Reworked numerals for greyfolk language

As far as I can tell, I have fixed the numerals to work with my Hamming distance database (that I briefly mentioned in my end of February report), but I don’t want to say these are final. In order to get numerals to work in the way that I wanted them to work, I had to break some other patterns in my database, which is probably going to leave me with even fewer disyllabic roots in the future, but it felt like a necessary sacrifice. Numerals are important—having as many disyllabic roots as possible is also important, but it is less important*.

letter («syun-») number («hu-») name suffix
h 0 «-han»
m 1 «-mam»
n 2 «-nal»
p 3 «-pal»
t 4 «-tla»
k 5 «-kam»
s 6 «-sam»
y 7 «-yal»
l 8 «-lan»
9 «-mla»
A «-nya»
B «-pya»
C «-tyam»
D «-klan»
E «-syal»
F «-myan»
10 «-mamhan»
a «-ha»
e «-he»
i «-hi»
o «-ho»
u «-hu»

Greyfolk language usually uses a duodecimal system, which is 1–9, A–B, 10. However, the numbers are set up to also be compatible with a hexadecimal system, which is 1–9, A–F, 10. Of course, it can work with smaller systems like our typical decimal system, which is just 1–10. I may or may not later create specific words for ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’, ‘million’, etc.

*As I talked about before, what really matters is the number of phonemes in a given root/word in terms of how simple/quick it is to utter. (I still have not found or even looked for a source on that yet, and, even if that is somewhat true, it is obviously not the only factor.) This is a tangent, but I was previously very focused on using every disyllabic root I could, and that led me to using 7-phoneme disyllabic roots. However, if the number of phonemes is so important, then it would make just as much sense to start looking at trisyllabic roots. At a minimum, they will have six phonemes, which is still pretty low, which makes the roots «manasa» and «mansan» comparable thought the former is trisyllabic and the latter is disyllabic.

End of August Greyfolk language report

Okay, so I honestly forgot about August 31st when I thought of the title and said that I would post this “tomorrow”. Use your imagination.

There are a few posts that I can definitely still make about conlanging—I just haven’t. I’ve had six-ish strong days of work this month, but a lot of my conlanging time has actually gone to working on a project for GURPS. Surprise! But let’s get into what I can talk about.

Also, I really need to get around to updating the Greyfolk language page because it has fallen behind. It just feels like so many changes are happening that, if I update it now, I’ll have reason to update it again so soon after!

“Head-initial” indicating vowels

That’s a rough way of describing a minor but very important change to my language. Before, the vowel that indicates part of speech (or word type) would be the final vowel in the word. Working with a potential mini version of the Greyfolk language made me realize that I could just have that indicating vowel be the first vowel in the word, which fits with the idea of the language being head-initial. So, instead of the final vowel sound being «e» for nouns, «i» for adjectives and adverbs, «o» for verbs, and «u» for other things (conjunctions, prepositions, particles, etc.), those would be the initial vowel sounds.

Thus, «halnyo» becomes «holnya»—that’s my stand-in word for ‘to bake’.

Hamming distance

The idea of Hamming distance is it’s something that “measures the minimum number of substitutions required to change one string into the other”, which, in my case, means it’s the number of different sound changes to make different words sound different. For me, this means that a two words should have at least a sound with a difference in manner of articulation and a sound with a difference in place of articulation, or two words should have one sound with both differences.

So, if I have «halnyo», I can’t have «halmyo», but I can have «halsyo». Of course, I still said at least two differences, but more is definitely better.

New syllable blocks and font

I mentioned this previously, but syllable blocks have changed with the new 7HR alphabet. A post about that will be coming shortly. Also, after I figure out all of my monosyllabic words (see below), I’ll have more Greyfolk language free time, which means I can work on the new font.

Monosyllabic words

Because of the number of phonemes that I have, the syllable construction, and Hamming distance, I can only have so many functional monosyllabic words. There are, however, a lot of concepts that I would love to have be represented by a single syllable. There may also be new personal pronouns…


Of course, I want numerals to be monosyllabic too. They were doing just fine until I removed «f» and «w», so I’ve had to rethink how they work and sound—oh, and also how they look. After I consider that pretty set in stone and get around to creating the new 7HR font, I’ll talk more about numerals.