can remember right off the top of my head all do. As with ýðr, you can see that if you want to change a noun root into a verb root, you just move the main vowel in the root onto the front of it, and remove any final vowels. In this case, the final vowel was the main root vowel as well. Verb roots can't end with vowels. If a noun root has more than one vowel because of suffixes, the operative vowel here is the first one.


Tense in Lán is a funny beast. Normally, you'd expect there to be a past, a present, a future, some subjunctive tenses, some perfect tenses, etc. But in Lán, there are exactly three tenses, no subjective mood, or perfect system. Why? Because when I was inventing this, I was only just jumping headfirst into learning Latin verb tenses, and I swore a blood feud against verb tenses for the rest of eternity. Perhaps sometime I'll make a language with proper tenses, but for the meantime I am going to revel in my almost-tenseless verb system.

Three tenses, you say? She must mean the past, the present, and the future. Oh ho, oh no. I'm probably diving into the Sapir-Whorf camp pretty heavily here, but the tenses in Lán are actually:

1. Now.
2. Not now, but relevant.
3. Irrelevant.

Basically, it's like this. If you want to say, I am going to the store right now, as we speak, that is tense #1. If you say, I went to the store yesterday (and therefore there is milk in the fridge today), or I will go to the store tomorrow (and there will be milk tomorrow), than that is tense #2 - not immediately relevant, but relevant in some way to the present time. If you were telling a story, the date of which you have forgotten, or imagining a hypothetical occurance, or telling an urban legend or a wives tale, you would use tense #3 - it has no relevance at all to the present time.

Simple, right? No need to worry about mood, or completion, or whether constructions like "I am going to" are present or future - just those three degrees of relevancy.

To make it even more simple, the verb "to be" (root x) does not even have a tense at all. If you are something, you are something forever. Well.... not quite. But I will get into the philosophy and constructions regarding that in a bit (not in this post though).

The actual way to form these tenses is like so - attach the following to the front of the verb:

1. av-
2. eš-
3. yx-


Person and Number

Verbs have morphemes for person, but not gender. The person morpheme is affixed after the root, are are as follows:

First: -ek
Second: -yt
Third: -aš

As you might expect from the plural nouns, the plurals of these are the same, with the final vowel fricativized:

First: -ex
Second: -yð
Third: -až

This leaves us with:

And then there's the conjugation of "to be". Like I said, it doesn't change for tense, only for person and number. So it's pretty easy to remember:

I am: xek
You are: xyt
He is: xaš
We are: xex
Y'all are: xyð
They are: xaž

That's about what there is for verbs right now. I like it generally at the moment, but I think I am going to have to add a lot of idioms and metaphors to deal with the lack of tense, mood, and aspect - on the other hand, that should be fun. And now verb conjugation is easy peasy.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Geek Code

So you wanna be a Geek? As it turns out, all official, registered Geeks need a Geek Code. Behold my Geek Code.

Version: 3.12
GCS/H/SS d-(--) s:+ a-- C+++(++++) UL++@ P L++>+++ E--- W++>+++ N+@ o? K? w+(--) !O M- V? PS+++>$ PE-(++) Y+ PGP+ t- !5 X++ !R !tv b++(++++) DI(+) D+ G e>++ h+ !r x

Seriously though, there should be a part of that dedicated to truly geeky things, like, having a working knowledge of Latin. There are few things geekier than knowing Latin. Or making your own language. Come on. The Latin section could go like this:

l+++ I would be living in ancient Rome, if not for that pesky time machine.
l++ Juris medicinaeque his verbis intellectis tenorem praepararis.
l+ You were probably responsible for naming the "Aedificium quod nominare oblitus sum" building.
l In vino, veritas! Per ardua ad astra! Summa cum laude!
l- Romanes eunt domus?
l-- Uhh... carpe diem!
l--- English please?

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut

Random searching online uncovered a story I remember from a long time ago... heh, not your typical fairy tale though.

Two great things about this: 1) it passes the spell-checker and 2) you get to hear yourself speak with a foreign accect. What accent? No fucking clue. It's funny as hell though. It's a lot easier to hear the story if you have someone else read it to you - you don't have to worry about pronouncing the words correctly and understanding them at the same time. You'll see what I mean. :D

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut

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Hopefully this works... these are the rules for writing the characters - one symbol per syllable.

Orthography!, originally uploaded by dragonflykes.

Every character is a combination of a general shape listed along the top, depending on the main consonant of the cluster, and various diacritical marks for prefix consonants, suffix consonants, and vowels. Just to make it easier, the prefixes are to the left (front) of the character, the suffixes are to the right (back), and the vowels are in the middle. The vowel in the center of the character is pronounced before the cluster - a vowel above it is pronounced after the cluter (only for long vowels at the ends of words). It reads from left to right.

Orthography!, originally uploaded by dragonflykes.

This is a sample text. Originally, it was a story with Dick-and-Jane quality sentences about a girl going to Eðerný, and some more or less cultural stuff about what Eðerný was like. However, a lot of the grammar is somewhat obsolete, and the rest is just wrong. I will rewrite something with better grammar, but I figured I wasn't going to chance that I would have better handwriting than this and do it over. For transcription's sake, here's an (untranslated) transliteration of the above:

Ešlé tabý Eðernýrlá ešylynlaž. Xesvysð lyrlylð Eðernýrlá xažað. Naglysβaš eðernýslé lyrlylážað xažað. Xesvysð eðrylð Eðernýslé lyrlyrlážað avétélažað. Xesð eðrylð enaldyrlað avétélažað. Kaslysp éskyl Ešléslé éskyn avéxénaž.

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Humptius Dumpty

Humptius Dumpty in muro sedebat,
Humptius Dumpty magnum casum habebat.
Omnes regis equi omnesque virorum,
Invenire non poterant omnes fragmentorum.

This is what happens when I write my blog after Latin. It's not an exact translation, but it's so cute to see Latin in that bouncy Humpty-Dumpty rhythm.

Summa gaude ad officia proficiscimini!* It's snowing! No question of whether to wear a coat now, but how many. And I will get my orthography scanned before my next class, and it should appear here shortly.

*Set out for your duties with greatest joy!

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