So over the last two decades I’ve had to come to the slow realization that not everything might be right in my head. I am guessing those of you who exist outside of my brain have had an easier, less painful time coming to that conclusion.
There’s a particular tick in my brain that makes a lot of things hard on me, namely the inability or dogged unwillingness to divide the rhetorical from the literal.
When presented a question, conundrum, or thought experiment – even when I know it’s rhetorical, when no answer is needed or even desired – I am compelled to answer it. Compelled. As in it often mentally hurts to not answer it, so often times I just answer it because it is easier.
Easy for them to ignore.
Easier for me to then leave it in the past.
It’s not necessarily something I want to do, but I do enjoy it in that way that one enjoys indulging a crave or an addiction. Sometimes it very much is something I want to do, want to dive into, want to think about, because it satisfies my need to think creatively and to solve problems, no matter how ridiculous.
Here’s an example.
How does one pronounce “Bbvvggvgvgv”?
Well, there’s lots of ways to deal with this. I’ve talked about conlanging quite a bit on this site so you know we have countless options on what we can do.
We can, of course, read it off like a terrible acronym. Bee-bee-vee-vee-gee-gee-vee-gee-vee-gee-vee [bi.bi.vi.vi.gi.gi.vi.gi.vi.gi.vi].
We could invert that for some silliness [ib.ib.iv.iv.ig.ig.iv.ig.iv.ig.iv].
We could try to mix up the vowels a bit in either case, but the fun begins when you ask yourself “what does ‘b’ stand for?” What does b stand for? In English it’s almost always /b/ or some variant of it. Sometimes it is silent. But it’s not like it’ll ever be /t/.
Another question we can ask is “Are there diglyphs here?” Like ‘th’ or ‘sh’ not every letter is one letter, sometimes it is two. Is ‘bb’ a glyph? What about ‘vg’? Could that be a glyph? What sound could it be? What sounds are available? I mean, there are so many more sounds available to human language than just the ones English uses. From the Parisian “guttural R” to the lateral, dental, and alveolar clicks of isiZulu; there are significantly more sounds than one might expect.
So let’s go crazy.
My first assumption, is that without vowels, bbvvggvgvgv is written in such a way that the vowels are implied, potentially in such a way to create harmony or just that they are assigned in consonant+vowel pairs.
Regardless we aren’t given much to work with so in the end we can have a bit of fun with it, right?
I divided it out like this: bb-vv-gg-vg-vg-v. My initial thinking was that the repeated b’s, v’s, and g’s could either be repeated syllables or a diglyph. In all cases I went with diglyphs. In fact, I went so far as to also make ‘vg’ a diglyph because why the fuck not? This took a rather long word and make it much more manageable.
BB was pretty easy for me, I made it /ʙɑ/. /ʙ/ is a bilabial trill, which means you’re trilling the /b/-sound. It’s certainly a fun sound to produce (it’s like a kid making engine noises by forcing extra air through closed lips and making the /b/-sound). I chose /ɑ/ (like hot) because it was easier for me to make the transition from trill to back vowel and gave the word a darker, rumblier feel.
VV was a tad harder. There isn’t a trilled /v/-sound, but there is the flapped /ⱱ/. Flapping and tapping are when one articulator (in the case of /ⱱ/, the lower lip) is forced momentarily against the other (the upper teeth in this case). These articulators are the same for /v/, but they are held together until the vowel takes over. In /ⱱ/ this contact is momentary.
I then decided that vvgg was going to be a single syllable, so for gg I wanted a nice stop sound. Stops are sounds that require the complete stoppage of air and then the release of that air, like /k/, /g/, /t/, and /d/. For gg I went with /ɢ/ but as a rule for this non-existent language, at the end of a syllable it devoices to /q/. To bridge the two I went with /ɪ/, a tried-and-true vowel if there ever was one. This is the vowel sound in “bit”.
So we’ve gotten /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq/ so far.
VG. That’s an interesting sound for sure. Vuhguh. Vuhg, Vg. Weird. Doesn’t really sound like it’d work as a bi-articulated sound the way /k/ and /s/ go nicely into the /ks/ sound in “six”. But what if there was a sound that sort of encapsulated both? V- implies a non-silibant fricative (like /v/) and -G implies a uvular sound… Luckily there are two uvular fricative sounds, one voiced and one voiceless (/χ/ and /ʁ/ respectively). if VG is at the beginning of a syllable it must be voiced, if it is at the end it must be voiceless (as per the rules above). So it’s either /Vχ/ or /ʁV/ or potentially /ʁVχ/.
But… just maybe… it’s actually articulated in such a way that it becomes its own vowel… sneaky sneak. There’s a symbol for this: /ᵊ/ which basically means “releases on an unstressed vowel”. This is basically how anyone says a consonant when trying to isolate it from anything else. You need a vowel in some form (or a demi-vowel but we’re getting distracted).
So we’re at /ʙɑ.ⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊ/. Looking nice and weird.
For the final v in bbvvggvgvgv I’m going to go old school. It’s /v/, but in this mystery language, the last syllable is devoiced and must carry the secondary stress of the word. So that makes it /f/. And for a vowel? I went with /i/ (the vowel in see).
We need stress so, my pattern is second syllable is primary and the last syllable is secondary in words with four or more syllables. That gives us: /ʙɑˈⱱɪq.ʁᵊ.ʁᵊˌfi/ and smoothing it out a bit, let’s call it [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].
There you go. BBvvggvgvgv is pronounced [ʙəˈⱱɪ:q.ʁə.ʁᵊˌfi:].