Meanderings of an Amateur Linguist

Just me and my languages – a dangerous combonation

Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Heritage Languages

Posted by ILuvEire on March 13, 2009

As an American, I have roots from all over the world. I’m sure you do too (maybe not if you aren’t an American.) But have you ever thought of learning the language of your “people”?

Now I’m going to go on about myself, so if you don’t care then you can leave. It’s okay, I won’t say anything.

My biggest origins are Italian, German and Lakota. Much of my mom’s family is Italian(WHO REFUSED TO PASS DOWN THE LANGUAGE), but my greatgrandpa was Lakota (AND HE REFUSED TO TEACH ANY OF HIS KIDS THE LANGUAGE). Then my Dad is second generation immigrant, and…you guessed it HIS GRANDPARENTS DIDN’T PASS DOWN GERMAN OR YIDDISH. Of course, there’s also the Japanese grandpa on my mom’s side who didn’t want to pass down Japanese to his daughter. Thanks, by the way.

That’s right my whole family is filled with immigrants and NONE of them passed down the languages. They never even told me about being able to speak any of these languages! I just recently found out about my grandpa’s speaking Lakota (after his death no less).

So my life plan is to learn to speak all of these languages. I’ve studied every one of these languages to some extent (although I’m doing Cherokee right now, but Lakota will have its time).

What about you? Have you ever thought of doing something like this?


Posted in general, Languages | 7 Comments »

Language Awards!

Posted by ILuvEire on March 12, 2009

Thanks Diogenes!

Okay, so since I believe in Internet plagiarism, I’m stealing Diogenes’ idea (click the link above and check her post out. I’ll wait…)

Best Pronunciation: Arabic, baby!
Most interesting script, non-Latin: Hebrew
Most interesting use of the Latin script: Vietnamese
Script best suited to the language: Hebrew/Arabic (even tie).
Script worst suited to the language: Japanese’s kanji
Prettiest non-Latin script: Georgian
Prettiest use of the Latin script: Finnish

Most interesting phonology: Klingon
Least interesting phonology: Hawaiian
Most interesting use of loans: Vietnamese
Least interesting use of loans: English

Happiest language: Toki Pona
Angriest language: Russian
Hardest language: Georgian
Easiest language: Somish

Coolest IAL: Volapük
Dumbest IAL: Interlingua
Coolest conlang: Láadan
Dumbest conlang: I can’t award this one! Even the most boring Romlang takes work on the part of the creator.
Coolest conscript: Blissymbol
Dumbest conscript: Tengwar (it sukz!)

Posted in general, Languages, Linguistics | 3 Comments »

Volapük: Lesson 2/Volapük: Tiodem Tel

Posted by ILuvEire on December 1, 2008

Volapük is a heavily agglutinative language as I’m sure you know. Each noun can be declined in the Nominative, Dative, Genitive, and Accusative cases. I will abbreviate them as nom., dat., gen., and acc. in the rest of this lesson. The other abbreviations I will be using are pl., and sing..

The nom. sing. doesn’t really have a declension. It is the base for forming all of the other declensions.
The nom. pl. uses the suffix -s.

Acc. sing. uses the suffix -i
Acc. pl. uses -is

Dat. sing. is -e
Dat. pl. is -es

Gen. sing. is -a
Gen. pl. is -as

A fully declined noun:
Nom. Sing. Yat
Nom. pl. Yats
Acc. sing. Yati
Acc. pl. Yatis
Dat. sing. Yate
Dat. pl. Yates
Gen. sing. Yata
Gen. pl. Yatas

Volapük doesn’t use articles for “native words” (real Volapük words). Words that don’t have Volapük equivalents, and ones that wont be transliterated use a “dummy article”. Called el. It is declined instead of the word itself.

This is usually only used for place names. For example using my name (Tyler), I don’t call myself el Tyler. When people are going to see me they say Kileke, not ele Tyler (using the transliteration of my name into Hawaiian, Kileki, and deleting the i).
el New York
els New York

eli New York
elis New York

ela New York
elas New York

ele New York
eles New York

Decline the word buk (book).
Decline the place name Helsinki

Posted in Languages, Volapük - Volapük | 2 Comments »

Volapük: Lesson 1/Volapük: Tiodem Bal

Posted by ILuvEire on December 1, 2008


IPA will be in green, X-SAMPA in blue, but only when they differ. There will also be English examples.
A: /a/ spa
E: /e/ egg
I: /i/ meat
O: /o/ no
U: /u/ blue
Then there are the three umlauted vowels. Similar to the German umlauts.
Ä: / ɛ E/ made

Ö: / ø 2/ This one has no English equivalent. Make it by making your lips say “oo” but have your mouth say “eh”.
Ü: /y/ This one doesn’t have an English equivalent either. Make it by making your lips say “oo” but your mouth say “ee”.
If you cant type umlauts, just leave them out. There is nothing like the <ae oe ue> of German used.
There are also handwritten shortcuts to the umlauts. I personally use them all the time. You can see them here (I can’t post the image because it’s too big.)

All of the consonants are the same as their IPA values except the following:
C: / tS/ church
J: /ʃ S/ shin
X: /ks/ Mexico
Y: /j/ yes
Z: /ts/ Mets
Some amount of voicing is allowed for all of the consonants, especially <C, J>.


Practice saying the numbers 1-10.
1. bal
2. tel
3. kil
4. fol
5. lul
6. mäl
7. vel
8. jöl
9. zül
10. deg

Posted in Languages, Volapük - Volapük | Leave a Comment »

Vietnamese: Lesson 1 / Tiếng Việt: Bài Một

Posted by ILuvEire on November 23, 2008

1 Pronunciation


Quổc Ngũ Letter Sound Name
B ɓ – a regular b, but it sounds like you’re trying to swallow it
C k
Ch c – say cute
D j – sounds like the English y
Đ ɗ – sounds like a normal d, just try to swallow it đê
G ɣ – pronounced similar to the word loch but voiced giê
Gi j – like English y. The i is silent unless it’s the only vowel
H h hát
K k ka
Kh x – say loch or kʰ – k with air coming out.
L l e-lờ
M m em-mờ
N n en-nờ
Nh ɲ – onion
Ng/Ngh ŋ – sing
P p – be careful not to aspirate
Ph f
Qu kw – always spelled with a u quy
R ʐ – put your mouth in the position to say r, but say z instead. er-rờ
S ʂ – put your mouth in the position to say y, but say s instead. ét-sì
T t – careful not to aspirate!
Th tʰ – English t with extra air after it
Tr ʈ – put your tongue in position to say r, but say t instead
V j – like English y
X s ích-xi

The consonants aren’t so bad. There are very few consonant clusters, so it’s no big deal.


Quổc Ngũ Letter Pronunciation
A ɐ – pronounced like cat (In American English) but a little farther back in the mouth
Ă a – father
 ə – about
E ɛ day without the y-sound at the end
Ê e – dead
I i – me
O ɔ bought
Ô o – no
Ơ ɤ – pronounced just like ô, but with your lips un-rounded.
U u – moo
Ư ɯ – NOT W, pronounced just like U but without the rounded lips.
Y i – me

Remember, Ă, Â, Ê, Ô, Ư, and Ơ are all separate letters, not just A, E, O, or U with a diacritic.

Y and I are the exact same. Usually Y is used for Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary (vocabulary from Chinese), but it can be used more or less randomly. Like, for example, America is Mỹ. Why? Who knows?
Now for the hardest part of the language:


Tone name in English Tone name in Vietnamese What’s it look like? Example – Definition
Level Không dấu (no marking) aăâeêioôơuưy ma – ghost
High Rising dấu sắ ̣(áćút́é áććéńt́) áắấéếíóốớúứý má – cheek
Low/falling dấu huyền ̣̀(g̀r̀àv̀è àc̀c̀èǹt̀) àằầèềìòồờùừỳ mà – but
Dipping/rising dấu hỏi ̉(h̉ỏỏk̉) ảẳẩẻểỉỏổởủửỷ mả – tomb
High rising glottalized dấu ngũ ̃(t̃ĩld̃ẽ) ãẵẫẽễĩõỗỡũữỹ mã – horse
Low glottalized dấu nạng ̣(ḍọṭ ḅẹḷọẉ) ạặậẹệịọộợụựỵ mạ – rice seedling

I think this is all for now. Soon I’ll have a lesson two up (as well as hopefully lessons in other languages!)

Posted in Vietnamese - Tiếng Việt | Leave a Comment »