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Nimyad's Journal

19th January, 2010. 12:29 pm. Retcons and names(marnanel)

Some lunchtime musing:

When you're making a language, if you're going to make any progress at all, you have to draw lines in the sand and say "This is how it's going to be". But sometimes you have to change those lines in light of subsequent rules, and sometimes you change the rules to fit the lines.

There are two names in Nimyad, which have existed from the beginning of the language in real time, and which are anomalous under the current phonology. They are Calsi, the name of the island on which Nimyad is spoken, and my own name, Marnanel. They are anomalous for the same reason.

The etymology of both names is straightforward. Calsi means "(wisp of) cloud", after its appearance from the sea (it's a chalk island). "Calsi" is the zero-grade form of "calas", "thundercloud", plus the suffix "-i", "a small self-contained piece of something". (Compare "tasi", lightning, from "taras", light.)

Marnanel means "dreamer". The agentive suffix is "-el". "Maran" means "sleep" (the same word means "fire" for reasons which make sense but would be too much of a digression here), and we add "-an" to the zero-grade form of a word to mean "the contents of something". So we have "marnan", dream, which is both a noun and a verb.

Okay, so where's the problem? The current rules say that the zero-grade form of "maran" is "man", not "marn", and the zero-grade form of "calas" is "cas", not "cals". However, changing these two names is not up for debate, so the rules are clearly wrong.

Fortunately, there is a pattern here: both are liquids following an "a". So we could say that the zero-grade form of a word consisting of C+"a"+liquid+V+C is C+"a"+liquid+C rather than C+"a"+C. We could further say that the "ar" in "marnan" is an R-coloured vowel (which is after all how I say the word when I'm speaking English anyway), rather than the vowel followed by a flap.

This works, but would have knock-on effects such as "tasi" becoming "tarsi". This may be worth the regularisation. We could also just say that these two words are anomalies and be done with it.

Another difficulty is that Amlin, the conscript, is by design very bad at representing consonant clusters; "marnan" can be represented, but it needs carriers. It's a bit soon after it settled for modifying the alphabet. I think it *may* be worthwhile to say that "marnan" is spelt in Amlin as if it was M-A-N-A-N and that the colouring of the vowel is merely implicit, but gets used when transliterating to English; alternatively, I can quite simply superimpose some letter pairs, so M-A-R/N-A-N; alternatively, we can just use carriers for this fairly rare case.

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13th January, 2010. 10:12 am. Amlin news, including a keyboard layout(marnanel)

SVG source.

All vowels are dead keys. The vowel carrier key only needs to be used where there is no final consonant; otherwise the system works out carriers for you. If you press the vowel carrier key with no dead keys in operation, you get a double carrier.

"Tejid" aka "AMLIN SYMBOL FOR INVERSION" (the hook character on the B key) needs to be typed before the pair of characters which are being swapped, which are typed in swapped order. So to type "jeso if" correctly you type "bjebso if".

I have a setup for Transliterator which allows you to type using this layout. I may package it if anyone else would like it.

You can also use this Javascript transliterator, which isn't very perfect but illustrates the general idea.

An early draft of the writeup of Amlin for the CSUR is here.

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12th January, 2010. 9:42 pm. Transliteration ponderings(marnanel)

There are three pairs of letters in Amlin, the script used to write Nimyad, which in the modern form of the prestige dialect, Olic, are pronounced the same way:


In the case of DAJAD/DIFOR and SARAL/SERET, this is because DAJAD and SARAL originally represented consonant clusters which have become single consonants over time. TARAM/TARAS were never distinguished in the Olic dialect, but were distinguished in the dialect of Rindal, where the script originated.

Most people no longer write DAJAD and SARAL, and some no longer write TARAM. (DAJAD remains in common use as the digit four, however.) In official and formal writing, however, they are distinguished.

I am trying to work out how to distinguish these pairs in Latin-alphabet transliteration.

1) I could just not distinguish them: dajad, saral, taram. This is what I have been doing, but it means that minimal pairs have clashing transliterations, which is problematic when I use the transliterations as the titles of web pages.

2) I could use digraphs. For dajad and saral, I could write them in their original forms: drajad, scaral; and for taram I could write, say, ttaram. This works to some extent, and is unambiguous, but will confuse people as to how to pronounce words.

3) I could use some other digraph which won't confuse people as to pronunciation: dxajad, sxaral, txaram. This looks ridiculous.

4) I could use diacritics: ḍajad, ṣaral, ṭaram. This may be the best way.

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30th September, 2009. 7:20 pm. Ask Marnanel(marnanel)

By the way, if any of the rest of you have any questions at all about Nimyad, ask away here and I'll do my best to give a sensible answer.

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30th September, 2009. 6:57 pm. The compass(marnanel)

I was asked about the points of the compass, and left and right.

north: cajin  (from "calin", iron)
east: majam  ("dawn", from "maran" fire)
south: jojof  ("ocean")
west: sejan  (from "sethan", night)

I am not sure what to do about left and right. I believe many languages take the concepts from "weak" and "strong", but it's not something I want to propagate. I quite like the idea of deriving them from "north" and "south" (as you face the rising sun), which would give us:

left: cafin 
right: jofof 

although if people use the initial letters to mean "left" and "right" then people could still make the weak/strong association, because c/ is used for "time after darkness" and j/ in the Great Five is "wisdom". Thoughts?

In unrelated news, I think I will include the Latin range from SIL Gentium into the Lififel font so that I can set entire posts in it, rather than just the Nimyad parts.

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23rd September, 2009. 10:13 am. Highlight-y Babel text(marnanel)

Highlight-y Babel text. The UI was firinel's idea.

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21st September, 2009. 1:09 pm. /w/(marnanel)

I am thinking of removing the phoneme /w/ from the language.

It occurs currently in only four words in the entire lexicon, and only initially:

1) the affix -wi () "to". Very common.

2) the vanishingly rare word wefel () "god"; almost never used because when anyone needs to refer to a god they would use the title joril () instead;

3) the archaic word wes or weres () "good", now entirely supplanted by erel ()

4) the archaic word weref () "death", which has been entirely supplanted by ethif () (which originally meant "harvest").

I am not suggesting removing these words from the lexicon; rather, I am suggesting replacing /w/ with zero or something close like /j/, since I suspect that a phoneme which is used so rarely is a mistake.

However, even if I do this, I am rather fond of the letter , and I would like to keep it in use. I may use it to represent /j/ in the place of , of which I am less fond.  may remain in the alphabet anyway as a fossil, rather like  or .

What are your thoughts?

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11th September, 2006. 9:34 pm. some writing about verbs(marnanel)

The most basic unit in Nimyad is the verb. From verbs are formed verbal nouns, adjectives and adverbs. A basic understanding of verbs is necessary for a strong understanding of the language.

Verbs do not mark for tense. "Nifinar" means "I was creating", "I am creating" or "I will be creating", according to context.

Verbs do, however, mark for aspect in two ways:

Firstly, and less importantly, they are either continuous or not continuous. Continuous verbs have "ni-" prefixed.

Secondly, and fundamentally, they mark for progression through a series. This is known as their "grade" in English, or in Nimyad as the Great Five ("Carid"), though there are actually six grades. Every action is considered as a place in the progression through five stages of life.

F-grade, or "fafar" in Nimyad, is the least-used grade. It refers to conception (of an idea, project, or anything), and its gestation. Words about thoughts and planning, but not emotions, are generally in fafar.

R-grade, or "naran", is the commonest grade. It is connected with birth and things which are lifelong. It also functions as a default grade. Parts of the body are always naran, as are emotions (rather than moods).

L-grade, or "solor", is connected with growth, flowing and transience.

J-grade, or "rejim", is used for maturity and permanence.

TH-grade, or "ethif", describes peace and endings and death.

The Nimyad creation story hints at the former existence of another grade which has been lost to humans.

The names of the grades refer to the middle consonant of the verb. (This infix developed from a prefix in Ithimyad, Nimyad's parent language.) So we might say "filin" to describe the creation of ephemeral things, or "fithin" to describe the work of a destroying angel.

The final grade is known as zero-grade in English. It is used when a word is outside the Carid system entirely, and when a word is used as an adjective or adverb. It is generally produced by omitting any middle consonant and the second vowel of the verb; but when the first vowel is an A, a middle consonant may remain if it is liquid (L or R). So "firin" gives us "fin", originally meaning "of creation" and more commonly used in modern times for the green colour of leaves, but "caras", rock, gives us "cars".

Dictionaries will usually list only the grade in which a word occurs most commonly, but often derived meanings will have developed enough separately that they have separate headwords. For example, "caras" means rock, but "calas" means not "impermanent rock" but "thundercloud".

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24th February, 2006. 11:56 pm.(jewdokim)

Dear friends, I've found that some features of Nimyad are quite similar to ones in Selgish (my conlang) I find it interesting. Could anybody guide me where I can find more or less systetatized knowledge of Nimyad. And one more question: is English the only language you use in yuor work on Nimyad?
Best whishes!

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9th February, 2004. 12:37 am. Swadesh(marnanel)

I was quite pleased to find that 42% of the words on the Swadesh list are already in the lexicon. (And there are some obvious ones that the script missed, like "you", so the total is probably closer to 45%.)

This shows where vocabulary development is due.

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