international auxiliary language

End of January report

Infection or no infection, injury or no injury, I can type out a short update and I did make some progress before I injured my arm. Also, I moved away from specifying my reports as for the greyfolk language or writing or GURPS because I will hopefully be talking a bit more about each of them in each report.

It took me a long time to write out this update. I’ve been working on it for two days because it’s hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful to type for long periods of time. Between my injury and really focusing on maintaining better posture, it just takes a lot out of me. I’ll probably be like this for the next couple of weeks, but here’s to hoping! 🍻

Conlang stuff report

If I am remembering correctly (and I’m a bit too lazy to check), when I last talked about what was next for greyfolk language, I’m pretty sure that I mentioned disyllabic roots and words were next but also that I wanted to find a way to organize them so I got good efficiency out of my choices while avoiding roots that were within Hamming Distance of each other. For example, I don’t want «meta» and «peta» because the only difference is «m» and «p», which do not have enough Hamming Distance between them (in terms of how they sound). The Hamming Distance between «m» and «p» is 1 (they are both labial sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «m» is a nasal and «p» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1), but I need a Hamming Distance that’s greater than 1 for the sounds in each word to be far enough apart to contrast. So, «mena» and «peta» would work because «n» and «t» also have a Hamming Distance of 1 (they are both coronal sounds, which is an HD of 0, but «n» is a nasal and «t» is a plosive, which is an HD of 1). That brings the total Hamming Distance between those two words to 2, which means they are far enough apart in sound (according to my parameters, of course) that I can use both words.

Of course, that means, if I want to have a lot of disyllabic roots and words, I have to be efficient like I was for the monosyllabic roots and words. Each extra syllable, however, seems to add that much more work. I talked to a friend of mine about creating a program to help me, but it seems that would be more trouble than it’s worth, but I think I found a way to do what I need in Microsoft Excel. I’ll hopefully come back to that sooner rather than later after my arm has healed and after I fully figure that system out.

Also, because Globasa does it (and I just went over how much I like Globasa in my previous post), I’ve been considering allowing «s» at the end of syllables. I need to be careful not to over-complicate my conlang, so I might just put syllable-final «s» in one of the dialects.

GURPS stuff report

As I looked back through my notes, I realized that most of my work in January (as well as December) was done on GURPS. After NaNoWriMo 2019, I was really inspired to work on GURPS again, and it was going quite well! I have a better way to merge Conditional Injury and Knowing Your Own Strength than I did before. I was still figuring out how to do weapons and armor in the least complicated way, and I was getting pretty close to something that I felt was acceptable. Instead of having a damage modifier, a weapon would have a ST modifier. That modifier would be added to the wielder’s Basic Lift, and the total Basic Lift would be the new ST of using that weapon. DR would work similarly with a tricky caveat. Yes, this requires table look-ups, but… Well, I don’t think it’s frequent enough to be awful. I’ve struggled so long with balancing realism, fairness, and ease of play.

Continuing down the path of combat while trying to balance realism, fairness, and easy of play, I have been trying to figure out how to speed up combat for a long time. There are many approaches, and I tried to define each approach by its complexity and its (level of) abstraction. One could resolve an entire combat with nothing more than a Quick Contest—that would be Complexity 1 but Abstraction 10. However, that curve is not smooth. Some methods are only a small step up on the scale of complexity while being a larger step down on the scale of abstraction, which is pretty ideal. For example, I’ve been getting really into Mass Combat and Tactical Mass Combat because the combat isn’t very complex and there are some neat ways to deal with the abstraction. However, the big problem is that PCs remain quite abstract unless you use Heroes on the Mass Scale, but that breaks down really quick for any unit that’s anything less than heroic in scale. So, I could try to rework the entirety of Heroes on the Mass Scale or just assign Troop Strength, Classes, etc. as best as possible to PCs (and any other unit, really). That idea got pretty close to one of my original ideas, which was to run combat like a D&D Skill Challenge where the PCs need x skill successes before getting y skill failures. That’s quite abstract in that it doesn’t take into account the power of the enemies! So, using Mass Combat with guesstimated stats (based on existing units, of course) seems rather balanced between complexity and abstraction, especially by allowing PCs (and enemy bosses) to perform significant actions, which is like a Skill-Challenge-esque factor in Mass Combat. Then, when I want to get a bit more tactical, there’s Tactical Mass Combat. For non-mass-scale scenarios, I’ve been working on a way to modify each for the 1:10 scale so each ‘unit’ is just a character, which is a bit trickier (but oh so satisfying) to do for Tactical Mass Combat.

Last but not least, I worked on some worldbuilding for my very own Project Sirocco, which is really going to end up extremely similar to or part of the setting from my NaNoWriMo 2019 story. I really took a dive into religion and mythology to start working on some cultures for that world. That led to a discussion about how ‘barbarians’ are the same Tech Level with different beliefs and ‘savages’ are lower Tech Level with different beliefs. I learned a lot about comparative theology and the Bronze Age and the Iron Age and Sub-Saharan African history. I spent a good amount of time trying to find places on Earth with very varied climatic zones, and I think I landed on Tierra del Fuego and the Big Island of Hawaii. There are a few places in the (contiguous) United States with very diverse climatic zones in a small area too.

Writing stuff report

I did more work in December than I did in January, but I was working on some background worldbuilding as well as figuring out how I want the story to end to myself me a clear(er) goal.

Late to 2020: Reviewing 2019

I’m not terribly proud of myself for falling behind in December, but I also worked much less on my writing and my conlang. For the first time in a long while, I had a huge boost in motivation to work on GURPS stuff. So, that’s what I did, but I didn’t post about anything because progress in GURPS is always really slow. As I was a few months ago, I spent most of the month working on mixing Knowing Your Own Strength with Conditional Injury, and I made some really good headway. That’s to say I feel a little bit more confident about understanding the underlying math. After not playing GURPS at all in 2019, I’m really trying to make this the year that I get it going again. So, even if I don’t finish all of the stuff I’m working on, I have to let myself be content with running vanilla GURPS/DRFPG (or, at least, more vanilla than I want to).

March

Looking back at March, I was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy. Though I still sleep with a loose cervical collar, I sometimes forget about that whole ordeal and how I was taking steroids for a few weeks there. I was just starting this site and trying to get it all set up, so I didn’t make much progress in my conlang.

April

I started working on my first custom font. Looking back at those old posts, I realize now that the old font is broken in most of the earlier cases. Oops! I was also obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack at the time, and I gave a presentation on conlanging to an introductory linguistics class. That was fun!

May

I worked on syntax and phrase structure rules for my conlang. I also made my first visit to Ohio with my girlfriend! While I know I’ve only been living here for about half a year, it still feels like that stuff happened such a long time ago.

June

I created the new alphabet for my conlang and had a lot of fun designing a glyph specifically for «h». While I didn’t write about it, I think that means I also saw Flor de Toloache that month too (because I was working on the «h» glyph up until the show started if I’m remembering correctly). If that’s the case, that means I also discovered that I can do a mean grito for a white person.

July

I published my paper on Laiholh psycho-collocations. That was this last year too? I’m proud that I got a fair amount done. I worked on the new new alphabet for my conlang, which I called the 7HR alphabet.

August

I settled into my new home in Ohio. For my conlang, I started working on the first words. I also changed the word class vowels to be head-initial—great idea, past me!

September

That was apparently another month in which I focused almost entirely on GURPS! Looking back, it’s weird to think that decapitation was a topic for one of my blog posts. If prospective employers ever see that, they might be a bit worried.

October

I finalized (mostly) the monosyllabic words and the numerals in my conlang, and I also made a new font for my new alphabet, complete with (some) punctuation! That particular font might just be my conlang highlight of the year.

November

I beat NaNoWriMo! Enough said!

My 2020 Vision

Hey, look! I used the same joke as everyone else! This year, I hope to nail down my powerlifting squat form so my knee stops bothering me so much. While I never talk about working out here, that’s really a huge priority for me.

For my conlang, I want to start working on more words. I’m considering allow «s» at the end of syllables too because there’s a new worldlang called Globasa that I really like that makes the case for allowing /s/ at the end of syllables. Of course, that would mean a few big things like having more options for monosyllabic words and having to redo my font to include those options for all syllables. Though, I am considering removing «n» or «m» as a syllable-final option and throwing in «s» as the replacement.

For my writing, I really want to finish the first draft of my story that I started working on with NaNoWriMo. I’m really excited to continue exploring the concepts in that story. Plus, it’s that story that really rekindled my drive to work on GURPS.

Speaking of GURPS, like I said, I plan to try to play some this year. At the very least, I’d like to prepare and run a one-shot just to get back into it. At the very-very least, I’d like to run a rules lite game like FATE or Powered by the Apocalypse or something.

That’s all for now! I’ll try to post more regularly this month.

Another two weeks later

Things have been going well for the Greyfolk language and things have been going well for me. You’re probably here for the Greyfolk language, but let’s start with me. Since my last update, my girlfriend has graduated from her dual master’s program at IU. That’s fun! I haven’t done anything too amazing like that, but I did beat Dishonored without killing anyone—in the game and in real life.

As for the Greyfolk language, I did decide on a new glyph for «h». It’s the one that looks like an ‘M’. Of course, I haven’t given context for that, so I’ll go ahead and post the new «h» as well as the runners-up soon.

Also, I’ve been doing my adpositions wrong this whole time, which is fun. “Hoy mia feke dio!” I exclaimed in Esperanto. My language is head-initial, so it should have prepositions and not postpositions.

Then, I started thinking about compounds and relativizers. The past six entries in my language document have been about those two things, but they’ve mostly been about relativizers. For compound words, I’m just using a some kind of compounding particle in between words to solve my problem. It’s good enough. For relative clauses, I figured out my relativizer and I proposed adding an elidible phrasalizer (like a nominalizer for phrases or like a terminator from Lojban) to show where those clauses end. It will also be useful for signifying names. Speaking of which, I’m also proposing a name particle to introduce names as well.

That means I was also working on phrase structure rules. I wish I had my old syntax workbook from when I took that class because the internet really doesn’t have a good resource for phrase structure rules. Luckily, I found the ones I used for the previous incarnation of the Greyfolk language.

  • S → NPE VP T (NPO) (NPU)
  • NP → N (DP) (AdjP+) (PP+) (CP)
  • DP → D
  • AdjP → Adj
  • PP → P NP
  • VP → V (PP) (AdvP+) (CP)
  • AdvP → Adv
  • CP → Comp S
  • X → X Conj X

That may prove useful for someone else someday. Furthermore, I started taking another deep look at Pandunia again for some inspiration. Also, Lojban. Also, semantic primes.

I thought about adding a coronal affricate to my language, but, after some thinking, I ultimately decided against it because the internet tends to favor only one sibilant in an international auxiliary language—which I’m not exactly going for, but I like following some of the ideals.

Last but not least, I realized that, if «h» can be Ø (null), then it can’t be followed by «l», «w», or «y».

Most of these paragraphs could (and probably will) be a post of their own. It shouldn’t take another two weeks.

Using the schwa (ə) in the Greyfolk language

My body is so fatigued from my better posture (which I’ve had to have due to my cervical radiculopathy, which I talked about in my last post), but I’m gonna discuss what I can about the schwa in the Greyfolk language until I herniate another disc. This will be pretty short anyway.

I’ve had an idea for quite some time as to how words sound in the Greyfolk language. Every non-final vowel is /a/, and every final vowel has to be one of /e, i, o, u/. Nouns end in /e/, adjectives and adverbs end in /i/, verbs end in /o/, and other things (conjunctions, prepositions, particles, etc.) end in /u/. So, some example words—that I’m making up on the spot—could be «name», «pataki», «fasaho», or «lawayu».

But what about the schwa? Well, there isn’t any lexical stress in the Greyfolk language, which really just means that stress doesn’t matter a whole lot for individual words. However, while it is important to clearly indicate the final vowel of a word because they can differ, the pre-final vowels—which, as I indicated, are always /a/—would probably become schwa (ə) because of vowel reduction. Because pre-final vowels will always be /a/, it is not important to articulate them, and that lack of articulation (in contrast with the important final vowel articulation) may lead to /a/ being (optionally) reduced to /ə/.

This is actually different from the previous version of the Greyfolk language in which the stress was always on the final syllable. This is because it was important to articulate the final vowel to distinguish noun class. In this current version, articulating the final vowel is still important to distinguish words, but I decided that lexical stress is arbitrary/non-meaningful because I am much more inspired by international auxiliary languages (IALs) this time around, and I feel that a good IAL would leave out something like lexical stress because there are a lot of languages (spoken by many people—like Mandarin) that don’t use lexical stress. So, including it would mean a lot of extra work for a lot of speakers of natural languages here on Earth.

That’s also why my phonemic inventory is the way it is—to appeal to the largest number of natural language speakers on Earth while retaining an identity that is definitely Greyfolk. More on that another time.