Tag Archives: changes

Plurals with -yam and -ya

So on the front page we have that word layamayajam. It means ‘for the readers’ and is composed like this:

laya + maya + ye + yam
read + AGT NMLZ + PL + DAT
‘for the readers’

And layamayayeyam is also what I first had on the front page. What’s long bothered me, though, is the abundance of [j] and that these little buggers can pile up occasionally, leading to words that may be quite a bit tongue-twisting, or at least awkward to say. Test for yourself: [ˌla.ja.ma.ˈja.je.jɑm]. See? This screams for dissimilation (at least in my ears it does), or some other morphophonetic process of removing a pronunciation hurdle. So, what could we do? —

  1. Go by analogy with the locative case marker -ya. In combination with the plural marker -ye, it changes to -ea, so we get -ye-ya-yēa.

    ERGO: We can extend this to -ye-yam, leading to -yēam.

    PRO: This resembles my previous pronunciation habit of slurring /je.jɑm/ to something like /iːɑm/. It’s not perfectly phonemic spelling, but gets close.

    CONTRA: In a case like layamayayēam it’s still kind of awkward, I suppose. Also, -yēa and -yēam are pretty close.

  2. Go the route of dissimilation to the nearest similar-but-dissimilar-enough sound there is in the language.

    ERGO: [je] → [d͡ʒ] is a solution. We can do -ye-yam-jyam. As [d͡ʒjɑm] is a little difficult to say, and the [j] is barely there anyway, we can even go as far as mutating that further to just -jam. Thus, we get layamayajam.

    PRO: Easier to pronounce, also shorter. Also, more synchronic irregularity triggered by morphophonetic processes, oh yeah! Also, there is no ending -jam so far, so it can’t be confused. Also, it’s dissimilar from -yēa.

    CONTRA: -jam doesn’t really look like -yeyam anymore. Also, now I need to figure out how to deal with this in ‘native’ spelling. Probably not at all, because native spelling is more morphemic/phonemic than phonetic.

In the end I decided for the second option. Now I only need to write that down in the grammar. However, this decision also poses the question what to do with other combinations, e.g. -yeas (patient animate) and -yeang (agent animate). Should they become -jas and -jang, respectively? Should I then also retrofit -yēa (locative) to -ja? Hm …

ADMIN: New old page

I took lots of effort recently to shoehorn this site into WordPress, which replaces my old clumsy custom-built content management system. The contents of the site have been overhauled as well, most importantly the dictionary.

Granted, the tabular layout of the new dictionary may not be as pretty as the file-card records the database spat out earlier, however, this way, maintaining the code is much easier, as well as adjusting the output if fields in the database change. The advanced search of the dictionary now also offers a couple more options, e.g. searching with regular expressions. As the script that queries the dictionary database is now called dynamically by a jQuery function (Yes, you must have Javascript enabled in order to use the dictionary!), forms will not be empty anymore after the request is sent. The only thing the advanced search can’t handle so far is searching by multiple attributes of a word, that is, something along the lines of “Return all words that are 3rd person singular animate,” which would return a number of pronouns. At the time of writing this, building such a function with MySQL seems a little overkill, as you’d ideally do it with Temporary Tables or Views and I still need to read up on that. However, the advanced search feature of the old website couldn’t deal with this either.

The database behind the dictionary is now entirely managed offline on my own computer, where it is safe – hopefully – except for blunders caused by myself. I will occasionally synchronize it with the version that runs on my host’s server. As a means of security which I had overlooked before (shame on me!), the database that is on the web now is only readable and query strings are checked for stray apostrophes and inverted commas, as well as malicious keywords, such as “DROP”. As for the administration frontend, I was surprised how easy it was to construct it with Django only by abstraction from the tutorials on the Django website and with no previous knowledge of Python. No tedious handcrafting of HTML forms and PHP scripts to read and write data for hours on end, yay! Another invisible improvement is that whereas non-ASCII characters were stored as HTML entities (e.g. ā for ā) before, they are stored in plain Unicode format now, as I’ve finally found out why why why the heck Unicode would be stubbornly returned as just question marks and saved as weird things like Ä°, i.e. mistakenly iso-8859-1 encoded Unicode: I didn’t know you need to specify that the MySQL connection use utf-8. It took me 6 freaking years to find that out 😡

As the Daléian script as well as the vine-like script I devised years ago as an experiment are not actually used to write Ayeri, I’ve now removed them from this site. I might put them up again on a separate subpage, though. I’ve also rewritten the Alphabet page almost completely. Also, no inconsistently handwritten graphics there anymore. Yes, there is a font, however it does not yet work as I’d like it to because OpenType is extremely unfriendly towards custom alphabets that are not ciphers of existing alphabets, so I had to use a graphics program to get the diacritics over the consonant letters. I will not yet make a public release of it. Kudos to you if you manage to decipher the writing in the header image 🙂

The archive on the Media page now contains all years on the same page for your enjoyment. For fun, you may want to compare something very old with something very recent…

Another new thing I’ve included is a blog category on “Grammar musings”. There I will put entries that are about my latest thoughts on Ayeri grammar. So far I’ve only posted them on the ZBB, but posting them here will hopefully give you some insight into the process that is behind conlanging. This category will probably not be updated too often, though, as the language is now in a rather stable state.