A·hevîl Bhavel (en)
After thinking it for quite a while, I finally started this blog about conlanging, the somewhat geeky but certainly interesting (at least for us ;)) pass-time of making languages which I’ve been into for several year. At least it’s interesting for us, the conlangers ;)!
Some conlangers develop exclusively (and extensively!) a single conlang (which is often thoroughly detailed, well documented and which massive vocabulary and grammar), while others create many conlangs which may or may not form part of a linguistic family or be linked by a mythology or a story. Without any doubts, I am of the second kind (as are most conlangers I’ve heard of so far), I’ve made quite a lot of conlangs (some of them related, while others are ‘isolates’ ), but I must admit that many of them are very simplistic and and some would be more-accurately described as linguistic games rather than languages (I’m still unsure of whether Yanglish could be considered a true conlang).
Sometimes, the folks in an unfinished book may ask their writer to give them a language (or a conlanger may write a book to give his/her conlang a country to be spoken as well). Other conlangers dream of a world where millions of people are able to understand each other by using an common language (and I’m not referring only to Esperantists but also to the proponents of IALA’s Interlingua and Lingua Franca Nova). On the other hand, most of my languages weren’t made to be the next Klingon nor the future world language but just to answer questions as “How would Spanish be like if it had evolved like German?” (the kind of things everyone wonders, you know (!)), or aren’t but the result of playing with a recently structure in some language I’d just discovered.
The tittle of this post is, as you probably have guessed, means “The Seed of Babel” in one of my conlangs; Efenol which I’m afraid is just Spanish strongly modified so as to make its phonology (and some aspects of its grammar) similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sindarin. It is one of a dozen languages based on Spanish (which, being my mother-language, was an obvious point to start with) that could be thought of like a one of a whole family of neo-hispanic languages.
This is an analysis of the phrase:
a+ | sevîl | (de+) | Bavel
the-FEM-S |seed | of | Babel
The Seed of Babel
As you can see, I employ a five-line transcription, with the text in the conlang’s usual orthography first, followed by an IPA transcription, then, in the third line there is a gloss broken into morphemes for easier analysis, a translation of the glosses and a translation to plane English. As some of my conlangs are written with scripts other than the Latin alphabet, both a picture of the original script and a transliteration into Latin alphabet will be provided. That’s not the case with Efenol which keeps on using Latin alphabet as Spanish (its Ancestor) does. The orthography is, however, much more similar to Sindarin’s than to the Spanish one.
Due to the fact that Efenol descends from Spanish, it is best analyzed by comparing it to its ‘ancient’ form. While it wouldn’t be impossible to speak Efenol without being able to speak Spanish (Efenol speakers wouldn’t understand Spanish any better than what an average Spanish speaker understands Latin), I’ve not made a detailed grammar of it nor a comprehensive dictionary but defined the more or less systematic changes Spanish underwent to become Efenol, so I’m afraid that people who don’t speak Spanish wouldn’t be able to speak it (at least no without a good dictionary!)
The first word glossed as a+ is the article. Just as in Spanish, Efenol articles are inflected for both gender (nouns inherit Spanish mostly arbitrary gender classification into feminine and masculine nouns) and number (singular vs plural). They are a+ (feminine singular), a (feminine plural), e* (masculine singular) and o (masculine plural). Additionally, when the noun starts with a vowel, special forms are used: l’ for singular and s’ for plural (both regardless of the gender). The signs + an * indicate that the following consonant is mutated, ie it changes to another, + represents soft mutation (also know as lenition), and * represents liquid mutation (in addition to that, Efenol also has ~ nasal mutation; I’ll publish a table with all consonant changes later).
Then there comes the word Sevîl, whose initial consonant is affected by by a+‘s soft mutation: +S→H. The word sevîl comes from Spanish ‘semilla’. As in most Efenol words, etymological medial M turned into V and the ending -illa was simplified to -îl (where the circumflex accent (â, ê, î, ô, û) indicates long vowels except for y (/y/, German ü) whose long form is written ij).
The last word, Bhavel isn’t but the name Bavel (Babel, the mythical city) which has underwent soft mutation +B→Bh /v/. The lenition comes from the particle de+, ‘of’ which can be left out (but retaining the soft mutation in the following word), making soft mutation work as a kind of possessive case. It should be noted that both Bs in the original Spanish word ‘Babel’ were lenited to /v/, but whereas the first one is written Bh, the second one is simply V. This arises from the fact that while the second V retains its pronunciation as /v/ no matter where the word is used, the first /v/ sound is only the result of a mutation.
The name I chose for the blog (La Semilla de Babel / Babel’s Seed) is obviously a reference to the myth of ‘The Tower of Babel’ which gives an explanation to the existence of such a variety of languages. That’s why it could be considered that conlangers have the seeds of Babel and are able to plant new linguistic trees with their branches and their flowers 🙂
¡Migdaíl, vean la torre! – Migdail! See the tower!
Del cielo toca sus aguas. -It touches celestial waters!
Al azul construye el Hombre; -Men construct towards the blue.
al azul construye y habla. -They construct towards the blue and speak.
Y habla en un solo idioma; -And they speak a single language
en todo el campo una planta. -A single plant all over the field
Todo igual, todo aburrido; -Everything is the same, everything is boring
no hay cosecha para el alma. -There’s no harvest for the soul
Nada queda que aprender, -There’s nothing left to learn
y para compartir nada. -There’s nothing left to share
Por eso tocar el cielo – That way the want to touch the sky
con una torre bien alta – with such a tall tower
quieren para robar nubes – They want to steal clouds
para cantar hasta el alba – To sing till sunrise
y jugar con alegría – And play happilly
con mil formas inventadas.- with a thousand invented shapes
Migdaíl, que toca el cielo, – Migdail touches the sky!
la nube está cara a cara. – It’s face to face with the cloud
En la nube, mil semillas; – In the cloud there are a 1000 seeds
la humanidad extrañada. – The whole mankind wonders.
Por pura curiosidad – Just out of curiosity
los niños tocan la blanca. – the kids touch the white
Semillas caen a la Tierra. – Seeds fall to the Earth
Risueñas caen ¡y son tantas! – They laugh as they fall and are so many!
De la torre a todos lados, – From the tower to everywhere
Ya no hay solo una planta. – There’s no more a single plant
Cientos de lenguas florecen, – A hundred languages sprout
con sus hojas y sus ramas. – With their leaves and their branches
Cada quien toma una flor, – Everyone picks a flower
A cada pueblo su rama. – Each folk chooses a branch
Unas tienen un perfume, – Some have a nice aroma
otra es bello para el alma. – Some are beautiful to our souls
¡Pero quedan en la nube – But there are still in the cloud
diez mil semillas aladas – ten thousand winged seeds
que en su vuelo por los cielos – which while flying in the sky
jamás fueron plantadas. – where never planted.
¿Quién plantará las semillas – Who will plant the seeds
que nunca fueron plantadas – which have never been planted
para que caigan como oro – to make them fall like gold
en el viento hojas doradas? – golden leaves in the wind?
¿Quién plantará las semillas – Who will plant the seeds
para hablar lenguas lejanas – to speak languages from afar
de otros cielos y otros mundos, – from other skies and other worlds
y de otras tierras soñadas? – and other lands of dreams?
¿Quién reconstruirá la torre – Who will rebuild the tower
para finalmente plantarlas? – so as to finally plant them?
Athafôrim! Till the next time!