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Kali-sise (Pitakesulina)


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History   Advanced
In 1995, I created my first phonetically simplified language, Sen:esepera;  in 1995-6, I designed Simpenga, a simplified Basic English.  In 1999, I created a language sketch I called Pitakesulino.  The primary intent was to have as few distinct sounds as possible in an auxiliary language; the language didn't progress beyond the description of the sound system shown below, which was dramatically simpler than earlier efforts, with just three vowels and six consonants.  In February of 2004, in order to demonstrate the possibilities of the Dublex etymological compounds, I translated Dublex's 400 roots into Pitakesulina's phonology, in the process expanding the language to include four vowels, generating over 5000 words for the language and coming up with a new name for it (Kali-sise = "word system, language").  I invented the grammar in order to translate the Babel Text.  During the summer of 2004, I refined the grammar by participating in a few translation relays and by writing language lessons.  Again, I am not encouraging everyone in the world to learn Kali-sise as a second language; I simply created it to see what a phonetically simple IAL would look like.


Note: This language has been deprecated and replaced by Kali-sise (Pitakesulina).  I chose a four-vowel system to expand the number of syllables from 18 to 24.

Inspired by criticism of the difficulty pronouncing some IALs (International Auxiliary Languages), I have created Pitakosilano, an auxlang whose overwhelming goal is ease of pronunciation, regardless of the learner's native language. The design goal of "near universality" means that Pitakosilano in most cases should only have sound features common to at least 19 out of 20 natural languages. The real-world data that Pitakosilano is based on is UPSID (the UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database), which profiled the inventories of 317 languages, with one language selected from each family grouping recognized.


Every language profiled in UPSID has three or more vowels, but only 94% of the languages in
the UPSID survey have more than three vowels. So to accommodate everyone, Pitakosilano has only three vowels.

The three most common vowels are /i/, /u/ and /o/, but since most three-vowel systems are triangular systems with /a/, we will adopt /i/, /a/ and /o/ as our vowel system.

Stops - Over 99% of UPSID languages have bilabial, dental/alveolar and velar stops. Since voiceless segments outnumber voiced segments (92% vs 67%), we will adopt /p/, /t/, /k/ as our stops.
Fricatives - 93% of the UPSID languages have at least one fricative. While this is a smaller percentage than desired when "near universality" is the goal, we will have a fricative. About 83% of the languages have some form of /s/, so we will adopt /s/ as our single fricative.
Nasals - 97% of the languages have at least one nasal, and in 96% of these cases it is voiced /n/. So /n/ is our single nasal.
Liquids -- While 96% of languages have at least one liquid, only 72% have more than one, so again we will confine ourselves to one example. Since /l/ is somewhat more common than /r/ (and since /l/ is less likely to change over time than /r/ is), /l/ will be our liquid.
Others - Approximants (/j/ and /w/) occur in fewer than 95% of languages and so will be excluded from Pitakosilano. Glottalics are also too rare to be included.

Syllable Pattern
The CV syllable pattern is the only universal syllable pattern, and is the single syllable pattern used in Pitakosilano. It allows 18 (C*V=6*3) types of syllables. It may seem limiting, but in fact there are over 100,000 possible four-syllable words and over 10,000,000 six-syllable words such as Pitakosilano. The CVN pattern, where N is a nasal, is very common (Chinese, for example, allows it), but in the absence of hard data has not been included.

Based on this design, clearly, if ease of pronunciation is the number one goal of any IAL, it is achievable with Pitakosilano.

lano - man
pitakosi - straw
Where possible, international terms are preferred that fit the limited phonology of the language (e.g., sikopo, "watcher", from -scope in telescope and microscope).

Clearly, Pitakosilano was just created as a reductio ad absurdum (and I do mean reductio). Still, I was surprised at the syllable pattern data. Lots of words are certainly possible, even with such a limited phonology.

Half of the fun of constructing an IAL or briefscript is the simultaneous balancing of multiple goals. Dublex, for instance, gives greater weight to ease of memorizing the lexicon than ease of pronunciation; in fact, Pitakosilano (the name exhaustively exhibits all the phonemes of the language) exists primarily as a contrast to Dublex on this point.

Conlang Profiles at © 1996-2005 Jeffrey Henning.

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