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2015-12-05

Macanese language (Patuá)

The Macanese language, (called Patuá) is the language of the Macanese, a mixed Chinese-Portuguese ethnic minority in Macau (also spelled Macao in older maps). Macau is a small autonomous area on the opposite side of the Zhūjiāng (Pearl River) Delta from Hong Kong. Macau and Hong Kong used to be part of the Guǎngdōng (Canton in English), which speaks the Cantonese language. Patuá is a creole based on Portuguese, Cantonese, Malay, and languages of India that developed when the Portuguese started trading and settling in the area in the 16th century. In 1844, Portugal took full control of Macau. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Portugal started a policy to make the Macanese and other colonial Portuguese populations speak European Portuguese. This caused Patuá, to decline and be associated with the lower classes, where previously it was spoken as the daily language of all Macanese and the trade language of the Cantonese living in Macau. However, many poets continued to use Patuá in their poems, even in the late 20th century. After Portugal ceded Macau to China in 1999, the government policy has been to encourage the use of Mandarin, Cantonese, and Standard Portuguese. As of today, Patuá is practically a dead language, as most of its speakers are over 80 years old. However, Patuá idiom is sometimes used in the local Portuguese to emphasise one's point. The play group Dóci Papiaçám di Macau (The Sweet Speech of Macau) performs plays in Patuá annually to keep the memory of the Macanese culture and language alive. They are led by Miguel de Senna Fernandes, a lawyer, former legislator, and son of the noted Macanese poet and novelist Henrique de Senna Fernandes. Below is Macau Sâm Assi (This is Macau), a short music video in Patuá made by Dóci Papiaçám di Macau and an English language interview of Miguel de Senna Fernandes done by Radio Television Hong Kong. More entertaining videos about Macau in both Patuá, Portuguese, and Cantonese, see Dóci Papiaçám di Macau's Youtube channel.

Macau Sâm Assi
    

Interview:
 

2015-11-15

Video: Do Mountains Alter Speech?

I found this interesting video about a correlation between phonology and geography. New studies (links on the bottom of the post) show that certain sounds are found in areas that share specific geographic features, like temperature, forestation and altitude.


As Artifexian, the creator of this video, explains, this may be a big coincidence. However, you can ignore the uncertainty and use this idea for your languages in your fictional world. For example, the Pakti tribe, which lives in the mountains, settles the uninhabited plains. The great Bagde nation has voiced the Pakti voiceless stops and lowered the Pakti vowels.

Evidence for Direct Geographical Influence on Linguistic Sounds: The Case of Ejectives: http://goo.gl/AKc1s7
Response Article: http://goo.gl/QwygtC
Climate, Econiche and Sexuality: Influence on Sonority in Languages: http://goo.gl/uu7WMs
Climate, Vocal Folds and Tonal Languages: http://goo.gl/UwTb5l

2015-11-09

Getting Started With Conlanging

A good place to start with conlanging is the Language Construction Kit made by Mark Rosenfelder (aka Zompist). It is one of the easiest to understand and the most used guide to conlanging on the internet. For people who want more information and are willing to spend money there is a book version which is longer and has sequels. Although the guide assumes some basic familiarity with theoretical linguistics, there is nothing that you cannot understand in it after reading related Wikipedia articles for a month (this has been tested by a person without any prior linguistic knowledge, aka me). The author has also made his own fictional world filled with conlangs, including two spoken by other humanoid species! There are plenty of other web resources linked on his website, but many are out of date. To view those, copy the URL and use archive.org/web/.
I also recommend using Wikipedia and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by David Crystal. However, some of the information in the encyclopedia on language families is outdated and should by checked on Wikipedia. Another highly recommended guide is the Wikibooks' book on conlanging.
Of course, even if you are totally uninterested in the Language Construction Kit, you may still be interested in other things on Zompist.com. He writes about his opinions on lots of non-linguistics topics, such as:
  • Culture
  • Phrasebooks
  • Names of things in alchemy
  • Politics in US
  • How people from 1900 would think of 2000
  • Sciences
  • Science fiction
  • Gaming
Among his linguistics stuff, there are many interesting things such as how spelling in English corresponds to actual sounds, writing English like Chinese, why there is no language instinct, why people learn languages, and whether all human languages sprang from one source or not.