Bracelet language!

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Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 20:33

Because apparently, I procrastinate updating my other conlang thread by making a new one.

This is an idea I had a while ago while I was reading about flower language. I don't know if it's different elsewhere, but Western flower language is pretty vague. You can put together bouquets to symbolise feelings but you can't really form sentences with that. So I thought to myself, what if there was a language like that? I ended up deciding to use bracelets instead because of the customisation options they offer.

This is very much a work in progress so everything is still subject to change, but here are some ideas I've had so far.

My idea is that each bracelet (or armlet- is there an English word that encompasses both?) encodes a single sentence. I thought of the following factors to determine meaning:
  • Shape (bangle, charm bracelet, bead bracelet, you name it)
  • Material, both of the base bracelet and of the decorations used
  • Placement of the decoration
  • Placement of the bracelet (left or right arm, on the wrist, above the elbow, near the shoulder?)
I'm currently favouring the thought of the left/right distinction being negated or non-negated sentences. Since there are two options, it should ideally encode something that also has two options; I thought of plural/singular, definite/indefinite and negated/non-negated, and since the last one is arguably the most important, I picked that one. Placement on the arm might become person; I think I'll make four distinct possibilities at most (wrist, below elbow, above elbow, below shoulder) since any more would likely end up being ambiguous. I'm not sure what to do with the fourth position yet, though.

Decoration is the most versatile component here- placement, number, category, color, maybe others I'm not thinking of right now- so it will probably be the "vocabulary", whereas the rest will form the grammar.

Random hypothetical example! Say that left means negated, and wrist means first person. Also say that a single blue glass gem means "to talk", and a wooden bangle means "to want". So, if you wore a wooden bangle with a single blue glass gem on your left wrist, that would mean "I don't want to talk" (or "we don't want to talk" as well, if I end up not distinguishing number).

There are limits to what I can do with this- elaborate subclauses would be difficult to incorporate, I imagine- so this will almost certainly be less versatile than a normal language, but this is intended to be a companion language rather than standalone, so I think that's okay.

Comments, suggestions, feedback?
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 20:51

This actually sounds awesome. Maybe you could achieve subclauses with a connecting bar across the subclause component items if they are kept to one body part. Doing so would also make it easier to determine the order in which to "read" the bracelets as they could be nicely lined up.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 20:55

OTheB wrote:This actually sounds awesome. Maybe you could achieve subclauses with a connecting bar across the subclause component items if they are kept to one body part. Doing so would also make it easier to determine the order in which to "read" the bracelets as they could be nicely lined up.
That's a really neat idea! And since you could probably fashion bars out of different materials, you could distinguish between different types of subclauses. I'll definitely keep that in mind once I have the very basics down.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 20:56

Ebon wrote:
OTheB wrote:This actually sounds awesome. Maybe you could achieve subclauses with a connecting bar across the subclause component items if they are kept to one body part. Doing so would also make it easier to determine the order in which to "read" the bracelets as they could be nicely lined up.
That's a really neat idea! And since you could probably fashion bars out of different materials, you could distinguish between different types of subclauses. I'll definitely keep that in mind once I have the very basics down.
I get the feeling this is going to be an expensive language. Almost like a "Pay to win" language haha.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 22:06

OTheB wrote:I get the feeling this is going to be an expensive language. Almost like a "Pay to win" language haha.
Pay to win language. I like that. [xD]

I think a case particle system might be easiest for this; for example, the accusative case might be marked by a small red glass bead before/after/above/below the noun or something. If "apple" is a green glass bead, wooden bangle - right arm, wrist - green glass bead (red glass bead) would mean "I want to eat an apple.", if the above example holds true.

Still not sure what to do about tenses, aside from probably not including a ton of them.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by OTʜᴇB » Thu 21 Jul 2016, 22:49

Ebon wrote:
OTheB wrote:I get the feeling this is going to be an expensive language. Almost like a "Pay to win" language haha.
Pay to win language. I like that. [xD]

I think a case particle system might be easiest for this; for example, the accusative case might be marked by a small red glass bead before/after/above/below the noun or something. If "apple" is a green glass bead, wooden bangle - right arm, wrist - green glass bead (red glass bead) would mean "I want to eat an apple.", if the above example holds true.

Still not sure what to do about tenses, aside from probably not including a ton of them.
Tense could be denoted by a small chain of things hanging from the bracelet as opposed to the fixed parts that denote the rest of the meaning. different colours or materials could define past-present-future and different shapes of sections could tell us whether it is simple-progressive-perfect-imperfect etc.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by shimobaatar » Fri 22 Jul 2016, 00:09

Ebon wrote: This is very much a work in progress so everything is still subject to change, but here are some ideas I've had so far.
Ebon wrote:Comments, suggestions, feedback?
I'm afraid I don't have much to say other than that this is a brilliant, unique idea, and I can't wait to see where it goes!
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Fri 22 Jul 2016, 13:19

shimobaatar wrote:
I'm afraid I don't have much to say other than that this is a brilliant, unique idea, and I can't wait to see where it goes!
Thanks! [:D]

I've been thinking over bracelet types and I think I will largely stick to bangles/ bangles with an opening which I think are called cuffs. The reason is that they strike me as the most versatile. You can put decoration in any number of places on the surfave, you can attach charms, and even the surface can be different. You could go with a solid surface or something like this. Lots of options.

I think I also found a way to render names. Just writing them on the surface would defeat the purpose of this, after all. The language this will accompany is related to Nereifa and thus provably uses the same or a very similar script, and it translates surprisingly well into jewellery decoration. There will likely be a marker to show that the name is in fact a name, and then each glyph would be marked by a specific combination. Between color and shape I should be able to keep them all fairly small, so that they can go together like written glyphs.

(...I should probably make a post about Nereifa's script.)

One possibility for tense is the bangle's material. There are lots of materials you could use, so I'd be able to cover lots of tenses. Probably more than I need. [xD] I could cover the standard future/present/past, and then maybe one for statements that are perpetually true (things like I'm a woman)... I'm not sure what else I could include right now.

Also, I think they will have an inherent verb that's used in absence of verb decoration, probably to be. In the above example of I'm a woman, you'd only need the decoration for woman and the correct base and wear it on your wrist.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Fri 22 Jul 2016, 20:18

This is more for my own reference, so that I can keep track of all the different aspects I can use.

  • Bangle shape (solid/nonsolid surface, width, straight/curvy/other edge lines)
  • Base material (gold, rose gold, silver, copper, iron, wood (different types), obsidian, glass, ivory, jade; fantasy materials if needed or wanted) [will add more when I think of any- suggestions welcome, but they need to be distinguishable by sight]
  • Decoration material (glass/gemstones/bits of various materials)
  • Decoration form (bead, square, star, triangle etc]
  • Decoration color (as applicable)
  • Charm material, form, color (see decoration)
  • Charm decoration (can be the same as bangle decoration, I suppose)
  • Location(left, right/wrist, below elbow, above elbow, below shoulder)

I like the left/right distinction as negation and placement on arm as person. Tense will be bangle edge line, most likely; if I used material I really don't know what I would do with so many different tenses. I'm tentatively saying that a straight edge signifies present tense, a wavy edge means past tense and a a small separate line added to an otherwise straight edge is future tense. (I'll sketch the last one later, I'm not sure how to describe it.)

Also, I think it'll be a good idea to think of symbolism in the culture this is for; color symbolism, shape symbolism, number symbolism and what have you. That way, my vocabulary can draw from something rather than being completely random.
Last edited by Ebon on Mon 25 Jul 2016, 13:35, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by OTʜᴇB » Fri 22 Jul 2016, 20:22

Ivory? You can also distinguish woods (such as birch and ebony)
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Fri 22 Jul 2016, 20:23

OTheB wrote:Ivory? You can also distinguish woods (such as birch and ebony)
I meant to add ivory, ahah. Thanks for the suggestion, I didn't think of different woods.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by shimobaatar » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 00:36

Ebon wrote: One possibility for tense is the bangle's material. There are lots of materials you could use, so I'd be able to cover lots of tenses. Probably more than I need. [xD] I could cover the standard future/present/past, and then maybe one for statements that are perpetually true (things like I'm a woman)... I'm not sure what else I could include right now.
You could have different tense-aspect or tense-aspect-mood combinations be expressed by the material if you wanted, since there are so many possibilities.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by k1234567890y » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 08:04

you have an awesome idea here (: maybe this can be a great way to help children with serious low-functional autism or something?
私のアツい人工言語活動!言カツ!始まります!!
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Dormouse559 » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 09:15

Ebon wrote:I think I also found a way to render names.
You could additionally have an equivalent to sign names, where a particular decoration is understood to mean a person's name. These may be useful because they could be shorter than fuller rendering a name and/or rely on intimate knowledge of the people involved to be understood, helping to keep the messages secret.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by OTʜᴇB » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 10:38

Dormouse559 wrote:
Ebon wrote:I think I also found a way to render names.
You could additionally have an equivalent to sign names, where a particular decoration is understood to mean a person's name. These may be useful because they could be shorter than fuller rendering a name and/or rely on intimate knowledge of the people involved to be understood, helping to keep the messages secret.
What if you're broadcasting your upper limbs to a large crowd?
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 12:56

Well, one way to keep the cost way way down would be to just use the bracelet cords themselves and use various knots.

This was developed independently at least twice in history: the Incan quipu, and (I just learned this myself recently) in Ancient pre-literate (i.e. pre-writing) China.

You could tie variously knotted cords to the bracelets. They could be a very plain affair, or various colors of cord could symbolize shades of meaning (e.g. declarative/interrogative; imperfect/perfective aspect; indicative/subjunctive/optative/imperative mood).

I have participated in quipu workshops in Peru, and its as much a tactile thing (feeling the size, shape, contours, knobbiness) of the cords as it is looking at them.

I like the idea using the various materials, though, in a charm sort of way. Certain combinations of materials could be considered taboo/magical/positive chi-chakra-aura inducing.

:idea:
Maybe the wealthier classes can afford the "prestige dialect" of the charm bracelets,
while the poorer classes can only make the knotted dialect.
:wat:
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Dormouse559 » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 19:30

OTheB wrote:What if you're broadcasting your upper limbs to a large crowd?
Then don't use in-references? Personally, I was taking my cues from the language of flowers, which is intentionally non-explicit. But as with any language(-encoding method), if you want people to understand your messages, you should take into account what they already know.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 19:59

shimobaatar wrote: You could have different tense-aspect or tense-aspect-mood combinations be expressed by the material if you wanted, since there are so many possibilities.
That's possible, but the idea doesn't really appeal to me. But thanks for the suggestion!
k1234567890y wrote:you have an awesome idea here (: maybe this can be a great way to help children with serious low-functional autism or something?
I entertained the thought of something like this in real life, as a communication aid for people who struggle with that- be it because of autism, social anxiety, or shyness, or any other reason. This implementation of the idea won't be that aid- it'll use expensive materials that would make it unfeasible for too many people, and I aim for a high level of complexity that most people simply won't bother to learn- but you could adapt it to cheaper materials (colored plastic or something, maybe).
Dormouse559 wrote:You could additionally have an equivalent to sign names, where a particular decoration is understood to mean a person's name. These may be useful because they could be shorter than fuller rendering a name and/or rely on intimate knowledge of the people involved to be understood, helping to keep the messages secret.
That's a great idea! And if I add a name particle, so to speak, decorations could work for both normal words and for names. That way you could choose words with meanings you like for your name, or put together words whose equivalent in the spoken language sound like your name. The two systems can easily coexist, as well, much like you can fingerspell a person's name even if they have a sign name or write kanji names in kana.

As for keeping messages secret, I think I'll have fun coming up with ways to do that when I have more basics and actual words. The language as-is is a cultural thing that people learn from infancy, simply because pretty much everyone uses it, so it'll be interesting to find ways to create hidden meanings. Much like ciphers in real life languages. :)
Lambuzhao wrote:Well, one way to keep the cost way way down would be to just use the bracelet cords themselves and use various knots.

This was developed independently at least twice in history: the Incan quipu, and (I just learned this myself recently) in Ancient pre-literate (i.e. pre-writing) China.

You could tie variously knotted cords to the bracelets. They could be a very plain affair, or various colors of cord could symbolize shades of meaning (e.g. declarative/interrogative; imperfect/perfective aspect; indicative/subjunctive/optative/imperative mood).

I have participated in quipu workshops in Peru, and its as much a tactile thing (feeling the size, shape, contours, knobbiness) of the cords as it is looking at them.

I like the idea using the various materials, though, in a charm sort of way. Certain combinations of materials could be considered taboo/magical/positive chi-chakra-aura inducing.

:idea:
Maybe the wealthier classes can afford the "prestige dialect" of the charm bracelets,
while the poorer classes can only make the knotted dialect.
:wat:
I was thinking about making two dialects anyway- the elaborate pricy version presented in the above posts, and a budget dialect. I'm not sure if I'll use cords or if I'll rearrange meanings and grammar to omit the more expensive materials or do something else, but I'll keep your idea in mind, thanks!

I like the idea of taboo combinations a lot, that would be a really nice way to add irregularities. The first thing that comes to mind is an unlucky number, like 13 in the West. For anything else I need to give more thought to what this people thinks is bad or taboo.

Magic taboos or magically endorsed things would be interesting but are sadly not an option in my magic system, hahah.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Sat 23 Jul 2016, 20:35

Today's update: Symbolism, because creating a language with no vocabulary is awkward. I might change them in the future, but for now these are some "roots" to use when creating vocabulary. This will be expanded with time. Words will likely be used as nouns, adjectives and verbs with different markers, to cut down on the amount of words needed.

Colors
Medium blue: communication, contact, language, travel, meeting others
Medium green: body, physical, health, nature, food, growth


Numbers
1: solitary, related to the self
2: communication, opposites, partnership,
3: Change, upheaval, transformation, expansion
4: Tangibility, fixed, physical


Materials

(Beats me, to be honest. I thought about it and right now I can't seem to come up with anything.)


Shapes

Circle: activity, motion, movement, instable, outwards
Square: stationary, stability, solidity, inwards


Tentative word list

1 medium blue square: think, thought
2 medium blue circles: talk, conversation
2 medium blue circles & 4 medium green squares: human, person
3 medium blue circles: travel

1 medium green square: sleep
2 medium green squares & 2 medium blue circles: partner, friend, befriend, marry
3 medium green squares: food, meal, eat
1 medium green circle: life, live
Last edited by Ebon on Mon 25 Jul 2016, 15:49, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bracelet language!

Post by Ebon » Sun 24 Jul 2016, 15:59

I'm leaning towards bangle material encoding aspect and mood, and bangle shape tense, as described above. If I do it this way, then there would be one material each standing for:

- indicative
- subjunctive
- imperative
- perfect
- progressive
- habitual
- perfect progressive
- perfect habitual
- am I forgetting something?

I thought about combining materials- like, half perfect and half progressive material or something- but rejected the idea because it didn't appeal to me. That means that every possible aspect/mood combination needs to have its own material. Do I need to have any other compounds I'm not thinking of right now? I don't think there are any, but I'm currently entirely deprived of sleep, so I can't trust my own thoughts very much right now...

If I missed one I bet it's part subjunctive. Damn thing constantly trips me up.

In addition to that, I want to reserve one material for subclauses. It'll either be done with a connector bar above or below the subclause, or the subclause will be decorated on a plate of that material that's then attached to the bangle.
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