the one and only truly amazing katster (katster) wrote,
the one and only truly amazing katster
katster

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Dredging up the Russian for conlang geekery.

First of all, the table below won't make as much sense if you don't have a Cyrillic fontset installed, because all the vowels are Russian vowels. (Or at least, what I can remember of Russian vowels from the half-semester of Russian 1 I took several eons ago -- 1998 is eons ago.) I'm sure there's folks on my friends list who will be happy to correct my hazy memory if I've missed something.

Anyway, my notes from the time, as we were planning to write a story set in my fictional land of Marraketh (which I tend to abbrevriate mketh, so you don't get confused later), my notes read "the language is similar sounding to Russian". Of course, I was *taking* Russian at the time, hence my obsession, and while I think I meant the sounds zh,ch,sh,and xh (the last is the ch in Bach, for those more familiar with that word), I think the direction I'll take is playing with vowel sounds. 'cause there was one thing that I remember being cool with the vowels -- they come in pairs. Check out the following table:
VowelSoundVowelSound
аahяyah
иeeеyee
оohёyo
уoohюyou


Hence катя would be pronounced 'kaht-yah', roughly, or Katya, which is what some friends still call me to this day. ;) But the point's made.

(I should fairly point out that there's a couple other vowelish letters, but I don't remember how they work, so I'm going to studiously pretend they don't exist until I'm told otherwise.)

Anyway, that's pretty much the structure of Russian vowels, and it's something I'm going to try to follow with mketh vowels. Now the first problem comes up that I've used the sound 'uh' a lot, because any word with an apostrophe is read with an 'uh' sound -- D'wani (children) is read 'duh-wah-nee' (an i at the end is plural -- actually, another Russianism, IIRC, but it's cool and it's not plural the way we do it in English, so I'll keep it.) So to keep with Russian structure, there ought to be a 'yuh', the rough end sound in California, at least the way I pronounce it. (Roughly, 'kal-ih-for-nyuh', for those curious of my dialect). And that's not a problem. There's a character name -- Bri'in is how it's written, but it's pronounced 'bree-YUHN'. Hence, I'm using the 'i to represent the sound in English characters. (I haven't used it much beyond that, it's a relatively new sound in my thinking, and I'm going to have to do some fiddling, as I have the same sound in the world I've transliterated into English as Ryan (ree-YUHN).

Marrakethian representations in transliteration have done a lot of changing over the years. (No, I've not come up with a Marrakethian alphabet yet, I'm trying to define the sounds. Hence this vowel geeking.)

Okay, well, that was fairly easy. Ah and yah exist (the latter in another character's name is coming to mind); ee does, yee wouldn't be too difficult to add. I'm still considering oh/yoh and ooh/you as sounds (actually, the oh exists, in Agamon (a month name) and ooh does in Vidun. again, finding room for yo/you shouldn't be too hard, but they may definitely be less common vowel sounds.

That leaves a couple holes that I can think of and need to fill. Oftentimes, I've used an English 'e' at the end of names to mean the sound of long-a. (the ay in Jay, for example.) Hence, Mikje, another character, is 'meek-JAY'. Yay could work, but I've never used it. It'll be tabled while I ponder.

The tricky one is the sounds 'ih' and 'i' (or short and long i, if you're familiar with those English sounds). The solution here might be to make them a pair, only an odd pair because it's not yih and yi matched with both sounds. I don't think I use either of those sounds, and ...augh, I've got short-e ('eh') in places too. Hmmm. Maybe pair 'ih' and 'i', and then pair 'eh' and 'ay'? The last doesn't feel right in the progression of sounds, and it's something to think about...

Maybe I need to do some rethinking of how I'm going to handle vowels, because this means I have fourteen distinct vowel sounds. Although in English, we have many vowel sounds, and use interesting combinations of letters to do so. However, since mkethian is somewhat a planned alphabet in the setting, it is going to have characters for every sound, unlike English. (Which is, again, like Russian, in that Cyrillic was a constructed alphabet for the Russian language.)

Well, I'll put this up for the moment. If anybody can follow my crazy notes and have a thought or two to add, I'll welcome you to it. :)


And now that that's out of my head, let's see if I can get pen applied to *paper* tomorrow and get something *written* that isn't conlang geekery. [And boy do I need a 'i am a big huge geek' icon.]
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