Westsprak

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At the moment this is basically the same as my 'version' of Folkspraak, but the idea behind this is not a language with evenly balanced German, Dutch, English and Scandinavian influences, but a compromise between English and German, with Scandinavian and Dutch as arbitrators, and probably with more phonetic spelling always preferred. At first reading that might sound rather unegaliterian, but it's based on pragmatism; i.e. the far larger number of speakers of German and English than the other languages and the similarity of Dutch in many respects to German.

Contents

Phonology and orthography

Summary

My preferred phonology can be summed up as this:

  • Long and short versions of /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ (and possibly /y/)
  • The diphthongs /au/ and /ai/, and the sort-of-diphthong /iu/. The diphthongs are really just combinations of the other vowels - i.e. they contain no new/other sounds.
  • English/German consonants with /ʃ/ and /x/, no /θ/ or /ð/, /w/ as an alternative to /v/

My preferred orthography can be summed up as this:

  • 'Classical Latin-style' vowels and consonants plus <w>/<v>, <h>/<ch>, <sh>/<sch> for /w/, /x/ and /ʃ/ (difficult to decide, as Latin didn't have an extra letter for /w/ and didn't have the /ʃ/ and /x/ sounds)
  • Vowels are short if unstressed or if followed by two or more consonants.
  • As well as the unstressed syllables in polysyllabic words, certain groups (articles, interrogatives, prepositions, demonstratives, monosyllabic pronouns) monosyllabic words are considered 'unstressed', and thus do not need two consonants to mark a short vowel

Full Table

Phoneme Orthography Pronunciation (IPA) Proto-Germanic origin Example word Meaning of word
Short vowels
/a/ aCC (C=consonant) or unstressed non-terminal [a], [ɑ], [æ], [ɐ] Mostly /a/ mann man
/e/ eCC or unstressed, <e> followed by <g> (alternative prono.) [ɛ], [e] is acceptable, [ə] when unstressed i-muated /a/, dimunition of other vowels et it
/i/ iCC or unstressed non-terminal [ɪ], [i] acceptable /i/ mostly in in
/o/ oCC or unstressed non-terminal [ɔ], [ɒ], [o] acceptable /u/ with a-mutation, /a/ frost frost
/u/ uCC or unstressed non-terminal [ʊ], [u] acceptable, and possibly also [ʏ] if /y/ is not a separate phoneme /u/ without mutation uss us
/y/ yCC or unstressed non-terminal [ʏ], [y] acceptable /u/ with i-mutation rygg back (ridge is cognate)
Long vowels
/aː/ aC stressed, terminal a [aː], [ɑː], [ɐː] (poss. [æː], although could cause confusion with /a/ for American English speakers) /æ/, sometimes /a/ sprak language, speech (latter is cognate)
/eː/ eC stressed, terminal e [eː], [ei], [ɛː] etc. /e/ usually breke to break
/iː/ iC stressed, terminal i [iː] /eu/ usually dip deep
/oː/ oC stressed, terminal o [oː], [ɔː], diphthong of /ou/ type /u/, /a/, /au/ over, so, bom over, so, tree (beam is cognate)
/uː/ uC stressed, terminal u [uː] /oː/ gud good
/yː/ yC stressed, terminal y [yː], N.B. Could be merged with /iː/, allowing [yː] as an alternative pronunciation for /uː/ i-mutated /oː/ and /eu/ gryn, dyr green, expensive (cognate is dear)
Diphthongs
/au/ au Diphthong of type /au/ /uː/ aut out
/ai/ ai Diphthong of type /ai/ /iː/ main my, mine
/iu/ iu [ˈiu], [ˈiːu], [iˈuː] /euw/, /euhw/ niu new
Consonants
/p/ p [pʰ], [p] /p/ help help
/b/ b [b] Initial /b/ better better
/f/ f [f] /f/ fader father
/v/ v [v] Non-initial /b/ have to have
/t/ t [tʰ], [t] /t/, initial /θ/ except in pronouns and articles ting thing
/d/ d [d] /d/, non-initial /θ/ and initial /θ/ in pronouns and articles de the
/s/ s [s], [z] /s/ wese to be
/k/ k [kʰ], [k] /k/ kysse to kiss
/g/ g [g], [ɣ], [j] after a (us. palatal) vowel acceptable, although <eg> must either have a long /e/ or be clearly [ɛj] to avoid confusion with /eː/ /g/ gud, sege good, to say
/x/ ch/h [x], [ç], [hʲ] Non-initial /x/ licht/liht light
/h/ h [h] Initial /x/ hand hand
/ʃ/ sch/sh [ʃ] /sk/ schall/shall will, shall
/j/ j [j] /j/ jung young
/w/ w, possibly v [v], [ʋ], [w] - just [v] if written "v" Initial /w/ or /xw/ wat/vat what
/m/ m [m] /m/ milk milk
/n/ n [n] /n/ nit not
/ŋ/ ng [ŋ], [ŋg] /ng/ singe to sing
/r/ r [r]ˌ [ʁ]ˌ [ɹ]ˌ [ʀ] /r/ rod red
/l/ l [l] /l/ land land

Pronouns

The pronouns are as follows :

Person Nominative Accusative and dative Genitive
1st singular ig mi main
2nd singular du di dain
3rd singular hi/si/et him/hir/et sain/hir/ets
1st plural wi/vi us usser
2nd plural ji iu iuer
3rd plural de/dé dem der

Verbs

Verbs do not conjugate for person apart from "wes(e)" (to be) which has three present forms - "iss", "ar" and "bi". "iss" is probably best recommended for singular, and "ar" for plural, with "bi" being an option for first and second persons if you find "iss" jarring (as I do slightly). Use of any of these three for any person is totally correct though, as is use of "wes". The past is "was" or "war", again with "was" perhaps best used for singular and "war" for plural, but usage of either for any person is fine. The past participal is "wesen".

The past and past participal of regular verbs are identical and are formed with <-d> or <-t> (or <-ed> if the verb ends in <d> or <t>).Many common verbs have an optional 'strong' (i.e. ablauted, and thus irregular) form which is usually different in the past perfect and past participal. It is perfectly legitimate to use the regular form of all verbs though, even "wes(e)" (to be) if you want, and thus all that is required of the learner is to passively understand the irregular past tenses. Examples of strong verbs are as follows (present -> past -> past participal):

swimm -> swamm -> swummen (optionally "swimmd" instead) ...means "to swim"

find -> fand -> funden (optionally "finded") ...means "to find"

se -> sa -> sen (optionally "sed") ...means "to see"

raid -> red -> ridden (optionally "raided") ...means "to ride"

et -> at -> eten (eted) ...means "to eat"

flig -> flog -> flogen (fligd) ...means "to fly"

giv -> gav -> given (givd) ...means "to give"

A slight exception in that the irregularity is not due to ablaut is "hav(e)" (to have) which is "hadd" or "havd" in the past and past participal. Another is "wes(e)" (to be) which is "

Articles

The definite article is <de>, pronounced /də/ (or /dɛ/ or /deː/ if stressed), and the indefinite article is <en> pronounced /ən/ (or /ɛn/ or /eːn/ if stressed).

Adjectives and adverbs

As there's no gender or case system, adjectives are not affected by what they describe, so "de gryn haus" and "en gryn waiv" (the green house, a green woman/wife). Adverbs do not need an extra "-lig" suffix like "-ly" in most UK English, so "ig ga snell" (I go quickly) not "ig ga snellig". Both "snell" and "snellig" are correct, but there's no need for the "-lig" suffix.

Word order

Word order is really flexible and largely down to the speaker. Subject-verb-object order is normal really, and should come naturally to most speakers as this is the default/basic order in the Germanic and Romance languages and in Chinese. You're more than welcome to say "ig de fud et" instead of "ig et de fud" (I eat the food) if you really want to or for artistic purposes as the meaning's still utterly clear though! For questions one can use S-V-O order and raise your voice at the end or add ", ne?", or you can use V-S-O order with raising your voice, so "et ig de fud?". You can of course not raise your voice, but beware this may mean the sentence is taken as a mere statement as VSO order is OK for statements too!

Prepositions etc.

Here are some common prepostions and other little words and their meaning:

  • "in" means "in"
  • "up" or "upan" (also "upán", "up-an" - said /u'pan/) mean "on"
  • "bai" or "baisaid" (also "baisáid", "bai-said" - said /bai'said/) means beside - "besaid" might be more natural, although less immediately clear for non-English speakers
  • "av" means "of"
  • "fron" means "from"
  • "aut" means "out"
  • "turch" means "through"
  • "over" means "over" or "above"
  • "under" means "under" or "below"
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