Alright, so another update on the conlang.
So far, I’ve created for the Nopti language:
- Phonotactic rules (which dictate how sounds can merge into syllables; English’s phonotactic rules are fairly loose, contrast with Japanese where the whole language could be written with less than 50 syllabic characters e.g. Katakana or Hirigana)
- Most of the grammar structure
- Around 70 individual morphemes, each which has several meanings based on the declaration prefix, or ma-shun, used (and also context)
- The basics around three dialects, which each differ from Standard Nopti (which is primarily what will be seen on the blog and these updates)
- A writing system, more details to come.
So, phonotactic rules.
First off, in standard Nopti, there are 11 consonants and 10 vowels (of which some are monopthongs, or single vowel sounds, and some are dipthongs, or two vowels in one sound).
||bra or Bahn
||like german “Ja“
So, a syllable in Nopti is structured according to these basic rules:
- Consonant + vowel + optional consonant or dipthong vowel + optional consonant
- Consonant clusters are not permitted
- The final consonant cannot be an affricate, /h/, or /f/
- If the initial consonant is a nasal, the final consonant cannot be the same as the initial
Seems pretty easy for an English speaker to pronounce, right? Well, notice that the first consonant in the alphabet, ng, is allowed to be at the beginning of a syllable. This may be challenging for many speakers, as it violates one of the basic (and for that matter one of the only) rules of English phonotactics, but with some practice, you should be able to get it.
On to grammar structure.
A sentence is formed according to the order Verb, Subject, Object. This is similar to Irish and Hawaiian, and if English were this way, the sentence I have a dog would be Have I a dog.
As already mentioned, each morpheme has several meanings, depending on what declaration prefix is used. In this way, we can also combine declarations to create other words. For example, take the word for clean (with the root word prefix ma), ma-kuo.
Its verb form would be tsu-kuo, but we could also take the natural, animate noun declaration, tsia, and attach it to the beginning, making the word together (tsia-tsu-kuo) mean cleaner.
I should also mention at this point that in this language there is no difference between definite and indefinite nouns; it should be obvious from context.
When two or more verbs combine, we just string them together. For example, I said that I had them would translate to tsu-iong-tsu-sha-fo tsan-ti tsua-ki-hok.
Syllable by syllable, that sentence means: (verb say verb have past_tense) (natural_animate_noun 1st_person_pronoun) (unnatural_inanimate_noun 3rd_person_pronoun plural_2).
As for the dialects,
I’ve mentioned that Nopti is spoken on Nopfa, a fairly large island, which is is split into four main geographic regions.
The southern Noppu region is temperate, warmed by the south winds and bountiful in their harvests. The northern Noptin region is isolated from the rest of the island by mountains, and the regional dialect here is quite distinct from Standard Nopti. On the west coast of the island live the Nopfuk people, where the oceans provide their means.
The east is home to Nop-huing-hosh City, centred around the bay and port there. Sheltered by neighboring islands from most storms, the bay serves as a deep-water harbour for trade with neighboring islands, and more recently the wider world. This is where the Standard dialect is spoken by locals, however people from across the island live and work in the city, as many jobs can be found there.
My final Inquiry this year is to create a conlang: a constructed language.
In the early planning phases, I decided that I must also create a conworld around it, as languages reflect the values of the culture in which they evolve.
The Nopti (/nɒp’ti/) People live on Nopfa Island, trading with the peoples of the neighboring islands. They value what is called tsi-tsok (commonly, but mistakenly, translated into English as “solid”), which means tree-like, or stable and supportive, yet flexible and living. As such, the tree (and specifically the Nopfa Cedar) has become a central image to the Nopti people.
The Nopti language (locally called manghosh-nopti) is a very agglutinative one, where many words can be “glued” together to create long, yet complex “composite words.”
If we break down the Nopti word for its language into its constituent parts, we can see this in action. Like in French, names come after the thing named, so for English translation we would rearrange it to be Nopti manghosh. One might expect manghosh to translate directly to “language,” and for us to be done here, however the suffix hosh merely makes it plural and implies that one is talking in the collective.
Therefore, manghosh-nopti translates literally to the Nopti words collectively.
It is this kind of thing that reduces the number of morphemes (commonly defined in linguistics as the smallest unit of language that has meaning) needed.
Additionally, another neat feature of the language is that each type of word (or part of speech as I learned it in Grade 4) has a prefix to attach to each word. These “declarations” are:
- tsi for adjectives
- tsu for verbs
And then we have the six classes of nouns. These are sort of like a system of grammatical gender, except much less arbitrary :).
- tsa for natural, inanimate nouns
- tsan for natural, animate nouns
- tsia for unnatural, inanimate nouns (pronounced tsya)
- tsian for unnatural, animate nouns
- tsua for abstract nouns (pronounced tswa)
- tsuan for ambiguous ones (which don’t quite fall into any other category), and for plurals that cross class lines
This way, a word can have many meanings. The word tsuo (/tswɒ/) in its natural, animate sense (so transliterated tsan-tsuo, pronounced /tsan’tswɒ/) means person, but can also mean:
- human corpse (natural, inanimate noun – tsa)
- humanoid robot (unnatural, animate noun – tsian)
- statue of a human (unnatural, inanimate noun – tsia)
- wisdom (abstract noun – tsua)
- wise (adjective – tsi)
- to give birth (verb – tsu)
More details on the grammar structure of the language and vocabulary will be forthcoming.
I have written the prologue for the novel, which gives a glimpse into the plot of the story.
Once, in the years before the Great Quake, which marks the beginning of our calendar, Cascadia was split between two great countries: Canada and the United States. These vast countries, with their governments situated in the east, became out of touch with the west coast of our continent. The representatives supposedly elected by our people became distant, unavailable to us and our problems.
Those powerful governments forced our people to endanger our natural treasures. They compelled us to watch as they brought giant ships into our ports, and loaded them with all manner of dangers to our marine life and coasts.
Our disheartened people watched in shock as one ship, its captain inexperienced in navigating our waters, hit a rock formation and broke, spilling millions of gallons of harmful oil into our waters.
We made protest to those responsible, but they did not care. Our people, dismayed by the destruction, were forced to rebuild our natural infrastructure and marine life with a tiny financial sum, entirely insufficient for the damage caused.
Later, when the Quake came among our Nation, we were affected severely, and our people were left dead, dying, and hungry.
But those powerful eastern governments blocked access to our ports, roads, and airways. They prevented aid from reaching our people, and refused to help in any way.
In doing so, they killed millions of our people.
The Ecosocialist Party, out of their pure generosity and kindness, saved us from poverty and freed us from servitude to the wicked Federal Governments of Canada and America.
Or so it’s written in our history books.
But five dozen years and then some later, Alex might learn otherwise, and it will shake up nir entire understanding of the world.
I have thus far forgotten to document my progress, so, here I go.
My inquiry project is to write a story which is based in a genderless society.
I’ve thus far created a government website for Cascadia, the setting for the story, which is the presentation method for my Dystopia project.
The website should explain the basics of the setting and its governmental structure and social practices, although it won’t seem very dystopian at first.
Thus far, I’ve mostly finished the characterization, although I need to create some more government figures, such as the Chancellor, and some other cabinet ministers, as well as some bureaucrats and assistants.
As for the setting, the story will start off in Victoria (in what is currently BC), about 100 years in the future, after the fabled “Big One” happens, and all anyone remembers is that both the Canadian and American governments hindered the re-building after the quake.
So Cascadia stretches from Bella Bella to Sacramento, along the Pacific coast. Most cities, destroyed by the quake, are centrally planned, and there is a new capital city, built from scratch since Liberation, called Port Shadehaven.
More details will be forthcoming.
On the Publicity of Government Surveillance in Oceania
One of the first things mentioned in the novel is the poster in the hallway of Victory Mansion (where Winston lives), which reads BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. Also named are the telescreens, found in nearly every setting in the story, which are widely known to be surveillance tools.
My question is, why would the government be so explicit about its surveillance of the People?
Surely a society so technically advanced would have concealed cameras and microphones, and could make use of them, so why didn’t they?
The short answer might be fear, as a population would be “scared straight,” as it were, by the surveillance, and even the dissenters and thoughtcriminals would keep themselves in line as a necessity of being so closely watched.
However, the Party could just as easily have kept the surveillance a secret (and probably vaporize those who tried to spread this fact), and it might have even been better for them this way. If only a few knew of the level of surveillance being enacted against them, the population as a whole would be more open and willing to express their dissent, even if only in the “privacy” of their own home.
Then, the Party would have a whole new slough of people to “re-educate” or “heal.” The Party’s goal to have the entire population know and love Big Brother would be even closer to their grasp, as the same tactics used on Winston would surely work on everyone, or at least the vast majority of the detainees.
Of course, there is also the psychological aspect of the knowledge of your constant surveillance. A person, knowing they are being spied on, will typically distrust the spiers and their productivity will be diminished (see here).
Why it was this way in the story, I can only guess that it was more convenient to the writer. It was easier to portray the world as dystopian and backwards if the people are constantly under surveillance and made to listen to propaganda through the telescreens, a world unimaginable by people in the 50’s, when the book was written.
The constant surveillance may have been publicly carried out, and perhaps in our world, this would lead to negative side effects. However, in the (I was going to say Orwellian here, but realized that would be redundant) world constructed by the Party, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The Party, in contrast, keeps such an iron grip on its people (almost to the extent of an organized religion with many devout followers) that such negative results were not found.
Whichever way the Party carried it out, they achieved the same goal: total domination of the masses’ lives.