Yep, graphemes include numerals, punctuation marks, Chinese characters, Japanese kana...
Good to know, that helps. Thank you.
No worries! I basically got all of my training in linguistics from self-study and conlanger boards (and at this point I can hold my own in conversation with linguistics professors and researchers). Wikipedia is a great resource for terms you're unsure about, and a willingness to ask questions is worth a metric ton in gold.
Excellent so wikipedia is reliable then? That's good. I was using it before but was uncertain how much trust I should put in it.
Diphthongs are where you have a transition between two vowel qualities within one syllable. For example, in my dialect, <chaos> is /'keɪ̯.ɑs/. The word has two syllables; the "cha" and the "os." The first syllable has a diphthong, because it glides from /e/ to /ɪ/ without a syllable break. However, it is not a triphthong, because the /ɑ/ is in a separate syllable.
So yes, you're using the right wording, except that diphthongs are not necessarily phonemes; it's possible to have a phonetic diphthong that is not a phonemic diphthong. But more on that below.
I think part of the trouble people have with the phonetic/phonemic issue is that it's something of a mind-trip. You have to discover that what you perceive of reality is actually preprocessed; what you hear and what is actually there differ in vital and predictable ways.
Here's a common exercise to help it make sense.
Hold your hand in front of your mouth and say "Pit." Then say "spit." Notice that when you say "pit," you feel a puff of air against your hand, but when you say "spit," you don't (or at least, you feel less of one).
This difference is because when you say "pit," you make an aspirated p [pʰ], but when you say "spit," you make an unaspirated p [p]. Most English speakers aren't aware of this difference—they both sound like the same sound. Or if they are aware of it, they probably think of them as two "versions" of the same sound. And if you look at the language itself, you won't find pairs words that are exactly identical except that one has an aspirated p while the other has an unaspirated p. If you pronounce "spit" with aspiration on the p, it will still sound to other English speakers like you're saying the same word—it'll just sound kind of funny, like you're trying to spit while saying "spit."
On the other hand, if you're speaking Mandarin Chinese, it's a completely different issue. There are tons of words that are exactly identical except that one has an aspirated sound where the other has an unaspirated sound. If you say [pʰí], you're talking about criticizing someone. But if you say [pí], you're being extremely offensive.
To a Chinese speaker, [pʰ] and [p] don't sound like two versions of the same sound; they sound like completely different sounds, as different as [f] and [v] sound to English speakers.
So. A phone (which is what we're talking about when we say "phonetic") is any sound that is objectively different on a mechanical level. [p] and [pʰ] are different phones, because one has aspiration and one doesn't.
But a phoneme (which is what we're talking about when we say "phonemic") is an abstract notion of a single distinctive sound for a particular language.
All of the phonemes in any language will actually include many, many different phones. All of the phones which are bundled under a single phoneme are called allophones. So in English, [p] and [pʰ] are both allophones of the phoneme /p/. But in Mandarin, [p] and [pʰ] are not allophones, because they belong to different phonemes.
There are a lot of tests you can do to figure out whether two phones are actually different phonemes in a particular language. (Another way to say this is "whether the difference between the two phones is phonemic." Aspiration is not phonemic in English, but it is phonemic in Mandarin.) One of the more intuitive ones is to just ask speakers (or for conlangs, imagine asking speakers) whether the two sounds seem like different versions of one sound or two different sounds (or whether they can hear the difference at all). A stronger, more scientific approach is to search the language for "minimal pairs," which are pairs of words that are exactly identical except that one is pronounced with phone A, while the other has phone B. If you can find a lot of these, then phone A and phone B are different phonemes.
So earlier when I said that it's possible to have a phonetic diphthong that isn't a phonemic diphthong, I meant that sometimes (e.g., when people are talking really fast) they may pronounce things mechanically as diphthongs even though diphthongs don't really show up distinctively in the language.
Does that make more sense?
Yes! It does! Thank you for the explanation, that was really in depth. I'll be certain to save this so I can ingrain it.
Alright so going back to the inventory and applying the difference between phones and phonemes.
/pʰ tʰ kʰ m n f v s l ɹ h dʒ/
Aspiration is clearly not a distinctive feature in the language, because you have no two phonemes that differ only in aspiration. (On the other hand, voicing is a distinctive feature, because you have the phonemes /f v/.) For this reason, you don't need to indicate the aspiration on your plosives in phonemic transcriptions. It may be the case that in almost all environments, Aylæs plosives are pronounced with aspiration, but since the aspiration isn't distinctive (or "phonemic"), you should only indicate it when giving a phonetic transcription in [square brackets].
What I think you're saying is when displaying my consonant inventory it isn't necessary to indicate whether or not /t/ is pronounced [tʰ] as it is uniform across all related plosives and so by indicating aspiration when there is no unaspirated plosives it would mean I was transcribing phones instead of phonemes for a phoneme inventory? However, assuming that Aylæs did recognise a difference between the two then I would transcribe them?
So then depicting aspiration would only come into play when explaining how to pronounce <tal> I'd then display it as /tʰɑl/, is that correct? (also testing if my understanding of slashes, brackets and angles is correct, sorry if I seem slow I don't like moving on until I'm certain I won't misapply it in the future)
If I've got that right, you mention voicing is a distinctive feature because speakers of Aylæs differentiate between the voiced [v] and unvoiced [f] is there more I should be doing when transcribing those phonemes to indicate that or has IPA already got me covered?
Ooooh. This is a very
interesting system. I would definitely want to see more details, to try and work out what general patterns are at play. Some questions I would ask:
How does the meaning change if you use the same structure with different verbs? For example, does anything interesting happen if you replace "want" for "eat" or "like" or "make" in the examples above?
Is there a correlation between particular parts of the meaning and the grammatical role that the tense is marked on? For example, is it possible to talk abstractly about what (subject)-PRESENT (verb) (object)-PAST would mean? (Maybe, "The subject has just finished doing the verb to the object and plans to continue"? Does this pattern hold for many different verbs and nouns?)
It sounds, at first glance, that this is a kind of aspect system
. Would definitely like to see more of this!
Alright I’ll run a few examples to see if it maintains consistency. Word order is SVO as was made apparent, there are no articles.
I-present eat meat-present (I am eating meat)
I-present eat meat-past (I “have eaten”/ate meat)
I-present eat meat-future (I will eat meat)
The subject is predominantly present tense, unless they cannot *be* present ie. If the subject is dead they would be spoken of in past tense, if the subject is not born yet they would be future.
Let me try an example in Aylæs. “My son will be a warrior”
My (singular, present, possessive) son (singular, future)
is (a) warrior (singular, future)
My – pi
Son – atam
is – tay
Warrior – sijir
“Pii Uatam tay Usijir”
I suppose this means in practice the tense moves completely from the verb and onto the respective nouns so verbs would always be written as present tense. Running with the same example to describe a dead son who was a warrior...
"Pii Aatam tay Asijir" “My son (who is dead) was a warrior”
So the complication that arises is that even the slightest inflection can alter the entire meaning of the sentence, for example if "pi-a" is used for past possessive it becomes:
“Pia Aatam tay Asijir” “My ex-son (who is dead) was a warrior”
This isn’t really a problem as I’m trying to condense as much information as possible into the affixes; however, it is something that will take time getting used to for a layman as myself. I suppose I need to keep playing with these examples to see if there are any impossible constructions that may result. "My ex-son who is not born yet is a warrior" comes to mind. But that would just be mixing tenses without purpose akin to “I’d going to the store tomorrow”. I'm unsure how to address that. Hrm.
How would it work with other verbs? Like "Peter stabs John"?
What would be the meaning of the following sentences:
Peter-FUTURE stabs John-FUTURE
Peter-FUTURE stabs John-PRESENT
Peter-FUTURE stabs John-PAST
Okay, that’s a good question. I think I may have inadvertently answered it above in reply to Trailsend,
If the subject is future then they do not exist yet. So in the first example you’d be saying “Peter (who is not yet) will stab John”, in the second example “Peter (who is not yet) stabs John”, and in the third “Peter(who is not yet) stabbed John” I may be making a mistake. I find it confusing trying to sort these sentences out in English so I’ll have to lapse into Aylæs to check… Mepu is the closest to stab with "cut or hack" so:
Upeter mepu Ujohn “Peter who is not yet born will stab John”
Upeter mepu John “Peter who is not yet born stabs John”
Upeter mepu Ajohn “Peter who is not yet born stabbed John”
Yes. Okay so the second two would be impossible sentences to construct. Is there a way of phrasing rules that would help avoid people doing so? Or was that caused by my foolishly giving the popcorn example in English?
Does tense have to be marked on both subject and object?
Yes. Um, such as in this example:
“Pii Uatam tay Usijir” "My son (who is not yet) will be a warrior"
"Pii Aatam tay Asijir" “My son (who is dead) was a warrior”
“Pia Aatam tay Asijir” “My ex-son (who is dead) was a warrior”
Since singular present has no inflection at all in Aylæs you could say that unless denoting possession, tense or plurality the subject would largely be unmarked but it'd be safer to just state that it is always marked.
Is any combination of subject-tense and object-tense possible?
As your examples displayed - no they wouldn't always be possible within English. I'm going to need to try running a few example sentences through all the affixes to see if that holds for Aylæs.
What about ditransitive clauses, like "Peter gave Mary a lollipop?" Can or perhaps must tense be marked on both "Peter", "Mary" and "lollipop"? What about nouns following an adposition? Like in "Mary drives to the town"? Would tense be marked on both "Mary" and "town"?
Oh wow, I'm afraid I don't know what a ditransitive clause is. Tense would be marked on all of them in relation to what the sentence needed to convey. This is also the part where I admit I haven't decided how to tackle prepositions yet. The word "to" has utterly defeated me. As for tense in the second example, it would be placed on both Mary and town, as would possession and plurality.
I think there are at least two different kinds of "nominal tense" that I am aware of. First, there are expressions like "ex-wife" and "bride-to-be", that refer to someone or something who either used to be or do, or will be or do something. This kind of nominal tense does not take away any of the work of verbal tense marking, but complements it. You can still say "my ex-wife drove to the town", "my ex-wife drives/is driving to the town", and "my ex-wife will drive to the town".
Then there is what may be called "clausal nominal tense", where the kind of tense that typically, at least in a language like English, marked on verbs, is marked in nouns instead. For example, in this sample sentence it's marked in the first word of the sentence, which happens to be the noun:
Peter.PAST stab John - "Peter stabbed John"
Peter.PRES stab John - "Peter stabs John"
Peter.FUT stab John - "Peter will stab John"
This is very useful to have, thank you. I believe I'm utilizing both forms, perhaps I need to define clearly when each is applicable.