Your Writing System Sucks
Anthologica Universe Atlas / Users / Rhetorica

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Black Maldisian Maldisian as spoken in Umami and outlying regions.
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Eigengenomes, Part 2

When I wrote this, back in the before times (when graduate school seemed more like the Elysian Fields than it did a ravine full of a pile of dead Sisyphus impersonators), I honestly thought it was a somewhat strained analogy. Bacterial genomes were, I knew, somewhat prone to self-stabilizing. That seemed sort of like the right thing to map onto a matrix, with the eigenvectors being forces that act on it. But there's no really snappy way to refer to, specifically, a matrix that is part of a system with a set of eigenvectors and eigenvalues, so I twisted the metaphor, slapped the nice eigenvector label on it, and sort of let it go, like the shower thought it was.

But now, having long-since fled the ravine and all its boulders, I'm not so sure I was wrong. […]
read more · 4 months ago

js Arrays and delete


const animals = ['ant', 'bison', 'camel', 'duck', 'elephant'];

delete animals[2];

console.log(animals.filter((x) => { return x !== undefined; }));

This produces the output:

> Array ["ant", "bison", "camel", "duck", "elephant"]
> Array ["ant", "bison", undefined, "duck", "elephant"]
> Array ["ant", "bison", "duck", "elephant"]

Sometimes you just need to iterate over a non-iterable collection and delete things as you go. Now you can clean up after and not feel bad about it.

This question has been asked quite a lot by newbies, and they are invariably told to just use Array.prototype.splice(), but that has the annoying habit of immediately re-indexing the array.

I should probably mention that using delete on Array elements is slightly undefined behaviour; at least one checker (JSlint) apparently dislikes it. But the MDN page for Array is almost weirdly glib about casually discussing implementation details, so we'll just say YMMV.
read more · 4 months ago

Your Writing System Sucks

I've come to believe that my approach to constructed languages is a little different from most conlangers. It seems to me that most people first fall in love with the phonology or diachronics of a natural language (or a family of natural languages), and spend as much time as possible fixating on sounds: for the unadventurous, 'build-your-own-Romance-language' is an entire genre, and will probably be the only way they'll arrive at something that can be used to write more than a few words. Beyond that, xenophilia is an overriding obsession: for phonologies that aren't nearly identical to English, [ɕ] is more common than [ɹ]. Maybe this is all just an artefact of how linguistics is taught in the average university curriculum, but it's always struck me as odd that so many conlangers immediately make a bee-line for the parts of the art that are the least creative. (And if a conlang does make it past the first post and get into some vocabulary, there's a good chance it'll have triconsonantal verb roots, which have become, for lack of a better term, a meme.) To avoid drawing out this too much, my favourite topics are more in the areas of glyphs and words. I'd rather see a dictionary with a nice alphabet chart than a complete set of sound changes and grammar. (Although grammar is, I suppose, neutral ground. It's pretty cool too.)

Anyway. With that venting done, let's talk about your conscript and why it's probably garbage. […]
read more · 10 months ago

Ex foris

? Rhetorica Your Writing System Sucks
posts: 1276
, Kelatetía: Dis, Major Belt 1
I think that approach might walk you into the domain of philosophical languages. In order to subdivide the space you need to establish boundaries, which then must become explicit vowels. Any variability is then merely allophony that can be mapped to real phonemes, and the whole point of it is lost. The phonetic realization might be within any arbitrary, non-overlapping subdivision of the possible vowel space, but those still can (and must) be labelled for communication to be meaningful. Like with any oligosynthetic language, you'll find you run out of short words sooner than you'd like.

The original formula of using vowels as a kind of coordinate system for continuous traits (which I think was intended as a conceptual broadening of the bouba/kiki effect) is fundamentally a lot more interesting. You're right that it wouldn't be very possible/desirable to transcribe communication with exacting fidelity in an alphabet like the IPA, but you could use floating-point numbers for academic purposes, and a non-discrete scheme for a native script, such as the angle and length of a single line, or the intersection point of two lines—ideas that sometimes manifest in featural abugidas.

As to what to use these marking systems for, you're probably right that environment is key. Maybe there's a special set of adjectival morphemes, CVC, where the consonants indicate the qualities on each axis, and the vowel indicates the value. For example, "g" = size and "t" = taperedness, so "gɯt" indicates that something is big but not tapered, but "tɯg" (a synonym of "gat") means small and sharp. Insert rules about correct ordering (and the meaning of null consonants) per the chef's taste.
? Rhetorica Your Writing System Sucks
posts: 1276
, Kelatetía: Dis, Major Belt 1
The gender of nouns and pronouns in the sentence is relative to the gender of the verb. So if “to be” is a feminine verb, only women can say “I am” and have the statement be grammatically correct.

I'm already doing this one with Oksirapho, which is partly a radical investigation into sexism gone deeply mad. But I think I outdid the submitter: the feminine/natural verbs use an ergative syntax, literally enshrining passivity in grammar. Normally I hate Shitpost-Whorf theory but this one was too good to pass up.

Create a conlang for academia, in which the unmarked form of a verb means that the action is happening in theory, and verbs receive an extra marking to indicate that they happen in practice.

Wait, isn't that how infinitives already work? Shit. I've been bad-conlanging my whole life.

Screw discrete vowel systems. All possible vowel sounds are used. You can continuously vary the meaning of any word by continuously varying the vowels within it. Perhaps /kin/ means “large”, /kɒn/ means “small”, /kun/ means “tall but narrow”, /kan/ means “short but wide”, /ken/ means “large but not much taller than average”, and /kən/ means “of neutral size”.

This one's so depressingly obvious I might as well use it for Paligu. Contriving a writing system for it will be tough, though. I foresee infinite potential for language drift caused by hyperbole. Possibly with the occasional sarcastic inversion, like a planet's magnetic field?
? Rhetorica Your Writing System Sucks
posts: 1276
, Kelatetía: Dis, Major Belt 1
It was Winter, in the ninety-first year of the second reign of Klito XIX (Klito the Nineteenth), when the woman arrived at the temple.

CLASSICAL ILLERAN (6th c. LILPO): Reselíat, pléovet vesalkevis il leví hakrodeklo-talo o Klitéan ʖLevis (o Klito Mivesevis), sta ha koistillas ogelzé.

WANISINESE ILLERAN (124th c. WANPO): Reselyat, wete ple vezagev il lev halo il Klito ʖLev (o Klito Stavezev), ogeze godya melas kistilla.

REGENI LILITIC (4th c. TGC): Kimoite, en ninta he enevi etos il diavi basileno il to Klito ΙΘʹ (o Klito Dekaennea), gina hikanelle an Heirelias.

MODERN IMPERIAL WANISINI (124th c. WANPO): Klaregsat, lak e tangtakhev plevot il lenev Salkzeto il o Klito ƧN.ʖev (o Klito Raitang e Mitev), oymor sto o tigvotikolos.


Linguistic family tree for the above (Archipelagian, Wanisini, and Wanisinese Illeran are all contemporary; true Illeran is many thousands of years old at this point):


(Not diagrammed: Later developments in Lilitika, history of Oksirapho, modern revivalist Illeran, or any influences from foreign languages. Most obviously, by the time of the Regeni/Reed era in Thet, most vocabulary had been replaced with Greek due to Glissia influence within academic communities. Bizarrely this is not the only Terran in the samples given: the Illeran word pléovu, "year," has been reconstructed as having an ancestor in Classical English "planet.")
in thread: Translat-o-matic

Your Writing System Sucks
last seen: 9 hours ago
posts: 1276

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Creator of Lilitika and co-creator of Thet.

I started this site in late 2013 to give the conlanging and conworlding community a specially-tailored way to showcase projects. I don't do quite as much administrating any more, and sometimes I can be scarce because I have so many other big responsibilities, but I try to maintain and improve things whenever I can.

See my profile page elsewhere for more information about me.