The Spem conlang
The Spem conlang: the phonetic mapping
I mentioned in the Spem index that I believe our ideographic associations with sounds are not entirely arbitrary, and that I believe it valuable to use the sounds "appropriately". Here I'll list all the associations as I perceive them; it will likely be enlightening for me, others, or both.
Nasals and liquids
- distance, isolation
- simplicity, smallness
- closeness, the self
- physicalness; the body
- comfort, support
- balance, conflict
- will, willpower
- strength, vigor
- softness, comfort
- vibrance, clarity
- deep, ancient
- spiritual, sublime
- strict, rigid, hard
- strict, rigid, hard
- thin, precise
- nature, fertility
- destruction, entropy
- physical power
- cunningness or slyness, deception
- Kind of a mix between `s` and `z`?
- calm, logic
- clear, straight, right
- unimportant, implementation
- grammatical basics
- good (in axiological senses; moral and aesthetic)
- cold, dark, low, lonely, self
- thin, small
- straight, right, proper
- weak vowel. some properties of `u`.
- very weak vowel. But more forward.
A couple thoughts not on any particular phoneme:
- In general, bilabial consonants are physical. This is because they make us most conscious of our mouth.
- Weak vowels get concrete, often physical things. "Big" vowels (particularly `i` and `u`) get more abstract things.
- For the most essential and common words, the above associations were less important to me than making them 1 syllable and giving them sounds I like.
- Similarly, a lot of sounds have formed "happenstance associations" in Spem, that have less to do with me thinking they actually sound that way and more to do with that I needed a family of related words that I knew would all be used very often and I had a sound I'd been underusing. Example: all the question words starting with `k`. This is probably also how `m` got associated with "more/many".
- I don't like words ending in stops, partly because it clashes with that most Spem words start with a consonant.
- I basically never end a word with `ɪ`, `a`, or `ɵ`. It sounds cringey to me. I also tend to avoid `e` at the end compared, but not as much as the others.
- I don't like phonetic repetition. I'm pretty sure this one is universal.
While I tend to talk as if all this is a matter of correctness and I have completely pure intentions in naming words, there's also a big element of vertical judgement here. I find some sounds more beautiful than others and as such I'm heavily biased toward using them more. I'm not sure to what extent these judgements are just me, so I should list those too.
My favorite vowels are, ordered, something like: `i` > `u` > `e` > `ɪ`, `a`.
My favorite consonants: `y`, `k`, `n` > `v`, `z` > `r` > `l`.
My only really disliked consonants: `ð`, `b`. I am biased toward reserving these for words that are less common, physical objects, or things associated with something I don't like.
As a general pattern I prefer voiceless stops and voiced fricatives.
Patterns maintained more for the sake of consistency. If you see me going against these patterns anywhere, call me out, cause I shouldn't.
- When I have a transitive/reflexive verb pair, if either one ends in either, the transitive ends in `i` and the reflexive in `u`.
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