Category Archives: Stuff

Various other stuff. For example software.

‘A Grammar of Ayeri’ Available as Print-on-Demand

  • A Grammar of Ayeri is available from Amazon now, too, so I am assuming you can now indeed order print copies through the regular book trade as well as straight from Lulu.com. 🤓❤️📘

If you’ve visited the Grammar page or the Grammar project’s GitHub page recently, you will have noticed that I finally decided to publish a version 1.0 of A Grammar of Ayeri on October 1st. While this is a big step forward that took me some courage, I didn’t announce it in a big way, because I have reason to make a somewhat bigger announcement still today.

That is, I’m excited to announce that you can now also buy print copies of the grammar! Moreover, this happens to be in time for Ayeri’s 15th birthday in December—something I only noticed the other day. A few people have suggested making print copies available on demand in recent months, so you can now order my Ayeri grammar as a real and full-fledged book from Lulu.com. Since I decided to give the book an ISBN (978-0-359-09583-4), it should also become available to booksellers of your choice sometime in the next 4–6 weeks. Here’s what the beauty looks like:

The digital version of the grammar will remain available free of charge and with fully disclosed sources, that is, I explicitly intended this as Open Access.

A Grammar of Ayeri provides an overview of the language’s phonemic inventory and an analysis of its phonotactics, an in-depth description of its writing system, as well as a detailed description of its morphology and morphosyntax. Interstitial chapters try to shed a light on Ayeri from a typological perspective, both regarding morphology and syntax. I incorporated a number of blog articles from recent years, so if you’ve been following my blog, you know what to expect. All discussions contain fully-glossed examples for illustration, especially to help with the more technical parts.

Even though I worked on this book for a little more than two years, there are some topics I mention in the grammar without elaborating on them. Since there is always more to do, I had to draw a line somewhere. Topics left for future consideration will thus probably result in blog articles again sooner or later, so stay tuned. A list of errata may likewise follow.


Besides having been asked for print copies, I’ve been asked why I chose to self-publish, and the main reason is that I don’t really see straightaway which kind of publisher I might want to offer the manuscript of this book to, elaborate as it may be.

For one, it does not fit established paradigms of either fiction or non-fiction publishing. The book’s subject is essentially a work of fiction, yet it’s not narrative, but a piece of formal documentation of a conceived abstract object: a made-up language. Moreover, as I see it, conlangs are up to the whims of their creators (at least while they’re alive) and are thus entirely arbitrary when it comes to documenting and analyzing the diversity of human language from the perspective of linguistics—unless, for instance, you do a study on conlanging as a social phenomenon, study and compare the way individual conlangs are made and what that says about their creators, or utilize them as a didactic tool to teach linguistics. In my opinion, the immediate value of a grammar of a personal artistic language to linguistic epistemology is debatable. Lastly, due to the book’s presentation as a scholarly text, it will only appeal to a small readership, which is not exactly profitable. But mainly, I think, the difficulty is in being this weird hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, or fiction in the guise of non-fiction.

Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic with this assessment. Maybe the very aspect of being fiction in the guise of non-fiction might be a selling point in the future (but again: to what kind of publisher?), provided I could still keep my work online because “selling out” is the last thing I want to do. So far at least, no comparable effort has been professionally published to my knowledge, and there exist a few works with a similar scope as mine that I’m aware of, for instance, Étienne Poisson’s Siwa grammar, Martin Posthumus’ Novegradian grammar, and Matt Pearson’s Okuna grammar.

Markov-Chain Generator for Ayeri Words

Since I’m sometimes a little lazy to come up with new words, I wrote myself a little Python script which pulls a certain subset of words from the dictionary database I’m using and applies a Markov chain algorithm to it in order to generate new similar words. The script is sophisticated enough to filter out duplicates and some other undesirable outcomes. You can adapt the code shared below to your needs if you wish to.

See file on GitHub Gist

“And” as a Relative Particle

Another blog post on Middle High German (I know, right?) … This time with something I’d like to point out to other conlangers to consider for inspiration, because I found it kind of interesting/cool/unexpected. While doing research for my MA thesis, I came across a few cases where unde ‘and’ appears to be used as a general kind of relative particle (emphasis and translations mine):

  1. Augsburg, 1277:
    ſogtan Eigen vnde ich hete
    ‘such property as I had’ (CAO I.316.304.27)

  2. Munich, 1283:
    mit allem dem vnd dar zu gihoͤrit
    ‘with all that which belongs to it’ (CAO II.569.005.04–05)

  3. [Nuremberg], 1288:
    ſit den malen vnd ich zv ir cherte
    ‘since the time when I turned to her’ (CAO II.1044.359.04)

  4. Passau, 1290:
    des gvͦtes vnd ich ze chovfen han gegeben minem herren piſcholf Wernharte
    ‘of the estate which I offered my lord bishop Wernhard for sale’ (CAO V.N446.327.41)

  5. [St. Bernhard near Horn, Lower Austria], 1298:
    mit allem dinſt vnd ich iz gehabt han
    ‘with all the levy with which I owned it’ (CAO IV.2896.202.32)

The big Middle High German dictionary by Benecke/Müller/Zarncke cites further evidence from editions of literary texts in the article on unde (see vol. III, p. 185a, def. III, in German). Now I’m wondering what a grammaticalization path for “and” as a relativizer could look like.

Note, however, that these cases do not constitute a majority, which is why they stood out to me as I came accross them in the first place. From what I can tell, more common ways to introduce relative clauses are ‘so’, ‘when’, or just plainly the definite article (or, if you insist, for historical accuracy, the short demonstrative) like in modern German. For example:

  1. Zurich, 1283:
    mit allem dem rechte ſo ich ez vnz har han gehebt
    ‘with all the rights with which I have owned it up to now’ (CAO II.590.017.21)

  2. Werdenberg, 1294:
    als des tagis do er ſinin æigin herrin schlvͦg
    ‘as on the day when he slayed his own lord’ (CAO III.1873.167.41)

  3. Salzburg, 1294:
    durich der Svone willen / dev […] gemachet ward
    ‘by will of the reconciliation which was made […]’ (CAO III.1967.223.17–18)

  • Added a few more examples to show what more common cases look like and to show that there’s variation.
  • A colleague of mine at university that I mentioned this phenomenon to pointed me to the following article (in German): Ferraresi, Gisella, and Helmut Weiß. “‘Al di wîle und ich lebe’: Und nicht nur koordinierend.” Satzverknüpfungen: Zur Interaktion von Form, Bedeutung und Diskursfunktion. Edited by Eva Breindl, Gisella Ferraresi, and Anna Volodina. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011. Print. Linguistische Arbeiten 534. 79–106.
  • “Unde, und, unt.” Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch. Ed. Wilhelm Müller and Friedrich Zarncke. Vol. 3. Leipzig: Hirzel, 1866. 183–186. Wörterbuchnetz. Trier Center for Digital Humanities, 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. ‹http://woerterbuchnetz.de/BMZ›.
  • Wilhelm, Friedrich et al., eds. Corpus der altdeutschen Originalurkunden bis zum Jahr 1300. 5 vols. Lahr and Berlin: Moritz Schauenburg and Erich Schmidt, 1932–2004. <CORPUS>. Corpus der altdeutschen Originalurkunden bis zum Jahr 1300. Trier U, 2007. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. ‹http://tcdh01.uni-trier.de/cgi-bin/iCorpus/CorpusIndex.tcl›.

Tagāti Book G, Graphite and TeXLive 2014

I updated my operating system to Ubuntu 15.04 ‘Vivid’ the other day and ran into trouble when I tried using my Tahano Hikamu font, Tagāti Book G. The issue was that XeLaTeX would ignore Graphite as the text rendering engine for this font in spite of my explicitly declaring it:

\newfontfamily{\Tagati}[
    Renderer=Graphite,
    ...
]{Tagati Book G}

The result was that none of the diacritics were aligned correctly, since the font is not configured for OpenType to handle them:

Demonstration of the bug in fontspec-xetex.sty 2.4a
a: Rendering as expected; b: Graphite ignored

After some research, it turned out that the bug is with the file fontspec-xetex.sty.1 Ubuntu 15.04 still ships with TeXLive 2014, which includes version 2.4a of it as a part of the fontspec package. In this version, there is a typo in the definition for Graphite which apparently makes it inaccessible through the Renderer option. You can read up on it in the bug report on GitHub.

Changing fontspec-xetex.sty according to the bug report and saving it under my home directory’s TeX tree at ~/texmf/tex/latex/fontspec/ to not overwrite the original file solved the issue for me. Another way to solve the issue for the time being is to include a snippet of code in your TeX file’s preamble that basically redefines the respective function.

The issue is already fixed in the latest version of the fontspec package, also in the version that’s available from CTAN, so I hope there will be an update to the fontspec package in the official Ubuntu repositories as well sometime.

  1. On my system, the path to the file is /usr/share/texlive/texmf-dist/tex/latex/fontspec/fontspec-xetex.sty, use kpsewhere fontspec-xetex.sty to find it, otherwise.

Ayeri number word converter in Python

Just a little something I started programming a while ago and elaborated on to make it useable today. It’s a little Python program which turns a base-10 number into its corresponding number word in Ayeri: Ayerinumbers.py on Github

  • The code is probably a bit unnecessarily complicated, because it tries to mimic Ayeri’s grammar rather than being mathematically straightforward. I may rewrite things in the future to make more sense from an engineer’s point of view.

Names of European Nations and Capitals in Ayeri

Just for fun, I’m sometimes trying to hunt down etymologies of place names and try to translate them more or less literally into Ayeri:

Names of European Nations and Capitals in Ayeri
Names of European Nations and Capitals in Ayeri. (Original map: “Maix”/Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-2.5 license (Source). Captions in Ayeri added)

My method in making the map linked here was not terribly scholarly, though, as my source was mostly Wikipedia, so your mileage may vary. Where there was more than one etymology, I picked the one that seemed most reasonable (roughly going by Ockham’s razor, ish) or otherwise appealing to me; if guesses at the etymology were too insecure, I just sticked with phonologically adapting the name into Ayeri. There’s a few territories included which are not strictly independent nations or whose status as such is disputed – I included those because they still seemed relevant enough to me.

The complete list can be found on a separate page. More continents may follow as I feel like doing conlang work. I started with Europe since that’s where I live.

  • Updated map to include a title, the European part of Turkey, and correct licensing as required by the source.
  • Ugly CC-BY-SA badge in the picture is not necessary, so removed that. Also, bigger image, smaller file size.
  • Hopefully fixed the caption box at top right in the SVG file now. When viewed in programs other than Inkscape, the text didn’t show or only as a black box.

What I work with

This post is from 2013 and is thus extremely outdated. You can see updated contents on their own proper page. —2016-12-28

Occasionally, fellow conlangers – especially beginning ones – want to know how other people work and what tools they use. Here is my stuff:

I’m working on a 6 years old laptop currently running Ubuntu 12.04. Personally, I find that Linux is way more language friendly than Windows since it’s far more configurable and open for tinkering with input methods and such things. Besides that, I like to take notes on paper sometimes, especially when it’s vocabulary. Notes taken on the computer I often print out and put them into the ring binder where I keep my handwritten notes. Vocabulary lists are, however, always transferred to the computer from paper as quickly as possible. Also important, of course, are books for research. Whether my own or borrowed from my university’s library. One thing: university libraries are awesome! I already dread the day I won’t have access to one anymore.

On the computer, the mainly relevant software I use is:

  • WordPress for editing this website. I’m running it on my own, paid webspace so I have full control over it. However, WordPress is both a blessing and a curse because although maintaining a website is rather easy with it, it’s very popular, so you get lots of spammers and crackers trying to litter up and conquer your site for their own nefarious purposes.
  • Kate or any other text editor to quickly take digital notes and to edit code
  • phpMyAdmin and Django to maintain the MySQL database I keep my dictionary in. I wrote some things in PHP to tie the database querying frontend into WordPress myself. WordPress’ template system comes in handy here: the form you can see on the Dictionary page is an HTML template file that calls a PHP script which queries the database and returns the results.
  • LibreOffice Writer to take more fancy notes and prepare PDFs
  • LibreOffice Calc to keep lists

Tagāti Book G Font is up for Download

Finally! After a couple of weeks of drawing characters (albeit in a rather lazy way) in February and March, and programming font features for the past couple of weeks, I decided to upload my Tahano Hikamu font to Github: https://github.com/carbeck/tagatibookg.

There’s still some things to improve, but for the most part, the font works now. Please be aware that this font uses Graphite and that not so many applications support that. Also, note that in order to use Graphite in Firefox 11+, you will need to activate it first.

The Github repository contains all files used in the making of the font so you can easily clone/download it. But if you really just want the font, you probably want to just

Download the ZIP archive

For some extra fun, here’s basically how I made it: See the video on Youtube

  • I had the ZIP file in my Dropbox ‘Public’ folder, however, Dropbox dropped support for the Public folder a while ago, so the link was broken. I fixed it now.

Some Work in Progress

I’ve been reworking my font of Tahano Hikamu since February now and also drew a hinyan version (“Tahano Hikamu Java”) completely from scratch. When I felt like toying around with these things again a couple of weeks ago, I started making the files functional with Graphite – that is, I added ways to handle diacritics and I’m currently working on getting dynamic diacritic replacement and character reordering right – this is so much easier and far less brain-twisting with pen and paper!

The whole thing is still messy and highly preliminary, which is why I won’t release any font files for download just now (please be patient). However, I’m kind of pleased with how this experiment comes along, so I wanted to share the link to my current testing page here as well and not just on Twitter.

There’s no version schedule, so it’s done when it’s done. Hopefully that won’t take too very long in spite of a pending term paper and other more important work. I’m looking forward to it, though, and so can you. 🙂