Transcription of loanwords

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Transcription of loanwords

Unread postby yatenari » 30 Jan 2018 12:47

Is there some (existing) sort of consens on transcription of 'foreign' words? Like, how "Kaminoan" gets rendered as kaminii and "Jedi" becomes jetii - the former seems to be 1:1 apart from the ending (if -ii is used mainly for people and the final -o has been removed due to the -ii). However, the latter has a shift with the d>t, which doesn't quite make sense to me. The pronounciation doesn't seem to match (there's a discrepancy between how it's written to how it's spoken that seems to lack a rule to me; except the pronounciation stayed how it was perceived to the people speaking Mando'a and coining the actual word and the written form follows the grammatical need for the -ii ending for a people or something ...)

I noted that in Taljair's Excel file were quite a few language names derived (and the adjectives associated with the given land). Now, if -ii is the usual ending for people, based on those words one could derive the nouns for the already created adjectives.
Even though, on that note, I started to wonder how those words would be really loaned into Mando'a - as an in-verse perspective. I understand that those are derived mostly from the English word form, but if one would think about the words coming into Mando'a through the individuals that belong to a given natinality, I wondered if it would be more sensible from an in-verse perspective to have the words be derived from the actual language they are used for (like, for English it would be "English", while for French it would be "francais" and for German "deutsch"). For using Mando'a as an actual language that would be not necessary, but from a writer's perspective (and I'm half-working on short stories that use Mando'a for at least part of the dialogue - I have done something similar with Latin before and it was quite fun to write, so I hope to do the same with a more "spoken" language) and for creating/deriving/loaning new words, that would be imo an interesting approach (even if transcription becomes increasingly difficult with more languages that have to be considered for transcription).

An approach I considered, especially when transcribing different languages, was going the IPA route - first get the IPA equivalent to a word, then change it to the closest equivalent in the Mando'a IPA chart. Quite a few dictionaries provide IPA for a given word, so the conversion made would only have to include "general" IPA and the Mando'a equivalent (potentially including the orthographic form) to have a machine transcription that could be tweaked. There also could be additional rules be introduced since Mando'a itself doesn't have x or f as a sound, but uses them for foreign words - so, depending on if a word is supposed to become "true" Mando'a or a word that is openly recognized as a loanword and treated as such, different mappings/rules would apply to the transcription.

That could be used as a cheap way to gather words, but the idea behind it is to "translate" concepts that don't exist in Mando'a by themselves (like aay'han doesn't have a equivalent in English - or for words that are quite successful as export, like 'kindergarden' (which, as a word, is quite strange if you consider the actual meaning ...)). This would - from a conworlding perspective - make Mando'a more connected to its environment without drastically changing it, if certain rules are applied to the derived words and they are used in compounds and contractions like already native words.
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Re: Transcription of loanwords

Unread postby Aondeug » 31 Jan 2018 22:58

I'm not sure if there's some sort of consensus in the groups that use Mando'a but I personally just kind of...transcribe loanwords phonetically in Mando'a as best I can. So Gael would end up transcribed as Gayl, for example. If a sound is lacking I tend to substitute in whatever I deem to be the closest equivalent. So like the name Diarmuid would be a problem because Mando'a doesn't have slender consonants at all, let alone those specific ones. So I might transcribe it as Jarmot or something similar and Caitlín might end up as Catliin.

Jetii I am not sure what the reasoning for that is. With the "je" portion of it I personally feel it's partly a convenience to readers of the Star Wars books. While jaytii might be a more accurate spelling in regards to how it is pronounced Jetii looks more like Jedi and is thus less likely to leave readers going "What the fuck is that?" From the perspective of the actual language though this leaves us with the problem of how to explain away what I feel was a choice made for our convenience in the real world. With the tii portion I really don't know beyond it possibly being to make the word look more distinctly non-Basic to the reader, which again is an out of universe explanation for an in-universe problem. In-universe my off the cuff gut answer would be that final -dii can't be done for some reason. But again that's just an off the cuff answer made without really looking at the lexicon as it currently stands. Why this would be the case if there are no words that in -dii I have no idea.

For languages I tend to go personally with transcribing whatever that language's name for its language is into Mando'a phonetically. So Gaeilge ends up Gaylgah and Thai ends up Pasa'taii
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Re: Transcription of loanwords

Unread postby yatenari » 02 Feb 2018 21:00

The phonetic approach would be my first guess as well, however, I am a bit unsure on the actual sounds that could be used (like, native Mando'a isn't supposed to have some sounds and yet they have symbols to render them ...) or that needed to be changed. Part of that might be because I am completely unused to transcribing myself (I think it is partly because I don't need to, since most words I could use either have a Latin script that doesn't need to be switched or I have learned the language to some degree - and the orthography allows for multiple ways, among them the original, unchanged word or a word that is truly 'written how it's spoken' and those mostly look utterly wrong ...). Maybe I'm looking too much for a set of 'rules' which would be needed for a machine transcription (in your example, the rule would have to know that 'ai' in Caitlín needed to be rendered as 'a' in this case instead of an 'ay' or 'ai' - which is part of why I would make the detour using IPA to not have it relying too much on orthography).


Concerning jetii, the idea that -dii would be not allowed would be interesting, but there is one word with that ending: prudii. There's no other, as far as I can see using the search function, but there aren't that many words with a -tii ending (aruetii and jetii, as well as darjetii as a derivation). Using so little examples is difficult if looking for a rule, but ... the thing aruetii and jetii have in common is that they are "people" while prudii is something intangible. It might be overly complicated, but maybe for sentient beings -dii is not a valid ending (for whatever reason ...).
An in-universe explanation for this distinction could be that Mando'a was (once upon a time) a bit more complicated with its endings, since it seems to be a common thing to lose case endings and simplify things. In that case, though, one might have to look into some sound shifts that could have occurred using some of the archaic words given and the more modern ones. Or the ones who started using the word in Mando'a just had some sort of accent that stuck with the word *cough*
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Re: Transcription of loanwords

Unread postby Belandrie Meave » 06 Feb 2018 06:54

I've been away for ages, but if it helps at all, Taljair's dictionary used to have defined pronunciations for the vowels, and I just worked phonetically off that for the Bible translation stuff I was doing (Zechariah -> Sekariya, Mary -> Meri, &c) getting a spelling that would force a Mando'a reading it to pronounce the 'Mando spelling' the same as an English speaker pronounces the English spelling.

This possibly isn't quite right, as evidenced by Jedi -> Jetii (jaytee) - which does change the pronunciation of the e, but it's the best I've got. I personally quite like yatenari's theory that the endings are influenced by the original loan language. (This is backed up by the only other 'bastard' language I'm familiar with: in English it doesn't take a hell of a lot of practice before you can tell where words came from, so they obviously retain something of their origin, and a lot of loan words have wonky plurals too, so...)
Duumir cuy haat acyk gar kar'ta bal haa Dral. An ashi dar'cuy. - Surenit Kli'qiy
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