Not-so-plain English

More or less a month ago I read something about the Northern Cities’ Vowel Shift (NCVS), a chain change which accounts for the differences in vowel inventories between English dialects of the Great Lakes region (the US side, actually) and General American. It was interesting  and I had the idea of making an Inlush dialect based on it (Inlush is an English-based conlang by me).

However, I didn’t work on it until last Monday. NCVS proved to be evcn more interesting than what I had expected and I ended up with a conlang whose grammar was similar to that of Inlush, but greatly differing as far as phonology and orthography are concerned. The result was different enough from Inlush so as to be considered a language on its own, so I dropped its original name Inlish (which comes from English very much like Inlush) in favor of a more distinct one: Narçer /ˈnæɹt͡sɚ/, which comes from Northern. However, while its phonology is definitely based on that of Northern Inland American English, other aspects of this conlang may be closer to other English varieties.

The following table shows how both Inlush and Narçer deal with actual English vowels:

ENGLISH

INLUSH

NARÇER

bad

/bæd/

bad

/bæð/

bied

/bjeð/

pass

/pæs/

pas

/pæs/

pies

/pjes/

father

/ˈfɑːðɚ/

fade

/ˈfæðə/

fazer

/ˈfæzɚ/

not

/nɑt/

no

/no/

na

/næ/

loss

/lɔs/

los

/los/

las

/læs/

law

/lɔ/

lo

/lo/

la

/læ/

about

/əˈbæʊt/

ebot

/əˈβot/

evót

/ˈɘvot/

spotted

/ˈspɑtɪ̈d/

spotut

/ˈspoɾɜt/

ispaŧid

/ɜsˈpæɾɜt/

sit

/sɪt/

sut

/sʌt/

sit

/sɜt/

city

/ˈsɪti/

suru

/ˈsʌɹʌ/

siŧi

/ˈsɜɾɜ/

see

/siː/

shi

/ʃi/

xí

/çi/

date

/deɪt/

dait

/daɪt/

daat

/dæːt/

bed

/bɛd/

béd

/bɛð/

bäd

/bäð/

burn

/bɜːɹn/

been

/bəːn/

bern

/bɚn/

winner

/ˈwɪnɚ/

vune

/ˈvʌnə/

winer

/ˈwɜnɚ/

run

/ɹʌn/

ren

/ɹən/

ron

/ɹɔn/

put

/pʊt/

pót

/put/

put

/put/

through

/θɹu/

tró

/tɹu/

sru

/sɹu/

mute

/mjuːt/

myet

/mjət/

miut

/mjut/

my

/maɪ/

mei

/meɪ/

më

/meː/

boy

/bɔɪ/

boi

/boɪ/

bii

/bɜː/

soul

/soʊl/

sól

/sul/

suul

/suːl/

trout

/tɹaʊt/

trot

/tɹot/

trót

/tɹot/

arm

/ɑɹm/

aam

/æːm/

arm

/æɹm/

here

/hɪɹ/

hie

/ˈhiə/

hir

/hɜɹ/

bear

/bɛɚ/

bée

/ˈbeə/

bär

/bäɹ/

port

/pɔːɹt/

poet

/pɔə̯t/

port

/pɔɹt/

tour

/tʊəɹ/

tóe

/ˈtuə/

tur

/tuɹ/

pure

/pjʊɚ/

piee

/ˈpiəː/

piur

/pjuɹ/

Other than the vowels, one of the features that tells these conlangs and regular English apart is that non-word initial voiced stops were reduced to voiced fricatives:

b→β (in Narçer β would eventually become /v/)
d→ð
g→ɣ

It should be noted that the sounds /b/, /d/ and /g/ still exist in the conlangs, though they are written bb, dd and gg. B, D and G are also pronounced as stops when following an R.

On the other hand, both English’s th sounds (/θ/ and /ð/) were lost in Inlush and Narçer, being turned into /t/ and /d/ in Inlush and /t͡s/ and /z/ in Narçer. /θ/, however, re-emerged in these conlangs, where it replaces English S-T clusters: staythai/thaa. S-K clusters underwent an analogous change: skycei /çeɪ/ (Inlush), chë /xeː/ (Narçer).

As far as grammar is concerned, plural formation is one of the most innovative aspects in this conlangs. While the orthographies differ, they are largely the same in both conlangs.

  • If the last phoneme is a vowel, a /z/ is added in Inlush (a /s/ in the case of Narçer).
  • If the last phoneme is N or R, a /z/ is added in both conlangs.
  • If the last letter is C, CH, Ç, F, H, J, L, M, S, SH, V, X or Z an /əz/(Inlush) or an /ɜs/ (Narçer) is added.
  • Should the last phoneme be a voiceless stop (K, T or P), an /s/ is added.
  • If the last letter is B, D or G (/β~v/, /ð/, /ɣ/), the fricative is turned into a voiced stop.

Meaning

Inlush

Narçer

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Day

dai

/daɪ/

daiz

/daɪz/

/deː/

dës

/deːs/

Ash

ash

/æʃ/

ashez

/ˈæʃəz/

yésh

/jeʃ/

yéshis

/ˈjeʃɜs/

Seat

sit

/sit/

sits

/sits/

xít

/çit/

xíts

/çits/

Crab

krab

/kɹaβ/

krabb

/kɹab/

krieb

/kɹjev/

kriebs

/kɹjebˑ/

Mood

mód

/muð/

módd

/mud/

mud

/muð/

muds

/mudˑ/

Flag

flag

/flæɣ/

flagg

/flæg/

flieg

/fljeɣ/

fliegs

/fljegˑ/

Of course, there are still some irregular words. Man, for example, still makes its plural form by changing its vowel:

Meaning

Inlush

Narçer

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Man

man

/mæn/

mén

/mɛn/

mien

/mjen/

mäns

/mänz/

It should be noted, however, that the Narçer plural form has an -s added by analogy to other plural forms.

I hope you found this post interesting 😉 See you! Si ye! and Xí yo!

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Posted on 2011/12/29, in English, Inlush (en), Narçer (en). Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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