Tuesday, February 9, 2010

a look at the inuit languge. on courting patrons

AUI (the 'language from space') has nothing on Inuktitut. This is such an extreme of human language that it resembles nothing else.


D: a syllabary works very well with its simple syllable structure.

The origin of the syllabary used is an interesting story.
Cree syllabary (ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ)
James Evans, a Wesleyan missionary working at Norway House in Hudson's Bay, invented a syllabary for the Ojibwe language in about 1840. He had tried to produce a Latin-based orthography for Ojibwe, but eventually gave up and came up with a syllabary, based partly on shorthand.

Evans' syllabary for Ojibwe consisted of just nine symbols, each of which could be written in four different orientations to indicate different vowels. This was sufficient to write Ojibwe, but Evans' superiors were not keen on his invention and would not allow him to use it.

About 20 years later, Evans learnt to speak Cree and set about the task of devising a way of writing that language. After encountering difficulties with using the Latin alphabet, he dug out his Ojibwe syllabary and adapted it to the Cree language.

Thanks to its simplicity and the ease with which it could be learnt, the Cree syllabary was hugely successful with the Cree people. Within and short space of time, virtually the whole community were literate in the syllabary and James Evans became known as "the man who made birchbark talk."
D: I hope HIOXian goes over that well!

Because the Inuit language is a continuum of only partially intercomprehensible dialects, the language varies a great deal across the Arctic. Split up into different political divisions and different churches reflecting the arrival of various missionary groups, Inuktitut writing systems can vary a great deal.

IPA Inuujingajut Notes
Short open front unrounded /a/ a
Long open front unrounded /aː/ aa
Short closed front unrounded /i/ i Short i is sometimes realised as [e] or [ɛ]
Long closed front unrounded /iː/ ii
Short closed back rounded /u/ u Short u is sometimes realised as [o] or [ɔ]
Long closed back rounded /uː/ uu

D: the alternative realizations somewhat resembled the Long Ygyde form.

A high pitch on the first syllable followed by a falling pitch on the second syllable means "What did you say?". A middle pitch on the first syllable followed by a rising pitch on the second means "What did he do?"

D: but it does not otherwise use pitch much, except to denote interrogative.

D: but the polysynthetic nature of the language is most interesting.

It is related to the Aleut language, and together they form the Eskimo-Aleut family; while this has no proven wider affinities, some postulation has taken place as to the relation of Inuktitut to the Indo-European languages and to the Nostratic superphylum.

Inuktitut, like other Eskimo-Aleut languages, represents a particular type of agglutinative language called a polysynthetic language: it "synthesizes" a root and various grammatical affixes to create long words with sentence-like meanings.

An interesting thing is naming of individuals. Some names include 'Ujaraq' (rock), 'Nuvuk' (headland), 'Nasak' (hat, or hood), 'Tupiq' (tent), 'Qajaq' ( kayak), etc. There is also names that share names in the animal world: 'Nanuq' (polar-bear), 'Uqalik' (Arctic hare), 'Tiriaq' (ermine), etc. A third class are individual with anatomic reference but are not descriptive of the person named, obviously, in that the names are derived from a long succession of people bearing that same soul. Examples include 'Usuiituk' (has no penis), with the ituk ending indicating 'has no'.

Polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e., languages in which words are composed of many morphemes.
Not all languages can be easily classified as being completely polysynthetic

Eskimo-Aleut is a language family native to Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Greenland, and the Chukchi Peninsula on the eastern tip of Siberia. It is also known as Eskaleut, Eskaleutian, Eskaleutic, Eskimish, Eskimoan, and Macro-Eskimo.

D: I think Eskimo translates into 'eater of raw flesh'. I was told to use Inuit instead. I think Eskimo is no longre considered respectful.


In English, and in most other European languages, a sentence is a string of beads. Each bead is a tiny little word, and the beads are strung together to make meaning.

I am happy to be here.
Je suis content d'être ici.
Yo estoy contento de estar aquí.

But in Inuktitut the words are like Lego™ blocks, intricate pieces locked together to produce a nugget of meaning.

quviasuktunga tamaaniinnama
(happy + I here + in + be + because I)

D: I think it is exclusively suffixing.

Some dialects in this family have upwards of 600 suffixes!
Keep in mind somebody learning English would need to learn 1000 words just to get by, so maybe this is not such an obstacle.
The infixing nature of it would be difficult for a speaker whose language uses word particles instead.

In Inuktitut, there are several hundred basic verb endings, as well as variations depending on the sound system. Take, for example, the verb root malik - "follow."

Considerations for Official Language Use.

A second complication is that for years to come, certain specialized positions will need to be filled by skilled southerners until such skills are acquired by residents of Nunavut. If Inuktitut is to be the working language, then there must be Inuktitut instruction for non-Inuit.

D: my reaction is this. If you live up north in Canada, or plan to, find a family friend or babysitter or nanny that speaks this. Expose your kids to it from the earliest age. Encourage them to use it to communicate.
Plan for the next generation.


D: amazing online resource!

I'd be curious how few root and suffixes can be used to just get by.


Hmm. I know Decimese is easier to Cantonese speakes than Mandarin ones.
Cantonese uses the -NG ending.
They might like the idea of an IAL (international auxiliary language) so well suited to them.

My proposal- challenge even - to the aux-lang community was to create a large group of speakers.
Again, there are about 10,000 fluent Esperanto speakers in the entire world.
China has a lot of people!
A language that wishes to have a large speaking base must be appropriate to China and India.

Perhaps the mutually incomprehensible Chinese dialects would benefit from a spoken compromise-candidate interlang.

However, due to the linguistic history of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the use of Cantonese in many overseas Chinese communities, international usage of Cantonese has spread far out of proportion to its relatively small number of speakers in China, even though the majority of Cantonese speakers still live in mainland China.[citation needed]
Cantonese is the predominant dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau.

Speakers Anywhere from 60 to 100 million according to most estimates. Cantonese is among the top 20 most spoken languages in the world.

D: OK, let us assume that 100 million speakers is accurate.
How many would need to learn Decimese to reach my self-imposed 10x-esperanto goal?
Fluent Espo-ists: 10,000.
Assuming a 10% versus 1% rate of reaching fluency from beginning to learn basic fluency...
To reach 10x the Espo # would be 100,000.
At a 10% rate of completion of language acquisition.... x10... only (ONLY haha) a MILLION would need to try it.
That is ONE PERCENT of Cantonese speakers. They could, if they so choose, be the king-maker.
The power behind the throne- though never on it.
They might derive satisfaction from preventing Mandarin from attempting to become the de facto standard.

Again, Decimese has great potential as an Asian regional or even sub-regional interlang.

Assuming I ever finish it, LOL.
Aside: I read over the last decade of language log entries at work last night.
It was illuminating to follow the very moments in my thinking that led to various language projects gettng split up how they are today. I saw the very moment - in proto-VERSE not Decimese (which was still Language-13 to me) where I came up with my nasal-consonant grammatical-final concept.
I was playing with breaking up English consonant clusters for a pidgin.
STRONG became S-uh-T -uh -O- NG. Then I wrote man and (to) ram.
-NG -adjective. -N - noun. -M- verb. And there it was.

I even found some doodling that gave me new ideas for Decimese, though they were not intended as such.

English does something similar. THAT can be used as support for a noun. That dog.
Oddly, it is used as filler too. The dog THAT (which)...
Can you lift THAT?
Essentially, Decimese can string together some modifiers for a noun and fill in for it.
They would function much like a pronoun.
If we end up with a fairly wordy taxonomic defition, or even any compound noun, then brevity is at risk.
If we are talking about article:definite (the) and location/distant (there) ... we mean THAT. Plural: THOSE.
Essentially, a word like LOHAN that lacks any standard vocabulary consonants stands in for such a word.
We end up with a word that literally could mean (E.g. Loyhan (L-O-ee-H-ah-N):
1) definite
2) far
3) dipthong: plural.
Ergo: something like LOYHAN.

This is superior to defaulting to a generic pronoun.
How many times in English does 'it' or 'they' not really clarify?
Lojban numbers its pronouns, I think. He1, he2...
ASL sign does something similar. One gestures to a certain space to assign a person to it.
Like talking to ghosts, or holograms sometimes...

The 'clockwork morphology' of core Decimese word generation leads to some confusing and absurd concepts.
Space dimensions 0,1,2,3. OK. Point, line, area, volume. Linked to related numerical concepts, line-triangle-tetrahedron.
We know what time means. We think of it as a line - so one dimensional. We can accept that a one-off verb or a continuous verb maps reasonably well onto 0 and 1D time concepts. He jumped. He has been jumping.
We can even see that 'compound verb' categories can exist in parallel to nuanced space dimensional terms.
E.g. paper- exists in 3D but wide and long with no depth. (or not much).
E.g. time - In the past, an event has happened repeatedly. It is happening now but then will stop.
I might recruit the standard voiceless consonant singlets for this.
2nd and 3rd dimension. Assign to 1-2-3D the values The KFSPT consonants could mean 2 and 3 -not 1. Or 1 and 1- not 2.
What is calculus-acceleration - rate of change - but 1D time (line, continuous) and (if a line) 2D space? If volume, say of a sphere of light expanding, 1D time and 3D space.

Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara. Fotini is a researcher at Waterloo's Perimeter Institute.
(Stephen Hawking is coming this summer!!!)
I had all these questions for this brilliant physics researcher. I need help on the math/science part of Decimese.
We were supposed to do lunch, but I haven't heard back from her.
Anyone else interested in tackling the terminology?

But what the heck would 'volume of time' mean? Intriguing. Perhaps even mind expanding.
I will likely use very metaphorical concepts. Area/time - what is possible. Volume/time. What is not.
I have had similar moments with the varous MELTS-acronym concepts.
What the heck are 'dimensions of logic'?!
I'll get back to you...

D: spell checker did not work today. Sorry for errors.

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