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Author Topic: New styrásh (elvish) vocabulary here!  (Read 93704 times)
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Rayne (Alýr)
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« Reply #180 on: 10 May 2012, 11:43:36 »

Can we change the word for blood (phár'már) into something a little simpler? It's only used in four place on the entirety of the site--and structure here doesn't make much sense--nor does the meaning ("traveling water"?). Can we change it to something more basic, like "rùl"?
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« Reply #181 on: 11 May 2012, 01:14:23 »

Sounds like a good idea to me.  My guess is that phar'mar and other words that seem similarly out of place are either kennings or have something to do with folk etymology.  In any case, even if we keep the word, synonyms are not uncommon in real languages, so there shouldn't be any problem with adding some to Styrash. 
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« Reply #182 on: 11 May 2012, 03:35:52 »

Well, Styrásh words are usually carefully constructed. I tend to not just create any new word which sounds great, but to deduce them from existing ones and give them a context and new meaning based on what we already have. Like in this case. With "travellng water" the water that is traveling through the body is referred to, part of the circle of life, so you have the what and the how both in one composed word and it wasn't just created out of thin air, you know...
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« Reply #183 on: 11 May 2012, 12:25:38 »

When I consider a new word, I like to consider the context--what the word being new (created) or constructed says about elves and elven culture.

"Traveling water" for blood doesn't seem particularly elvish to me--not just because blood has the smell and heaviness of earth, the warmth and animating qualities of fire, and the swiftness of wind. Rather, "blood" is the liquid version of life, or car'all--to simply call it "traveling water", to me, doesn't accurately reflect its essential nature.

Apart from this, constructing words rather than creating them implies they are more distant from the elven culture or psyche. The basic words of elvish reflect the basic concepts within elven cosmology and psychology (we would not dream of constructing a word for "fire" or "water" or "wind"!).

And yet we have these peculiar constructions in the Styrash language, like star ("miés'efér" or "jewel/gem fire"). What is closer to the elven culture: jewels/gems or stars? Would it be more appropriate to have a created word for "jewel" or "gem" (a rather rare object mined from the earth (keeping in mind elves rarely mine)) or to have a created word for "star" (a pin prick of light that elves see nightly through the canopies of their forest home)? If anything, jewels or gems should be called "earth stars"!

I know that "miés'efér" is likely used a lot of places, so I don't push, but I don't like this constructed word--or what it implies about elves. If I could, I would go back and try to tweak the vocabulary so that it all rang true to elven culture, as I believe a language should, but I think it's too difficult to do that at this juncture.
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« Reply #184 on: 11 May 2012, 15:48:56 »

Well, you can always say: This or that word construction doesn't look that great to me, but the principle of constructing words is at the heart of the Styrásh tongue - even at the examples "miés'efér" and "phár'már" you can see that both are references and reductions to elements with attributes added. Now they might not be perfect ("cár'már", "life-water" for blood would be better perhaps) and you could also approach such a construction from another side with an emphasis on another element, but I wouldn't overdo it and quench it all in an extremely strict system. Even a language like Styrásh has developed in various directions, but constructing words from basic roots is one of its key elements as it reflects on observing nature and trying to capture that observation in a word. Pretty similar to names native Americans construct based on comparisons with nature ("Sitting Bull" etc.), same principle here, but used for the entire language.
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« Reply #185 on: 12 May 2012, 01:33:25 »

To be clear: my issue is not that there are constructed words. It's about what words are roots and which are constructed. Words for gems are constructed: I have no issues with this. I think the words for "caravan", "corset", and even "store" would probably be constructed in Styrash, as they are 1) not related to nature and 2) not frequently found in elves culture/society.

Constructed words should be used to relate things that are part of elven culture and nature to things that are not, not to relate things that are more distant from elven culture/nature (gems) to things that are closer (star). Does this make sense? We need root words in order to construct the others, and we should be cognitive of what our decisions imply about elven society. I think "blood" is a basic concept, and should be a root. Will you change it?
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« Reply #186 on: 12 May 2012, 01:50:50 »

Gems are more distant to elves than stars? Erm... Personally I think you push that pretty far, and try to apply a very strict systematical approach, which makes it very tough to create words for me. Because quite frankly I still have no clear idea what should be allowed and what not and for what exact reason, how you define a basic root and why you reject other words. Plus, the whole Styrásh vocabulary we currently have was created without having this in mind. So I'm not sure what all this trouble is suddenly about.
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« Reply #187 on: 12 May 2012, 02:45:58 »

It's about basic concepts rather than roots.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but from what I understand, there are certain concepts that are so basic that pretty much all languages can be expected to have their own roots for them, instead of having to use compound words or borrow from another language.  Well, borrowing of words for basic concepts does happen, I think, but very rarely.  If I'm not mistaken, body parts, including blood, are examples of such concepts, along with basic environmental objects/phenomena like the sky or the sun, and basic activities like eating. 

I did suggest that phar'mar could be retained as some sort of kenning.  It might be interesting if Styrash texts make frequent use of kennings.  And it's a convenient excuse for having all sorts of compounds in the dictionary. 
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« Reply #188 on: 12 May 2012, 04:40:08 »

I agree, Mina. Body parts, celestial phenomena, and I'm even fine with "gems" being a root word! I think we are in accord.

The word for "blood" hasn't been used many places; I would assume this would be a pretty easy fix. I would love it if we could replace the word for 'star', though I know that might involve a little more work. I cringe a little when I see it and need to use it for something. I have written an albeit small collection of Styrash poetry and have used the word for star a few times. I don't think I've ever used the word for "gem." It's just not as common as "star" is. It seems more likely for it to be a root word, as well.

Styrash, as a language, will be poetical regardless of how many constructed words you have. It's the nature of the language and the associations we commonly have with elves, the way the vocabulary has been built. If we can change a couple words to better reflect elven nature and values, why wouldn't we?
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"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
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« Reply #189 on: 15 May 2012, 04:06:45 »

Quote
There are certain concepts that are so basic that pretty much all languages can be expected to have their own roots for them.

Hmmm... Well, but where do we draw the line? What concepts are so basic? Doesn't it all depend on the race or tribe what's basic and what's derived? An elf might see himself/herself only as part of the universe, and while water is pretty basic, blood might be seen just a form of water, thus it could be a derived word. Same with a star, which currently is simply judged by appearance only, once again after an element.

So yeah, never wanted to make a science out of it and the discussion to me seems very academical as I have trouble imagining where to draw the line and what rules you want to have applied. I always trusted my gut feeling with constructing new words and wanted to make references whenever I could, so that the words are all connected. This was my primary goal. But I don't know anymore what I should do with new words if such questions suddenly arise, even with words that are regularly used. And what should do with all the 734 words we currently have in the database? I'm sure you'd find lots that would need adjustment for the one or the other reason.
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« Reply #190 on: 15 May 2012, 05:07:13 »

Quote
Hmmm... Well, but where do we draw the line? What concepts are so basic? Doesn't it all depend on the race or tribe what's basic and what's derived? An elf might see himself/herself only as part of the universe, and while water is pretty basic, blood might be seen just a form of water, thus it could be a derived word. Same with a star, which currently is simply judged by appearance only, once again after an element.
That could be the case, although in real life, the things I mentioned seem relatively consistent across different cultures. 

Based on your description, I get the impression that you essentially want Styrash to be a sort of oligosynthetic language, which as the linked page mentions, is not known to exist in real life.  Of course, elves are not just a different culture, but a different species altogether, so it is not impossible that their language might contain features that are don't or cannot exist in human languages. 

If you really want elves to be that different from humans inherently, I'm alright with that.  But you should be aware that people might find it rather strange, or even unrealistic, because that's just not the sort of thing real human languages would do. 
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« Reply #191 on: 16 May 2012, 01:56:26 »

If I recall my class on oligosynthetic language correctly (I minored in general linguistics during my Celtic studies) the reason for its non-existence is the fact that the human brain is not able to naturally absorb this many different combinations. It cannot, therefore, be a natural human language. I must say that I kind of like the elves to have a language which would have been impossible for humans to develop. The developpement of an oligosynthetic language as a natural language implies that the culture consciously chooses to limit its number of morphemes in order to retain the purity or essence of the language. Again, I kinda like the idea that Styrash has such an element to it. But then again, I'm a crazy linguist :P thumbup
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« Reply #192 on: 16 May 2012, 02:39:34 »

You had a class on oligosynthetic languages?  I wish we had something like that here.  It sounds interesting. 

One other problem with oligosynthetic languages, I think, is that the normal processes of language change would probably turn many derived words into unanalysable roots given sufficient time.  So, after some time, it's going to stop being an oligosynthetic language.   

Like I said though, a different species won't necessarily follow the same rules as humans, so I can accept if Styrash were to violate some of the rules of human languages.  I just wanted to make sure that it was intentional. 
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« Reply #193 on: 16 May 2012, 03:13:01 »

Well, as I said I'm no linguist, and I don't know how Native Americans actually talk and construct their words, but I find both your input interesting, Mina and Ish! The fact that the Wikipedia article associates Native Americans with this type of language (even if these are only considered as "claims") at least shows that my intention with the Styrásh tongue comes from the same direction - I think this interlinked concept is rather different to the regular human approach and fits to a unique racial culture rather well. It's not that I had this all planned out, but it sort of developed when I constructed words and it sounds not entirely illogical to me, or not entirely doubleplusungood as oligosynthetic speakers from 1984 would say...
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« Reply #194 on: 16 May 2012, 03:22:06 »

Mina, yeah, I really loved studying linguistics besides my Celtic, I learned over ten dead languages in the past 6 years thanks to the University  grin

What you say rings true, Mina; for example the Old Irish verbal system is based on something called the complex verb. This has some ressemblances to oligosynthetic languages as the verb is based on a string of multiple small morphemes. However, the verbal forms that we find in our manuscripts only show small hints of this system, which has almost dissapeared in two centuries. For example, the Proto-Celtic verbal form * to-eti-mo-ber-et-is (all the small particles are semantic carriers) turned into tabairt in only a couple of centuries.

Styrash, however, might be reconcilable with a extremely conservative oligosynthetic language. If we would stipulate that the elves consciously keep their number of morphemes to a select few and that these morphemes are 'sacred' (or something like that), it could also be equally probable that because of this conscious language awareness, the language has remained the same over time on purpose.

Again, I'm just a crazy linguist and I can already see Art rolling his eyes at our semi-linguistic ramblings, but I think this oligosynthetic language can work for Styrash. thumbup
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