every once in a while I pick up the idea of pokémon language conlang and turn the core problem around in my hands for a bit

namely, how on *earth* do you overcome the information density problem

you have a variable number of syllables but let’s say 2-4 (if you’re a Muk you can just also say like “mek” too), and you’ve basically gotta throw in tones just to have enough unique phonemes to start assigning concepts

even if you make it like a fucking Huffman tree of optimized chirps, which no society could possibly naturally create, even the simplest concept would take like eight chirps to begin to communicate

this is probably my most incomprehensible post yet, honestly

probably the only way to meaningfully solve this is at a fiction level: that the chirping you see in most situations is a short-form animal-speech dialect with little capacity for abstract thought, and that there is a more elaborate and complex “high” dialect, the language of storytelling, used for matters of culture or ritual

I can’t stop thinking about a throwaway detail in the fic I read being that Route 1 of the region had a kind of cosmic significance, and the idea of there being a mythohistorical “route one” to which all pokémon return eventually

but numbering and counting and listing things doesn’t seem like something I’d want a pokémon culture to focus on so it’d need a different name

dark google, show me how many tones a language can have before I run out of Unicode diacritics

okay hang on I got it

the solution to the information density problem is combinatorial explosion

I already have like four tone diacritics, so I just add one or two rhythm/hold diacritics, and suddenly that splits "gar" into 8-12 morphemes that I can work with

really enjoying building out the conceptual inventory that I’ll later turn into a proper lexicon (basically, deciding what this language should even have words for; I’ll arbitrarily assign the actual words later)

I have a noun class system that I’m very pleased with, but unfortunately, with very limited phonemes, I have no idea how I’m going to apply any of it to words, because you can’t really just mutate the sounds to conjugate a verb, and adding more stuff onto the end risks collisions with other words (fine if rare, but kinda tedious if too common)

@gardevoir ooh you might want to look into Toaq, a loglang, which kind of solves this problem

Each syllable has some semantic meaning, and the *tone* indicates the part of speech. (Compound words are formed with neutral tone; all neutral-toned syllables are part of the preceding word.)

@lavender oooooh, that is, in fact, very useful information

thank you immensely


@gardevoir :)

i'll mark down "helping pokemon with conlangs" on the List Of Things I Did Not Think I Would Be Doing On This Mastodon Account

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